Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

December 17, 2007

You ask, readers answer: Help for the hourglass girl

Filed under: Be Super Fantastic,Fashion,You Asked For It — Francesca @ 8:38 am

hourglassOur internet friend Laura asks:

Could you please post some advice for the hourglass girls? I am not a pear or an apple. I’m 5’10” and even on top and bottom with a big dent in the middle. For some reason, designers don’t seem to think that women like me exist. We do! I’d like to find jeans that don’t gap in the back, a dress that fits at the bust without fitting like a tent around my waist and hips and maybe just one or two dress shirts that fit me correctly without having to go to a seamstress to get them taken in.

Oh, the travails we women face! We come in so many wonderful shapes and sizes and proportions! The mass-production of clothing is not conducive to actually dressing real women. Oh for the days when we all knew how to sew our own clothes, or knew how to hire someone to do it for us!

Laura does not wish to continue seeing the seamstress, but in fact for those of us with special, unique, non-mass-produced shapes, the seamstress is our best friend. Francesca’s advice is to stop thinking of the seamstress as a necessary evil, and to think of her as a blessing, think of her as the woman who is helping you to look superfantastic in all your uniqueness and womanly splendor.

After that, Francesca turns to the readers. Who among you is the superfantastic hourglass woman of height who can help Lauren, for once, find clothing that fits off the rack? Where do you shop?



  1. I am also 5’10” and hourglass-shaped. I find the long & lean jeans from Gap to be the best fit for me. Try Gap Outlet stores for pants that are great for work, and the outlets carry up to a size 20. As for dress shirts, have you tried JC Penny? Sometimes I have luck with their a.n.a. line.

    Comment by cassandra — December 17, 2007 @ 11:04 am

  2. Not as tall as 5’10 (I wish!), but long-legged and hourglass shaped – Eddie Bauer has a number of pants types, some in which the waist is one full size smaller than the hips. These also come in tall sizes.

    Comment by succubus — December 17, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  3. Long-legged hourglass here too, though only 5’5″-5’6″.

    Christopher Blue “Lloyd’s Sister” jeans are my best friend — it says “designed exclusively for Nordstrom” at Zafu but they’re in wider distribution: I got mine on the moms-still-trying floor at Bloomingdales. I didn’t seem any pairs over a 14, because (oh so usefully to those of us who would like options) they segregate the plus sizes at Bloomingdales, but per the internets CB has at least one line that comes in 16 and 18. Also in the 12/14 range, I recently picked up some nice grey jeans from Olsen at The Bay in Canada. I’m not sure what happens north of here, as it were, but for other inbetweenie hourglasses this might help jeanswise.

    The shirts: forget it. Knits are your friend. Or that seamstress, I guess.

    Comment by Violet — December 17, 2007 @ 11:30 am

  4. I feel Laura’s pain. It’s frustrating to spend $85 on a nice pair of work slacks, only to have to spend $35 more to have them taken in and the hems realigned. Sadly, I have not had good luck with the Eddie Bauer jeans that allegedly come one size smaller in the waist. I find myself pulling them up on the occasions that I wear them. I found a pair of Levi’s that fit well (550 Classic Relaxed Bootcut), but they are total “Mom jeans.” Any help for the hourglass girls is much appreciated!

    Comment by ELS — December 17, 2007 @ 11:52 am

  5. Amen Sister! For the past couple of seasons the trend has been to make dresses & tops with empire waists or under-bust detailing which just make us hourglasses look pregnant. One of my favorite ways to highlight curves is to wear wrap blouses. I’m having a hard time finding good examples that are available right now.

    Lane Bryant has this but the banded sleeves & highly placed mid-line won’t work on most talls. has a striped wrap shirt (Style # 4271753A) that’s on sale right now. I’m waiting for my order to come in to see if the diagonals work or not.

    Coldwater Creek has a couple of faux-wrap designs like:

    Also take a look at this pattern
    The line drawings of the front & back views can give you some details to look for when shopping.

    Comment by Rach — December 17, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

  6. I am another super-fantastic hourglass woman, though not of the same height! I have found that some manufacturers make pants which can be relied upon to somewhat fit my hips and waist at the same time – I bless Jones New York every time I need to get dressed formally for work. Anne Klein is also sometimes useful in this regard. Since I usually need to get these pants hemmed, as well, Laura may find them to be of an adequate length.

    And then there are the manufacturers who are best suited for the apple-shaped woman – Tommy Hilfigger, Lauren, etc. I have learned that it is better not even to try on their pants for fear of extreme fitting room frustration, though sometimes their tops work well.

    One of the biggest problems with being a plus-sized hourglass shape, however, is that the waist indentation is so drastic that accenting it means that one rather resembles a snowman. Thus, I don’t wear jackets and blouses with snug belts and waists, but rather ones that narrow and skim the body without actually folding, as it were.

    Comment by oliviacw — December 17, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

  7. I can’t tell if this question is asking for advice about whether to shop or how to select clothing for the hourglass tall girl. Do forgive me if my suggestions are things you already know.

    I’ve had some good-fitting jeans from Silhouette’s, and then others have been terrible. I am at a very formal job so I no longer buy many jeans. Here is what I have found in dressing my tall hourglass self:

    Meta rule: Allow no clothing into your wardrobe that hides your waist.

    1. Sweaterdresses look lovely if you belt them. In good quality material, on a tall lady, they hug the right spots. Being an hourglass is an excuse to buy top-quality belts in luxurious materials. Alas, most larger women’s clothing is uber-cheap; I have my belts custom made.

    2. Separates should be tucked in and belted. This is the reason why I can’t wear the bo-ho stuff with the layers and the long broomstick skirts–the waist disappears in favor of clothes that hang from the widest parts: the bust and the hips. Such a a bad idea on anybody with breasts and hips.

    3. Wrap dresses and mock wrap dresses are perfect for hourglass.

    4. I wear a lot of suits: try to get suits that have tucks in back so that the jacket does not hang shapelessly.

    5. Jeans that do not cooperate around the waist are an excellent excuse to buy wide belts with sassy belt buckles.

    6. Cardigans or suit jackets left open in the front allow your figure to be seen under the outer layer–this is generally better than buttoning either.

    7. Sleeveless, 50’s style dresses look powerfully cute on tall hourglasses.

    8. Every girl needs a black leather blazer of as good a quality as you can buy. (This is not an hourglass tip; it’s me opining. But it’s such a useful clothing item; you can dress it up or down, with jeans or slacks, with white shirts and sweaters underneath, with scarves or bold necklaces–and if it’s quality, it feels so good!)

    Comment by Chaser — December 17, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

  8. oh oh oh–Baby Phat has some jeans for hourglasses. I’ve had some from there. Unfortunately, I am now getting to the age where most Baby Phat things are too young and blingy for me.

    Comment by Chaser — December 17, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  9. I like the DKNY Soho jeans – I, too, have a significantly smaller waist than hips or bust, and these tend to fit me well in the waist. They also tend to run long – my inseam is usually between most manufacturers’ “short” and “regular”, but this short is almost too long for me (a good excuse to wear my heeled boots).

    I tend to find that mid rise jeans are a far better fit because they do not require the waist to come in all the way. But like all jeans, even the ones who claim to have a smaller waist may not fit because it’s not just waist size, it’s also how your waist nips in and where it nips in.

    Comment by TropicalChrome — December 17, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

  10. Chaser, your #1 and #2 are specific to the long-waisted. Tucking and belting isn’t so good on a short-waisted hourglass. I don’t tend to do wide belts at natural waistline or higher, even though they look awesome in theory and when I’m standing up straight in front of the mirror, because whenever I sit down, my rib cage bangs against the top of the belt, and the bottom of the belt jabs into my hips and it’s all massively uncomfortable. (I could also see an unfortunate snowman-in-a-cincher effect happening on someone not much bigger than me.) With my length in the leg I can, OTOH, wear a long boho hippie skirt so long as I also wear a closely fitted enough top.

    But the meta rule is perfect. SHOW THE WAIST. It’s the boxy or unisex tees and “bigshirts” and today’s blousoned tops that you want to stay away from.

    Comment by Violet — December 17, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

  11. if you have not yet checked out Svoboda jeans, then you must have been sleeping.
    designed for all sorts of curvy girls, hourglass, pear, apple, banana, orange, and everything in between. first time i put a pair on i fell head over heels in love. they are a bit pricey, but well worth it!!!

    Comment by cricket — December 17, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

  12. When I have the money I like to buy vintage. Around the mid-twentieth-century I find that the curves were cut much more severely, which suits me so much better than the currently fashionable straighter figure.

    Comment by Jillian — December 17, 2007 @ 7:29 pm

  13. I’m 6ft, hourglass and range from a size 20-24 depending on the cut. I’m very proportional: long legs, long torso, long arms. Here are who I go to for my clothing:

    1. Babyphat, As Chaser wrote, and I agree. Kimora Lee Simmons herself is over 6ft tall and curvy. Her clothing, while sometimes too much for my taste, always has lovely key pieces. Her inseams are always at least a 34 (unless you select “short” if it is offered). I’ve found her jeans to be slimmer in the waist for no gaping and with a generous hip area. Her t-shirts are short in the torso area, sweaters are grand! And they do stretch out, I usually go with a 1-2x depending on the style. Length in arms of her long sleeved shirts are also good. Length of short and long dresses, great! Shorter dresses do hit right above the knee and longer just above the ankle. Most helpful is that the website has curvy tall women in the clothing.

    2. Apple Bottom jeans if you want something with a little more “flavor” like cargo pockets on your jeans. They too have an inseam of about 32.5ish. Haven’t tried other apparel from this line.

    3. Trentacosta for dresses. His cut is tailored and the necklines are beautiful and full, and low, so if you are feeling modest I’d keep that in mind, but no seamstress is needed to take anything in with his cuts.

    4. Kiyonna is a line that is very sophisticated and has tall curvy hour glass shaped models in their clothing. I was surprised to love so many of their pieces as sometimes I shy away from certain cuts; i.e. scoop necks, pinched-in-the-center shirts. The lace collection of dresses are delicious! Arm length of shirts are very measured.

    5. Anna Scholz. It will cost a bit, but we do have to pay for quality sometimes. Anna Shcolz herself is over 6ft tall so she cuts for herself. I love her wrap dresses as they wrap in the back versus the front. It is just such a difference when we make clothes for our body, we know what works, and Anna works it!

    6. Old Navy online offers pants and slacks in lengths. I purchased slacks in tall and a jacket and the arms are good in length, the pants are perfect. I decided to purchase the matching skirt and had to go down a size. They are generous in their sizing for all pieces. Their jeans are also cut slimmer in the waist and fuller in the hip.

    7. Miss Tina, sold at Home Shopping Network online. This is “Tina” as in Beyonce’s mom, as in House of Dereon. Her pieces borderline similarly to the Baby Phat pieces, but there are some gems in the collection. Her pencil skirts and dresses are comfortable, classy and appropriate for various ages.

    Hope this was helpful!

    Comment by bianca — December 18, 2007 @ 11:50 am

  14. Lerner’s/New York and Co. BEST JEANS EVER. I am 5’10” and hourglassy as well, and their long jeans fit perfectly.

    Comment by Denise — December 18, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

  15. Have you looked at the Lane Bryant perfect fit jeans yet? They’re the only jeans I’ve ever tried on that don’t gap in the back. They sell different cuts for different body types, and their salespeople have been pretty helpful in finding the right fit.

    Comment by paranoid — December 18, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  16. Same figure here! (Although only 5’8″). I wear a size 20 to 22, depending on cut. I’m currently really digging on the Lane Bryant Right Fit jeans (blue is the one for hourglass figures). Finally, a pair of jeans that don’t gap in the back! (Plus they make me look like I have a butt – bonus).

    For dresses, I’m a big fan of jersey whenever possible, also knits or modal. I usually opt for a surplice dress with a crossover bodice because I’m very busty and this cut and fabric allows for the different sizes of your figure. Otherwise, if I’m trying to fit my bust, the dress doesn’t hit me anywhere else. I’m a huge fan of Michael Kors Woman (at Macy’s and Nordstrom).

    On sale right now:

    Or something like this:

    (Trust me, it’s far more flattering on than it looks in the pic!)

    I like faux wrap dresses, but not real wrap dresses because they make me look like I have the biggest waist in the world (they’re just not for everybody).

    Can’t help you with dress shirts – I never wear them (see earlier comments on bustiness!)

    Comment by Alyssa — December 18, 2007 @ 5:27 pm

  17. It’s hard to be an Hourglass. I think that nearly all clothing manufacturers (pattern makers are included) believe us to be mythological creatures, and so no one really makes clothing specifically for Hourglasses. Well, from my experience here are some tips (I am usually between a 12 – 14 – sometimes 16 on top).

    A. Pants
    1. Look for curved waistbands. This shape will hug more closely to the body because it has had extra room removed from it
    2. Wear a mid rise. A pair of pants that sits at your high hip (top of the hips) will not have as much buckling because it doesn’t have to go all the way to your smallest area while fitting one of the widest areas of your body at the same time.
    3. With high waisted garments – Try a paperbag style waist. If they help minimize (and showcase at the same time – weird, I know) your shape.
    4. Medium width belts on pants do very well to balance top and bottom with middle
    5. Pants with a higher rise at the back than the front.
    6. A little lycra, spandex, or elastane usually make for a better fit.

    – Personally my favorite jeans are from Calvin Klein, and the JC Penny Misses section (DKNY also makes nice ones). My favorite pants are from Express (good if you can fit a 12)

    B. Tops
    1. Button down shirts are always hard. You either have to spend a lot of time looking for a good fit, or visit your tailor.
    2. Again, a bit of stretch in the fabric is good
    3. Shirts with runching near the center of the bust will help conceal a small amount of pulling.
    4. Make sure you have on the bra or bra type you want to wear with the shirt when you try them on
    5. Avoid most button downs where the first button is set really low.

    – My current favorite button downs are Ralph Lauren (L) with no darts, some side seam fitting and no ‘action back’ (a/or several pleats or tucks along the yoke – seam across the top shoulders- on the back of a shirt). They fit the bust well, and while not form fitting manage not to be boxy either.

    Also, I personally have yet to find a ‘wrap’ dress or top that looks good on me without turning me into a freakish ‘snowman’ – I think wraps work much better on pears.

    Comment by supersam — December 18, 2007 @ 9:13 pm

  18. A solution I have found for dress shirts is to wear a nice, somewhat substantial cami or tank under and the leave the top few buttons open. This way you can get a shirt that fits in the waist and not worry so much about it closing around the bust. It creates a nice, almost v-neck line also, which I think works well on an hourglass. (Also, look for princess seams and darting, both very helpful for fitting a curvy shape.)

    I too am a fan of the Right Fit Blue, though I just got my pair, so it’s a qualified recommendation. I was just so excited to find a pair of jeans that actually go out and then back in again, so much that you can totally see the curve when you look at the folded jeans. cool! (I knew they would be good when I could barely get the waist over my thighs, but once I got the waist up the thighs were perfect.)

    Comment by monkey — December 18, 2007 @ 9:20 pm

  19. I too am an hourglass, although only 5’6″, and range anywhere from a size 8 to a 12. I cannot live without the Editor pants and the curvy cut jeans from Express. They both fit my legs without gapping in the back of my waist right off the rack. They also come in long lengths. Express also makes some great wrap v-neck tops that are cut really well and accentuate the good things!

    If you’re willing to spend a little more on jeans, I highly recommend Seven for All Mankind. I know they’ve caught some flak here, but I gotta say, they fit. Well. =)

    Comment by JayKay — December 19, 2007 @ 1:05 am

  20. I, too, am an hour glass, and I LOVE my Lane Bryant right fit jeans. Also, Liz Claiborne/Elizabeth sells button down shirts that are a better fit for our chests. Keep an eye on their Web site because they go on sale often.

    Comment by maggie — December 19, 2007 @ 11:53 pm

  21. I am also an hourglass, but short-waisted and 5’8″ with a D cup. I bought the 3/4 sleeve version of this dress earlier this year and I love it. The waistband hits right at my waist. It is a touch longer than I would like but for 5’10” it would probably be just right.

    I also have good luck at Express with their button-downs. They are fitted at the waist so they accentuate one’s curves. I do have problems with gapping at the bust sometimes but I have a 3/4 sleeve low-necked black sweater that I wear over the button-downs and it looks great, as well as keeping the gapping under control.

    Comment by dovian — December 21, 2007 @ 7:02 pm

  22. I have recently gained about 20-25 pounds and due to a medication that I take it doesn’t look like I will be losing it soon. Soooo, the pants dilemma. I have probably bout 20 pairs of pants in the last year and end up just feeling fat in them. I bulge just below the hip joint. Not a lot, but enough that i just feel bad in pants. I am also home a lot, so I don’t and to spend a fortune. I just want to look nice when I go to the grocery or book store. Walking through a mall just makes me feel old, fat and hopeless. I have found I can buy pants from Talbots and feel semi ok. but oh I long for those days when I could put on a pair of pants a shirt and look great. Any suggestions? I just turned 60, I am 5’3″ and about 145 pounds. I don’t really mind looking like someones grandmother, which I am, but I hate the dowdy look.

    Comment by Rebecca Jones — January 30, 2008 @ 4:21 pm

  23. I Would suggest Apple Bottoms Jeans:)

    Comment by Apple Jeans — August 25, 2009 @ 6:12 am

  24. Dolce shoes are endorsed and worn by many celebrities, and this may place them out of the average price range for many buyers. Dolce shoes are dynamic, bright and chunky, and designed to appeal to young buyers.

    Comment by Short Sleeve Knit — November 18, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

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