Fitting Room Friday: Hourglass Body Type

The Hourglass body shape may be likened to the illusive unicorn. Sure everyone agrees a horse looks way better with a single spike protruding from the forehead, but horned horses are significantly more difficult to find. With a waist/hip and waist/bust ratio less than .75; and hip and bust measurements within 2 inches of each other; your magical proportions are becoming a human rarity. There was a time when society was littered with the likes of Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, and Lynda Carter. But today, the skill of uniformly applying weight to every inch of the body represents a shrinking percentage.

You my lovelies are Barbie’s mentor. Pre-pubescent girls imagine the day when they too will have a shapely bust, curvy hips, and an infinitesimal waist. But as most fairy tales go, there’s some things that were omitted. Like your short waist and the scarcity of apparel that shares your proportions. Alas, you were not born a clothes hanger. To get every button on a blouse to close without pulling, it is sure to billow around your torso. And to find trousers that comfortably shelter both your thighs and seat, the waist band consistently gaps. There is however a happy ending for your mythical curves.First you must, must, must wear clothing that clasps. You are of a divine design whereas your clothing was contrived by an insecure novice struggling to survive in an overpriced city. Find a tailor and fit the clothes to your body. You do not need to reduce, your clothes need to be revised.

And now the main event: actual fitting room footage. I had to measure dozens of figures before I found Ms. Jackson’s proportions. Click below to enjoy:

Generous recognition to Blissful Living Studio for letting us walk their runway, and Kierland Commons Anthropologie for providing the finest of frockery.

But wait there’s more, below are some additional highlights from the hourglass collection:

Remember Me Surplice: Belts are like duct tape for an hourglass figure, a wardrobe panacea. Take the predicament of a blouse. With this wrapping ribbon, your bodice is visible without making a vulgar view of your bust.

Joe’s Visionniare: Bootcut to balance the width of the hip with a curved yoke and midrise that actually embraces the narrowness of your waist.

Flowers & Thyme Dress: We are all sold out of corduroy costume which Leslie featured, but in it’s sunset a fresh dress has dawned. No buttons or overly fussy embellishments, just a perfect match for your va, va, voom. Your equilateral top and bottom diameters are beautifully enfolded while a wide red waistband commands attention to your axis. Take advantage of your ability to wear the same size on top and bottom; single piece outfits stretch your waist in one continuous line.

Adrienne Button Boot: Stillhettos may be too delicate for the generous turns of your figure. Instead try this antique styled boot by Frye. Anyone who finds me these boots in a size 6 for approximately $200, wins a free styling session and probably a hug, maybe even a kiss on the cheek.

Make everyone jealous:

1 hundred 98 cents = your own hourglass fashion look book cheat sheet.
Procure your own empire constitution. Your personalized fashion look book includes your own hourglass figure rules of conduct and much more.

Upper Figures, you have not been forgotten. Meet me at Cardigan Empire anon.

Feed me fashionably fresh
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  1. says

    Curses! I’m .01 off on the waist/bust, and a half inch shy of having my measurements within two inches of each other. Does that make me a narwhal (rather than a unicorn)?

    I guess I’ll have to ask Santa for a look book this year, to find out what works for my not-quite-mythical figure. Or I’ll have to get rid of those five pounds that mysteriously appeared when I turned 31. :)

  2. says

    Love your blog! Just one request– can your videographer use a boom mike or a wireless mike instead of a shotgun mike? THat would probably solve the audio problems. It’s quite difficult to hear you clearly over the music and background noise. Can’t wait to see more looks! These are fabulous.

  3. says

    The signature short waist of the hourglass must be addressed. I can’t tell with confidence from your picture, but you might also be petite (5’3″ or less in stature). You can still wear belts, but remember to keep them in proportion with you figure. First, rather than using a distinctly thick waist belt, use a moderately sized waist belt. Not a skinny belt, because it probably couldn’t stand up to your curves. Also consider keeping it monochromatic. Rather than doing a pop of color with a belt, keep it all in the same hue.

  4. says

    Now I know what to ask Santa to bring me for Christmas. Sorry about the excessive noise on our Hourglass post. They were having a special sale at Domestic Bliss. I can turn down the background music and republish in the mean time. Thanks for letting me know.

  5. says

    If you listen carefully you can hear the sweet singing of the Unicorn’s offspring being gently cradled by the talented videographer Mr. Bagley.

    Thanks Reachel! You made me look quite nice!

  6. says

    I would love, love, love if I could find a place that sold clothes that fit my hourglass. I am 5’10” and have the hardest time finding clothes where the waist lays where it should. It’s easier to find tall jeans, but tall shirts are nearly impossible, especially at cheaper clothes stores. Dresses are tough too.

  7. says

    Love those Frye boots! Sadly, I can’t find a 7 in my price range. What do you think of the Nine West Miley as an alternative? It’s less embellished, but has a nice stacked heel. Plus, it’s on sale with an additional 30% off, making the final price $85. I am sorely tempted…

  8. says

    Found you through Nie – I’m definitely an hourglass (though an increasingly pudgy one, as I head into my mid-30s).

    I love the outfits you post, but what to do in winter? Lately, given that I work in a FRIGID office, I just find myself layering on more and more warm clothes/scarves/etc, so that my waist is usually invisble.

    I did get into an unfortunate cardigan habit when nursing my son, and cannot be seen at the office without one – occasionally with my fleece coat on top of it!

  9. says

    Today, I have had a revelation. I took my measurements, almost as a joke (because I couldn’t figure how I was pear shaped, or apple shaped, but figured there was NO WAY I was an hourglass) and lo and behold. Bust and hips – 39 and 40. Waist – 30. What the????????? How exciting! NO wonder I’ve always gravitated towards dresses!!!

  10. says

    i believe with my measurements that i am an hourglass shape, however i am very long torso-ed. what do you make of that? should i still choose hourglass flattering clothing?

  11. says

    i believe with my measurements that i am an hourglass shape, however i am very long torso-ed. what do you make of that? should i still choose hourglass flattering clothing?

    • says

      You are then considered a vase, a no less mythical beast that joins the unicorn in its elusivness. Vases are part of the curved hourglass family, it is just a little more tapered. So less pudgy looking, but you still have the measurements that people would kill for.

  12. says

    help i can’t decide what i am. my hip/waist is 1.16; my bust/waist is 1.05; waist/hip is .85 and waist/bust is .95…am i an hourglass??? or something else. i am short in the torso and long legged. i am 5ft 7in. so when you talk about the short waist i totally relate.

  13. says

    My measurements are:
    B 36
    W 31.8
    H 37.5

    H/W 1.17
    B/W 1.13
    W/H 0.84
    W/B 0.88

    Do you think that makes me an Hourglass? I’m confused, because I match Linear too, but I am 5’4″ and not really angular. Help!
    Also, congrats on your baby!

  14. says

    Your measurements and description actually place you in the middle figure category. However, remember that the numbers are only a starting place. Put your experience with your figure first in choosing a category for yourself.

    Good luck in your fashion adventure!

  15. says

    At 40-36-40 I really don’t know what I qualify for. I’m a little heavy in the tummy, but I’m A: losing that weight bit by bit and B: I’m pretty petite at 5’3″; Does this make me a middle figure, technically, or am I curved?

  16. says

    I am bad with math, but here:

    H/W – 1.1
    H/B – 1.1
    W/H – .9
    W/B – .9

    40DD-36-40, 5’3″, and 150lb.

    I have no idea if I did this math right.

  17. says

    Mandy dear,
    If you have a 40 band size and a DD up size, your bust circumference would actually be 49.

    With this in mind, your measurements and proportions would be:
    49 – 36 – 40

    b/w: 136%
    w/b: 74%
    h/w: 111%
    w/h: 90%

    These ratios would put you in the upper figured category:

    Remember the numbers are only a starting place, pay attention to your personal experience first and foremost.

  18. says

    Don’t you dare refer to yourself as dumb. You are certainly not even closet to that. With a 38 band size, you numbers and ratios would come to:


    b/w: 130%
    w/b: 77%
    h/w: 111%
    w/h: 90%

    And I’d still take a look at the upper figure.

    Take care dear.

  19. says

    I am so glad I found your blog. I have a 9″ difference between my bust/hips and my waist! Roll that together with the fact that I’m a 36DD (au natural thank you) finding clothes that fit and look good is a major challenge. I finally took the big step of getting a dress form. I’m hoping, praying, that this dress form will help me make the much needed alterations to some of my fave clothes and really help show of my womanly figure, with out showing the world what God gave me. If ya knowwhatImean!

  20. says

    i just found your blog, where have you been a ll my life??

    first you are delightful.

    second, HELP ME!

    i’m an hour glass for sure. most of my weight is carried in my bust (32 D) and hips, but i have a small frame for my busty/hippy size. i have difficulty finding things that fit in my small shoulders.

    any suggestions?

  21. says

    Thanks so much for this!

    I have been frustrated forever as to whether or not I’m -really- an hour glass figure, but these measurements really helped. ^_^. I can now claim to be a hourglass with a little extra love on top.

    b- 39.5;
    w- 31; <– waist is really high up
    h- 41;

  22. says

    I’m not sure… these measurements should be making me feel less frustrated, but I still feel like nothing fits my body. My measurements are 41-30-42. I’m also tall and broad-shouldered. A lot of the bottoms or dresses described as fitting an hourglass shape seem to emphasize my lower half way too much… but the lower-figure-flattering tops make me look excessively busty or like a football player. I know that every rule has its exceptions, but I don’t think that following a rule should require exceptions. Is there a happy medium, or am I doing it wrong?

  23. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m glad the problems I’m having dressing my body aren’t in my head! I’m going to embrace my love dresses now!!!!!!!

  24. says

    At 39-30-40, I seem to be closest to this figure. Not sure if I consider it all that mythical. Gaining weight in your T&A, in addition to the good parts, also means Thighs & Arms.

    I could use a little advice about a cocktail dress for this shape. I am 5’3″ with these measurements. And it is for an event in late fall, so it will be chilly. Any help is much much appreciated!

    BTW, love LOVE your site!! Such a great service. 😀

  25. Anonymous says

    Hello,Im Melanie
    Ive done my measurements but im not sure where to place myself.

    Bust – 37.5
    Waist – 30
    Hips – 37.5

    H-W 1.25
    B-W 1.25
    W-H 0.8
    W-B 0.8

    it seems to me i could be placed in the strawberry, apple or hourglass catergory?

  26. says


    I would place you in either the hourglass or apple category, and it really depends on your personal experience.

    Where do you tend to gain weight? Relatively evenly all over the figure or primarily in midsection. What is the most difficult area for you to dress, hips and bust or stomach?

    Also, hourglass figures can occasionally transform into apples following childbirth. This doesn’t mean you’re an apple, it just means you had a baby.

    Hope that helps. Feel free to e-mail me if you have additional questions.

  27. says

    Love this blog!

    K. I have what I think would be described as an extreme hourglass shape. As a young teen I was 34-22-34, after my kids I was 36-24-36. Today I am 37-25-37. How common is a 12-inch difference? Adding to the “problem” is I have broad shoulders and a very long torso, and short arms and legs. I hope I don’t look as freakish as I sound.

    Here’s my problem. I just got a new job that requires me to wear a uniform. All the corporation is willing to do is shorten length. “No taking in at all.” I will be swimming in anything big enough to accommodate my curves. When I tell management this I can just FEEL the eye rolls behind me. How do I explain that this is a real, genetic “problem” and not my fault. Sigh…

  28. says

    Your figure is definitely more of an anomaly than a rule, but your problem is real. A 12 inch difference is quite uncommon these days, but awesome I might add.

    Is there any way you could add a waist belt on top, even a discreet little thin one? It would make all the difference in defining your shape and you could tuck the extra fabric to the sides or back.

    Good luck!

  29. says

    There are two “trends” right now that I would like to know how to wear. Or if I should wear them at all. The dolman top and the peplum. You have diagnosed me with an hourglass figure. Will these work for me? And what is the best way to wear them? Thanks for all your help!

  30. says

    Peplum tops are a definite fit for your figure. See details here-

    Dolman tops are a little trickier. As long as the fabric is fluid and the bottom is fitted, you should be fine. What you want to avoid is your waist swimming in a stiff boxy sack.

  31. Anonymous says

    Yup – short-waisted on the curvy is an issue. I am glad to be what I am, but clothes are a pain. All the advice says “belt” but it can be too visually choppy, especially if you are generous of chest, and only 5’5.

    Measurements 37-25-38 after 2 kids, and I NEVER find pants that fit. I have learned desperation sewing.

  32. Melody says

    Hello! My measurements say hourglass (34-24-35) but my mirror says rectangle. I’m on the skinny side with a long torso, long arms, long legs, and broad-ish shoulders. It’s so frustrating. I feel weird shopping for the hourglass figure, as I don’t look like any of the prime examples with their roundness, tight short waists and plump hips. My waist definitely curves in, but it’s a gradual one because of my long torso. It’s not that noticeable unless I’m topless. My hips a also curve out, but my torso takes too long to get to them (haha) and my hips themselves are long so the curve is gradual. I wear C cups but I don’t have a lot of cleavage. Ask anyone and they’ll say I’m a rectangle. So should I go by my measurements or by my mirror?

    • says

      I would definitely go by your mirror. The longer you are the leaner (less curvy) you will look. If you feel like your shoulders are broader than your hips, you can also experiment with upper figured ideas. To test the theory, measure your shoulders from tip to tip and your hips from edge to edge. If your shoulders are broader, I’d look into it. Also if you may want to look into buying tall sizes. They’re do a much better job of hitting you at the right points and showcasing your narrowest features.

  33. AlexaFaie says

    I’m most definitely an hourglass figure and finding clothes to fit right is a pain, especially in combination with my very short waist and lordosis (genetic rather than due to posture issues as my insides are tilted the wrong way too).
    Bust= 38″
    Underbust= 30″
    Waist= 26″
    High hips over Iliac crest (2″ below waist) = 36″
    Full hips round bottom (4″ below waist) = 38″
    Tops aren’t so bad because I like tight fitting clothing so can buy stretchy fabric tops in my waist and just let the fabric stretch to cover my boobs.
    Bras are a pain as I have very close set breasts which have a lot of forward projection. Bra cups often don’t have enough forward volume. They are often shallow and wide which just doesn’t work for me.
    Trousers are hellish as I have a long inside leg, but short front waist to crotch length. I need a short front rise, high back rise. Long length jeans often have a longer front rise to match, but not enough length in the back. They always gape at the waist on me as I have to fit my hips. I’ve tried wearing belts with them, but all that happens is the belt shifts up above the edge of the waistband and the trousers just gape below!
    And on top of all that, I love wearing my corsets (which increase my hip spring dramatically) and so have extra trouble finding stuff to fit then. I tend to wear them on top of my clothes which tends to hide the fact that stuff gapes at the waist, but the extra material adds unnecessary bulk at the waist.

    I need to learn to make my own clothes! But clothing patterns are just as bad and my measurements are often split across 3 different sizes. A bit hard to work out alterations needed.


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