best bathing suit guide for hourglass body shape

Hourglass Body Shape: The Ultimate Swimsuit Guide

What is an hourglass body shape?

It gets its name for a reason. 

When you picture an hourglass, wide on top, slender where the sand falls through, and then wide again at the opposite side, the same can be seen with an hourglass body shape. 

A person with an hourglass body shape will have a wide chest or bust, with a narrow, defined waist, and then wide hips, bottom, and thighs. 

The chest and hips measurements would be proportionate or equal in size. 

This figure is typically seen as a feminine figure, especially since many hourglass gals have a curvier top and bottom. 

what an hourglass body looks like in illustration

When the bust and hips are equal in size, with the waist being drastically smaller, this is called a “standard” hourglass. 

A true hourglass will always have the same measurements for their bust and hips. An industry standard hourglass figure is a 36 inch bust, 24 inch waist, and 36 inch hip.

If the hips and bust are not exactly equal, but the body shape has this very dramatic waist in comparison to the bust or hips, then you may have a variation of the standard hourglass. 

There are two other types of hourglass figures –  a top hourglass and bottom hourglass body shape.

As a general rule of thumb, to be in the “hourglass” category, your bust and hips should be at least 25% larger than your waist.
Perhaps you do not have equal measurements between your bust and hips, but you do see this hourglass shape because you have a defined waist. You may be a top or bottom hourglass.

different types of hourglass body shapes

Top Hourglass

A top hourglass body shape has a noticeably larger bust in comparison to the waist. The bust will also measure larger than the hips. 

For example, a 36 inch bust, 24 inch waist, 32 inch hip. The bust and hips are not the same, but the bust and hips are 25% larger than the waist. This also counts as an hourglass.

Bottom Hourglass

A bottom hourglass body shape has a noticeably larger hip width in comparison to the waist. The hips will also measure larger than the bust. 

For example, a 35 inch bust, 29 inch waist, and 40 inch hip. Hips & bust are not equal but they are both 25% larger than the waist.

How do I know if I am an hourglass shape?

Take your measurements!

Don’t be afraid to get out a measuring tape and measure your shoulders, bust, waist, and hips.

Understanding your measurements and body shape will help you make more informed decisions when purchasing clothes. 

After taking your measurements, be sure to write them down so you can determine if your bust and hips are at least 25% larger than your waist. 

You can also use an online calculator like this one. If you check the box on your bust and hips being 25% larger than your waist, then see if your bust and hips are the same length. 

If your bust or hips are larger than one another, you will be a top or bottom hourglass depending on what is larger. 

Conversely, If your bust and hips are not 25% larger than your waist, not to worry! This means you’ll want to follow different tips for styling your body shape.

What if I have really broad shoulders and noticeably smaller hips? If you took your measurements and you see that your shoulders are 5% larger than your bust and your hips are smaller than your bust, this may put you in the “inverted triangle” category. 

Hourglass shape & other body types

An hourglass figure greatly depends on the waist, hip, and bust ratio.

  • If you generally gain weight evenly, then you’ll likely maintain your hourglass.
  • if you start to gain weight in the waist and hips, your body shape may appear more pear.
  • If you gain in just your midsection and lose your waist definition, then you may appear more apple or more rectangle.

There are other figures similar to an hourglass. For example, an inverted triangle is very similar to an hourglass. 

However, visually speaking, when you think of an hourglass this object is round in nature whereas a triangle has points. 

An hourglass figure will not have as broad of shoulders as a triangle figure and will appear rounder in the shoulders and hips.

An inverted triangle lends to less mass at the bottom (a slender point), so this body shape will also have smaller hips and thighs than an hourglass.

Below are some examples that show the differences between an hourglass and an inverted triangle body shape.

This is an example of a true hourglass. 

She has broad shoulders, a small waist, and broad hips/thighs. Her bust and hips are the same length and her waist is drastically smaller.

Compare this to a similar body shape with slight differences. In this image, we see how the inverted triangle has broader, longer shoulders. The hips and thighs are also smaller than the true hourglass.

Here is an example of an inverted triangle:

a model with an inverted triangle body shape

She has broad shoulders, more so than her bust, a small waist, but her hips are not as broad as her bust and especially not as broad as her shoulders. Without the gown, she is likely more of a “triangle” body shape than an hourglass. 

A triangle body shape will have smaller hips and thighs than a true hourglass. However, with the gown, her hips do have some definition, so we also see the top hourglass figure here. 

A bottom hourglass can be compared to the “triangle” or “pear” body shape as well. 

This is where taking your specific measurements will help you categorize yourself properly and pick the best options for your body type.

Here is an example of a bottom hourglass compared to the “triangle” or “pear” body shape.

bottom hourglass vs triangle body shape

Her bust is smaller than her hips, but she has a defined waist. If her hips & bust are 25% larger than her waist, then she is an hourglass. If not, then she would be a triangle or pear. We can see how these can be very similar. Since the hips are larger than the bust, we can easily see a bottom hourglass figure. 

Over time, an hourglass figure may change depending on your natural skeletal body shape and where you gain or lose weight. 

What bikini styles look good on an hourglass shape?

The hourglass body shape looks great in many different kinds of swimwear. Overall, someone with an hourglass figure will always want to go for a “balanced silhouette”. This just means the proportions in your swimwear should be equal or in harmony with one another. 

You should always consider the occasion and how you want to look and feel in your swimsuit. If there are certain focus areas for you, then you may want to consider some of the below tips.


An hourglass will likely have a full bust. If you are looking for a supportive bikini top, a halter is a great option. 

The deep v will emphasize your bust. If you are wanting to cover more of your bust, a square neck with wide straps would be a good option. 

This will support your bust and keep symmetry along your shoulders/chest, while covering some or most of your cleavage. 


High Waist Ruffled Bikini Bottom_inxcy_geo print

An hourglass will likely have a fuller bottom with full hips. Simple embellishments or a small ruffle detail will bring the eye to your hips and can make your waist look smaller. 

Ideally, your suit has equal embellishment or ruffle detail on top and bottom to maintain that balanced silhouette. 

A high-rise bottom with a high-cut leg is also flattering to the waist and lengthens the legs. A low-rise bottom will give length to the torso, but keep in mind a low-rise bottom can make the legs appear shorter. 


You’ll want to go with matching sets to maintain a balanced, effortless silhouette. Anything that starts to get too busy will take away from your natural figure.

Petite and/or Plus Size Hourglass 

model wearing a striped one-piece bathing suit with laces around the waist

If you are a petite and/or plus-size hourglass, a one-piece with a plunging neckline and a tied waist is a great option for you. 

Even better if this suit has a high-cut leg as well. The neckline and high-cut leg will give you length while also showing off your curves. 

Extra points for the emphasis on the waist with a tie!

What not to wear with an hourglass figure?

Conflicting prints or colors

Hourglass figures should try to avoid mismatched bikinis. Mismatching prints or colors will distract the eye from your natural silhouette and take away from your balanced proportions. 

For one-piece bikinis, this rule would apply as well and you’d want to avoid a different color on top and bottom. 

Chunk of Ruffles

For a top or bottom hourglass, you’ll want to pay attention to large ruffles and over-embellishing as this could lead to an overemphasis of your top or bottom causing heaviness in your look. These will take away from your natural shape.

String bikinis

For the curvier and fuller hourglass, a string bikini may not be a great (or comfortable) option. There is typically less fabric on a string bikini which can mean a lot of adjusting and tugging at your suit which is not ideal.A bandeau top may not be a great option either if your chest needs support. 

Based in sunny Arizona. Proud mom of two. Loves working on wardrobes, organization, and home design/décor. Passionate about sourcing and curating content/merchandise for different types of projects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.