Dresses for your body shape can seem hard to find. Are you forever struggling to wear the latest fashions? Or are wriggling into a bodycon with an air of despair? Never fear, you can always trust the colour black. In fact, black dresses are a lifesaver when it comes to trimming off those unwanted inches and creating a super-svelte figure, it’s a universal style rule followed by millions of women the world over. But what you wear is key too. Whether you’re curvy like Adele, straight-up-and-down a la Alexa Chung, or hourglass shaped like Kate Upton, making the most of your body shape is easy with some simple style rules. Team LBD spoke to Wendy Elsmore, celebrity stylist and founder of the London College of Style, to find out her figure-flattering secrets and her tips on dresses for your body shape.
“If you’re apple-shaped, you’re prone to putting on weight round your middle and will have a less defined waist, usually with slim arms and legs,’ says Wendy. Some of Team LBD’s favourite celebrity apples include Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Hudson and Kimberley Walsh. What to wear dresses for your body shape:
- Flaunt your best bits and draw attention away from your tummy a mini dress will accentuate those pins whilst a scoop or V-neck will draw the eyes upwards away from your middle.
- Empire line dresses are great for flattering apple shapes as they draw a line underneath the bust, skimming over wider waists and lengthening the body.
- Tunic shift dresses are another superb choice for apples; their structured shape covers up an undefined middle whilst high hemlines and sleeveless styles are great for showing off lithe limbs.
- Panelled dresses were huge news on the catwalk, the Victoria Beckham collection was fit to bursting with clever inserts and bold panels. Dresses with a colour block centre and black edges are a great choice for skimming inches off your middle.
- Body control underwear is a girl’s best friend when it comes to adding definition to your waist and smoothing out unwanted lumps and bumps, no need to go to extremes with a Kardashian style waist trainer ouch! perfect with bodycon styles.
- Adding a belt can transform apple to apple core in an instant or choose dresses with a fuller skirt to create the illusion of a smaller waistline.
What to avoid: Pleated or tiered skirts will add unwanted inches whilst short, boxy jackets will give your waistline unnecessary attention. Bandeau styles are a no-no for apples as they will broaden your shoulders. And avoid flared maxi dresses because you don’t want to hide your best assets!
“Pear-shaped women typically have wider hips, extra weight on the bottom and thighs with a smaller bust and narrow waist and shoulders,’ says Wendy. Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna and BeyoncÃ© are all super-sexy pears. What to wear dresses for your body shape:
- Show off your slender top half in a strapless or spaghetti strap black dress.
- A strapless maxi dress with a flared skirt is a wise choice it will add focus to your top half and take emphasise away from your lower half.
- Large collars, lapels and sleeves with eye-catching detail also draw attention to your top half, as will accessorising with statement necklaces, earrings and neck scarves.
- Prom dresses are great for showing off a tiny waist and covering up wider hips.
- Colour block and wear black or dark colours on your bottom half to create the illusion of narrower hips, whilst saving colour for your top half.
What to avoid: Avoid side pockets and tight-fitting skirts, which will add unwanted inches to your hips and bottom.
“The much-desired hourglass figure exhibits an ample cleavage, curvaceous hips, smaller waistline and statuesque legs. The hourglass is often thought of as the ultimate, perfect female form, an idea that dates back to the Victorian era and was immortalised in popular culture by Marilyn Monroe,’ says Wendy. Modern-day celebrities blessed with the hourglass shape include Christina Hendricks, Kim Kardashian and Scarlett Johansson. What to wear:
- Take inspiration from the 1950s (think cult TV show Mad Men) with figure-hugging frocks and pretty tea dresses to show-off your womanly curves.
- Any fitted dress or skirt suits an hourglass figure, but the pencil skirt flatters the most. Emphasise your tiny waist by adding a belt to dresses.
- Another Team LBD favourite is the wrap dress, which will accentuate your curves by pulling you in at the middle.
What to avoid: Baggy dresses, empire lines and boxy styles will not flatter an hourglass shape. Shop the Little Black Dress collection for hourglass styles
“Fuller figures can show off their womanly curves and hide unwanted lumps and bumps easily by choosing the right dress style for their shape. The right cut, length and of course accessories will all help to flatter curvy ladies. Just look to Adele for inspiration,’ says Wendy. What to wear dresses for your body shape:
- 50s and 60s inspired silhouettes will cinch in your waist and show off those curves.
- Maxi dresses are great for creating the illusion of height and skimming off inches. Choose a black dress for its super-slimming effect.
- Look for details such as an embellished neckline to draw attention upwards, away from your middle and up to your cleavage. Or try out the sports luxe trend with full-length scuba zips to elongate your body.
- Body control underwear is amazing at creating a slimmer silhouette. Draw emphasis to your waist with a belt.
- Show a hint of skin without revealing your modesty with detailing like sheer lace sleeves, which are great for concealing upper arms.
What to avoid: Steer clear of dresses in shiny fabrics such as satin and polyester and avoid bold prints; stick to ditsy prints or plain colours. Horizontal stripes add the illusion of width whilst double-breasted jackets do not flatter a fuller-figure, they simply over-emphasise the bust.
Slender body shapes are often tall, small busted and broad-shouldered. “Rejoice if this is your shape because you’ll look fantastic in most dress styles, just like the stunning Kristen Stewart, Cameron Diaz and Alexa Chung,’ says Wendy. However, if you want to create some feminine curves and add definition to a boyish waist, here’s what to wear. What to wear:
- Maxi, mini, fitted, looseâ€¦you’ll suit all dress styles.
- A-line skirts are great for creating curves and balancing out broad shoulders, whilst a peplum dress will add shape to a slender frame.
- Create the illusion of a bigger bust with a cowl neckline, or accessorise with chunky, statement necklaces for a similar effect. You can refine broad shoulders with a scoop or v neckline.
What to avoid: Don’t cover up your figure in baggy dresses and avoid dresses with skinny straps, which can emphasise broad shoulders.
Petite shapes | Dresses for your body shape
“Petite women are generally shorter and slighter all over, like Rachel Bilson, Olivia Palermo or Sarah Jessica Parker,’ says Wendy. Here’s the Team LBD guide on clothing for petite women. What to wear:
- Petite women look great in fitted or semi-fitted dresses to show off their slim frame.
- Clothing with vertical lines not necessarily stripes, this could be in the detailing – will create the illusion of height.
- Dressing head to toe in one colour will elongate the body and choosing summer’s favourite vibrant, bold patterns rather than ditsy floral print will make you seem taller too.
- High heels are the easiest way to add stature to a petite frame. Keep it on-trend with summer’s favourite wedges or heels with concealed platforms.
What to avoid: Loose-fitting clothing will drown a petite frame, and steer clear of clothing with too much detail such as ruffles, frills and pleats these will take focus away from the line of the garment and make you appear shorter. Shoes with ankle straps are another no-no; they will make you look shorter as they break up the vertical line of your leg. Oversized handbags as they can overwhelm a petite frame so opt for a pretty clutch instead. Our beautiful illustrations are by fashion illustrator Laura Hickman and were created especially for Little Black Dress
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