Welcome to the Everyday Style School Episode 3: Dressing the Hourglass Body Type

This week, Lessons from Linda shares the hard truth about changing your body type, plus “Knits and Wovens” are the Words of the Week (cling or glide, you decide!).

In Current Events, we learn how to rock Crocs at any age and we kick off our Everyday Style Lecture Series on Body Types, starting with the Hourglass. 

Links& Resources from the Show:

How to Style Crocs: https://stylecaster.com/how-to-wear-crocs/

Ann Taylor Perfect Shirt is my favorite shirt for Hourglass women

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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 03 Dressing the Hourglass Body Type

Hey girl–and welcome to another episode of the Everyday Style School Podcast!

We’ve got a great show for you today. We’re starting the first of our 4 Body Type Specific Shows, a Lesson From Linda that is so important to our body type discussion, and a shoe trend in current events that you probably didn’t see coming! But first, let’s check your homework from last week!

Last week I asked you to look in the mirror and discover your body proportions. That’s it. Today I want to talk briefly about what they all mean.

I mentioned last week that even if you’re an hourglass, you’re going to want to listen to all the body type shows.

I’m going to be sharing info each week that you can use no matter what shape you are, and often if you can use an “if-then” mentality, you can learn more about dressing your body shape from the others.

For example–If high necklines are good for people with long necks, then lower necklines are good for women with shorter necks.

Listen to everything and see if its something you can use to dress your unique body, or if you can tweak the guideline to suit your body best.

Ok, I think I mentioned last week that even though there are as many body types out there as there are women in the world, I focus on the big 4-Some women will fit clearly into one body type and others will be a blend of two.

The one combination you cannot be is an apple and a pear.

An apple is bigger on the top than she is on the bottom, a pear is bigger on the bottom than she is on the top. That’s the one crossover that doesn’t happen.

Ok, I want to help you understand what the 4 body types are so you’re starting from the right place. Looking in the mirror and understanding your proportions is key. So hopefully you did your homework. If not, do it asap!

Here’s what those proportions mean, if your shoulders and hips are equal, and your waist is well defined, you are an hourglass.

If your shoulders and hips are equal, and your waist is not well defined, you are a rectangle

If your shoulders are bigger than your hips, you are an apple

If your shoulders are smaller than your hips, you are a pear.

Still, confused? Here are 2 simple tests I’ve used for years. First, if you go to buy leggings and a t-shirt, would you usually buy the same size on top as you would on the bottom?

Now, don’t get all–well, maybe, unless I’m at target, but I always do at lou and gray–don’t overcomplicate it.

Would you start by trying on the same size top as you would bottom? IF the answer is yes, you are either a rectangle or an hourglass- now look at your waist–does it go in a lot? If yes, hourglass, if no, rectangle.

If you would buy a bigger tee shirt than you would leggings, you’re an apple.

If you would buy a bigger leggings than you would T-shirt, you’re a pear. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Second quick test- How do pants fit you? Do you get the gap in the back? Girls who get the gap in the back know what I’m talking about, so if you don’t get it, you don’t have it. The gap in the back is caused by your waist is significantly smaller than your hips–so you’re either a pear or an hourglass.

Check out what’s going on up top to make the final determination

On the other hand, if pants that fit you in the waist are big in the butt or legs, you’re either a rectangle or an apple. The more room you have in the rear and thighs, the more likely you are to be an apple.

If you can take off any pair of pants without unbuttoning them, or undoing your belt, you’re definitely an apple

If you can go pick up a pair of pants and don’t have these odd fit issues, chances are you’re a rectangle.

All right, that’s the review of the homework–it took a little longer, but I really want you to start out on the right foot. But I think we’re ready to dive into today’s material, so let’s kick it off with lessons from Linda

Apple Story:

Today’s Vocabulary lesson is so important to learn how to dress any body type best. Let’s discover the word of the week!

Knits vs Wovens–last week it was a 2 for 1 Lesson from Linda, today it’s a 2 for 1 Word of the week. Today I want to talk about Knits and Wovens.

Finally, before we get into our big topic for the day, I want to discuss a shoe trend you probably didn’t see coming. It’s time for Current Events!

Ladies, we need to talk Crocs–yes, those Crocs–they’re having a fashion moment this spring. Especially the white ones, and especially with a younger crowd, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try the trend if you want.

I subscribe to Women’s Wear Daily, and I started seeing articles about crocs last fall, and thought, nope–that’s one of those fashiony things that won’t translate to real life.

Then, a few weeks ago I was at Target, in their Wild Fable department, and I saw a rack of white crock knock offs–we’ll call them croc-offs!. Finally, the other day my tween daughter told me she wanted a pair of crocs.

Now, she hasn’t worn them since she was 5 and they were easy summer shoes. Its official, they’re a thing.

If you’re thinking. sweet! I have a pair in my garage, I’m trendy again…I want you to pause for a minute. I’m not saying you can’t, at whatever age you are, rock your crocs. You absolutely can.

However, if you wear them with a faded black v-neck t-shirt and some Eddie Bauer walking shorts, they’re going to look as frumpy, dumpy, and out of style as they always did.

You actually need to create an outfit to highlight the crocs–I honestly can’t believe that’s a sentence I just uttered. We live in a crazy world.

In the show notes above, I’ve linked to a couple of blogs on how to style crocs if you want to try this trend.

Now, why would you want to do this? Well first, Crocs are comfy as hell–its why people wear them in the first place.

The other reason is, no matter what your age, it’s perfectly ok to try a trend. Don’t check out of fashion just because you’ve crossed an arbitrary age line.

But as we age, I want you to think of Trend Garnish, not Trend Salad..what’s the difference? In this case, if I was going to wear crocs, I’d pair them with a basic tee and boyfriend jeans–two fairly classic, mainstay pieces. The crocs are the garnish. A trend salad would be wearing them with a crop top and wide-leg flare jeans.

That’s a look best left to the youngsters. Choose one trendy piece as an outfit garnish.

All right, when we come back, we’re going to dive into our first body type discussion, stay tuned!

Before we get started–use this information as flexible guidelines, not unbreakable rules. Do what suits you best, and if you love something, wear it. Rules be damned. I often say to my clients that it’s ok to give up a couple of figure flattery points in order to pick up a couple of style points.

There may be a trend you want to try or a piece that you just love, and that counts for a lot. But as Pablo Picasso said, you must learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

Let’s dive into this installment of the Everyday Style Lecture series

I’m starting with the Hourglass, because it’s what we think of as the feminine ideal. In reality, it’s the 3’rd most common out of the 4 body types. Both rectangle and pear are more common.

Let’s start with a description of the hourglass- A true hourglass has shoulders that are equal to her hips and a waist that is well defined.

There are lots of theories out there about what well-defined means, but I don’t think we need a technical measurement. Is your waist considerably smaller than your shoulders/bust and your hips?

Do your shoulders and hips line up when you look at yourself in the mirror? Ok, you’re an hourglass.

There are some variations on this body type, and most of them have to do with how high your waistline is, and how high your hips are.

A very common variation is an hourglass with a high waist she’s heard the advice to belt everything to define her waist, but when she does, she feels like she’s belting her boobs.

This body type has the measurements of an hourglass but appears more pear-shaped simply because more of her body is on the bottom–if that’s you, combine the pear and hourglass rules.

The other common variation has very high hips–often referred to as shelf-hips or spoon shape.

Often the hips appear very square and long–this body shape can be an hourglass if the hips and shoulders are the same–but can also be a pear if the hips are bigger than the shoulders.

In either case, again you’re going to want to marry the pear and hourglass guidelines.

The main challenge for the hourglass is although the body type is what we think of as the feminine ideal, nothing seems to fit you right. If a blouse fits in the bust, it’s big in the waist, if pants fit in the hip, you get a gap in the back.

People say they want your body type, but they don’t know how hard it can be! Don’t worry, my lovelies, we’ll make it a little easier.

Its been my experience with dressing hourglasses that while you may want a flowy, carefree boho look, once you put on clothes without structure you feel big and boxy all over.

If you don’t that’s great, go for that unstructured look, but if that describes you, find ways to keep your waist defined no matter what look you want to go for.

In general, the goals for dressing your hourglass body are to maintain the proportion between your upper and lower body and highlight your waist. Most hourglasses want their legs to look longer, to avoid looking top-heavy.

But what you really want to know is what to wear, right? Let’s start at the top.

Finding the right neckline is critical to finding your best looks, and every woman should know what neckline is best on her.

One important guideline, no matter what your shape, is that the higher the neckline, the bigger your boobs look, and the shorter your neck looks.

So what does that mean for hourglasses? It depends.

If you have a long neck and a smaller bust, turtlenecks and crewnecks can be a great option.

However, if you’re more well endowed or have a short neck, you might find that turtlenecks crew necks make your top half look even bigger, and you might opt for a v-neck or a scoop neck instead.

Another thing you always have to keep in mind is what’s going on on the bottom? Skirt or pants with extra volume? A higher neckline might balance it out, whereas super skinny jeans with a turtleneck might make you look bigger on top.

In general, when shopping with my hourglasses, I look for tops that are a little more open, like a v, scoop, or bateau neck.

Knits on top are an hourglasses best friend because they’ll find and highlight your curves, instead of hanging straight like woven tops do.

However, if you want that flowy blouse look, one thing you can do is add a jacket or cardigan that ends at your waist, or that has waist seaming or detail.

That will give you the unstructured look you say you want, as well as the waist-defining aspect that you really want. This is a good trick for hourglasses who feel they want to camouflage their midsection a little bit but aren’t ready to go full-on flowy.

Button-down tops are the bane of most hourglasses existence. If they fit in the shoulder, but they gap in the bust, if they fit at the bust, they’re too big in the waist.

Like everything, a top needs to fit you in the shoulder first. If you find one that fits in the shoulder and bust, you can tailor the waist.

Another trick is to look for blouses with lots of vertical or curved seams, these shirts have more shape than those with just an underbust dart.

In reality, for my professional clients who are looking for button-downs to wear under jackets, we’ve often just given up the idea and gone for silk or jersey shells with wrapped waists, or draping. They seem to work better, and one of my biggest mantras is “don’t work so hard for it”.

There’s often an easier alternative.

One of the easiest things you can do is look for bouses/tops with wrapped waists, belts, or tie details. Right now, in the Spring of 2019 these styles are having a serious moment and are everywhere. Stock up.

If you do have a larger bust, watch out for big breast pockets, or embellishment between the shoulder and the bustline.

How long should your tops be? Here’s another tip for every body shape– never put a horizontal line across the widest part of anything.

So, your tops should either end a little above, or a little below, the widest part of your hips.

Half tucking is a great way for hourglasses who want to define their waists, but don’t want to commit to the full-on tuck.

Your best jackets and coats have lots of vertical and princess seaming and anything with a belt is a bonus. One thing to mention is that a simple change that makes a big difference is to reposition the belt to match your waist.

Avoid round collar boxy jackets–even if they’re longer with a belt. Also, again beware the breast pockets
Now for dresses.

Girl, your body was made for dresses. Your curves fill them out so well, and you probably feel like the best version of yourself in a dress. If that’s true–load up your closet with dresses!

The most important thing to know (and this is for all body types) is that the waist of a dress needs to match the waist of your body. If it doesn’t, the waist of your dress will move around to find your waist.

Hourglasses with high waists, I’m guessing when you wear dresses with set in waists, you often get a fold of fabric over the waistline–am I right.

That’s a waist that should be positioned lower sneaking up to find your waist. One trick I use with my high waist hourglasses is to try Petites, and size up one size.

That may not work for you if you need the length, but it’s been a successful trick more often than I can remember.

Hourglasses, look for dresses with defined waists–fit and flares, wrap dresses, belted sheaths. This is not a time for breezy shift dresses.


In pants, the most important thing you can do to make shopping easier is to look for curvy pants for your curvy body. These are made for women with a smaller waist in proportion to your hips and rear-They eliminate the gap in the back and pulling across the hips.

Not all pants are available in a curvy fit, but you can always have them altered–it’s a pretty simple thing to do, or wear a belt if there’s a tiny gap. But honestly, If the gap is big, do yourself a favor and tailor.

I find hourglasses can wear most styles of pants when keeping in mind what’s going on up top to maintain the balance. If you’re comfortable rocking skinnies as an hourglass, go for it.

If skinnies leave you feeling a little exposed, try a slim leg or a straight leg that doesn’t taper in as much.

Most of my hourglass clients shy away from white and light-colored bottoms, afraid to draw too much attention to the bottom half, but honestly you don’t have to.

If you want to wear white jeans, try a straight leg, instead of a skinny– often light and tight isn’t your best look on the bottom, so try switching up the silhouette.

If you’re really comfortable rocking your curves, try high waist pants with a shorter or tucked-in top.

Trouser cut pants that aren’t overly full are a good choice if you want a wider cut pant. Super wide legs can leave you feeling bottom-heavy and can make your legs look shorter.

As for skirts, you can choose to play up or play down your curves. To play them up, go for a pencil skirt. Depending on your leg length and shape, you can wear skirts that are right above the knee to a midi length that hits high calf.

Find the length that looks best on you.

To play down your curves you can wear a fuller skirt, including pleated versions. When wearing a fuller skirt though, make sure your top is tucked, or you have a structured jacket to avoid the “boxy” feeling.

Just a note–if you really want to do the baggy, oversized thing that’s current right now, create structure somewhere in your outfit–whether it’s half-tucking, scrunching your sleeves, wearing a baggy top with fitted sleeves, rolling your pants or wearing a jacket with a really strong defined shoulder, as an hourglass you’re probably going to feel best when your clothes fit close to the body somewhere.

A few final tips for hourglasses- Stores that cater to a more mature customer tend to be naturally curvier. Try Eddie Bauer, Lands End, Talbots, etc. Even if the overall aesthetic of the store isn’t your jam, you can shop with a critical eye to find individual pieces that work for you.

With accessories, be careful not to pile on too many big pieces. In general, your body doesn’t need a ton of decoration and can get overwhelmed easily. Avoid necklaces that stop right at the bustline, and scarves that add too much bulk there too.

That’s it–A lot to take in, but I really hope this information makes shopping and getting dressed easier for you.

Your homework this week, if you are an hourglass, is to go through your closet quickly and look for your favorite pieces. Do they fit these guidelines?

Also, look for pieces you don’t love–could it be they’re not best for you. That’s it–don’t spend more than 5 or 10 minutes on it, but learning why you like the clothes you like will help you when you’re shopping in the future to make great choices easily.

Have a great week everyone. See you next time!

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