Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Wardrobe Project: The Hourglass

The outfit that looks best on your Hourglass will look like you, balanced!
It will have structure, a waist, and equal proportions top and bottom.
Check out Betty Beguiles for affordable personal shopping
and for her sponsors who carry dresses just like these!

If you are an hourglass shape, your figure is undeniably feminine. Hourglass figures are balanced top and bottom with lovely broad shoulders and feminine hips and in between the two is a tiny waist! God has blessed you with both symmetry and abundance. Your job will be to be sure that your powerful assets do not overpower!

One of the ways to do this is to compliment your curves without adding bulk. Speaking of bulk, this article is going to be the lengthiest of all the pieces because you, our Hourglass, have been blessed both top and bottom and so we have more to work with!

The shirt's lines gently taper in at the waist.
The open neckline draws the eye away from the bosom.
The 3/4 length sleeve (with a little rolling) hits her at the waist!

1. Show off your waist! You can belt it or wrap it, but don't ever overlook it. Clothes that don't have a waist will fall straight from your broad shoulders to your broad hips and make you look...broad, but you aren't! Your shirts should allow plenty of room for your upper endowments and then taper down to fit you through the waist. You should see darts or other structural elements or the cut should show the curve.

A curvy girl Don't!
You are not boxy and so you won't fit in the box!

2. Choose fabrics of a medium weight. Fabrics that cling or are flowy will emphasize every bump and lump. Fabrics that are too stiff (like leather) will add bulk. Fabrics of the right weight will hold their shape and compliment your curves, flowing over them and taming them, rather than emphasizing them.  

3. Do be kind! Google "hourglass body shapes" and you will come up with pictures of cleavage (both sorts) and words like "ideal shape" and "perfection." Your body shape can be voluptuous and attention grabbing. Men, other than your husband, need to be able to think of things other than your body parts, so if men have to struggle not to look at something you are emphasizing, you need to be polite enough to reconsider your choices.

The Hourglass has a small waist with
balanced hips and shoulders.

Special Notes on Tops (including yours)

1. Fit the bosom, tailor the waist. You may have to go up a size or two (even three) in order to get a shirt to properly fit you through the bosom. When that is fitted, then you can take in the waist with darts or a belt. This is especially true of buttoned shirts. Neither the fabric nor the buttons should strain when you move your arms around. To check the fit of a shirt, lift your arms over your head, hold them out to the side and twist at the waist to see how the shirt moves. If there is any puckering, excessive riding up, or any straining of the fabric or seams this is not a good fit for you. Try the next size up. This is true of jackets and dresses as well. Unless you are handy with the needle and thread, you are going to have to find a good seamstress who can take in your tops and bottoms for you. Tailoring is going to be a vital part of your wardrobe budget.

2. Watch the lines in knits and patterns. Fabric without much pattern or with large, bold patterns will flow more seamlessly over your hills and valleys; however, lines and lettering are going to emphasize all the curves by getting partially hidden in some spots and stretched out of shape in others. If people are having trouble making eye contact with you, it may be they are trying to figure out what your shirt is saying!
Drink Iced Tea!
Non-wonky Translation: Drink Iced Tea!

4. Give them a break. Hourglass and Apple shapes have a longer line between the neck and the bosom than all the other shapes. Break that line! Wherever there is a break in the outfit, a spot where the item ends or the color pattern changes dramatically, your eye tends to be drawn there. Use that tendency to play down thetendency of the eye to follow the lines of an outfit which visually break only at the dramatic curve of your bosom. Draw the eye away by using the natural "break" of a neckline. For this same reason, be sure your necklaces fall well within the neckline. 
Image Source:
All of these necklines will work well on an Hourglass shape, although
the Jewel and Boat and Turtleneck (not shown) necklines will tend to emphasize a larger bust
and so should be used for layering and not as a stand alone shirt.

5. Bend over in front of a mirror. This should be something you do before every top or dress purchase and before leaving the house, so that any exposure issues can be taken care of by you before someone else has to point out the problem. Modesty panels and layering with a tank top can help.

If it is too hot for layering, consider a modesty panel.
It attaches directly to your bra.

Speaking of Tops: Your Bra
(No Boys Allowed)
1. Structure and support. With an Hourglass figure, your bra is a vital element of your wardrobe. Like a shoe, it is a structural and supportive element, and nearly as complicated. A good bra will be barely noticeable during the day. A bad bra draws attention to itself by rubbing, binding, or riding up. There should be no gap between your body and your bra at any point, especially between the breasts. With a correctly fitted bra and good posture, the line of your bosom will fall about midway between your shoulder and elbow when your arms are down.

2. Get a fitting. If you have not been fitted in the last three years, go to a lingerie shop and have it done. Department stores may be great for prices but not necessarily for the level of customer service you need. Getting fitted for the right bra is a complicated process for any woman, but especially for a larger busted woman. You need more than average in a bra, so you need better than average service in finding the right one.

3. How many do I need? A woman needs 3 to 4 good bras, which should include at least one nude bra to wear under lighter fabrics and one black or brown bra to wear under darker fabrics. All bras should be hand washed and line dried as part of maintaining your investment.

4. It is an investment, so do not shy away from the price tag. For girls in the larger cup sizes, $30 to $40 is going to be the best minimum price you will find after shopping the sales! A cheap bra may look good in the checkbook, but it is going to look and feel bad on you.

Skirts and Pants
If this is sounding familiar, it's because you and The Pear share the blessing of the bum!

1. Balance the bottom at the bottom. When choosing pants, go for a mid to high rise to lessen the risk of muffin tops and exposing your underwear when sitting, and steer away from a tapered leg. Go for straight legs, boot cut, and flared bottoms as long as you can get them without dragging the hem on the ground. Following these tips will make your legs look long, but they won't draw unwanted attention to your hips. Decorations around the hem and on the leg seams are also very fun. 

Here, the sleeves end where they are just as wide as Maggie's hips, allowing for balance.
A Pear can use the scarf and earrings to add emphasis to the face.
An Hourglass would use this same outfit, but would move the
scarf up to wrap around her hair.

Notice, that the dress has gathers around the waist, slimming the waist. 

2. Skirt Shapes. A-lines, pencil skirts (be careful with the vavoom factor on these), and wrap skirts work well.

The clothes you wear should already have your hourglass shape.
You will need garments with tapers, tucks, and other structural elements.
Floppy will make you look sloppy.
(Yes, I know, the model is a Banana.)

3. Watch the hems! Be sure the hems of your shirts, jackets, or any items end somewhere other than the middle of your bum (or bosom). This will make it look bigger and draw the eye there. Also, be sure that the hem does not hit at the thickest part of your leg either.

4.  Fit the bum! Purchase your pants and skirts to fit very well through the bum. You can easily alter your waist yourself or spend a few dollars to have a seamstress take in an outfit. Consider alterations a necessary part of your charms and one of the hidden costs of your wardrobe, like dry cleaning (since you will be altering tops, adding pants into the mix won't be an added burden).

5. Try on everything! A fashion rule of thumb is to never buy anything without trying it on. Skirts can be tricky, because the look changes with different leg shapes. Your fabulous skirt might look mediocre on another Hourglass because of this. That's why we try everything on before purchasing!

You can rock that 50s vintage vibe!

So Go Shopping!
Most women have a few shopping habits to break--shopping for the shape they want rather than the shape they have. This leads to frustration and a feeling that "Nothing looks good on me!" It will take awhile to train your eye to spot the gems on the hangar. Don't give up and don't despair! If you keep picking up clothing for another shape, voice out loud who the item was designed for, "This would look fantastic on So-and-so! She's an Apple," then hang it up and move on to an item designed for you.

Nothing breeds success like success. Go have a fun morning with a friend! Take this list, $25, a digital camera (so you can more easily analyze your silhouette in an outfit), and a friend and hit a quality used clothing store (one that only racks gently used items and sorts women's clothing by size) and search for one complete outfit or one fantastic item. Try on items that follow these rules then analyze what looks good and what does not to find out why you love or hate it. Talk over each item and what it does to add or detract from your graces. Giggle when it looks awful! Remember, if clothing doesn't look good--it's the fault of the clothes, not you! God has blessed you, so go bless yourself with a very good time!

For further tips and updates see my Pinterest Board: Hourglass Fashion.

Not Your Shape?


  1. I must be one of the few women out there that cannot stand shopping! For shoes, for clothes. It takes lots of time, which I don't have, money which I also don't have and patience....see aforementioned.

    I am a a target shopper. Not the store mind you, but I go for a purpose. Hunt my item, bag it and then I am outta there!

    I do like going to the mall, more for the social interaction with friends and to have lunch and *window shop* which requires nothing but oohhhing and ahhhing over things. Not necessarily clothes.

    That all being said, there are good tips here. Especially the part about the bra. I am going to take that advice and go get fitted. It has been quite a while.

  2. So, here goes again, I am heavy but still have the hourglass measurements. I love those dresses but am not sure they would look good on me due to the extra weight. Do the rules still apply? Thanks for answering.

  3. The guidelines will still work, but you'll have to modify them for your personal taste and uniqueness. Here's a link to give you some ideas for how they look in the fuller figures.

  4. P.S. I LOVE the hat on the first model.

  5. Tamara, I'm with you in the shopping department. It takes an act of Congress to get me shopping for myself. I have to get a sitter, block out an afternoon and then hunt. It's much more fun for me to be the picker and hunter for someone else. Then I'm not sitting there thinking, "If only I weren't so.." fill in the blank "...this would look nice on me." Or "I don't have TIME for this." I'm still working on it here, too.