Do you have hourglass figure?  Are you wondering what are the best ways to dress hourglass body type? You have come to the right place!

Let me start by saying you are very lucky! Some say hourglass figure is the most feminine body type, thus it is considered the most attractive by both men and women. Our preference for hourglass figure seems to go back to long, long time ago and has barely changed to this day.

When we think of the Golden Age of Hollywood, we just can’t help but picture those black and white glam shots in which all the leading ladies had something in common other than their arched eyebrows. That is, they were all perfect hourglass figures!

Some of those most famous hourglass shaped stars in the 20s to 50s happened to be petite (by that I am referring to their height being under 5’4″). Bette Davis and Vivien Leigh were 5’3″ , and Elizabeth Taylor was 5’2″. 

Fast forward to today, some of our favorite petite actresses are once again hourglass shaped ladies! The most popular ones are Scarlett Johanson and Salma Hayalk , who have the most typical petite hourglass body type. 

petite celebrities with hourglass figure
Salma Hayek, 5’2″ (Getty Images)

At Petite Dressing, we believe each petite body type have their own unique characteristics and everyone has the potential to be attractive, as long as we use the right dressing techniques to enhance our assets.  Still, we have to say, you are very lucky to have the hourglass figure!

In this post, I want to go over with you some of the most useful techniques in styling hourglass body type. Some are applicable to hourglass beauties of all height, but I will also share with you some unique tips especially meant for petite ladies.

How do you know you have hourglass figure?

First things first, let’s take a look at what is a hourglass figure.  If you are reading this post, I presume you already know you are an hourglass shape, or at least somewhat an hourglass shape.

If you are the latter or you are not sure, then here is a check list that can help you figure out:

hourglass figure
  1. Your hips and shoulders are well balanced, i.e. they are roughly about the same width. That is, your shoulder and hip measurements are within 5 % of each other. Many petite women with hourglass figure have round and sloping shoulders that align nicely with the hips.
  2. You have full chests and hips. Typical hourglass figure means you are quite well-endowed, which is one of your best assets.
  3. You have a well-defined waist line that is significantly smaller than your shoulders or hips. The rule of thumb here is 75%.  That is, your waist is at least 25% smaller than your shoulder, hip and bust measurements.  Normally, when translated into inches, that means your waist is 8 to 12 inches (or 25 to 30cm) smaller than the hip or bust measurement.
  4. You have a rounded bottom.
  5. You have a beautiful front and side profile. And, from top to bottom, your figure is in harmony and balance.
  6. You may have full thighs, but they are narrower than your high hips. You gain weight above hips and through waist.

Above are the typical features of petite hourglass body type.  However, because human body have some many different variations, most likely not one body would fit into all features of one body type.  If you feel like you have some but not all of the characters above, it is possible you are a combination of hourglass shape and other body types.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m sure you have been hearing compliments (wanted or unwanted) about your nice curves, since you don’t even remember when. So, you probably don’t need me to tell you your best assets are the slender waist, the full breasts as well as your full hips.

Your weaknesses? Let me just say that I don’t think there is anything you need to change or camouflage about your body.

long dresses for petites
Scarlett Johansson, 5’4″, Getty Images

In general, the hourglass figure should proudly celebrate the curve by wearing form hugging tops, skirts and dresses. However, I do understand your killer curves sometimes could make you feel the opposite way- even though every other girl is jealous of your shape, sometimes you may wish you were not always drawing attention to your chest and hips.

Quite often, I hear from our petite customers with hourglass shape that they can never find anything that fits perfectly. If anything fits the waist, then that’s always too small on their hips. If anything fits the hips, then it’s too loose around the waist.

Do you fall into that category? If yes, I share a lot of tips on what you should wear and what you should avoid in my other post “How to dress if you are petite with large chest“. In this post, I will go over with you how should a petite hourglass dress, i.e. what looks the best on an hourglass shaped petite girl.

Best Dresses for Hourglass Figure

Wrap dress has to take the number one spot!

Diane Von Fursternberg invented the legendary wrap dress in 1974, the design that made her a fashion icon at the age of 28.  Today, it is hard for us to imagine the times before wrap dress was invented.  Over 40 years have passed, we can still barely find another dress that is so versatile, convertible, workplace appropriate and great for day-to-night. 

Like Victoria Beckham (5’3) mentioned in her latest fashion book “That Extra Half an Inch”, wrap dress is one of the things that once you have, it is hard to understand how you have lived all those years without. They are flattering to almost all petite women, and they are especially more so if you have the hourglass figure.

This is petite blogger Carly in our wrap dress. She is 5’3″, hourglass shape, and this is one of the best dresses on her body type.

best dresses for short women
Photo: Carly (5’3″, IG@carlygala) wearing Belinda dress from Petite Dressing

The reason is they accentuate your waist and hips, while enhancing your small waist. If you happen to be one of those girls who is concerned highlighting your curves too much and look low class, you don’t have to worry about that with wrap dresses. They show off your assets without overdoing it.

Please own at least a few in your closet, if you don’t live in wrap dresses already.

 petite Faux Wrap Dress
Eliza J Petite $128
 Wrap Dress petite
Halogen Petite $89
 Floral Print Faux Wrap Dress, Main, color, NAVY/ IVORY
Eliza J Petite $148

Fit and flare dresses are the runner-ups.

Fit and flare dresses are the close runner up when it comes to the best dresses for hourglass shaped women. The form fitting top emphasizes your nice curves, and the flared out bottom balances it out without being too revealing.

hourglass figure
Salma Hayek, 5’2″ (Getty Images)

The A shape silhouette also creates a vertical line that lengthens your short frame, which is most flattering for petite women with hourglass body shape.

petite Aline dress
Harper Rose Petite $148
 Embroidered Halter Neck Mesh Midi Dress petite
Vince Camuto Petite $188
 petite Aline
Vince Camuto Petite $128

Best Tops for Hourglass Body Type

We have talked about in other posts that petite women should in general stay away from boxy sweaters or blouses, as they overwhelm your petite body frame.  Same here,  if you have petite hourglass figure, you should wear fitted dress shirts with darted waists that conform to your natural shape in order to achieve the best result.

Since your waist is so slender naturally, you want that to become the focal point of your outfit by further enhancing your waist through either wearing a top with a belt, or adding a belt to basic tops (tube tops, knit tops, sleeveless tops, etc.). This is the same concept as the wrap dress

 Faux Wrap Blouse petite
Halogen Petite $69
 Rosamund Polka Dot Cotton Wrap Top petite
Boden Petite $98
Petite Floral Top $79 (Petite Dressing)
Petite Floral Top $79 (Petite Dressing)

Form-fitting jackets or jackets that nip in at the waist with a flare at the hip will look great on you. The flare should be balanced with a structured or princess shoulder.

If you want a dramatic effect to enhance your feminine figure, wear tops with added volume to the bust and shoulders AND a snug fitting empire waist.  You can it paired with a proportionally voluminous bottom to balance out the top.

Best Bottoms for Hourglass Body Type

High waist everything

For hourglass shaped petite girls, high waist everything is the way to go, when it comes to bottoms. That applies to skirts, pants and jeans.

Since your waist is so much smaller than your butt, high waist design accommodates your slender waist and full hips much better. Meanwhile, petites typically have shorter legs, and high waist can create the illusion of height and make your legs look longer.

how to style petite with large chest
Photo: Scarlett Johansson, 5’3″, Shutterstock

The only exception is that if you torso is really short and you are concerned high waist will make it look even shorter, then that’s the reason for you to go for mid waist pants or jeans.

I normally do not advise “never”, but I have to say to hourglass body type please stay away from low waisted jeans . Not only do they make your leg look shorter, but they just don’t look tasteful on a girl with full butt.

Best skirts

When it comes to your choices for office appropriate clothing, you do not have to downsize your feminity- rather, you should celebrate it tastefully and properly. In the office, figure skimming and pencil skirts of all lengths look good on your petite hourglass figure. High-waisted skirts are particularly flattering, as they elongate your legs and draw even more attention to your waist. Add a flounce around the bottom to balance fuller tops and jackets.

If you like full skirts, they are flattering when paired with a top that adds fullness to your bust and shoulders while accentuating your waist. This look creates a very dramatic hourglass effect.

Best Jeans

As mentioned earlier, go with high waisted jeans unless you have short torso.

The number one jeans for hourglass body type is flare jeans. Actually, they are the number one choice for petite girls of any body type. The flared leg creates the illusion of longer legs and balance out the full hips of hourglass figure. Read more about the Top 5 Best Jeans for Women with Short Legs.

 High Waist Flared Jeans for petite women
Topshop Petite $75
petite flare jeans
Topshop Petite $75
petite flare jeans
Petite Dressing $75

Secondly, wearing skinny jeans with banded, belted or not-to-tight body skimming tops will enhance your attractive figure.

Thirdly, boot cut jeans look good on you as well.

Bootcut Jeans In Petite,
NYDJ Petite $62
Bootcut Jeans In Petite
NYDJ Petite $109
Barbara Bootcut Jeans In Petite
NYDJ $109

Since you have rather curved back already, you may not want to go with too much pocket details or embellishments, which will make your buttocks look bigger.  

Best pants

If you have hourglass figure, your choices of pants are consistent of your choices of tops- they should emphasize your slender waist.  Pants with wide waistband are very flattering on your body type. Pair straight-leg pants with a form skimming top or cargos with a fuller top to maintain your hourglass proportions.

Best Fabric Choice

Hourglass figure overall looks fleshy vs boney.  Therefore, the best fabrics for you are flowy and light waited materials such as knits and silk.  Flowing tops that are banded at the waist will show off your amazing curves and create a dramatic hourglass effect.