How To Style an Hourglass Body Shape: Your Ultimate Guide

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The hourglass body shape has long been considered the epitome of feminine beauty. Just picture the iconic curves of Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren.

With its balanced silhouette, the hourglass shape has a timeless appeal that many desire.

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But if you have this body shape, you may know that making the right clothing choices for it can also come with unique challenges. 

Don’t worry; we’re here to help. This article will provide the ultimate guide to the most flattering styles that will make your hourglass body type shine.

Fast Facts

  • An hourglass body shape is characterized by nearly equal bust and hip measurements with a significantly smaller waist and proportionate legs.
  • Styling for an hourglass figure should focus on defining the waist and choosing garments that follow the natural curves while avoiding boxy cuts and stiff fabrics that can hide or distort the shape.
  • Tailored clothing, clean silhouettes, and sleek shoes are among the most flattering style options for an hourglass body shape.

Identifying an Hourglass Body Shape

First, let’s answer the question “What is an hourglass body shape?”

An hourglass body shape is defined by the following characteristics:

  • Bust and hip measurements are nearly equal.
  • The waist is noticeably smaller in comparison to the bust and hips.
  • Shoulders are slightly rounded.
  • The legs are in proportion with the upper body.

This creates the appearance of an hourglass, with a well-defined waist and balanced top and bottom halves. 

As a result, this body shape appears symmetrical and harmonious.

Quick Tip

To determine if you have an hourglass shape, check if there’s no more than a 5% difference between your bust and hip measurements. Also, check if your waist is at least 25% smaller than both. 

For example, if your bust and hips measure 36 inches, your waist should be 27 inches or smaller to be considered an hourglass shape.

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Types of Hourglass Body Shapes

Let’s unpack the diverse range of hourglass subtypes, each resonating with its unique beauty:

  • Traditional hourglass: This classic form is characterized by symmetrical bust and hip measurements and harmoniously aligned shoulders.

    Between these two balanced points lies a significantly narrower, well-defined waist. 
  • Bottom hourglass: The bottom hourglass body shape features a distinctly narrow waist and wider hips, overshadowing the bust in prominence.

    This leads to fuller thighs and a pronounced backside.

    It often leans toward a pear-like appearance but retains the hallmark cinched waist of the hourglass family.
  • Top hourglass: Mirroring its bottom counterpart, the top hourglass body shape showcases a bust that overshadows the hips in terms of width.

    The broader shoulders and accentuated bust line become the primary focal points, but the waist doesn’t lose its significance — it remains the narrowest section, bringing in a sense of balance.

Dos and Don’ts for Styling an Hourglass Body Type

Let’s look into the dos and don’ts for the hourglass body type to ensure you always look your best.


  • Define your waist with belts or fitted clothing.
  • Choose clothing that follows your natural curves, such as wrap dresses, tailored jackets, or high-waisted pants.
  • Aim for clean and classic silhouettes to avoid deemphasizing or disrupting your curves’ appearance. 
  • Balance your upper and lower halves with appropriate necklines, sleeve lengths, and hemlines.
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  • Don’t choose clothing that hides your waist, like bulky or shapeless garments.
  • Don’t go for monochromatic outfits that can make you look boxy.
  • Don’t wear overly tight clothing that may distort your natural shape.
  • Don’t go for outfits or heavy embellishments around your neckline, hips, or waist. These create an imbalance between your top and bottom.
  • Don’t choose pieces made from stiff fabrics, as these can be restrictive.

How To Dress an Hourglass Body Shape

Ready to make the most of your curves? Let’s dive into the essentials of how to dress an hourglass shape to perfection while staying true to your personal style.

Colors and Patterns

When choosing colors and patterns for your hourglass body, remember that your main goal is to enhance your natural curves. 

  • Darker colors tend to be slimming, so consider using them for your bottom half to create a more balanced appearance.
  • You can also experiment with patterns that draw attention to your waistline, such as vertical lines, polka dots, or small floral prints.
  • Steer clear of very bold or busy patterns, which can detract from your natural shape.
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Clothing Preferences

Focus on form-fitting garments that accentuate your silhouette, including the following:

  • Tailored clothing

    This highlights the narrow waist and fits the bust and hips perfectly, ensuring that the natural symmetry of the hourglass figure stands out.
  • Stretch materials

    These materials will hug the body at the right places, like the waist, and provide enough room at the bust and hips. 

    The result? A comfortable fit that showcases the body’s curves without being restrictive.
  • Knee-length or slightly longer hemlines

    Hemlines around or just below the knee or slightly longer hemlines also elongate the silhouette and highlight the hips without making them look wider.
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Slightly low and round necklines are ideal for hourglass figures as they accentuate your décolletage without creating unnecessary visual width around the shoulders. 

The best necklines for an hourglass body shape include the following:

  • V-neck
  • Scoop neck
  • Sweetheart
  • Boat neck
  • Off-the-shoulder
  • Wrap style
  • Square neck
  • Halter
  • Cowl

It’s usually best to avoid high necklines, as they may make you appear top-heavy. However, you can go for something like a turtleneck if it’s fitted and not bulky.

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Choose sleeves that draw attention to your waist and create a balanced silhouette. 

Some options for sleeves include the following:

  • Fitted short sleeves
  • Cap
  • Three-quarter 
  • Bell 
  • Bishop 
  • Flutter 
  • Puffed 

Avoid excessively long or tight sleeves, as they can look unflattering on your frame.

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Choose tops that fit snugly around your waist without being overly tight, so you don’t lose your natural definition. 

Here are examples of tops that highlight your waist and balance your upper body:

  • Wrap tops
  • Empire waist tops
  • Peplum styles
  • Fitted and belted tops with ample room around the chest

Tops that may look unflattering on an hourglass shape include ones with boxy-cut shirts and blouses with loud, large embellishments (especially around the bust) like elaborate ruffles.

These can drown out your shape. 

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Knitwear should follow the contours of your body and emphasize your waist. 

Below are a few great knitwear options for you:

  • Wrap cardigans
  • Peplum sweaters
  • Fitted turtlenecks
  • Lightweight materials
  • V-neck pullovers

On the other hand, oversized or boxy knitwear can hide your curves and make you appear shapeless.

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Coats and jackets should be slightly fitted around your waist and follow the lines of your natural silhouette. 

Consider these options:

  • Trench coats
  • Wrap coats
  • Belted jackets
  • Single-breasted jackets
  • A-line coats
  • Pea coats with a defined waist

As with tops and knitwear, be sure to avoid shapeless or oversized jackets or coats that may hide your hourglass shape.

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Bottoms that sit at your natural waistline are ideal, as they accentuate the smallest part of your waist. 

Additionally, pants that hug your curves and maintain balanced proportions are also incredible choices for you. 

Take a look at some of the right types of trousers for you:

  • High-waisted styles
  • Bootcut or wide-leg varieties
  • Trousers with a defined waistband or a tie
  • Stretch denim
  • Mid-rise

Make sure to avoid low-rise jeans, which can draw too much attention to your hips and create an imbalanced appearance. Trousers with pleating around the hips can do the same.

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Likewise, your shorts should accentuate the smallness of your waist and go with your curves. 

Styles like the following are best for you:

  • High waists
  • Structured or stretchy materials
  • Hemlines around mid-thigh

Keep in mind that slight flaring around the hips is great; it can underline the fullness of your hips. However, this must be balanced out by a fitted waist. 

As always, steer clear of boxy or low-rise shorts.

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Select skirts that sit at your natural waist and showcase your curves, such as the following:

  • Pencil skirts
  • A-line styles
  • High-waisted skirts
  • Wrap skirts
  • Full circle skirts

Now straight skirts are a huge no-no for an hourglass body shape since they go against your curves.

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Body-hugging silhouettes and pieces with waist-cinching details are perfect for showcasing your hourglass figure. 

Choose dresses that accentuate your waist and flatter your figure, like these ones:

  • Wrap dresses
  • Fit-and-flare styles
  • Sheath dresses with defined waists
  • A-line dresses
  • Bodycon dresses
  • Halter dresses

Stay away from dresses that gather at the waist or have bold embellishments at the bottom.

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Opt for heels or nude flats to elongate your legs and create an even more proportional appearance.

Examples are the following: 

  • Pointed-toe pumps
  • Kitten heels
  • Wedges
  • Ankle strap sandals
  • Classic ballet flats
  • Knee-high boots

Note that shoes with excessive details or chunky styles, as they can make your legs appear shorter.

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Accessories can be a game-changer when it comes to dressing for an hourglass body shape.

  • Belts: Use it to cinch in your waist and create a more defined silhouette. Place them around the narrowest part of your waistline, whether over a dress, skirt, or even a coat. 
  • Necklaces: Choose those that sit close to your collarbone to create a visual line that complements the curvature of your upper body.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Which Celebrities Have an Hourglass Body Shape?

Here are some celebrities who proudly carry their hourglass body shape:

  • Kim Kardashian is one of the most famous celebrities with an hourglass figure.

    With her well-known curves and figure-hugging outfits, she is often considered a prime example of the hourglass body type.
  • Beyoncé is known for her powerful stage presence and unforgettable performances. Her figure contributes to her incredible confidence and charm.
  • Sofia Vergara is a modern-day actress who exudes elegance in her red carpet appearances, where her hourglass figure stands out.

What Are the Disadvantages of an Hourglass Figure?

One potential disadvantage is that it might be difficult to find clothing that properly fits and flatters your body shape. With a smaller waist and curvier hips, you might struggle with finding pants and skirts that fit well.

Also, maintaining an hourglass figure through exercise and diet may require more time and effort compared to other body shapes.

This is because you need to focus on specific exercises and nutrition plans to enhance your curves while keeping your waist slim.

Can an Hourglass Body Shape Be Achieved With Diet and Exercise?

Generally, no. Your body shape is largely determined by your genetics, so if you don’t have a natural hourglass shape, you may not be able to achieve it. 

That said, diet and exercise may be able to slightly influence body proportions.

For instance, you can do targeted exercises to achieve a smaller and more defined waist typical of an hourglass body type.

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Start Building a Wardrobe for Your Hourglass Body Type!

Understanding and embracing your hourglass figure is the first step towards curating a wardrobe that not only flatters but celebrates your unique silhouette.

The right outfits can accentuate your balanced proportions, showcasing the beauty of your hourglass shape.

As you embark on this fashion journey, always remember to wear each piece with confidence and pride, for that’s the ultimate accessory to any outfit. It’s all about highlighting your assets and feeling fabulous.

Want To Learn More Fashion Tips for Different Styling Needs?

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  • Felice Albay

    Felice, has a Bachelor of Science graduate in Food Science and Technology. Since 2017, she has honed her skills as a content writer and editor, with a special interest in the ever-evolving worlds of skincare, makeup, and fashion. Juggling her role as a devoted mother, Felice finds inspiration in the dynamic landscape of TikTok, where she keeps a keen eye on the latest trends. Her expertise lies in transforming these discoveries into engaging content, connecting readers with the pulse of the beauty and fashion industries.

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