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Dressing for Your Body, Which Happens to Be Awesome: Hourglass Edition



This week, we’re talking about dressing your hourglass shape, because your hourglass figure is fantastic and you really should embrace it every day. (For past episodes of this column, about your legs, height, bra size, et cetera, click here!)

That said, you’re not born with curves, and you’re definitely not born knowing how to dress them. I know I had to change my personal style on the regular when my body kept changing shape, and it was tremendously inconvenient (#puberty). If you’re anything like me, your wide hips and full chest didn’t become entirely apparent until somewhat recently. So here we are with these great bods, feeling a little baffled regarding how to dress them (kind of like when you get your braces off and feel like you’ve completely forgotten how to chew). Never fear! CollegeFashion to the rescue!

Hourglass girls have the classic “bombshell” shape: Think Marilyn Monroe, Kim Kardashian, and Beyoncé. While you’re known for your hips and chest, it’s the space between that really defines the hourglass shape — a relatively small waist is the often overlooked but vital element to the hourglass look.

There have been whole studies dedicated to the hip-waist ratio of sexually appealing Neanderthal ladies, and you’ve got what it takes (although, hopefully attracting Neanderthals isn’t on your to do list. But it might be. #CollegeBoysAreCavemen). Point being, your hourglass figure is something to embrace, because it’s awesome. You just might want to know how to most appealingly clothe yourself. If that describes you, read on!

Tips for Dressing your Hourglass Body

1. Define your waist.

Look for shirts or cardigans that can be belted at the waist, and then find some very snazzy belts. That’ll emphasize whichever curves you’re trying to flaunt.

2. Pick your battles.

My mother always told me to only show off one body part at a time (Actually, my mother always told me “You’re wearing that?? Why don’t you put on a sweater?”) While I pretty much always took my sweater off as soon as she drove away (oh, high school memories), she had a good point: Only really flaunt your top half or your bottom half at a time. This is good advice for anyone, but it becomes especially useful with your body type.

3. Accessorize lightly.

For some reason that genuinely mystifies me, I’ve found that smaller, more delicate jewelry looks better on those of us with hourglass shapes. That said, the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’, so take this advice with a grain of salt.

Outfit #1: Flattering Fall Fashions

hourglass figure flattering outfit casual
Sweater – Modcloth, Earrings – Nordstrom, Jeans – Topshop, Shoes – Topshop

Maybe midterms are getting to me, but I can imagine curling up in the library with this sweater. Everyone knows that college libraries are a place to see and be seen, right (except on days when I want to wear sweatpants, in which case I tell myself nobody has ever cared or will ever care what I’m wearing so what’s the harm)? This cardigan over a basic tank is super-flattering on your hourglass shape because it accentuates your waist and shows off your curves with jeans that are super form-fitting. These shoes take the studded trend into the fall, and the earrings are just dainty and delightful.

Outfit #2: Modern Marilyn

flattering hourglass outfit dressy
Dress – Modcloth, Jacket – Hollister, Lip gloss – Sephora, Earrings – Nordstrom, Bag – Mango, Shoes – Nordstrom

Marilyn Monroe is the hourglass icon. Emulating her in any sartorial sense is a killer move, especially for you. That said, it’s 2012 and we can step this up a little bit. This dress is a wild attention-grabber, between its bold color and exciting hemline. While you’re showing some skin on top, the dress goes a little longer than your average going-out dress, so things balance out. These shoes and purse make me instantly think ‘Old Hollywood’, and a denim jacket, red lipstick, and studded earrings keep things modern.

What do you think?

What’s your favorite way to play up your shape? What shape should this column tackle next? Who’s your favorite hourglass bombshell? Answer these questions and more in the comments!

Posted on on November 4, 2012 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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19 Responses to “Dressing for Your Body, Which Happens to Be Awesome: Hourglass Edition”

  1. 1
    November 4th, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you for this – as an hourglass, it’s refreshing to not to just hear the repetitive “show off your cleavage” advice. These outfits are very nice, especially the Marilyn ensemble.

  2. 2
    November 4th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this article! The outfits are cute, and as someone with an hourglass figure, it was nice for me to see little emphasis on cleavage. Excellent post.

  3. 3
    November 4th, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I love this post! Not only are the outfits absolutely gorgeous, and the advice perfect, but I love your writing style. This is funny and informative at the same time. As someone who has worked really hard to have nice legs, and was born with a busty physique, I totally get not showing off both assets at the same time. I love this entire series, please write more of these, maybe even some with combos of body traits.

  4. 4
    November 4th, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    How can you tell what shape you are? I know this is something I should know but I really don’t. I do have hips and a small waist but I’m pretty flat chested. So what is that pear shape? Btw great post! That sweater is amazing and looks super cozy!

  5. 5
    November 4th, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    The dresses are really very gorgeous.I liked the second one,its a Marlyn Mooroe style and i love the way she dresses.

  6. 6
    November 4th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    The adjustment period to actually having an hourglass figure…oh, yes, I do recall the many fashion mishaps that occurred in those (not so distant) years. A whole lot of inadvertently showing off both at once. I think your advice to hourglass ladies that they really must pick their asset to spotlight is dead on.

    I would also add, though, that the hourglass shape itself can be an asset to show off. Hourglass ladies can get away with clothing that reveals neither their bust nor legs but still looks really sexy if it skims their curves. Don’t undervalue a dress that seems plain, simple, or modest – because once it’s on your body, it may become smashing.

  7. 7
    November 5th, 2012 at 12:05 am

    I’m an hourglass and really love the outfits and advice presented here! I wish I could afford that cardigan and that dress!

  8. 8
    November 5th, 2012 at 2:22 am

    I’m a little confused on how to determine body type… My measurements are 38.5-28-39, but I don’t think I have particularly wide or narrow hips. I have a hard time getting anything to fit in a flattering way at my waist or bust, which is frustrating. Would I be considered an hourglass?

  9. 9
    November 5th, 2012 at 4:01 am

    The sweater in the first outfit id great! I think that it is actually smarter to opt for smaller cleavage, because it looks very easily trashy with bigger bust.

  10. 10
    November 5th, 2012 at 9:35 am

    @Elaine: Usually, an hourglass has equal or almost equal bust and hip measurements, and traditionally a waist measurement at least 10 inches smaller than both, so it sounds like you are indeed an hourglass.

  11. 11
    November 5th, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    my bust is 36,waist 31, hips 38…does this sound like pear shaped?

  12. 12
    November 5th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I don’t think I’m a true boyish shape. My body measurements are 34-25-35. I’m not exactly sure what my body dhape is. I would love if you did a post on boyish shapes for this series as well as a post on apple shapes for this series.

  13. 13
    November 5th, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    We need an article about soup-can syndrome, or apple shape, especially if you have big boobs and hips with not much of a waist.

  14. 14
    November 5th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    So cute

  15. 15
    November 5th, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Even though I do not have an hourglass figure… I absolutely love this post and can not wait until you hit the pear shaped figure!! So important to know what types of clothing flatter you. I have a very wide waist to hip ratio (we’re talking 99th percentile) and it can look awesome or awful depending on the outfit.

  16. 16
    November 10th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    I miss being an houglass (don’t miss the other side effects of the birth control that caused it, though). I’m just outside the measurements for being considered one now. :c

  17. 17
    November 11th, 2012 at 12:37 am

    “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’ ” – you’re awesome.

  18. 18
    August 15th, 2014 at 6:33 pm


    while I love this article and it’s positive tone some curvy girls (like myself) haven’t quite reached this level of confidence yet. I am very much not a fan of my hips and hourglass shape and favor and androgynous look, do you have any tips for hiding this figure that doesn’t involve massively sack like clothing that makes me look 4 sizes bigger?

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