The hot hourglass is next on the list as I continue refreshing the body type guidelines. If you’re still unsure of your body type or the concept of body types in general, read this post for background information.

Two important points before I begin:

  1. These are only guidelines: Don’t get too hung up on following the information here in the strictest sense. But we all have to start somewhere in order to dress in flattering ensemble combinations and getting your head around the guidelines is a great starting point. Once you have a firm grasp of the guidelines, you can bend them in clever ways and still look fab. That’s the challenging and fun part.
  2. There are 5 simple archetypes: My philosophy about body type, which has served me well for years as a fashion stylist, is to define a few simple body types and then be flexible when working with them. No, you are probably not exactly an hourglass. But that might be your primary body type with another one as secondary. So understanding the guidelines for the hourglass archetype should help you with your own, unique body. For example, I’m a small framed, straight-ish hourglass. I’m not very curvy, but not without a defined waist either. So I follow the guidelines for both the rectangle and the hourglass.

There are many different varieties of the hourglass body type. You don’t need to be well endowed and extremely curvy to be an hourglass, although a shapely bust and defined waist is the norm. You might find that you’re an hourglass with a slightly curvier bottom half in which case you’ll also look at the guidelines for the pear shape body type. If you’re an hourglass with a defined waist, but you’ve got midriff extra bits, you’re still an hourglass but you will also follow some of the guidelines for the apple body type.

You’re an hourglass if your hips are the same width as your shoulders, you have a defined waistline, a round bottom and you’re generally curvy all over. Your bust line can either be full or average size. Creating structure by defining the waist and lengthening the leg line is the flop proof way to dress your naturally shapely bod. But you don’t always need to stick to this formula. If you fancy the idea of surrendering your waistline from time to time, there are ways to do that too.

Make your waist a focal point

  • Wear the best possible bra to create curves in all the right places and define the waist even further. There’s nothing like a good lift to lift an outfit
  • Choose garments in soft fabrics that accentuate and skim over your curves. Knits and drapey silk blends are the best options, and so is fabric with a bit of stretch. Rigid button down shirts and straight tunic styles can work if they’re adequately tailored and have a bit of stretch. Sometimes, layering over a shirt with a cardigan or jacket gives it waist definition. Alternatively, belting shirts at the waist follows the natural contour of your body providing a flattering silhouette.
  • If you’re well endowed, it’s best to avoid high necklines because the bust needs room and your body type looks best with a lengthened neck. However, there are ways of making high necklines look relatively flattering if you layer over them with V-shaped items and wear long vertical necklaces. This draws the eye up and down to elongate your look.
  • The following necklines are often flop proof with a fuller bust and/or shorter neck: V-necks, scoop necks, boat necks, open shirt collars, V-necked halters, and cowls. Rule of thumb is to keep the top relatively simple, smooth and low scooped. You can wear tops with ruffles, pleating and funky detailing, but you’ve got to be careful with their placement.
  • Wrap tops and mock wrap are your friend because they create a V on the neckline and tailor the midriff.
  • Empire cuts are hard to wear with a fuller bust because they aren’t cut long enough from shoulder to under bust point. However, occasionally you’ll find one that works and you’ll probably like the style.
  • If you’re not well endowed and have a relatively long neck, wear high necklines like crews, turtle-necks, halters, shirt collars, mandarin collars and funnel necks.
  • The length of your tops should either catch you just below your hipbone (a few inches above crotch point), or past the thigh area. You can sport the leggings look with the right A-line dress or tunic because this look is about the dress and not the leggings.
  • It’s imperative that anything that you wear on top fits properly on the shoulders because the eye is drawn to definition. As soon as your shoulder line is sloppy, the outfit won’t look as good.
  • Choose tailored single breasted jackets with defined V-necklines. The length will very much depend on what you wear the jacket with. Shrunken jackets look great with skirts and dresses whereas longer jackets look best with pants. This doesn’t mean that you have to shy away from boyfriend jackets. Find a style that’s more tailored than boxy, wear it open or belted at the waist, scrunch up the sleeves and add heels. Voila. You nailed the look.
  • It’s often a great idea to keep your jacket un-buttoned because the long lean line that is created in front of the body is elongating and slimmimg. It also doesn’t matter if the jacket doesn’t close if the rest of the jacket fits. Obviously, coats and trenches are a different story and they have to close in order to weather the elements.
  • Layer your garments to create a “deep V” that will draw attention to your waist. Keep them at hipbone length and pop them over pants or pencil skirts.
  • Belted trenches (at any length) and classic coats with tailored lapels at both thigh and knee length tend to look best.
  • If you can get your head around wearing waist-defining belts, they’ll do wonders to accentuate your naturally defined torso.

Choose a bottom that elongates your silhouette

  • Flat-front, mid-rise, wide waist-band, boot-cut or jeans are the obvious flattering choice. Look for a skimming fit (a fit that skims over the contour of your body), and adjust the waistband as needed.
  • Where you can, opt for bottoms with a bit of stretch for extra comfort around your fullish bottom.
  • Curvy women can wear skinnies or straight legs if you match them with A-line tunics, dresses and heels. Belted tunic button down shirts look incredible so be sure to give that look a go.
  • It’s flop proof to wear pointy-toed or almond toe shoes with bottoms that are wide at the hem because it elongates the leg line. But round toed shoes are just as fab as long as you sport pants at the correct length (hems should almost skim the surface of the ground).
  • Keep walk shorts straight from the thigh down and knee-length, and avoid lengths shorter than this unless you have great gams and youth on your side. Clamdiggers (knee length Summer skinnies) work if you pair them with longer tops. But feel free to sport them with normal length tops if you’re comfortable with your curves.
  • You can wear most styles of skirt if they have enough structure and drop to a flattering length. Keeping skirts around the knee, sometimes a little above and sometimes a little below is an easy rule of thumb. Curvier gals need to  watch that pencil skirts do not taper too much at the side seam. A-lines are best when the panels are stitched down and shaped for extra hip definition.
  • You were made for dresses. Wear them as often as you can!  You wear wraps really well, as well as most A-line cuts. You rock the-fit-and-flare 50’s frock, but look just as fabulous in figure hugging sheath dresses and waist defining shirt dresses. Dresses like curves and you have them – take advantage of the situation.
  • Wearing some sort of heel (even if it’s just an inch) whenever you can will automatically elongate the leg line. But don’t think that you have to wear heels all the time either. You’ll look just as fab wearing a great pair of flats.

Surrendering the waistline

  • If you like the look of voluminous tunics and dresses, you’ll be able to wear certain very specific styles. If they’re gently A-line in silhouette, structured in the shoulders with a scooped neckline, fairly short in length, and in soft drapy fabrics, chances are high that they will work. A word of warning though: voluminous silhouettes  look wide from the side even when they are cut well. So you have to be at peace with that. Obviously, you’ll look narrower in a waist defining silhouette, but it’s fun, carefree and liberating to surrender the waistline from time to time. And when you do, you’ll simply draw attention to other parts of lovely you.
  • If you like fashionable boxy styles like boyfriend jackets, boyfriend shirts, sack-like tunics and billowing blouses, wear them, but pair the look with sleek bottoms. Add heels to the look and you’re good to go.

If you have further tips on how to flatter the hourglass shaped body type, let us know. If there are further questions on how to wear items when you’re hourglass shaped, let’s hear those too.