Anthony Harvey/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Movie bombshells like Sophia Lauren and Marilyn Monroe had enviable classic hourglass figures, with amply proportionate busts and hips and small waists. Yet only about 8 percent of American women have hourglass figures, according to a study by North Carolina State University. A similar study in the United Kingdom found that a tenth of women had hourglass shapes, and that nine in 10 didn't know their own shape. It's helpful to know your shape and size so you can shop for the best fit and most flattering fashions, whether you're a pear, rectangle or a true hourglass.

Measure the widest part of your chest, which should be directly across the nipples.

Measure shoulder to shoulder.

Measure the smallest part of your natural waist, which should be below your lowest rib and above your belly button.

Measure the widest part of your hips.

Write down these measurements.

Your shoulder, hip and bust measurements should be the same size within a few inches of each other.

Your waist measurement should be about 25 percent smaller than your other measurements.

If you have these measurements, you have an hourglass figure.


An example of an hourglass figure is 36-24-36 (standing for 36 inches bust, 24 inches waist, 36 inches hips). Women with hourglass figures usually also have a shapely bust and legs. You can fake an hourglass figure by cinching in your waist with a corset or waist cincher.