Do I Have An Hourglass Figure?

Do I Have An Hourglass Figure?

tips to flatter your figure and help you feel more confident and body positive

Do You Have an Hourglass Figure?

Hourglass figures are the only body shape without a produce label, and the closest I’ve come up with is a butternut squash, but you may also recognize the names figure eight, the number 8, and an X body shape.

Yours is the least common female body shape, with only 8 percent of women having an hourglass figure, but probably half of all women think they have one (ok I made that last figure up, but it’s a LOT).

More from the Stunning Style Know Your Body Shape Series!

Defining Proportions of an Hourglass Figure

As an hourglass-shaped woman, your proportions can be summed up in one word: DRAMATIC. Your defining proportion is your bust/shoulder measurements are within half an inch of your hips, AND your waist is very defined, meaning it’s AT LEAST 25 percent smaller than your hips and bust/shoulders.

There is nothing subtle or almost about your shape, but it can still be on a scale of dramatic to more dramatic. Your hips and shoulders have a more rounded, softer look, rather than the sharp angles of a rectangle or inverted triangle.

The stereotypical hourglass has a very full bust, extremely narrow waist, very full hips and shapely legs, and is a walking caricature, a living, breathing Jessica Rabbit.

Jessica Rabbit is the stereotypical hourglass figure.

Despite the cartoonish image we have, an hourglass bust can be on the less full side, she can carry weight in her abdomen, and her waist will likely thicken with age, menopause, childbirth, and other life changes. You can also be petite, but your PROPORTIONS will still be dramatic.

Defining characteristics for an hourglass figure.

Other Possible Characteristics

You are blessed with curves galore! Your legs tend to be curvy and shapely, but not necessarily naturally muscular and defined. Your bust is shapely and full but can range in fullness from full to overflowing. You don’t have to be overflowing to be an hourglass, but you will have a proportionally very full bust. Your arms tend to be slender but soft.

Your bottom is in flatter, though from the front you would expect it to be very full. And hourglass’s musculature tends to be naturally soft and rounded rather than well-defined. If you gain weight it shows up evenly in your body, particularly in the bust, hips, seat, and thighs first, but you can also gain in the midsection, especially after childbirth and menopause.

When shopping for clothes you typically wear the same size in both top and bottom, but you struggle to find tops that fit your bust and waist and pants that fit your hips and waist. Your biggest shopping challenge is finding pants that fit your curvy bottom without leaving a gap in the waistband. My new 2-part course, Style Your Silhouette has an entire module dedicated to bottoms and how to find pants that fit you right. You can sign up and start Course 1 now with the link above!

The best asset of an hourglass-shaped woman is all your curves, and it can also be your primary complaint. You don’t always enjoy the attention your dramatic shape can garner, and it can be hard to find clothes that fit your curves and your waist.

Common Myths

The most common myth is that any woman who is busty is an hourglass, and there is much more to it. A large bust doesn’t make you an hourglass. The word “almost” comes up a lot. “I’m almost an hourglass, but my waist is the same as my hips.” Just like you can’t almost be pregnant, you can’t almost be an hourglass or another body shape. You either are or you aren’t, and following the hourglass recommendations when you are actually another body shape is going to leave you feeling frustrated and wondering what’s wrong with your body because the clothes won’t fit correctly.

The second myth is that it’s the most desirable and easiest to dress body shape. The truth is all body shapes are beautiful and desirable including hourglass, and each one has its challenges. Figure eight shapes are possibly the most challenging to dress. 

Christina Hendricks is a well-known hourglass-shaped actress, and when she was at the peak of her career, nominated for an Emmy, she couldn’t find a designer willing to lend or make a dress for her because it takes a lot more work and fabric to work with curves, and all the sample gowns were too small for her.

While you’ll see a lot of hourglass-shaped comic book characters, you won’t see many on the big screen, partly because they are the least common body shape, partly because they get stereotyped in their roles, and partly because they are hard to dress.

One more myth is you can’t be an hourglass if you are petite, but Salma Hayek is both.

Salma Hayek wearing a red dress.
Salma Hayek has an hourglass figure.
Salma Hayek has an hourglass figure.

Hourglass Vs Inverted Triangle

You lean toward an inverted triangle shape if you have slightly fleshy upper arms or slightly narrower hips, which make your shoulder line appear wider and your waist has filled in.

Halle Berry has an hourglass figure.
Halle Berry has an hourglass figure.
Halle Berry has an hourglass figure.
While her hips may be slightly narrow, she is still an hourglass.
Amal Clooney wearing a white lace top and jeans.
Amal Clooney has an inverted triangle body shape.

Hourglass Vs Pear

You lean toward a pear shape if you have extra weight around your hips, particularly after childbirth or weight gain, but a true pear will have a full bottom.

Nigella Lawson has an hourglass figure.
Nigella Lawson has an hourglass figure.
Nigella Lawson has an hourglass figure.
Her lower half may fill out, but she is still an hourglass.
Melissa McCarthy wearing a floral skirt and black top.
Melissa McCarthy has a pear-shaped body.

Hourglass Vs Apple

You lean toward an apple shape if you carry extra weight around your waist. Menopause, childbirth, weight gain, and other factors can add to your midsection, but your hips and shoulders will still be balanced

Christina Hendricks
Christina Hendricks has an hourglass figure.
Christina Hendricks
Her midsection may change, but she is still an hourglass.
Rebel Wilson has an apple body shape.
Rebel Wilson has an apple body shape.

Hourglass Vs Rectangle

You lean toward a rectangle shape if your waist is less defined (particularly after childbirth or menopause) or you have a short torso. 

Christina Hendricks
Christina Hendricks has an hourglass figure.
Christina Hendricks
Her waist may be straighter at times, but she is still an hourglass.
Queen Latifah wearing a black top and black pants.
Queen Latifah has a rectangle body shape.

Famous Hourglass Figures

Probably the most famous hourglass figure is Marilyn Monroe. Other notables include Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson, Christina Hendricks, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Priyanka Chopra, Salma Hayek, Nigella Lawson, and Sofia Vergara.

Marylin Monroe
Marylin Monroe
Halle Berry
Halle Berry
Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson
Christina Hendricks
Christina Hendricks
Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot
Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren
Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra
Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek
Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson
Sofia Vergara
Sofia Vergara

How to Dress an Hourglass Figure

Highlight and Accentuate Your Best Assets

Most body shape courses and articles focus on hiding or covering parts of your body, which adds to the shame and media lie that we all need to achieve an impossible ideal. Your hourglass figure is perfect, it’s beautiful, and we don’t want to cover anything up. Instead, we are going to direct the spotlight to accentuate and highlight specific parts of our bodies.

Think of a stage production. The lighting crew shines spotlights on certain parts of the stage to draw your attention to the place they want you to look. It could be because they want to direct our eyes to where the most important action is, to distract us from something like a set change, or because they are trying to achieve an effect like telling us we are seeing a memory, a weather change, or magic.

We can do the same thing with outfits, spotlighting the parts where we want to focus their attention, and use that to make them see what we want them to see. When you work with, not against, your naturally fabulous features it’s so freeing. I want you to fall in love with your body because it’s amazing!

Your Spotlight Goal

Your naturally balanced silhouette is already fabulous just the way it is, and the key will be to shine a spotlight on your natural balance and curves, follow your silhouette, accentuate your waistline, and maintain your natural proportions.

You want to maintain balance, just like you would when balancing a scale. If you add to one side (your shoulders), you need to add to the other side (your hips) or you’ll tip the scale and shine the spotlight up or down. The easiest way to keep the balance is to shine the spotlight on the waistline and opt for simple, form-fitting clothes that follow your silhouette.

Your figure is eye-catching all on its own and doesn’t really need anything extra to draw the spotlight, but if you do add embellishments, make sure they are evenly distributed or focus on your waist to keep the spotlight from focusing in one spot.

Keep the spotlight moving top to bottom and highlight your naturally curvy and balanced silhouette.

The Biggest Outfit Mistakes an Hourglass Makes

Without a doubt, the biggest mistake an hourglass makes in her outfits is hiding her waistline with ill-fitting or boxy tops. Some women intentionally cover their curves because they have been shamed for their curves or received unwanted attention from an early age.

The over sexualization of women puts hourglass shaped women (other women experience this as well, but they get it even more) in a very uncomfortable position, especially as young women. They are either told to cover themselves because others are uncomfortable with themselves and project that onto others or they want to hide their bodies to escape notice.

The second reason hourglass-shaped women wear boxy and ill-fitting tops is because it’s hard to find clothes that fit their curves. It’s more expensive and more difficult to create clothes that follow curves, and they are hard to find in stores. Not knowing what else to do, they often settle for boxy and shapeless rather than clothes that pull, gape, and reveal more than they want to reveal.

It’s not what you want to hear, but finding a great tailor is going to make all the difference in having clothes that fit and follow your curves rather than shapeless, boxy clothes that hide everything.

If you feel ashamed to show your curves, it can be an adjustment, but it can also be really freeing to finally embrace your amazing shape. You deserve to love and dress the body you have because it’s perfect.

15 thoughts on “Do I Have An Hourglass Figure?”

  1. Hey, I just wanted to let you know the final section is labeled “The Biggest Outfit Mistakes An Apple Makes” I think you meant it to say Hourglass instead of Apple.
    Thanks for the post, I love all the great body shape information!

    1. Yes, that is possible (really any combination is possible). Usually hourglasses fill out last in their midsections though.

  2. Thank you for this wonderfully clear presentation. I have inherited an hourglass figure from my mother, when younger I hid it entirely due to teenage embarressment and angst. It wasn’t until my thirties, that married and more confident, I actually wore the right clothes and got compliments. But I did make most of those clothes myself, they were and still are, hard to find in shops. I get fed up with ladies being incorrectly called curvy or hourglass too, especially when a lot are just overweight other shapes, sorry no value judgement, I am slightly overweight post lockdown myself – but still have those proportions of 13″ less on the waist and bust/shoulder and hips equal. I have a very high hip as well, which a lot of hourglass ladies have and short waist. The thing I find most frustrating is finding casual clothes, sure I can dress dramatic for that special lunch out or dinner when away on holiday, but I live in the deep countryside and need a waterproof jacket and hood plus jeans most of the time. Most casual stuff can look a bit homespun or cute and not grown up, which is what I feel we need – any advice there?!

  3. Hi April, Brilliant!! What a comprehensive look at the Hourglass figure. I’d like to mention that some Petite Hourglass Ladies are quite slender so may initially not even realize they are an Hourglass. I didn’t at first, especially as I’m not Busty but average size (full shape). I have a sway back curvy bottom (got flatter after 30). I’m definitely not a Pear though, (Shoulders & Hips the same measurement & waist 27% smaller) & yes curves everywhere.
    I really appreciate you discussing why we hide our shape. I clearly remember in my 20’s & have other women look at me like I was going to steal their man because of my appearance. Which always hurt because I make an effort to be aware of dynamics &
    dress well. Ladies you may have someone close to you, a family member or friend that makes comments that are inappropriate or make you feel ashamed of your curves. Please don’t take this on, it’s there stuff not yours. I’m now 49 & its taken the better part of my life to embrace my shape & feel truly comfortable to show it off. Beauty comes from within & is accessible for everybody. It’s ok to be proud of your body, especially from 30yrs onward, by that age we often have to work hard at staying in shape.

  4. Thank you for your in-depth coverage of this figure type!

    I think of myself as having been a true hourglass throughout my adult life, with a full bust and equally full hips and a waist about 11” smaller than both. I always struggled with my weight, and when I had gained enough would start to resemble a pear shape; when I really got seriously heavy, I began to resemble an apple, though my thighs were always significant.

    Four years ago, at the peak of my weight, after having lost significant amounts over and over again only to hopelessly regain, I finally had a gastric bypass. I was intensely determined to follow all of the rules with absolute fidelity, and lost a total of 230 pounds. I have been a size 2/XS (even an XXS in some clothing) since stabilizing 2.5 years ago. I was about this size when I was in my early 20’s (I am now in my 60’s), but my body has altered in the following ways: my bust has deflated so dramatically that I no longer have cleavage, my upper arms have become narrower, and my shoulders and clavicle have become much bonier and have lost the soft rounded contour they had throughout the rest of my life. Additionally, my hips have narrowed significantly, as have my thighs. Now when I look straight on in the mirror at myself, the breadth of my shoulders seems slightly wider than that of my hips, even though measurement-wise my bust and hips are identical. My waist is still tiny, however, and has remained around 11” smaller than both my bust and hips.

    Anyway, it is strange to have a slightly different shape! I am going to (incredible, for someone who was always busty) have a breast lift with a small implant to recover more of a proportion pleasing to me, and to have once again at least some modest cleavage so I feel comfortable in V-neck or scoop necklines.

    Just wanted to chime in – something as dramatic as weight loss surgery, when all of the rules are strictly adhered to, can switch things around in a way which can potentially skew a traditional hourglass more towards an inverted triangle. Yet I still have a very tiny waist, which saves me from looking too boyish. I continue to favor hourglass-y clothing which accentuates my waist, as I find these styles to be the most flattering despite my visually slightly broader shoulders.

  5. I’m an hourglass, 5’6 1/2 with a long torso and short limbs. I have been reluctant to wear outfits that show off my waist b/c of my tummy – and because I wanted to avoid appearing to va va voom But, I’m older now and have a greater appreciation for my shape – still working on that with workouts and mindfulness.

    What do you suggest to make the most of an hourglass that can minimize the tummy area?

  6. Hey, April. I’m still confused about my body type. When I look in the mirror, it looks like my shoulders are slightly wider than my hips. I have a small bust and a narrow waist. I don’t have wide high hips though. My lower hip is wider than the upper one. When I measure my shoulders, bust, waist, high hip and the lower hip, I get the measurements in inches as 37- 32.5- 24.5- 27- 36.5. Please, personally evaluate these measurements and determine my body type, because so far, none of the body calculators have given me a solid answer. The results always range from hourglass to spoon shape to, even on rare occasions, an inverted triangle shape.

  7. Thank you for a detailed overview of how to highlight an hourglass figure as well as clothing advice. My waist is 11 inches smaller than both my chest and hips and it has always been a nightmare finding clothes that fit properly, both tops and bottoms. If it fits in the chest and hips, it’s way too big in the waist. Before I learned how to sew, I’ve either just bought knit tops with lots of stretch or just settled for boxy, shapeless looking tops or pants/jeans that gapped severely in the waist. Now that I know how to sew. I just tailor my own clothes and it’s been so much easier. I find that peplum tops that accentuate the waist or belted styles look best on me. Also anything that skims the curves. As for skirts, A line or pencil skirts look really good and for pants, bootcut or straight leg.

  8. I’m an hourglass, even post breast reduction. I am also petite wirh long legs. My mom is a rectangle, 32A cup. It was always frustrating for her to dress me as a kid and tough to understand why I always wore jackets even in Texas summers. I now have a daughter who is an hourglass with long legs and she lives in a hoodie year around. When I think about what I’d like to say to 11 year old me, it doesn’t work with her. Any advice?

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