Hourglass Body Shape Guide

An hourglass body shape is characterised by a well-defined waistline and hips that are approximately the same width as the shoulders. This body shape is the most feminine and curvy, and considered the most desired body shape. Clothes that accentuate your curves and waistline work best for this body type.

This guide is for those with a hourglass, also know as a figure of 8 shape wishing to emphasise and celebrate their natural silhouette.

Figuring out your body shape

Everyone has a unique body profile, but most of us fall into one or two of the typical body shape profiles. It is totally normal to fall between 2-body types. Here are some of the common cross-overs:

  • Hourglass leaning towards an Apple, without lots of exercise weight gain on the stomach can occur, as well as after childbirth and menopause.
  • Hourglass leaning towards a Pear (after child birth or after the 40’s) the weight on the hips can unbalance your silhouette, with more weight settling on the stomach and thighs. This can make women more self conscious of figure hugging styles.
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Best styles for an hourglass body shape

The hourglass figure is naturally very feminine, so clothes that trace the curves of the body offer the most flattering options:

  • High-waisted trousers or skirts that accentuate the waistline.
  • Fitted dresses that hug your curves, particularly ones thats have tailoring or elastic to cinch in the waist.
  • Belted dresses and wrap dresses are fantastic for the hourglass shape.
  • V-neck, sweetheart and Bardot necklines are particularly flattering.
  • Slim fitting sleeves and tops which show off the arms and shoulders, with 3/4 lengths are great for showing off the natural feminine shape of the hourglass upper body.
  • Medium weight fabrics that skim the body and provide a little extra structure.

Best styles of tops for the hourglass

Tops for an hourglass figure

Tops which show off the shape of the upper body, without adding bulk to the arms and shoulders with slim-fitting sleeves balance the body. 3/4 length is also great and can be achieved by rolling up sleeves. Note: the most flattering neckline for those with a fuller bust is typically a scoop or V-neck.

Best type of neckline for the hourglass figure

Neckline of tops for an hourglass figure

Tops which have necklines that show off the shape of the upper body, shoulders and chest tend to be most flattering. Although there is no set size for the bust of the hourglass figure, for some people wearing high necklines will be a firm no, and for other with a smaller bust it will be fine.

For women with larger chest and if the breasts have lost their perkiness, dropped necklines will help breaks up the section across the chest and stop the bosom looking as droopy. Note: the neckline of tops also applies to the neckline of dresses and jumpsuits.

Best styles of sleeves for the hourglass body shape

Best style of sleeves for the hourglass body shape

When it comes to sleeves on tops for an hourglass shape, the best styles tend to be: Sleeveless, Cap-sleeve, Cropped sleeve, Fitted sleeves, Fit and flare all work well to show off the feminine shape of the hourglass upper body.

You can also wear bishop sleeves, puff sleeves and balloon sleeved tops and dresses if the style has a slim fitting waist. Just be mindful about throwing the proportions of the lower body off, consider a skirt that fits and flares to compliment the extra volume on the arms.

Best style of shorts for the hourglass body shape

Shorts for an hourglass figure

The best style of shorts for a curvy figure include, but are not limited to Relaxed fit shorts, High-waisted tailored shorts, Form-fitting shorts, Structured shorts, and Tie-waistband fit and flare shorts.

The key for shorts is to avoid low-rise versions that sit on the widest part of your hips as this will throw off your proportions – it will make you look heavier on the thighs and pull focus from your curvy and balanced silhouette.

Best style of trousers and jeans for the hourglass body shape

The best style of trousers for a curvy hourglass figure

The best style of trousers for a curvy figure include: High-waisted versions, slim-fitting jeans and trousers (cigarette pants without bulging pockets or too much detail on the hips), bootcut style of trousers, and high-waisted flared jeans and trousers complement curves.

Best style of dresses for the hourglass body shape

The best style of dresses for the hourglass curvy body shape

The best style of dresses for a curvy figure include, but are not limited to Wrap dresses, Shift dresses, Pencil dresses, Bias cut dresses, Peplum dresses, and although not shown above, even Tea dresses work great on curves.

Best style of skirt for the hourglass figure

Hourglass figure - best styles of skirts

The best style of skirts for an hourglass figure include: High-waisted versions of all skirts (avoid low slung skirts as this will widen the hips) full-circle skirts, pencil skirts, A-line, gored and Bias-cut skirts (slip skirts) show off the waist and complement curvy hips and keep the hourglass shape balanced.

For those with an Hourglass Bottom figure, you may find full circle skirts and fit and flare skirts create too much volume on your hips and make your derrière appear much larger, in turn creating unbalance in the lower body.

Worst styles for a hourglass curvy body with a defined waist

The general rule for emphasising the hourglass figure is to avoid anything baggy, oversized and not tailored.

Some women with an Hourglass glass figure may be self conscious of their lower stomachs or bottoms and prefer to wear looser styles of clothing as a layer.

The half tuck with a shirt for example is a great way to provide coverage, but also helps highlight a waistline, teamed with a V-neck, and sleeves rolled up this can also be slimming whilst providing coverage and room to breathe. Remember everything here is just a guide, and you should always wear what you love!

Clothing to avoid for the hourglass

There are of course some clothes which don’t do anything for those with curves, such as:

  • Baggy T-shirts and Trapeze style tops and dresses that are shapeless and hide the waist.
  • Boxy or oversized boyfriend blazers will add volume to your frame, and cover the feminine shape of the upper body.
  • Over-sized and heavy chunky knit jumpers will swamp your frame and make you look bigger in the mid-section and throw your proportions off balance (you might get away with tucking in a light to medium knit jumper on a high waistband).
  • Over-sized shirts will simply hide your shapely waistline and disguise the one feature that makes your figure so sought after! If you do wear loose shirts always tuck it into a high waistband, or do the half tuck and wear with form fitting trousers to show off your curvy hips.
  • If you’re conscious about your size, horizontal stripes or big patterns can give the appearance of extra bulk, so stick to simple styles
  • Big ruffles, and details on the bust and shoulders will throw you off balance, unless you add the same to the hips and ensure you highlight the waist with a neutral belt. Likewise lots of ruffles and detail on the hips, bottom and thighs will also unbalance your already balanced silhouette and proportions.
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Can hourglass figures wear any baggy clothes?

I try to avoid wearing baggy styles of clothes that hide my natural silhouette from head to toe, if I wear an oversized T-shirt or shirt, I will pair it with slim fitting or curve enhancing bottoms to help show off my figure, whilst using a half tuck or the french tuck to draw the eyes to my waist. If I’m wearing a shirt, I may wear it open and show my curves via a form fitting top beneath.

Famous curvy hourglass figured celebrities

Famous celebrities that share this wonderful body shape include: Jennifer Lawrence, Sofia Vergara, Salma Hayek, Kate Winslet, Kelly Brook and Scarlett Johansson.

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Hourglass body shape summary:

If you have an hourglass-shaped figure, your hips and thighs are equal in size and you have a well defined waist. Pencil skirts, high waisted trousers and wrap dresses all help accentuate your curves.  Choose tops that nip in at the waist. If you are self-conscious about your shape or carry extra weight on your stomach, avoid low-rise jeans and skirts as this will widen your hips, avoid clingy fabrics, choose structure tailored cuts to pull in the waist and skim over the lower stomach. Peplum inspired cuts for tops, dresses and belts are great for maintaining the hourglass figure, but also offering some coverage on weight gain.

Variations of the hourglass shape

The hourglass variations include the Hourglass Top, Hourglass Bottom, Cello and Vase. The proportions all vary slightly but the overall shape and proportions still resemble that of the hourglass.

Hourglass Top:

The Hourglass Top variation refers to a body shape where the upper body, mainly the bust and in some cases the shoulders are more pronounced and curvier when compared to the lower body. This variation maintains the classic hourglass shape but with a more prominent focus on the upper body curves. The main styling tip for this shape is to focus on V-necklines to help break up the chest areas, and avoid anything shoulders and sleeves that extends width of the shoulders.

Hourglass Bottom:

The Hourglass Bottom variation is characterised by a fuller and curvier lower body. The bottom hips and thighs are slightly wider compared to the bust and shoulders, this is different to a Pear shape (a pear will have more volume around the entire hip, thighs and bottom). The hourglass bottom just has slightly wider hips than the shoulders. Avoid any additional details or ruffles, pockets across the hip area, and if you’re conscious of wider hips, bring the attention up to your shoulders by wearing necklines that widen the shoulders.


The Cello variation, also known as the Hourglass Pear shape, combines elements of the classic hourglass and pear body shapes. It features a well-defined waistline, balanced proportions between the bust and hips, and a fuller lower body with rounded hips and thighs. This shape is known as the Full Hourglass figure which means you are on the heavier side and have a lot of more curves on offer! Wrap dresses are a dream for Cellos, finding trousers to fit however can be more tricky, high waisted, floor skimming tailored and flared styles tend to work best.


The Vase variation, also known as the Slim Hourglass, is a subtler version of the traditional hourglass shape. It features a more slender frame with a longer torso gentle curves at the bust and hips. The waistline is still well-defined but less pronounced compared to the classic hourglass shape. Celebrate those legs wearing skirts and dresses, wear high waisted versions of everything to lengthen the legs and balance out your slightly longer torso.


Discover the best way to get started on your personal style journey     

Roberta Lee - The Sustainable Stylist sits in a chair laughing. She wears a hat and black blazer with cream skirt .

Do you think that you’re an hourglass shape? Let me know. Is there any hourglass shape styling guidance that you ignore as it just doesn’t work for you? Don’t forget that I offer virtual styling support via video call so you can book me to help you no matter where you live!

Body shape series

Other blogs in the body shape series include:

What body shape am I?
How to measure your body accurately
How to dress a Pear (Triangle) Body Shape
How to dress a Ruler (Column) Body Shape
How to dress an Apple (Oval) Body Shape
How to dress an Inverted Triangle (T-shape) Body Shape

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