The End of the Hourglass Figure

By Jim F

If you thought that body shapes had changed over the last 50 years – you’d be correct.

A new study has researched the body shapes of 6000 women and concluded that the fashion industry is woefully out of sync with reality.

The research found that although only 8 per cent of women now had the sort of hourglass figure flaunted by curvaceous 1950s film stars such as Sophia Loren, designers and manufacturers continued to make clothes to fit a slim-line version of that figure.


The changing figure size is a source of consternation for many fashion designers. Should they design clothes that fit the people – or rail on about how women are too big?

Sophia Loren (1955)
The quintessential hourglass

Welsh fashion commentator Jayne Blight said many women found difficulty in finding the right size clothes to wear. But she called on people to be more careful with their diet and to watch their figures.

She said, “In my opinion people should be more health and weight conscious.

“We have such high obesity rates in this country we are catching up with the US. I know that the retailers should make bigger sizes but also people should be more health conscious and try and stay within the structures that have been made over the years.(via icWales)

Throughout the last hundred years desired body shapes have been changing – and will continue to change.

Fashion seems more obsessed with telling you how to hide your body shape – to try and make it conform to a standard that very few women have.

This is changing – body scanners have found their way into some fashion retailers, allowing staff to find the best match for your shape.


  1. Eri

    Hey, I’m

    Bust 33.5in
    Waist 26.0in
    Hips 35.0in
    Height 5’6″
    Weight 114-115 lbs (finally the minimum for a healthy BMI…it fluctuates between the two)

    It doesn’t seem to be hourglass, but not really a rectangle either…it doesn’t feel like one anyways. I mean there’s a 7.5 difference between the bust and waist, but a 9 inch difference between waist and hips…

    I think I posted before, but I took the wrong measurements for my hips. o_x;; Geh. So…would I be a combination of two different shapes too?

  2. Supplements Canada

    I think the fashion industry provides clothes for all types of body types.

  3. Kelley

    Small Lady –

    I know exactly how you feel. My measurements are about the same as yours, except I’m about 5 inches taller. I’m a size 0 or a 2, but even so, I feel big, dumpy, and awkward around other women, especially those with the small, delicate, waifish frames. They’re very cute and feminine, while I feel like “the chick with the boobs.” I didn’t appreciate my figure until I bought an amazing little black dress that played up EVERYTHING that’s good about the hourglass figure without overdoing it. Find at least one article of clothing that plays up your assets. When you see that you look amazing, suddenly you start to feel extremely fortunate that you have the figure you do.

    As for the school bathing suit…don’t worry. You’re not alone. Those rarely look good on anybody.

  4. samin

    i am 5-7″ wearing 36DD bra,and 34 inches waist jeans,15 inches sholder, and 42-43inches hips. i would like to know about my body shape. i have an oval shape face, arms doesnt carry any fat but legs and below wait line is very bulky.

    plz suggest me my body type.

  5. Small Lady

    I’m 32D-24-34 and 4’11.
    At school I feel dumpy and round compared to everyone. Most girls have a tall, ruler shape. It makes me jealous!
    What I also hate is when we going swimming with the school. My body looks horrible in the school bathing suit.

    It’s interesting to read other people’s comments 🙂

  6. Mo

    Hi Amy…I am also size 8 and 5’2″. Sarah Jessica Parker’s new line at Steve and Barry’s makes really nice jeans in bootcut/straight-leg styles in short length. They are only $7.99! Perfect fit and a great price! Good luck! 🙂

  7. Infuriated

    For the record, a size 13 is NOT plus-size.

  8. Melissa

    Bradley Bayou, the author of The Science of Sexy, uses what I think is a much more accurate way of measuring body shapes. He doesn’t determine his client’s shape (he’s a designer) by bust, waist, and hip measurements. He determines it with shoulder, waist, and hip measurements. If your HIPS and SHOULDERS are around the same size with a very defined waistline, you’re an hourglass.

  9. FlowerFace

    Agreed! Yes, she is most undoubtedly wearing a corset. Though, I do not hate women that use 50’s women for models. The whole shape thing is ridiculous! Women’s shapes have not changed! What is even more ridiculous is men and women who come on here and talk badly about certain shapes. As if those shapes truly existed in women. Then, other women who actually identify with those shapes become insulted. That is even more silly! Personally, I have no wish to be associated or identify with any shape or object be it pear, triangle, spoon, or hourglass, or rectangle. Certainly, there are some people who truly do abstractly resemble a shape or object, but the whole concept is just ridiculous. No wonder women have trouble finding that fit them properly, if they are basing all the designs on these stupid shapes!

    The obvious reason why less women have less of an “hour-glass” figure now-a-days than in the 50’s is, because women never had “true” hour glass figures to begin with, and recently no longer wear corsets. Women have been wearing corsets and waist cinchers in one form or another since the 13th/14th century. It is just very, very unusual for any woman to be naturally a 38-24-38 like Sophia Loren. Almost freakish. It is even very unnatural for beautiful Sophia Loren, who was probably more of a 38-26 or 27-38 without the help of corsetry. In fact, in that picture, I think Sophia Loren’s waist looks freakish and unnatural. I have seen her waist look bigger. I think it is beautiful and artistic looking, but all the same freakish.

    The shape of a woman does not differ so much from one to the next. We are all very similar in shape whether fat, tall, thin, small, big, short, narrow, wide. In my opinion placing corsets (and certain parts of the female anatomy) aside, the shape of woman does not differ so much from a man at all either.

    In general we are just less muscular and a bit curvier. It makes me wonder how is it that a man can walk into a department store, find the right-size shirt by the size of their neck, and walk out looking nice? Men come in all different sizes too. Some are fat, tall, short, big, little, narrow, wide. It does not matter what store, expensive or inexpensive, men easily find a pair of pants or shirt that looks nice on them.

    Think of all the money and time a woman could save, if she could do that? What a rip-off, right? I think it might be more helpful if there was more of a concern placed on this instead of whether we are box-shaped, ping-pong ball-shaped, lamp-shaped, or whether or not our shape has changed from a soup-can to an apricot, and “how can I be as nice looking as that lady over there who is lima-bean shaped?”

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