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.This is such a common problem that I’ve created a FREE Masterclass on how to find pants that fit you right, and you can reserve your spot right now! If you want to dive even deeper into dressing for your body shape, my new 2-part course, Style Your Silhouette has an entire module dedicated to bottoms and so much more!
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
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.
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.
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
You lean toward a rectangle shape if your waist is less defined (particularly after childbirth or menopause) or you have a short torso.
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.
23 thoughts on “Do I Have An Hourglass Figure?”
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!
Thank you for pointing that out! We’ve fixed it 🙂
can a hourglass figure appear rectangle with weight gain
Yes, that is possible (really any combination is possible). Usually hourglasses fill out last in their midsections though.
This is the best article I have read on the hourglass shape! Thank you for all the good examples. It really helps to have this much information. 🙂
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?!
Hi Trisha – I cover all of these topics in my course Style Your Silhouette. You can learn more here: https://www.stunningstyle.com/lovemybody. Thanks for reading!
Hi, my measurements are 38-30-37 am I am hourglass or a rectangle?
Hi Selena! You can use our free worksheet to determine your body shape – it’s available on this post: https://stunningstyle.com/style-secrets/what-is-my-body-shape-the-quick-and-easy-way-to-find-out
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.
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.
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?
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.
Hi Paula! Have you tried using our free worksheet to help you identify your body shape? You can find the download in this article: https://stunningstyle.com/style-secrets/what-is-my-body-shape-the-quick-and-easy-way-to-find-out
Hope this helps! 🙂
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.
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?
I am a hourglass. My measurements are 37 26 37. My shoulders are 37. High hips are 34. My bra band size 34DD is equal to my high hips. I’m age 35, am 5′ 5 and weigh 122. I have long legs and a short torso. I used to be embarrassed about my body shape when I was younger because I garnered so much attention. I would have creepy professors ask me to model in the park. Strangers would take pictures of me behind my back. And women would spread rumors about me like I had eating disorders or fake boobs (I’m a totally natural 34 DD). That I would actually smash my boobs down and wear unflattering clothes and oversized sweaters. In my 20s my weight ranged from 100 to 125 and I measured 35 24 35. Now I am proud of my body! 37 shoulders- 37(34 DD) – 26 – 34 high hip – 37 hips.
My hips are average shape but the measurement is above-average due to the full derriere. With 41″ shoulders, 38.5″ bust, full, 29″ waist, and 41″ hip measurement but near average proportioned hip bones and more tissue behind it’s like I’m teetering between the spoon and inverted triangle shapes and might become a verifiable hourglass at a certain weight. People like me fall in between categories because of stringency. With a 1.5″ difference between hip and bust I’m out at present. My three measurements of hip, shoulder, and bust are 10 inches and 25% greater than the waist yet my bust needs 1 inch. My presently overweight body is spoon-hourglass. When I lose major weight and approach underweight I am inverted triangle-hourglass. I have to stay at a certain narrow weight range to be defined as a true hourglass. Bone structure, fat deposit patterning, and athleticism all combine to make my shape what it is.
Thank you for showing “hip-dips” are more often than not part of a natural and normal weight hourglass figure! Photo editing is driving people to obsess over what I’d guess 2-4% of hourglass figures have, which is an hourglass figure with no “hip-dip”. Marylin Monroe had hip dips as do Halle Berry, Sophia Loren, and Priyanka Chopra.
I always thought I’m an hourglass figure, but after seeing you saying hourglass figures always have a full bust, I’m not sure anymore! 🤔 My shoulders are equal width to my hips, and I have a small waist. And I’m definitely not pear shaped. I’m softly curvy, curvy legs and arms, with a round bottom, but have always had a smaller bust, an A/B cup (but still wider shoulders and upper torso/shoulders as wide as my hips, and a small waist. My waist being about 11 inches smaller than my hips/butt). My measurements are 35, 25, 36 (but even though my bust is smaller, my shoulders are equal in width to my hips). I also don’t fit into the rectangle or inverted triangle body types. I’m shaped like an X. So what is my body type?
When I was younger ( before menopause) I had the perfect hourglass shape. Now that I am older I feel more like I have an apple shape but still have the big hips, breast and my waist remains small no matter what. Can a hourglass figure he mixed with 2 shapes?
I’m so confused, my measurements in centimetres are
82-68-89.. bust, waist and hips respectively. I haven’t measured my shoulders yet. When I was young I thought I was an hourglass or a bottom hourglass but I noticed that hourglass shape has a tiny waist and a dramatic full bust, I’m curvy yes, I have a small waist yes, I have boobs yes, but I’m not that curvy and my waist is not that tiny.
I have a shelf like a appearance in my waist like a spoon, but I still don’t have that much of a full bottom and I have hip dips.
My shoulders and hips when I look in the mirror looks almost equal but sometimes my shoulders look wider.
I can’t find whether I’m hourglass, bottom hourglass, pear or spoon can u pls help
Hi Mimi, we have a free workbook that can help you discover your body shape. You can download it here: https://perfect.stunningstyle.com/
Thank you so much for showing curvier hourglass figures like Christina Hendricks. I’ve taken many of measurements that state I am an hourglass shape but all of the folks I see tend to be very petite and slender (flat stomachs). This was a great article. Thank you!