This is a refresher article on how to dress the hourglass body shape with some new shoppable options featuring the latest trends for 2024.
In this part of dressing for your body type series we will have a look at the hourglass figure.

Characteristics of the hourglass body

  • Well defined (narrow) waist
  • Hip and bust tend to be almost the same and quite big

The hourglass is seen by many as the ideal body shape, although it may also present some challenges if you have a significant bust.

You may also have gathered some weight around the abdomen area in which case you will have some characteristics of the apple body type as well.

You can see tips here on how to dress the apple body shape.

Runway looks for inspiration on how to dress the hourglass

While many designers cater for the rectangle or inverted triangle because a lot of models are build this way, there are others who celebrate the hourglass shape and don’t shy away from dressing women with a larger bust and hips.

If you’re looking for inspiration on the catwalks on how to dress the hourglass, then the runways of Max Mara, Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior are good shows to look out for as they tend to design with curves in mind.

Designer inspiration on how to dress the hourglass | 40plusstyle.com

Christian DiorMax MaraAlexander McQueen

Celebrities with the hourglass body shape

Some celebrities with this body shape include:

  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Raquel Welch
  • Nigella Lawson
  • Salma Hayek and
  • Christina Hendricks

So, if you have an hourglass figure, you’re certainly in good company!

How should i dress if i have an hourglass body shape

How to dress the hourglass body shape | 40plusstyle.com

Nikki @40notfrumpy above opts for leopard print and booties. A v-neck dress that shows off the waistline is a great option for hourglasses.

Recreate her outfit with this similar dress, booties and shoulder bag.

Is hourglass the most attractive body shape

Well, some studies suggest that men prefer hourglasses. And, the hourglass is a great shape because of the balance in your silhouette as your bust and hips are around the same size. But we love every single type of figure at 40+ style because each shape has its own beautiful attributes.

The aim of dressing for your hourglass body type

You will want to accentuate your very feminine body so fitted clothes (at the right places) are key. Another objective may be to elongate your legs.

You are lucky in that your body is already balanced. Your bust and hips are around the same size. Other body shapes will find that they need to add balance.

So you will want to keep the balance that you have and avoid adding any “bulk” with your clothing.

If you add ruffles or extra width to your bust, for example, you will lose your ideal hourglass shape and end up looking “top heavy”.

If you add extra width to your waist with boxy styles, you will look heavier than you really are because you will hide your lovely shape.

Claudia in silk dress worn with belt and loafers | 40plusstyle.com

Adding a belt to your dress like Claudia @beafitmom.nl above is a great idea if you’re an hourglass.

Recreate her outfit with this similar dress (another option here), loafers, handbag and belt.

How to dress the hourglass body shape

So, now we’ve looked at what you shouldn’t do – ie, not to add extra bulk, what should you do?

Upper body

  • You will want to wear mostly V-shaped tops or tops with a deep neckline. High necklines will just make your bust area look too bulky
  • Look for dresses that fit your boobs and elongate your waist. They should fit very snugly around that area.
  • If you have some weight around the abdomen then make sure your buy your dress in supportive fabric.
  • T-shirts look nicest when they fit your waist, have a V-neck and have some accents on the shoulders.
  • Get a coat that highlights your waist and features a V-neck.
  • Wear single-breasted jackets that are tailored. They will often look best when left open to create a nice vertical line, which elongates
  • Choose shirts that accentuate your boobs and that don’t have buttons all the way to the top.
  • Tops that flare just below the boob area and go to below your crutch can be very flattering with trousers.
  • Little fitted jackets that tuck in your boobs will look great on you.
  • Use light scarves in winter to cover your open V-neck.
  • Wear darker colors on top to make your boobs appear smaller, if you want to.
  • A good bra is essential for this body type. Make sure you get a good supportive bra that will thrust your bust forwards.
Wacoal Elevated Allure Full Coverage Underwire Bra | 40plusstyle.com

Wacoal Elevated Allure Full Coverage Underwire Bra

Lower body

  • A pencil skirt is a good shape on you as it will go in and out with your curves.
  • Bootcut and flared styles will look great on you when it comes to pants as they compliment your curves.
Erica in green trousers and white blouse | 40plusstyle.com

Erica @ericabunker above (read her style interview here) shows off a good pair of pants for the hourglass, as these will emphasize a slim waist before flaring out at the hem.

Check out this blouse (another option here) that you can wear with this similar pair of pants (another option here), sandals, necklace and earrings.

Top wardrobe tips for the hourglass:

  • Pencil skirts that fit well are ideal for the hourglass as they accentuate your wonderful curves.
  • Other skirts can work too but will usually look better when they end around the knee.
  • Opt for flat front boot cut trousers, preferably with stretch for a snug fit.
  • Choose shoes that accentuate your curves, such as shoes with rounded toes, peep toes or bows.
How to dress the hourglass: drawstring top, pencil skirt and flats | 40plusstyle.com

LK Bennett Ellie Chain Print Drawstring TopElie Tahari The Gavi Denim Midi-SkirtTory Burch Claire Cap-Toe Ballet FlatsSee by Chloé Mara Leather Saddle BagMonica Vinader Nura Freshwater Pearl Drop Earrings

What not to wear for an hourglass figure

We’ve looked at what you SHOULD wear to fit and flatter your lovely curves. But, how about what not to wear?

Here are a few tips on what to stay away from.

  • Avoid too many frills on your clothes as they will add extra bulk to places where you don’t need it.
  • Avoid excess fabric for the same reason.
  • It can sometimes be best to stay away from obvious waistbands or belts. Instead, you can let your clothes accentuate your small waist.
  • Flat lace-up shoes can be unflattering to your shapely legs.
  • Be careful when choosing casual clothes as they can make you look boxy.
  • Also, take into account the width of your belt. If you are fairly short-waisted, don’t choose a style which is too wide as this will reduce the space between your bust and your hips.

A capsule wardrobe for the hourglass

If you have an hourglass figure and want to put together all of the tips in one capsule wardrobe, read on for tops, pants, skirts, dresses, shoes and accessories, which are all flattering for your figure, as well as having a nod to this season’s trends.

Also take a look at how to create a capsule wardrobe.

Tops for the hourglass

When looking for tops, you will find that scoop neck styles look good on you as they will show off your collar bone, and the curve of the neck will mirror your own curves.

The other style to look out for is a v-neck. This cuts the width of your top half visually in half by drawing the eye down instead of across.

If you aren’t keen on your upper arms, then look for tops which have slanted sleeves, or where the sleeve ends at a slim part of your arm rather than the widest part.

Peplums, fitted waist styles, wrap tops and belted styles will also look great on you.

Tops to wear for the hourglass body shape | 40plusstyle.com

Loveappella Faux Wrap TopLK Bennett Anabella Lenzing Ecovero Viscose Blend TopLK Bennett Ellie Chain Print Drawstring TopCinq à Sept Abrielle Tie Hem Shirt

above wears a wrap top with ties at the waist. Wrap styles tend to be flattering for hourglass shapes.

How to dress the hourglass: tie waist blazer, bootcut jeans and sneakers | 40plusstyle.com

Misook Side Tie BlazerLK Bennett Anabella Lenzing Ecovero Viscose Blend TopJoe’s Flawless – Hi Honey High Waist Bootcut JeansLK Bennett Signature Leather TrainersLK Bennett Dominica Suede Clutch BagBony Levy 14K Gold Pendant Necklace

Jackets and coats for the hourglass

As with the rest of your clothing, your jacket or coat should show off your waist.

Boxy styles won’t do you any favors as they will actually make you look larger than you are, and they will hide your lovely waistline.

The most flattering shapes for you will be those which either go in at the waist which are tailored, or which are belted at the waist.

You could also think about the kind of retro-style bomber jackets that were popular in the 50s (seen on the Pink Ladies in the movie Grease!).

You could look for a classic trench style, a swing coat, a peplum jacket or a tailored blazer. Trench coats featured heavily on the fall and winter catwalks this year.

Jackets and coats to wear for the hourglass body shape | 40plusstyle.com

LK Bennett Sky Lenzing Ecovero Viscose Blend Crepe JacketMisook Side Tie BlazerGood American Belted Cargo Denim JacketMango Belted Coat

Rita in belted coat and wide trousers | 40plusstyle.com

Rita @ritapalazzi above (read her style interview here) opts for a trench style. Trenches are ideal for the hourglass as they show off your waistline.

Steal her look with this similar coat, wide pants, pumps, shoulder bag and sunglasses.

Dresses and jumpsuits for the hourglass figure

As a general rule, hourglass shapes look fantastic in dresses. A wrap style in a knee-length or midi length is a very good shape for you.

A wrap dress has a flattering v-neck as well as coming in at the waist and then flaring out over your hips.

Choose a style with a tie or a belt so you can draw attention to your waist. Retro styles tend to be a good option too. Fifties-style dresses are made to flatter the hourglass figure.

You could also opt for a jumpsuit. Choose a style which is either fitted at the waist, or which you can draw in with a belt. Look for a v-neck or a wider neck style like a boat neck.

Dresses and set to wear for the hourglass body | 40plusstyle.com

Black Halo Joan Turtleneck Long-Sleeve DressChelsea28 Sleeveless Corset Bodice DressMango Wrap Shirt DressTahari ASL Peak Lapel Belted Blazer & Pants Set

How to dress the hourglass: jacket, wrap dress and pumps | 40plusstyle.com

LK Bennett Sky Lenzing Ecovero Viscose Blend Crepe JacketMango Wrap Shirt DressLK Bennett Mindy Patent Leather Ankle Strap CourtsLK Bennett Jamie Croc-Effect Leather Tote BagMonica Vinader Nura Freshwater Pearl Drop Earrings

Best jeans, pants and skirts for hourglass figures

A slightly flared or bootcut style will be the most flattering for your figure as it balances out your curves. Look out for a stretch denim with a high waist.

You can also wear skinny jeans if you want to show off your curves. But make sure to get a stretch denim for a better fit.

Pants, jeans and skirts | 40plusstyle.com

Joe’s Flawless – Hi Honey High Waist Bootcut JeansWit & Wisdom ‘Ab’Solution Sky Rise Flare JeansLK Bennett Soni Button-Detail Tailored TrousersElie Tahari The Gavi Denim Midi-Skirt

A pencil skirt is the best shape for an hourglass as, even though it is straight in style, it will go in and out in all the right places with your curves.

Choose a knee-length to show off your shapely calves. Or, you could opt for a midi-style.

But if you do go for the longer option, you are likely to look best if you choose to wear a little heel with your pencil skirt, whether you opt for a pump or a bootie, because hourglasses, as a general rule, can be shorter in the leg than other body shapes.

Take a look at the most comfortable heels to wear.

Patricia in printed skirt, denim jacket and pumps | 40plusstyle.com

Patricia @patriciaafricaiglesias above (read her style interview here) opts for a pencil skirt, which is a great option for hourglass shapes. She wears her jacket over her shoulders, which makes sure her waist is still visible so her jacket doesn’t add extra ‘bulk’.

Check out this similar tee, denim jacket, skirt (another option here), pumps, bag, earrings, necklace and sunglasses.

Shoes for the hourglass

If you are an hourglass body shape, you are all about beautiful curves. Look out for shoes which mirror your curves.

A round toe is likely to be most flattering for you. Think about ballet flats and pumps you can wear with jeans and pencil skirts.

You are likely to have lovely shapely ankles, so you could draw attention to them with an ankle strap, but if you do have shorter legs, be aware that a strap across your ankle can make your legs look even shorter.

Shoes for the hourglass body shape | 40plusstyle.com

Tory Burch Claire Cap-Toe Ballet FlatsLK Bennett Blakely Patent Snaffle PumpsLK Bennett Mindy Patent Leather Ankle Strap CourtsLK Bennett Signature Leather Trainers

Belted jacket, wrap top, trousers and pumps | 40plusstyle.com

Good American Belted Cargo Denim JacketLoveappella Faux Wrap TopWit & Wisdom ‘Ab’Solution Sky Rise Flare JeansLK Bennett Blakely Patent Snaffle PumpsSee by Chloé Mara Leather Saddle BagMonica Vinader Nura Freshwater Pearl Drop Earrings

For more style inspiration, see our article on how to wear short dresses with pants.

Accessories for the hourglass

When it comes to accessories, retro style scarves will flatter your style. But, as hourglasses do tend to be busty, you probably won’t want to add too much bulk to your top half.

As with your shoes, look out for jewelry and handbags which have a rounded shape. This will flatter your figure rather than working against it (as can happen if you choose more angular shapes).

When you choose a handbag, look out for the strap length. If you opt for a style which sits at your bust, you will end up adding width there. Instead, choose a bag which either ends at your slim waist to draw attention there, or a bag which you hold so that it ends on your shapely legs.

If you do feel that a style looks a little bulky or boxy on you, you can wear a belt over the top.

Belts will be your favorite accessory as they draw attention to your waist.

You can simply pop a belt over a coat, a cardigan, a dress or a top to show off your shapely waist. Look out for stretchy styles so you have the flexibility to wear your belt over anything.

Accessories the hourglass shaped body | 40plusstyle.com

LK Bennett Jamie Croc-Effect Leather Tote BagLK Bennett Dominica Suede Clutch BagSee by Chloé Mara Leather Saddle BagKate Spade New York Snow Dot Bandana ScarfBony Levy 14K Gold Pendant NecklaceMonica Vinader Nura Freshwater Pearl Drop EarringsBurberry 52mm Cat Eye SunglassesTory Burch Miller Reversible Leather Belt

Julie in printed blazer set, belt and pumps | 40plusstyle.com

Julie @stylishparadox above (read her style interview here) adds a belt to her colorful suit.

Check out this blazer set (another option here) that you can wear with this similar pair of pumps, handbag, belt, earrings and sunglasses.

9 outfits for the hourglass shape using the pieces above

Below are 9 outfit ideas on how to dress the hourglass for you using the pieces from above.

But, there are obviously lots more ways you could mix and match all of these pieces to create dozens more outfits. You could wear any of the tops with any of the bottoms and change the shoes to make your outfit more casual or formal.

Read our ultimate guide to creating a capsule wardrobe that works best for you.

A capsule wardrobe for the hourglass body shape | 40plusstyle.com

SHOP the pieces perfect for the hourglass shaped body here:

More hourglass inspiration for you

Below is an earlier hourglass capsule we created. You can see that all of the items may be past season but they are timeless so should still provide you with plenty of inspiration.

A capsule wardrobe for the hourglass body shape | 40plusstyle.com
A capsule wardrobe for the hourglass body shape | 40plusstyle.com

How do you dress your hourglass shape? What are your favorite pieces and brands when it comes to how to dress the hourglass? Let us know!

Continue reading:

  1. How To Determine Your Body Shape
  2. How To Dress The Apple Body Shape
  3. How To Dress A Pear Shaped Body

P.S.: Please note that the guidelines for the hourglass body shape above are for general guidance only. Everyone is different and you certainly don’t have to stick to the above guidelines on how to dress the hourglass to dress well.

Like this article on how to dress the hourglass body shape? Save it on Pinterest!

How to dress the hourglass body shape | 40plusstyle.com

Feature image by Nikki @40notfrumpy

Sylvia

Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. She is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

Want to get more articles from 40+style in your inbox, subscribe here.

You can also connect with 40+style on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Support 40+style by using the links in our articles to shop. As an associate for Amazon and many other brands, we receive a small commission (at no cost to you) on qualifying purchases which enables us to keep creating amazing free content for you. Thanks!