Having an hourglass body shape may seem timeless and like a star from an old movie, but it’s not all fun and games when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. Despite all the great curves the silhouette offers, it’s also hard to find the right outfits to get the most out of the look.
With icons like Marilyn Monroe, modern celebrities like Dolly Parton, and even fictional movie characters sporting an hourglass shape, the look has become a staple of American style. Find out how to turn those curves in your favor with this handy guide.
What is an hourglass body shape?
Compared to apple-shaped bodies, pear-shaped bodies, and rectangle shapes, hourglasses are the most distinctive. Your top half will be fairly equal in proportion to the bottom half, with a narrow, defined waist. According to stylists and experts, characteristics of an hourglass body shape include:
- A defined and narrow waist; you would describe yourself as “curvy”
- Wider thighs, bust and bottom
- Approximately equal bust and hip measurements
- Slightly rounded shoulders
- Weight gains are evenly distributed throughout the body
Marilyn Monroe and Christina Hendricks are prime examples of an hourglass body shape, thanks to their full busts and curvy hips and thighs. They also prove that body type does not depend on height or dress size, but rather on proportions. You could be a size 8 or a size 28 and still fall into the hourglass category.
What to wear with an hourglass figure
When it comes to dressing an hourglass figure, think fitted, structured, and cinched silhouettes — your pieces should accentuate, enhance, and sculpt your waist, bust, and butt.
Just as a great makeup base will help your foundation work harder, investing in the best shapewear is a great place to start. By streamlining your shape, you’ll create a nice, smooth canvas on which to layer your clothes. A good bra will also make a real difference in stimulating and supporting your bust.
Now for the fun part. When it comes to clothes, look for pieces with a defined middle. It can be a shirt dress, a tailored jumpsuit, or straight jeans with a t-shirt tucked into them. Adding a narrow waistband will also immediately catch the eye, while syncing up any excess fabric to accentuate those curves.
Be careful of clothes that are too baggy or baggy, as this can have the opposite effect and level out the areas you’re trying to highlight in any look.
It can be difficult to find clothes that fit both your waist and your hips, so look for brands that offer in-store alterations or ask your local dry cleaner. It’s money well spent on clothes you’ll love to wear.
The best clothes for an hourglass figure
Having trouble navigating the rails? Overwhelmed by online shopping? Do not panic. These are the pieces to look for to best flatter your hourglass figure.
The best coats for an hourglass figure
- Belted trenches: Belted trench coats are ideal for hourglass figures, as they can be adjusted and cinched to your liking. This style is also more structured than loose, bulkier outerwear.
- Wrap coats: Like belted trench coats, double-breasted coats are adjustable: they hug and define the curves, and the tie in particular emphasizes the waist. Fit and flare wrap coats enhance hourglass proportions and create a flattering overall look.
Best Tops for Hourglass Body Shape
- Fitted tops: Form-fitting tops, like tight tank tops and jumpsuits, accentuate and define the waistline, especially the curves.
- Wrap tops: Since they’re adjustable, wrap tops are an ideal, tried-and-true option – from low to high, they balance out effortlessly and add definition to the waistline. Plus, you can dress them up or down depending on the occasion.
- V-Neck Tops: This style draws attention to the bust and waistline. You can also be as revealing (or non-revealing) as you want.
Best Bottoms for Hourglass Body Shape
- High waist jeans : Recognized as one of the best jeans, high waisted jeans accentuate and define the waist by hugging your curves in all the right places.
- Flared and bootleg jeans: Similar to high-waisted iterations, flared and bootleg jeans flatter hourglass figures; however, they are more ideal for balancing curvier hips and thighs.
- skinny jeans: Among the best slimming jeans, skinny jeans and straight cuts emphasize natural curves, with special attention to the thighs and behind.
- Pencil skirts: Like skinny jeans, pencil skirts emphasize and define the waist, while highlighting the thighs, hips and buttocks.
Best Dresses and Jumpsuits for Hourglass Figures
- Bodycon dresses: Bodycon dresses are form-fitting, body-hugging and flattering for hourglass-shaped bodies across the spectrum, whether thin or thick. Not only do they outline and cut out the body, but they draw attention to the bust and bottom.
- Wrap dresses: Wrap dresses can be gathered to emphasize and define the waist. Since they are often v-neck, they accentuate the bust area with little to no fuss.
- Wide Leg Jumpsuits: Available in a variety of lengths and styles, the jumpsuits emphasize curves and add volume to the lower half of the body.
Which looks are the most “unflattering” on an hourglass figure?
There are no hard and fast rules as to what you shouldn’t wear if you have an hourglass figure, but some pieces won’t make the most of your enviable figure.
Take for example straight shift dresses from top to bottom. Anything that isn’t defined at the waist will skim your waist, making you look taller than you are. The same goes for puffy tunics that blouse over your best feature – that petite waistline – instead of showing it off.
If your bust makes you feel uncomfortable or frumpy, steer clear of attention-grabbing pieces or add unnecessary bulk — ruffles and plunging necklines are among the worst offenders here. Instead, try patterned or printed pants, statement sleeves and detailed waistbands, anything that catches the eye. Nonetheless, we still tend to wear whatever makes you feel confident, empowered, and comfortable above all else.