I’ve written many posts on how to fit and style dresses to create flattering proportions. Here is a summary of those posts for easy access. We’ll start off with what lies beneath, move on to body type, design details, layering, and finish off with footwear.
I can’t over-stress the importance of laying the right foundation for dress fit. You MUST start the process by being professionally fitted for a bra because most women are still in the incorrect bra size. Minimizers are also an option, as are speciality styles like strapless bras if you don’t want to expose your bra straps. But not all bra exposure is inappropriate, especially when the straps and lacy bits blend into the style of the dress. Shapewear is not essential, but will smooth out your silhouette. And please do the sit-down-test for dresses with buttons down the front. Sometimes you can correct a gaping front by wearing a different bra.
Body Type and Dress Fit
I’m a big believer that curvy gals were made for dresses. And by curvy I mean that your figure is very hourglass-y. So if you have curves and you don’t like to wear jeans or trousers, stick to dresses (and skirts)! You’ll find that fit-and-flares or waist defining knitted dresses that accentuate your curvy shape work best. Straight woven dresses often fight with curves unless they are stretchy. Here are dress shape guides for curvy hot hourglass and pretty pear body types.
Of course, less curvy body types look wonderful in dresses too. Here are dress shape guidelines for the adorable apple, statuesque inverted triangle and racy rectangle. As with all body type guidelines, they provide a helpful starting point. But by all means think beyond body type dressing guidelines and bend those rules once you have a better understanding of fit and proportion.
Remember that correct fit can be achieved by shopping across specific size departments. Some plus sized ladies should also shop across departments. And remember that a few minor alterations can result in a perfectly fitting frock.
Dresses with Peter Pan collars stir up a myriad of emotions. Overlapping diagonal striped dresses can be visually flattering because the effect both accentuates and flattens curves. I’m not fond of casual maxi dresses and here are reasons why that’s the case. It’s hard to find a flattering sweater dress, but these guidelines will help you on your way.
Dresses do not need to define the waist to look fabulous. Surrendering the waistline can work just as well, especially if you’re shy about showcasing your midriff. But if wearing a boxy fit is not your thing no matter how you slice and dice it, you have the option of reining in the volume with a belt, or layering over a structured jacket.
Here’s how to wear dresses over pants, and here’s the best coat length for dresses. Layering cardigans and jackets over dresses needn’t look frumpy with special attention to fit and proportion. My personal favourite at the moment is to layer bomber jackets over frocks. Here’s a little arty inspiration and modern classic inspiration for cardigan lovers.
Midi length dresses can be styled with all sorts of footwear. When it comes to wearing tall boots with dresses, it’s all about finding the right combination of skirt, skin and boots. Wearing booties with dresses is the fashionable way to go, although the jury is still out on whether it’s a flattering look. Personally, I prefer to wear shooties, streamlined ankle booties, tall boots, or low vamped footwear with dresses.
Last but not least, wearing flat shoes with dresses is NOT a faux pas. In fact it’s as on trend as ever. Wear pointy toe flats to elongate the leg line if you have “stumpy-dumpy” concerns. Keep the footwear low contrast against your leg skin to further elongate the leg line. Think loafers, sandals, lace-less oxfords, slipper flats and ballet flats.
Feel free to address further dress fit, proportion, and styling concerns in the comments section and let’s get to work.