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    Hourglass Body Shape Measurements: Is 36-24-36 Still In?

    Hourglass Body Shape Measurements: Is 36-24-36 Still In?
    Published 08 April 2020
    Fact Checked
    Olga Adereyko, MD
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
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    Ever wished for an hourglass shaped-body envied by all? Chances are you’ve seen or known someone who measures in at a desirable 36-24-36 (also, 90-60-90) and you’re wondering how to join the club. Keep reading to find out possible ways to nail the hourglass body shape women often dream of.

    What is an hourglass-shaped body?

    The physical body shape is the direct result of the way the skeleton, body fat, and muscles are distributed. The various factors that dictate whether you’ll enjoy an hourglass body shape include age, hormone levels, lifestyle, and of course, genetics. (Note that hormonal shifts during puberty produce numerous changes in the female figure, from bigger breasts to wider hips.)

    The most common body types are as follows:

    • Rectangular or “ruler”
    • Inverted triangle
    • Spoon or “pear”
    • Apple
    • Hourglass

    Many believe an hourglass body shape translates to bust-waist-hip measurements of approximately 36-24-36 inches, respectively. The truth is, though, an hourglass-shaped body simply describes roughly equal bust and hip measurements with a significantly narrower waist. Alternatively, a top hourglass body shape is one in which the bust is slightly wider than the hips. 

    Interestingly enough, research has shown that women exhibiting a low waist-to-hip ratio appear more attractive to men. Evolutionarily speaking, an hourglass body shape is unconsciously perceived as an indicator of overall health and reproductive potential.

    Studies aside, it’s important to remember that every body type is beautiful in its own way. However, should you choose to pursue an hourglass-shaped body, there are plenty of options available for closing the gap between you and a 36-24-36 figure.

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    Clothing for an hourglass body shape

    By doing a bit of research and identifying which types of clothing flatter an hourglass-shaped body, you can look your best at all times. These tips and tricks don’t represent hard-and-fast rules, though. After all, fashion should be fun and fearless. Don’t be afraid to experiment with something new and exciting as long as it sparks joy. With an hourglass body shape, you’ll want to do the following things:

    Draw attention to the waistline

    Roughly proportionate bust and waist measurements (plus a teeny waist) can be cleverly accentuated by: 

    • Wrap tops and dresses

    Without a doubt, the ideal tops and dresses for an hourglass body shape hug your curves, shifting focus to the waistline and bustline.

    • Slim-fitting outfits

    Tailored shirts, peplum tops, belted coats, and fit-and-flare dresses also draw everyone’s eyes toward a petite waist.

    • Belts

    If a certain dress feels loose and fails to create an hourglass body shape, accessorize with a belt to increase visual interest and enhance natural curves.

    • High-waisted bottoms

    Pants, shorts, or skirts with a high-rise cut flatteringly highlight a narrow waist and full hips.

    Avoid shapeless, poorly-fitting clothes

    Boxy clothing adds unnecessary bulk and makes you look bigger than you are. Steer clear of baggy tops, shapeless bottoms, and anything with extra fabric at the hips or bust. Turtlenecks and square-cut necklines appear especially top-heavy, while low-rise jeans widen the waistline.

    On the other hand, clothes that are overly snug often look (and feel!) uncomfortable, perhaps highlighting features that should be downplayed.

    Select the right undergarments

    While a well-chosen bra and undies are essential for women of any body type, they’re particularly important for complementing the hourglass body shape. Opt for bras designed to support a fuller bust and switch to higher-rise panties that perfectly cinch your waistline.

    Proper-fitting underwear also smoothes and sculpts your silhouette, especially underneath body-hugging outfits.

    Take a cue from hourglass body shape celebrities

    The sexiest women in Hollywood with an hourglass body shape emphasize their curves in mermaid gowns, wrap tops and dresses, flared skirts, belts, and high-waisted bottoms. Such celebrities have included:

    • Marilyn Monroe
    • Elizabeth Taylor
    • Sophia Loren
    • Scarlett Johansson
    • Beyoncé
    • Jennifer Lopez
    • Kate Winslet
    • Sofia Vergara
    • Tyra Banks
    • Kim Kardashian
    • Salma Haye

    How to get an hourglass body shape

    A woman with an hourglass body shape

    When it comes to physical appearance, the number one thing to remember is that you need to maintain realistic expectations. It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to completely modify your body shape without the aid of cosmetic procedures. Anybody ‒ regardless of shape or size ‒ is capable of being fit, healthy, and gorgeous. 

    If you still wish to work towards an hourglass body shape, there are three primary approaches to this. You can sculpt your shoulders, slim your waist, and tone your hips by doing:

    • Push-ups
    • Arm raises
    • Dumbbell presses
    • Planks and side planks
    • Bridges
    • Squats
    • Lunges and lateral lunges
    • Windshield wipers
    • Donkey kicks, with and without resistance bands
    • Hip side lifts
    • Yoga
    • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

    Whether or not developing an hourglass body shape is the ultimate goal, routine physical activity still offers a great way to improve overall fitness. This, in turn, leads you to feel more comfortable in your own skin and creates a positive body image.

    Keep in mind, hormonal changes during menopause trigger a redistribution of fatty tissue from the hips and breasts to the abdominal area. This puts an hourglass body shape further out of reach. Try eating a well-balanced diet and cutting back on processed foods to prevent excessive bloating and weight gain.

    Never lose sight of the fact that every woman is uniquely beautiful, even if she doesn’t have an hourglass body shape. Nothing takes the place of health, happiness, and a positive view of yourself as a person.

    History of updates
    Current version (08 April 2020)
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
    02 April 2020
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