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What Are the Best Tips for Dressing an Hourglass Figure?

A.E. Freeman
Updated May 21, 2024
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Women with an hourglass figure have shoulders and hips that are relatively the same size with a considerably smaller waist. The best way to dress an hourglass figure is to wear clothing that draws attention to the waist, flatters the chest area, and draws attention to other narrow parts of the body. Excess fabric on the top, such as ruffles and thick knits, is best avoided. Pants that have a waist and that do not sit too low on the hips flatter the hourglass shape, as do boot-cut legs and flared skirts.

The hourglass figure is sometimes recognized as the ideal female shape. A woman with an hourglass shape is usually very curvy and voluptuous on the top. The key to playing up the curves on top is to flatter and accentuate them without overloading them. A high-cut neckline usually just adds bulk to the bust area

V-shaped necklines or slightly scooped necklines are a better choice for an hourglass figure. The point of the V shape draws attention to a woman's face and neck. A V-shape or rounded neck will also give the bust area some definition instead of causing it to look like a single mass.

An hourglass shape looks best in a fitted jacket or top that isn't too tight or snug on the body. A jacket with rounded princess seams will draw attention to a woman's smaller waist. Wearing a belt over the jacket or around the waist of a dress or top will also nip in the waist, making it more noticeable.

Some women with hourglass figures may have arms that are wide at the bicep but narrow by the wrists. A woman can dress to make her arms look thinner on the top by wearing a shirt with bell-shaped sleeves that are wider at the bottom than the top. Flared sleeves can trick the eye into thinking the top part of the arm is thinner than it actually is. For best effect, the sleeves should flare around the elbow, not the wrist.

The same trick works for the bottom half of an hourglass figure. Flared or boot-cut pants can make a woman's hips look narrower, as can a skirt that flares out around the knees. Bottoms should sit between the waist and hips and shouldn't have too low of a rise, as very low-rise pants can make the hips look extra wide. Jeans and pants with a shaped waist may flatter an hourglass figure better, as they do not gape open when a woman sits down or expose too much of her backside.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A.E. Freeman
By A.E. Freeman , Former Writer
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and retention. With a background in the arts, she combines her writing prowess with best practices to deliver compelling content across various domains and effectively connect with target audiences.

Discussion Comments

By feasting — On Aug 03, 2012

@Oceana – I have an hourglass figure, and I wear the same style of pants as the lady you mentioned. Since low-rise pants are everywhere, it can be a challenge to find hourglass figure clothes in fashionable stores.

Even as a teenager, I was shopping in the “misses” section, simply because I could find nothing but low and ultra low-rise jeans in the juniors section. It seems that it isn't “hip” to wear pants that cover your whole bottom, so I have just had to deal with being a little uncool.

Since these pants would not look good on me anyway, I think that I'm better off wearing high-rise pants. The fashion industry makes it a challenge for everyone but really skinny people to find clothing that fits their body type.

By seag47 — On Aug 02, 2012

My friend has a thin hourglass figure, and she looks great in dresses that cling to her body a little bit without suffocating it. Many women can't wear dresses that cling to their figures at all, because these dresses will show every little imperfection in shape.

Personally, I cannot wear a dress that isn't flared or doesn't have an empire waist, because it shows the ring of fat that I have around my midsection. This is very annoying when I'm shopping for dresses, because it can be hard to find the kind that hide these imperfections.

My thin friend with the perfect figure, however, can wear any dress that she wants to, and she has a much bigger selection when it comes to patterns and colors than I do. I just have to take whatever is available.

By DylanB — On Aug 01, 2012

I think that women who are blessed with an hourglass figure should definitely do everything they can to accentuate the positive. I have more of a straight figure that barely curves inward at all at the waist, so I can't wear a lot of the fashionable clothes that are made to show off curves.

If I had this ideal figure, I would definitely buy only clothes made for hourglass figures. I can't imagine how awesome it would be to be able to wear something that cinches at the waist and look good in it.

So, if you have this figure, don't hide it. Be glad, and wear form-fitting clothing, because there are so many women out there who would love to look like you.

By Oceana — On Aug 01, 2012

I know a woman who dresses for her hourglass figure and doesn't give into the temptation to try different styles that might not be so flattering. Her hips are quite wide, though she isn't overweight by any means, so she has to wear pants that sit at her waistline instead of below it.

So, her butt is totally covered. There is no danger of her underwear showing when she sits down.

In a way, these pants make her butt look bigger, because they cover the whole thing and show it as one big mass. However, if she were to wear low-rise pants, then it would seem that she didn't have enough coverage down there.

A.E. Freeman

A.E. Freeman

Former Writer

Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and...
Learn more
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