In this blog series, we’ll be looking at each of the four key body shapes, and showing you how to identify your shape. The four shapes are the hourglass, triangle, inverted triangle, and straight. This one is all about the hourglass.
Marilyn Monroe. The iconic, classic pin-up with an hourglass shape. Marilyn was curvy, voluptuous, and oozed sex appeal. Like all hourglass ladies, she suited outfits that accentuated, rather than hid her natural shape. So, what defines an hourglass, and how can you tell if you are one?
In my job as a personal stylist, one thing that really helps me to dress a client is to understand their natural body shape. When I talk to clients about shape, it’s about the structure of their skeletal frame. It’s never about size or weight, although its true that dressing your body shape in the right way will undoubtedly make you look slimmer. What determines your body shape is the width of the bones in your shoulders and hips, and whether your ribcage is curved or straight. Any weight gain usually only accentuates your natural shape.
A client who is an hourglass would typically have balance between her shoulders and her hips, meaning they are roughly the same width. She would also have a curve to the ribcage, giving her a visible, well-defined waist. Hourglass ladies are often curvy all over, with shapely legs and bust and a curve to the hips, just like the shape of an hourglass.
HOW TO WORK OUT IF YOU’RE AN HOURGLASS
The first thing to look for in your shape is balance between the shoulders and hips. To work out if you’re balanced, try this simple exercise. Grab a broom or a mop; anything with a long handle. Stand in front of a full-length mirror, and line the handle up against your shoulder. If the handle falls in a straight line, does it touch the outside of your hip? Do you have to angle the handle in order to line up your hips and shoulders? Look at whether your handle points in toward your feet, hangs in a straight line to the floor, or points out away from your feet. This will tell you if your shoulders and hips are balanced, or out of balance. Next, have a look at the gap between your broom handle and the narrowest part of your waist – is the gap small (say less than 2 inches) or larger – 2 inches or more?
Golden rules for HOURGLASS SHAPES
For Hourglasses the golden rule is this: hourglasses must emphasize their waist. You have to show off the narrowest part of you body. That might be directly under the chest or lower down (depending on where your natural waist sits), but wear clothes that emphasize the waist. It's also important to keep the balance between the shoulders and the hips by not wearing anything that makes the hips look wider or the shoulders narrower. For example, a full skirt with a vest top is probably going to knock that perfect balance out. Because of the curve on the hips, we want the fabric on the hip to fit smoothly without adding any bulk. Keeping any interesting pattern, details or accessories further up the body will also help maintain balance.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR
For each shape, there are some outfits you may want to avoid. Hourglasses for example need to avoid anything that hides their waist, so stay away from batwing tops or big smock blouses. You won’t need any extra fabric at the hips either, so avoid trousers with pleating across the front. Because you’re a curvy girl, you just won’t look right in anything that is too straight, like a boxy jacket for example, and stay away from heavy or very stiff fabrics. Nearly all my hourglass clients struggle with getting a good fit on trousers. Being an hourglass doesn't mean you can't wear them, but does help to explain why it's so tricky to find a pair that fit well.
WHAT SHOULD I TRY ON?
Most hourglasses will look better in skirts and dresses than trousers. Forget those mannish corporate power suits and try on things that are softer and more feminine. For an Hourglass shape, try something with an empire line. A pencil skirt or good A line skirt will also work well, and try to find a good jacket with curvy edges that really pulls you in at the waist. If you’ve got a dress that lacks shape, try adding a belt, or put a cardigan over it and just do up a few buttons to help pull you in at your waist. Go for interesting details or accessories at the neckline, and experiment with skirts and dresses.
I’M NOT AN HOURGLASS, WHAT DO I DO?
Fear not – we’ll be publishing blogs over the next few weeks that feature each of the four key body shapes. If you can’t wait that long, or you’d like more help and advice about how to dress your shape, scale and proportions, you might like to book in for a 2 hour style and shape consultation with us. Click here for more details. Next time; how to dress a triangle shape.