When you think of old Hollywood screen sirens and pin-up girls like Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe, what comes to mind? All these lucky ladies are known for their bombshell hourglass figures. When it comes to finding dresses for the hourglass figure, we are proponents of celebrating what nature gave you and also using fashion to experiment with silhouettes across the board. Ahead, we highlighted five key tips for those who have curves in all the obvious hourglasses places, and those looking to enhance what they’ve got!
1. Highlight Your Narrow Waist
This body type is defined as having a small waist, wider bust, and voluptuous hips, with the latter two measuring around the same size and creating the approximate shape of (you guessed it!) an hourglass. Whether you have a well-defined waistline or not, a wrap dress is super flattering (thanks DVF!). A wrap dress hits a sartorial double whammy: It helps provide the illusion of a true hourglass figure by cinching you in slightly at the waist, while also cleverly disguising your belly with an extra layer of coverage. And while flowery patterns are a perennial spring and summer favorite, petite women with hourglass figures who want to elongate their shape should embrace solid light or dark colors. A single-hued dress creates an unbroken line that tricks the eye into thinking you’ve got a long, lean silhouette. Simple color-blocking works well for petite and shorter style savants too. Stick to a lighter shade on top and a darker one on bottom if you want to detract from your hips, and vice versa if you want to divert attention from your bust.
Wrap & Empire-Waist Dresses for Hourglass Figures:
LEFT TO RIGHT: COOPER STREET, TRINA TURK, TORY BURCH, TANYA TAYLOR
LEFT TO RIGHT: HUNTER BELL, DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, OPENING CEREMONY, DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
2. Choose Figure-Hugging Fabrics
Here’s one instance where being clingy is actually a good thing. To see if a dress will suit your hourglass body shape, try a simple touch test. The softer the fabric feels beneath your fingertips, the better it’s likely to cling to your figure and look good on you! That’s because pliable knits, slippery silk blends, and slinky matte jerseys tend to drape beautifully over your curves, while stiff fabrics like linen, tweed, velvet, or wool end up making you look boxy. This is also an important key to dressing for a petite hourglass figure; thick, rigid materials add extra bulk to the upper body (a no-no when you already have an ample chest), mask your true shape, and swallow up your small frame. Since plenty of drapey dresses are made of super-soft fabrics, you’ll find these styles particularly complementary.
Not-Too-Tight Dresses for Petite Hourglass Figures:
LEFT TO RIGHT: NARCISO RODRIGUEZ, OPENING CEREMONY, ASTR, SLATE & WILLOW
LEFT TO RIGHT: SACHIN & BABI, BADGLEY MISCHKA, L.K. BENNETT, ALEXIA ADMOR
3. Mind the Neckline
To truly want to enhance your hourglass shape, lean towards lower necklines. The most flattering are V-necks, scoop-necks, and sweethearts, all of which shape a point that naturally angles the eye to your waist (the smallest part of your figure, remember?). These styles can help balance out your chest area, in case you’re worried about looking top heavy. Off-the-shoulder cocktail dresses for hourglass figures are also ideal, displaying an expanse of skin that makes a wider bust and hip look more proportional.
Flattering Necklines for an Hourglass Figure:
LEFT TO RIGHT: SLATE & WILLOW, TRINA TURK, VONE, TWOBIRDS
LEFT TO RIGHT: ELIZABETH AND JAMES, NICOLE MILLER, CINQ A SEPT, LIKELY
4. Streamline the Skirt
Hourglass-appropriate hemlines are somewhat flexible, but two stylish standouts include the full skirt and narrow pencil skirt. While these styles are radically different, they’re both streamlined and work equally well to emphasize your best assets. The former—any voluminous A-line or feminine fit-and-flare style that gathers at the waist and flares out slightly—hugs your narrow midsection, smoothes out your thighs, and flows smoothly over your hips to minimize your lower half. The latter, especially a flattering, high-waisted version, follows the natural contours of your body and lends a leg-lengthening look. Petite women with hourglass figures should look for pencil skirts with an asymmetrical hem or side slit that shows more leg. Baring a hint of skin—even just a little!—will make you appear that much leggier.
Voluminous Skirts Perfect for an Hourglass Figure:
LEFT TO RIGHT: BLACK HALO, JILL JILL STUART, THEIA, CARMEN MARC VALVO
LEFT TO RIGHT: SLATE & WILLOW, TRINA TURK, LOVERS + FRIENDS, KATE SPADE NEW YORK
5. Accentuate with Accessories
Last but not least, accessories. This is the perfect way to add a pop of color to your outfit. Starting from the top, necklaces that lie on your collarbone are a great way to add volume to your bust. Longer necklaces can draw attention to your waist if that is what you want to accentuate. As for belts, find a dark belt to wear on the smallest part of your waist to highlight your beautiful curves. Petite girls be warned: adding a belt may make your torso appear shorter so, be cautious when adding a belt to your outfit. As a woman with an hourglass figure, pairing your outfit with a purse that has more structure can create the perfect contrast to your curvy body shape.
Accessories for an Hourglass Figure:
NECKLACE: PAMELA LOVE, NECKLACE: KATE SPADE NEW YORK ACCESSORIES, BAG: ZAC ZAC POSEN HANDBAGS, TOTE: CLARE V.
Dressing for your body shape helps accentuate your best features, but always remember to dress the way you want to dress. Experiment with your style–nothing should be off-limits!