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.
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.
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.
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.
Hourglass Vs Inverted Triangle
Hourglass Vs Pear
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
Hourglass Vs Rectangle
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.
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.