I’ve always believed that fashion is about looking and feeling your best in what you wear – in short, self-expression and confidence. The female body comes in many different shapes and sizes, all of which can be celebrated. Learning how to dress your body shape is crucial to finding the most flattering fit for your silhouette (as you see fit!). It’s not always about wearing the trendiest outfit but really about choosing clothing that suits you the best and makes you feel confident. Dresses can definitely be a girl’s best friend, ranging from dresses for an apple shape to an hourglass shape. No body is created equally and in the word of women’s fashion, almost nothing can fit perfectly to all individual body types. As women, we often come down hard on ourselves if our clothes don’t fit perfectly and we blame ourselves. However, our bodies are so unique that we need to understand them before we can dress them.

No matter what shape you are, they’re versatile, comfortable and fun. But the first step is being able to identify your body shape. Most women fall into one of four categories: Pear Shaped, Hourglass Shaped, Apple Shaped and Athletic Shaped. Once you’ve figured out your shape, then the next step is matching your body type to the perfect dress, style and cut. I’ve put together a guide and some of my favorite dresses that I would recommend for every figure; from there, it is up to you to decide which features you want to highlight or conceal (if any). Remember, the choice is always yours!

Dresses for Pear Shape

The pear body shape is usually characterized by having larger hips and thighs. Pear body shapes often have narrower shoulders meaning their hips are, oftentimes, wider than their shoulders. Pear shapes commonly have a more defined waist and a defined curve at the hip, with a larger more rounded bottom. Some celebrities with this body type are Kim Kardashian, Rhianna, and Kate Winslet.

Dresses for Pear Shape

 

What to look for in a dress:

Definitely consider your waist as a focal point when it comes to choosing a dress for any occasion. You already have amazing curves, so you want to accentuate and define them. An Open or V-neckline will help to elongate your overall look. If desired, you can also create the illusion of an hourglass figure by adding more volume (like a ruffle or puffy sleeve) to your upper body so that it balances with your relatively wider lower body. Additionally, you can try a two-tone dress with brighter colors or patters top to draw attention to your torso and balance your shillouette. Fit-and-flare dressed are the way to go if you’re looking for more symmetry with your hips or thighs.

Here are a couple of dress styles that can perfectly suit your pear figure:

  1. Maxi dress
  2. Shift dress
  3. A-line dress

What might not be as flattering:

Oversized or shapeless styles, super short hemlines and curve-hugging fabrics, especially if you want a more symmetric look. Women with this body type should avoid straight cut dresses, because they appear tight around the hips and throw off your beautiful proportions. You can identify a straight cut dress because it hugs around the hips and it is loose in the bust. These dresses are generally not made for the curvy ladies.

The upside:

A Pear Shaped figure, especially when dressed in a flattering way, can look exceptionally beautiful and curvaceous! If you aren’t ready to show those curves, an A-Line dress is great because defines the waist and shadows the hips. Popular culture certainly considers curves on the lower body aesthetically appealing, but the best part is that you can dress your body shape up as a unique representation of you!

Dresses for Hourglass Shape

The hourglass body shape is often described as curvy. Women with this shape often have bust and hip measurements that are roughly even. They tend to have a fuller bust, hips, and thighs, with a rounded bottom. They are symmetric (meaning their legs and torso are about the same length) and their figure can be described as balanced. Examples of celebrities with this body type include JLo, Christina Hendricks, and Beyonce!

Dresses for Hourglass Shape

What to look for in a dress:

Flaunt your curves!!! Since you already have a well-balanced figure, your dresses can reflect the same. Figure-hugging and form-fitted should definitely be top considerations – you’ll be able to accentuate those beautiful curves and follow your body line. Just be sure that the dress sits well at all the right places. Belted dresses,  or even rompers and jumpsuits also compliment your curves and excentuate your waistline.As for necklines, consider a V-neck, sweetheart or scoop neckline. Narrow necklines slim down your bust, keeping your look balanced, and low necklines draw the eye closer to your narrow waist, which will naturally play up some of your best features.  You could even add a staple necklace to show off your shoulder’s and neckline. This will really help to balance the upper and lower body.

Here are a couple of dress styles that should sit perfectly on your hourglass figure:

  1. Bodycon dress
  2. Wrap dress
  3. Mermaid dress

What might not be as flattering:

Baby doll dresses, shapeless styles and oversized dresses. You might have the same problems as the Pear-Shaped ladies because fabrics can hug in the wrong place, especially if you have a larger bust. Find a dress that cinches at the waist and fits properly on the top and bottom. If you love a dress (but it’s a trapeze or other loose-fitting silhouette), simply add a belt. In fact, as a general rule – when in doubt, belt it!

The upside:

The hourglass figure, often considered the quintessentially “perfect body”, is also one that allows for tons of flexibility in dressing choices and accessories! Back in the 2000’s many people wanted the Paris Hilton body that was long, lean and straight, but now the era of the Kim K body has arrived. People are dying for your body type, so show it off! There is nearly an unlimited number of looks you can create that will express your taste and personality!

Dresses for Apple Shape

Typically, the apple body shape is well-proportioned. They will have a larger bust and fuller midsection and tend to be more slender, or just not as curvy through to their hips. They also tend to carry their weight either in their midsection or their upper-half. Some celebrities with apple body types include Angelina Jolie, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey.

Dresses for Apple Shape

What to look for in a dress:

When it comes to styling dresses for apple shape, things that can draw away attention from your upper body alone (i.e. using belts and waist-ties to create a more defined waist) are worth considering. A dress with a more flowy or full skirt or bottom will help to de-emphasize the upper body and midsection to give your silhouette a more balanced look. V-necklines will also draw attention to your waist and give you an instantly flattering look without looking top-heavy. If you want to change it up and show off those gorgeous legs, then consider a short smock tunic. Luckily, you have a lot of different types of dresses for apple shapes. You can choose to hide your mid-section or find dresses that create curves.

Here are styles of dresses for apple shape that sit perfectly: 

  1. Flowy tunics
  2. Midi dress
  3. A-line dress

What might not be as flattering:

Anything that is too form-fitting, peplum dresses, excessive fabrics, and horizontal lines, especially if you want a more balanced look. Dresses for apple shape should focus on the waist. Additionally, anything with an excessive amount of fabric around your midsection are you risk losing your silhouette all together. The same thing goes for oversized dresses as the excess fabric can cause bulk.

The upside:

Those with an apple-shaped figure, especially when dressed up in flattering ways, have a huge advantage in looking like runway models! As the upper body announces one’s presence to a room, the right dresses for apple shape can make someone with this figure look especially tall, slender, and graceful! Add a cute pair of heels to make you appear longer and slimmer.

Dresses for Athletic Shape

The athletic body shape, also known as the square or rectangle shape, is usually defined by having equal bust and hip measurements. While their bust and hips are roughly equal, their waist is not as well defined as those with an hourglass shape. Their weight tends to be more evenly distributed throughout the body with a flatter bottom. Athletic body types tend to be taller and leaner as well. Some celebrities with this body type are Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, and Eva Longoria.

Dresses for Athletic Shape

What to look for in a dress:

For athletic figures, it is perfectly possible to enhance your figure in a way that will bring more of an hourglass effect! Round or sweetheart necklines work to break up any harsh lines in your figure to give you a curvier appearance. Off the shoulder necklines are recommended as well as they make your shoulders appear wider, giving you the appearance of a smaller waist and more hourglass figure. Dresses with draping or ruching or those that are cinched at the waist can play up your curves. Working with volume, angles, unique necklines, swirls or embellishments can all help balance your upper body to your narrow hips by giving your body a slightly fuller shape. You might not have as many curves as the previously defined body types, so you want to add dimension to your body by adding texture and pattern.

Here are a couple of dress styles that would sit perfectly on your athletic figure:

  1. Asymmetrical dress
  2. Halter dress
  3. Wrap dress

What might not be as flattering:

Avoid wearing rigid and shapeless clothes, especially if you’re looking for a fuller look. You should also try to avoid dresses that have straight or square necklines. These necklines can work against your curves and make you apper more boxy.

The upside:

What’s not to love about this body type?! Those with an athletic shaped body can certainly dress up for fuller or more enhanced figures, but they don’t often have to be concerned about appearing too full-figured! As an additional bonus, this body type CAN be dressed up to appear like one of the other body types (along with the accompanying styles that flatter them)!

Conclusion

Style isn’t one-size-fits-all, so why should your dress choices be the same? That’s not to say that you can’t experiment with other dress styles, prints and fabrics. You definitely can, but just keep in mind that the most flattering fits (your opinion comes first!) showcase your shape best. The key is to find YOUR personal best mix of creativity and aesthetics to make yourself as happy as possible!

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