Be your best in a dress

Life & Beauty Weekly: Hair & Beauty

By Anne L. Fritz for Life & Beauty Weekly

Jeans may be the most-worn item in your closet, but the right dress can be your most valuable wardrobe essential. But how do you find the right one for you? Here, advice from fashion experts teaches you how to find the best dress for your body shape.

If you are: a pear shape
For those smaller on top than on bottom, emphasizing your bust and shoulders and minimizing your bottom half will help balance your look. Here’s how:

  • Go for A-line “The word ‘A-line’ should be a permanent term in your vocabulary,” says Christina Joy, a New York City-based personal stylist. The shape is fitted on top, and starting at the waist, gradually flares out.
  • Add interest up top Styles with a scoop neck or V-neck draw the eye up to your decolletage. Both enhance your bust, helping offset a wider lower body.

If you are: full-figured

If your M.O. is to cover up in flowing, loose-fitting styles, keep in mind that the extra fabric can end up visually tacking on extra pounds. Instead, go for body-skimming dresses that are neither too clingy nor oversized. Here’s how:

  • Look for an empire waist This style features a band or seam that sits just under your bosom, which helps minimize and smooth a rounder middle while emphasizing your bust and neckline.
  • Try prints Go for a subtle, vertical animal print like zebra or python, says Lloyd Boston, host of “Closet Cases” on The Fine Living Network and author of Before You Put That On.

If you are: curvy or hourglass
If this describes you, proportion is working in your favour with a similarly sized bust and hips. A dress that shows off your slim waist is the perfect fit. Here’s how to get the look:

  • Be a wrap star Wrap dresses are easy to wear and appropriate for work or an evening out. They tie at your waist, nipping in the area and bringing attention to it.
  • Belt it Look for dresses that come equipped with belts and flare out slightly. Or find a simple shift frock and add your own belt.

If you are: slim or athletic
Because these body types tend to be straighter, a dress that creates subtle curves and has a feminine touch will get you noticed. Check out these tricks:

  • Consider halters Halter dresses, which wrap around your neck, not only spotlight buff shoulders; they can lift and boost your bust, adding some shape.
  • Have fun with prints Prints and abstract patterns, plus textured fabrics, add depth to your frame.

If you are: large-busted

Many amply endowed women consider their figure both a blessing and a curse, says Joy. Here are a few tips:

  • Stay smooth Skip styles with ruching, ruffles or other extra fabric or embellishment at the bust line. If you like embellishment, look for it at the waist or around the hem.
  • Visit the tailor If you can’t find a dress that gives you enough room up top, buy a larger size and have it altered to fit. Yes, you’ll spend a little extra, but if a dress fits everywhere, it will make you feel great, and you’ll wear it often.

If you are: petite

You want dresses that help you stand out. Think sleek and minimalist with a twist, such as colour or embellishments. Here’s how:

  • Avoid extra material Maxi dresses are trendy, but they can swallow up a small frame. Body-skimming silhouettes that fall above the knee are better choices.

Love colour
Petite women can “disappear” in a room when wearing black, says Boston. Choose colours like deep blue.

Anne L. Fritz
is the former style director for
Life & Style and has been on staff at
Woman’s Day and
Working Mother. She has contributed to
Marie Claire, Glamour, Prevention and many websites, including
Everyday Health, About and Life & Beauty Weekly
. Fritz is also the founder of The Jet Set Girls
, a website about girls’ getaways.