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Which Style of Dress Best Suits Your Body Type?

Take a look at the mirror with your OOTD and learn more about the shape of your body and how to maximize it and enhance it with the right style of dress.

A woman wearing a large golden dress that billows with the wind.

It wasn’t so long ago that there was basically one style of dress that was worn by all women. Take a look back at fashion through the ages and you’ll see how pretty much one dress style would dominate for a decade or two before the style changed again. But even though all kinds of changes, like hoop skirts, women were still wearing floor-length gowns with a lot of fabric in pretty simple designs.

Today, the dress style is completely unchained and out of the box. Dresses are made in a huge variety of different styles, lengths, and cuts…but most of them don’t look great on every single body type. It’s a little trickier to pick out a dress these days, but if you know your own shape then you’ll know what to pick to show off what you’ve got and hide the areas of your body you don’t love so much.

Curvy Hourglass

A woman with an hourglass-shaped body wearing jeans.

Is your waist well-defined? Do you have an ample bustline and hips that are pretty close to the side width? You’re a classic hourglass shape. This isn’t an easy shape to dress. Though it sounds great to have ample curves and a small waist, you can easily end up looking boxy or heavy if you choose the wrong style.

You want dress types that will flatter your shape and work with it, not against it. Many curvy women attempt to dress to downplay their curves. This is a mistake. Dress to show them because hiding them won’t work anyway.

Look for dresses that have V-shaped or plunging necklines or sweetheart necklines. This will help to show off your bustline. You should wear dresses that have an A-line cut or styles you can belt at your waistline. This will help to define your waist, which will also help show off those curves.

Flared skirts will suit your waist and bust but may hide your hips, so look for close-fitting skirts. Wrap dresses are perfect for the hourglass shape, as they show off all your curves and still provide definition around the waist.

What you don’t want is anything that fits too loose around the waist or styles that have a lot of extra ruffles and frills. This will just add bulk to your body, which you don’t want. You want to flatter your curves with clothing that fits well. Any extra fabric can end up making you appear heavy. Trying to hide your curves or avoiding styles that cinch your waist will just make you look bulky. And you aren’t bulky, you’re curvy.

Round Apple

If you have a waist that isn’t so well defined and hips that are somewhat smaller than your bustline, you have more of an apple shape. This is not an easy shape to dress because there are some styles that seem to really want to work against you. The wrong dress can make you look even thicker around the waist. If you stick to some basic dress types and specific cuts, you can make the most out of your shape and show off your assets.

Empire-cut waistlines and A-line styles will emphasize your bustline. Flared skirt designs and dresses that aren’t snug around your thighs will suit your shape best because this will help to add a little volume to your hips.

Look for waistlines that sit a little bit above your natural waist, as this will help to create a more balanced look for your figure. Apple shapes can also wear V-necks and plunging necklines. This will help to lengthen the torso and show off that ample bustline, too. After all, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Pear Shape

A pear-shaped woman wearing a black and white bikini seen from behind.

If your hips are wider than your bustline and you have a well-defined waist, you’re more of a pear shape. Cowl neck dresses and dresses that have ruffles or embellishments on the bodice will work beautifully for your shape because this adds volume to the bustline. Avoid drop-waist dresses, which will only emphasize your hips. Higher-waisted dresses in straight, A-line styles will work well for your body type.

Long maxi dress styles work beautifully on pear shapes. The loose, flowing skirt helps to de-emphasize your hips and the plunging neckline helps to emphasize the bust. Pear bodies can also get away with wearing scoop neck designs. Anything that emphasizes your bustline will look good on this shape.

Full skirts work beautifully on the pear-shaped body. Pear shapes can also wear puffed sleeves, bell sleeves and three-quarter sleeve looks. Anything that adds volume to the top of your body will help balance out your shape.

Rectangle Shape

If you aren’t super curvy and your measurements are fairly uniform all over, you’re more of a rectangle shape. You have a long waist, a smaller bustline, and smaller hips. You need to look for structured dresses that have a lot of frills. Any dress that adds volume to the bustline will work well for you. Rectangle shapes can easily wear strapless and sleeveless dress designs.

You want dresses that have defined waistlines and distinct lines, nothing shapeless or baggy. Go with form-fitting dresses that emphasize your curves and give your shape definition. Anything too shapeless will simply swamp your body.

Look for dresses with halter designs, thick straps, and any sort of draping. Extra material will help add some volume to your curves. Strapless looks and short dresses aren’t going to show off your assets to their very best.

The Types of Dresses You Should Wear

A woman trying on a pink dress at the store.

Pay attention to the shape of your body to know which type of dresses you should be wearing. When you know how to dress for your body, you can’t go wrong when you’re picking out something to wear. Emphasize your assets and dress to minimize and de-emphasize your problem areas. If you have larger hips, use flared skirts to give them less defined. If you have a smaller bust, look for styles that will add volume to your chest.

There are lots of different dress styles out there and it can get frustrating trying on a bunch of different designs that just don’t seem to work. Start looking for some basic cuts and features that will suit your shape and you’ll start to truly love the way you look.