How to dress an hourglass figure

When it comes to dressing your bridal party, one of the main challenges can be buying bridesmaid dresses that look great on each of the body types within the group. There can be considerations that need to be made on a number of levels, such as colour, material, and dress style. This is yet another reason why it’s important to give yourself as much time as possible to plan for the big day. 

In this blog, we give thoughts and expert tips on how to dress one of the most well-known figures – the hourglass. 

What is an hourglass body shape? 

The hourglass figure is something that has always been held in high esteem by the fashion world. However, as with any figure, there are certain considerations that should be made for a bridesmaid dress to look its best. It’s not uncommon for you to have difficulty categorising your exact body shape, simply because each of us are unique. As such, below you’ll also find a list of ‘secondary’ shapes which share similarities with the hourglass figure. 

Most hourglass figures are characterised by: 

  • Equal width shared between the bust and the hips. 
  • A small and defined waist. 
  • Slight rounding on the shoulders. 
  • Rounded bottom and hips. 

The following body shapes possess features and dimensions similar to an hourglass, meaning that the same consideration will likely have to be made when dressing. These are: 

  • Pear shape – the body has a fuller bottom with extra weight around the hips and thighs. 
  • Apple shape – extra weight is distributed around the waist. 
  • Inverted triangle – more mass on the upper arms and shoulders gives the appearance of a wider shoulder line. 

Tips for dressing hourglass figures 

The main thing to bear in mind when buying a dress for a specific body type is to lean into its natural strengths. An hourglass figure is perfectly balanced, so we don’t want to take away from that. Instead, dressing an hourglass is best done by following the body’s natural silhouette. You should avoid drawing attention to just one of either the upper or lower body and put the emphasis on the waist. To achieve this, we recommend: 

  • Choosing simple, clean dresses that don’t interfere with their silhouette. 
  • Avoiding bridesmaid dress styles that hide the waist. 
  • Choosing a dress that hugs the natural curves of the body. Sourcing a fitted bridesmaid dress will get the best results here. 
  • Wearing a good bra, such as a plunge or balconette.  

While these are general tips for dressing an hourglass figure for an occasion, for bridesmaid dresses there are further considerations in how the look affects the upper and lower parts of the body. 


The neckline on the dress should be such that it doesn’t unbalance the hourglass figure by widening or adding volume. The best course of action is to choose a neckline isn’t overly wide or narrow. Great examples are rounded styles.  


Similarly, sleeves must be chosen with care to ensure they don’t interfere with the natural proportions of the hourglass figure. Unembellished, fitted sleeves can work brilliantly as they follow the natural curves of the body without drawing attention of the arms.  


Wearing a jacket can be a decision made for both style and practicality, depending on the time of year your event is taking place. Jackets for hourglass figures should be short, stopping just above the waist to accentuate its definition. It should also not be too bulky, as this will add to the top half of the body. A simple way to avoid this is to choose a jacket without too much detailing.  

Dress style 

For hourglass bodies, dresses should nip in at the waist or feature a belt to help create that lovely silhouette. Wrap bridesmaid dresses can work well for this reason, although you have to careful there isn’t too much fabric. Avoid dresses with straight lines or boxy cuts, as these features will detract from the body’s curves and add weight.  

Our picks for hourglass bridesmaid dresses 

At Maids to Measure, we have helped hundreds of bridal parties find the dresses that bring out the best in their body types. In the course of this experience, we found the following bridesmaids dresses for hourglass figures.  

  • A line bridesmaid dress – an established all-rounder, a line dresses are designed for narrower waists. The skirt is also ideal for wide hourglass hips, as it is fitted at the hips. 
  • Pale grey bridesmaid dresses – pale grey is a perfect neutral shade that doesn’t distract the eye from the hourglass silhouette. 
  • Champagne satin dress – this one is a bit risky as it is a flowing dress. However, the material loves to come in at the waist which is perfect for drawing the attention where it should be for hourglasses.  

Bridesmaid dresses for every type of figure 

If you’re looking for a wide range of bridesmaid dresses to fit an hourglass figure, you’ve come to right place. The Maids to Measure is committed to getting your bridesmaids comfortable and looking their best. This means letting their figure work for them. Contact us today to arrange an appointment in our stylish showroom.