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How to choose the perfect dress for your body type

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Pretty dresses for any body type

Everyone has figure flaws, but it doesn't mean you can't hide them! When shopping for a new dress this season, be sure to keep your body type in mind. By following these simple tips, you can accentuate the positive and downplay the areas of your body that... well, aren't so perfect.

Dresses in store window

Flaunt your bets features with the dress tips

Full hips and thighs

Adrianna Papell printed halter dress

For pear-shaped women with full hips and thighs, the dress should shouldn't be shorter than an inch or two above the knee. Select a dress with an A-line skirt but not something too full. A short, super fuller dress will look like a tu-tu.

To draw the attention away from your lower body, select a dress with a plunging V-neck, halter top or embellished neckline.

Thick waist

If you are apple-shaped with a thick middle, you need to elongate the appearance of your torso and draw the attention away from your waist. Select a dress with an empire or drop waist to re-define your waist line.

Avoid thick belts cinched around your midsection and instead choose a chain or sash belt slung low on your hips.

Heavy arms

Sleeveless and cap sleeve dresses aren't for you. Instead, select billowy, bell sleeves that are 3/4 or even full-length to hide flabby arms.

Small bust

If you weren't endowed with ample breasts, avoid deep plunging necklines. Instead, select dresses with a scoop or bandeau neck and sequins or other adornments to add a little dimension up top. Layered necklaces are very popular right now and they can add some dimension and depth to your bust.

Learn how to make your breasts look bigger with makeup>>

Tate embellished sheath dress

Big bust

Dresses with halter tops and deep V's are very attractive for women who want to accentuate their big bust. Select fabrics that skim your body rather than bind, which can make your breasts look too big.

To draw some attention away from your bust and balance out a smaller lower body, choose a dress with an A-line skirt that falls one or two inches above your knees.

Plus size

Don't pack on layers of baggy clothes to try to cover-up your body. Contrary to what you may believe, baggy dresses will just make you look bigger. Select fabrics that don't cling to your body, but drape nicely.

A wrap dress is particularly flattering to full-figured women. Don't avoid color and prints. A collection of dresses at avenue.com offer a variety of styles for full figured women including bold print and sexy silhouettes.

Too thin

Sweater or knit dresses are terrific options for thin women. Add layers to your dress, such as a cardigan or fitted jacket to give you some bulk. If you have extremely thin legs, avoid mini-skirts and choose longer, flowing dresses instead.

Thin women can add a thick belt to give their waist more definition. Bubble dresses are very trendy right now and can also give the appearance of a larger lower body.

Lilly Pulitzer shift dress

The shift dress

The shift is a dress, flattering on almost everyone, that hangs straight down from the shoulder. It skims your body nicely, but doesn't cling. For summer, you can find shifts in cool cotton, linen and light knits. When fall arrives, wool and heavier knit shifts will continue to be popular.

Though the typical shift dress has a straight skirt, some fashion designers have created shifts with a slightly A-line cut this season.

The Lilly Pulitzer crocheted shift dress pictured here is perfect for a summer party. It's beaded jeweled neckline adds a little glitz and glamour.

Get tons more style tips in our guide to dressing for your body type >>

Fashion tips


Whatever your body type, you can find a beautiful dress that will flatter your figure. When shopping, bring a trusted girlfriend along for her honest opinion and be sure to look at the dress from all angles in the dressing room mirror.

Remember to accentuate the positive and don't obsess with the negative. If you dress confident, you will look and feel beautiful too!


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