Okay, so you need a new dress for the Christmas party, a night out or date night. But what is the best style for your body?
THE secret of any great evening look – or any look for that matter – is making the best of your good points and disguising the bits you like the least.
In the fabulously fickle world of fashion, it is so easy to buy into the “must-have” of the season. We get “sold” into believing that to be on-trend, we have to buy the latest new style, often resulting in buying the wrong clothes for our body shape.
In my last post I shared a few of my favourite little black dresses to help you get into the party spirit. But before you head off into the night, every woman needs to know her good points or, better still, her body type. Knowing your body shape will help you identify which style will be best for you. No matter what your body type, you can find the perfect dress for you! Now, who doesn’t want that!
So how do you choose the right dress for your figure? Here’s how:
GREAT NECK AND SHOULDERS
Aim for wide boat necks, deep V-necks and details high that draw the eye up. A dress with a V-back is a stunning alternative to strapless or off-the-shoulder styles.
If you have long hair, wear it up to draw attention to the nape of your neck and maximise your style advantage.
AVOID closed necklines, detailing anywhere lower than the bust, and bright and busy lower halves.
Tailored clothes are perfect for you, but whatever your choice, make sure there’s good built-in support.
Opt for dresses with darts or seaming through the waist. Show off your cleavage and balance your curves with a scoop or low-cut V-neck. Or try keyhole or square styles. Baby doll and empire-line dresses also look great.
Look for fitted, body-skimming silhouettes in fabrics that skim your body accentuating your curves subtly.
AVOID details at the bust, flimsy soft styles and billowing fabrics, buttons in the wrong positions, high necklines, crossover styles that cut your bust in two (a wrap-front style is better) and feature details around the waist.
It’s all about details for you. Anything with detailing on the bodice — pleats, frills, beading or corsetry — will add interest and draw the eye up creating the illusion of a bigger bust.
If you don’t need to wear a bra (lucky you!), try halter-necks, strapless styles or dresses with spaghetti straps.
Look for jersey and silk dresses that fit like a glove from the waist upwards.
AVOID stretchy tube dresses if you are flat chested.
LARGE UPPER ARMS
Obviously unsightly upper arms, commonly known as “tuckshop” arms, are hard to disguise with sleeveless styles!
If you’re looking to up the sex factor, choose a dress or top with sheer sleeves in a contrasting material. These can be just as sexy as sleeveless styles while covering less-than-perfect biceps and triceps.
Alternatively look for styles with three-quarter sleeves with minimum detail, and darker tones. And, of course, you can always wear a light jacket, cardigan or wrap of some kind.
AVOID sleeves with patterns, strong bust details and puff sleeves.
VOLUPTUOUS CURVES WITH A WAIST
Lucky you! You’ve got the figure, so embrace it!
A curvy figure looks best in fabrics that drape rather than cling, but don’t leave your waist undefined. Even the subtlest curve at the waist will enhance your shape. A corseted dress will look fabulous on you. And you’ll stop traffic in a wrap dress.
And don’t be afraid to bare a shoulder. A wide V-neck that skims your collarbones is great.
But if you want to disguise your hips, keep the fabric fluid and the skirt silhouette soft.
AVOID shapeless shift, drop-from-the-shoulder styles as they only add width.
VOLUPTUOUS CURVES WITH NO WAIST
A tailored A-line skirt or dress and a V-neck are the most flattering shapes.
A dress or top with V-neck opens up the chest area and draws the eye downward, making the waist appear narrower. Look for pieces with built-in darts and panels, which also help define your figure. An A-line skirt, with its wider hemline, will also make the waist appear narrower.
Alternatively, drawing the eye up to an exposed shoulder is also a great balancing trick. If you don’t want to bare a shoulder, a great piece of jewellery at the neckline (either a brooch or necklace) will be just as effective. Opt for a length just below the knee to get as much height as possible.
AVOID two-piece outfits, high-waisted anything, straight skirts, cropped tops and jackets, belts and sleeves that finish at the waist.
You’re one of the few who can get away with a simple shift.
But if you feel that’s too simple, create curves with a belt, or darts and seaming at the waist. A sleeveless dress that’s slightly cut away at the shoulder will also strengthen your look.
However, a full skirt and nipped-in waist will add some feminine appeal giving the illusion of shape. You can also get away with ruffles and frills, which, for many, are figure killers.
A thicker torso lacks a defined waistline, so you need to fake it with fashion tricks.
Look for a straight, slightly fitted design with darts through the waist to give the illusion of a nipped-in waist. While a shirred or ruched dress pulls in the waistline causing it to appear slimmer than your top and bottom halves.
Or hide a less-than-trim torso with a gently tailored style and empire-line dress that skims directly over the midriff.
Alternatively, go for an A-line dress or skirt with a matching short or cropped jacket that can button up.
AVOID anything stretchy or fitted that stretches over your stomach and midriff area.
BIG HIPS (pear shaped)
Pear shapes — those whose hips are wider than their shoulders — will benefit from defining and emphasising your shoulders to help counterbalance your wider hips.
Look for sharp shoulders or add small shoulder pads to balance your wider hips.
A-lines are the best hip minimisers. Alternatively, choose a waisted A-line dress that falls gently over the hips. The length can vary from mid-thigh to ankle-skimming.
A plunging neckline (it doesn’t have to be too deep) will also draw the eye up away from your hips.
AVOID fitted straight skirts or dresses, straight tunic styles, full skirts (they can make your hips look even wider), dropped waistlines, tight mini-dresses that stop mid-thigh and details of any kind at the hip area.
For women who want to cover their legs, long or maxi dresses are easy to find.
If you are tall, you will carry off the flattering full-length versions; if you are short, look for three-quarter length dresses instead.
Just because you’ve been blessed with great legs, doesn’t mean that a short dress is your best option.
A hem that sits on or just below your knee (at the narrowest point of the leg) with flippy details or a floaty fabric that moves when you move (such as silk and viscose) is way more seductive.
If your knees are less than svelte (honestly, who has great knees?) any style that stops at the narrowest part of the leg – just below the knee – will flatter.
AVOID styles that cut right across knees.
Empire waists lengthen petite frames. As does monochromatic dressing – one shade head to toe.
A sheath dress should be your go-to style. The clean, elongated shape helps you appear taller and leaner – even more so if you choose one that sits just above or in the middle of your knee (never longer) to play up the narrowest part of your leg.