How to Shop For Dresses For Every Body Type

by Sabrina Newman • Jan 21, 2008 1:16 PM PST
How to Shop For Dresses For Every Body Type

It doesn€™t matter how many designer dresses you own, or how stocked your closet is, if you don€™t know how to dress for your body, you will NEVER look chic or stylish. Once upon a time I was a €˜wishful thinking€™ shopper, that girl in the next dressing room providing a compelling argument to anyone within earshot justifying my purchases. I sang the same tune sung my many, many women before, the one that goes something like: "While these pants might be too tight, they€™ll look great once I lose a couple of pounds" or "I have to have this dress, even though it kind of looks ridiculous on me, because it€™s just soo trendy right now." Or my personal favorite: "This dress doesn€™t look good on me, and I can€™t breathe, but it€™s a size 2, so I mean I have to buy it."

Wanna know what happened to all those items? Go ask the girls I sold them to on ebay.

If any of this evoked a strong sense of shameful recognition, you need to adjust your shopping technique, ASAP! If you ask any style guru, be it a designer, stylist, editor, or fashion fanatic, for their number 1 style tip, chances are they€™ll say €˜DRESS FOR YOUR BODY TYPE.€™ This is a tough craft to master, so we€™ll start with something basic, the dress.

HOURGLASS: Hourglass-shaped gals, like screen siren Scarlett Johansson look great in dresses that cinch the waist and have fuller skirts. Shoulder-bearing halter dresses in v-cuts are also a great option and will draw attention away from the hips for a more balanced effect. I recommend:
Twinkle Déjà vu Dress, $396
Anna Sui Striped Dress, $121

PLUS SIZE: Rapper turned A-list actress Queen Latifah is living proof that you don't need to be a size zero to look glamorous and chic. Every plus sized gal should have several variations of the kimono dress hanging in her closet. Look for dresses in bold patterns, which can create the illusion of more even proportions, v-necks to draw the attention upwards, loose sleeves for extra coverage, and empire waists to create more shape. And of course, a perfect LBD that shows off what you want it to and camouflages the rest, is a MUST have. I recommend:
Print Kimono Dress, $39
JS Boutique Beaded Mesh Dress, $158

LONG AND LEAN: Don€™t be jealous of the long and lean ladies like Mischa Barton, they have struggles just like the rest of us and can end up looking shapeless and prepubescent without taking the right precautions. To add shape, try blousy mini dress, which can add fullness to extremely narrow hips. Tiered dresses are also a great way to add more shape and femininity to a shapeless-frame. I recommend:
Sea Button Bubble Dress, $301
Robert Rodriguez Tiered Dress, $311

PETITE: Petite gals, like Rachel Bilson should pay special attention to the length of the dresses they choose- a dress that hits several inches above the knee can make a HUGE difference when it comes to achieving a leggier look. To avoid looking like you're drowning in a mess of fabric (paging Mary-Kate), keep it simple and structured. Try vertical stripe patterns, this will lengthen the body, making you look taller and slimmer. T-neck halter dresses are also a great option and create the illusion of a longer silhouette. I recommend:
M Missoni Halter Dress, $621
Larok Cannes T-Neck Halter Dress, $168

THICK WAISTED: Girls who are thicker in the middle, like Lindsay Lohan should try two-toned dresses to add more shape and create the illusion of a more defined waist. Nothing conceals a tummy better than an empire waist, just make sure the dress grazes your body and doesn€™t appear too flouncy. And of course, a loose-fitting minidress paired with heels is the antidote of choice to conceal the bulge and show off those gams! I recommend:
Alice+ Olivia Belted Dolman Dress, $330
Tree Cap Sleeves White Voile Dress, $350

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