Dressing for your body type doesn’t have to be difficult. The trick is identifying the parts that you aren’t so keen on and then switching the focus to the areas you want to draw the eye.
Choosing clothes should be a celebration. It’s an opportunity to show off your personality and style, as well as your body! That’s hard to do when you’re concentrating on the “don’ts” and much easier when you start thinking about the “dos”.
In this guide, we don’t want to tell you what not to wear. Instead, we hope to help you find new styles that flatter and celebrate who you are.
Check out this list to find the dress styles that are right for you.
1. For Large Busts
One of the big issues when shopping for a large bust is finding a dress that fits all over.
Those that are just right on the chest can be loose around the hips, while fitting at the hips can squeeze your bust beyond comfort.
Wrap-style dresses are excellent for busty women, tightening at the waist to create a balanced silhouette.
A-line dresses, which tuck in just under the bust before skimming down the body, subtly accentuate your natural curves.
Otherwise, you can show off your impressive cleavage with lower necklines. V-necks, scoop necks, and cowl neck dresses can help elongate the torso.
In the skirt, flowing fabrics are excellent. They help create an illusion of balance without excess material.
The most important thing when choosing a dress for a bigger bust is support.
Built-in support and tailoring such as darts and waist seams can help keep everything in place. Thick and adjustable straps also offer excellent support, while halter necks provide lift.
Anything to avoid? Stay away from styles that don’t offer enough support. Strapless will only work if it’s well-tailored, so avoid off the rack. Thin, spaghetti-style straps will often cut into the body.
2. For Small Busts
When dressing for a small bust, you have a big choice to make. Do you want a style that will accentuate the curves you do have? Or would you prefer to camouflage the bust?
If you want a style that accentuates your chest, look for dresses with detailing at the bodice.
Ruffles and frills are perfect for directing the eye upwards and making it look like curves are more prominent than they actually are.
Smaller busts don’t always need a bra for support, which opens up dress possibilities. An off-the-shoulder look is fun, while an open back helps camouflage a lack of curves.
Another style to take advantage of with a smaller bust is the plunging V-neck.
This open-neck style is hard to pull off with a big bust, but if you have a flatter chest, a bit of tape will keep everything in place.
Anything to avoid? Skintight spandex dresses don’t need to be avoided, but they can make a straight body look boxy.
Be careful with dresses that have built-in cups. They can start gaping, which might expose more of you than you’re happy to show.
3. For Hourglass Shapes
Hourglass body shapes are known for having plenty of curves and a defined waist (Also check out What Is A Figure 8 Body Shape?). The best dresses for this body shape celebrate the natural curves without overly accentuating the bust and hip.
Hourglass figures look incredible in fabrics that drape over the body. Skimming across the natural curves with a tuck at the waist, these dresses draw the eye without exaggerating proportions.
Wrap dresses are particularly incredible for an hourglass body shape. The V-neck of the wrap dress helps to show off the bust without accentuating the shoulders.
Other necklines to celebrate your bust include scoop and sweetheart styles. Rounded necklines are excellent if you aren’t as confident in your shoulders.
Anything to avoid? Styles that drop straight from the shoulder and have no shaping will hide an hourglass figure. By disguising the waist, you lose all the natural balance of this body type.
4. For Curves With No Waist
If you have plenty of curves but no waist, the best dresses add a bit more balance back to the figure.
By drawing the eye either above or below the waist, you can celebrate your curves while accentuating the balance.
An open V-neck helps direct the eye downward. Giving space for the chest and elongating the torso will make the waist appear more defined.
You can also try an exposed shoulder. This takes the eye above the bust. Some careful accessorizing — like a stunning necklace — will also achieve the same effect.
Choose a skirt with a little natural flare, rather than a tight fit or a swing skirt. Skimming across the waist and hips before dropping to a wider hem, the movement will create the appearance of a more defined waistline.
Anything to avoid? Anything that stops at the waist can make it look as though the body is wider than it is. Cropped sleeves that fall to the waist can really add to this effect.
5. For Long Necks
Celebrate your elegant long neck and shoulders with dresses that direct the eye upwards. For this body type, the focus should be on choosing the right neckline and detailing.
A wide boat neck or an off-the-shoulder style is ideal for accentuating the naturally long line. Wear your hair up to further enhance the style. A neat bun is simple and won’t distract from the length of your neck.
Detailing around the neckline is another excellent style trick, particularly if you aren’t so keen on your lower half. Keep the detail contained above the bust line, to really make the most of this style.
Alternatively, play around with an open back. It might not seem like the best way to show off your shoulders, but an open back will again bring the eye to your best bits.
Anything to avoid? The aim is to bring the eye up, so you want to stay away from anything too busy on the bottom half.
A heavily printed skirt, even when paired with a wide boat neck, will throw off the balance, and create a distracting contrast.
6. For Great Legs
If you love your legs and want to show them off, then the obvious choice is to go as short as possible.
Keep things quiet on top, maybe balancing the short skirt with a higher neckline. Then, you can let your mini do all the talking.
We’re not going to direct you away from that! If you have incredible legs, then why not show them off as much as possible? But the micro mini isn’t the only way to go.
Instead, consider a hemline that sits just below the knee. This can be a hard look to pull off with shorter legs, as it can cut away length.
However, with long legs, that isn’t a problem you have to worry about.
A looser fabric that moves with you can add an extra touch to the longer length. As the skirt flips and flows, you’ll get enticing flashes of skin.
Anything to avoid? You want the eye to head downwards, so avoid anything too busy on top. Lots of detailing around the bust can throw off the balance.
7. For Straight Bodies
Straight bodies go up and down with minimal curves. Without the naturally defined waist of other body types, you might prefer to dress in a way that adds curves.
For building curves, look for clothing with lots of structure. Darts and seams at the waist can create a more defined silhouette.
Alternatively, try a fitted waist with a full skirt. You can create this look using a belt on a flowing dress.
Alternatively, play up the natural strengths of the straight body with a shift dress. Dropping from the shoulders down with only minimal shaping at the bust, this simple style is classic and elegant.
For a fun party look, play around with frills! They’re hard to pull off when you have curves but shine on a straight body type.
Anything to avoid? Lots of detailing and embellishment at the waist can draw attention to what isn’t there.
Instead of creating a voluptuous figure, it will emphasize the straight body shape and throw off the balance.
8. For Pear-Shaped Bodies
Pear-shaped bodies have naturally curvy hips that are bigger than the shoulders. With a pear-shaped body, the intention is often to draw the eye away from the hips and add a bit of balance.
This means putting the focus on the shoulders and giving them extra definition. Sharp shoulders (consider adding a bit of padding) will create a counterbalance to the hips, accentuating curves.
Alternatively, try an A-line dress. The wider hemline of the A-line skirt drapes naturally over the hips, making them look smaller.
Paired with a scooped neckline, this style will show off your best bits while minimizing areas you might not be so keen on.
Or try a wrap dress. Cinching in at the waist with a V-neck, they add soft curves to the pear silhouette.
Anything to avoid? Tunic dresses will often drop straight from the shoulders before getting stuck at the hip.
They’ll then cling to the hips and thighs, ruining the natural line and making it harder to move. Also, while some movement to the skirt is good, anything too full will overly emphasize the hips.
9. For Petite Bodies
Petite bodies are shorter than the average, which means often the most important factor is getting the sizing right!
It doesn’t matter what the style is. If it’s too big, it will swamp your frame and hide all your features.
Pinched-in waistlines are excellent for the petite figure. They prevent clothes from overwhelming the frame, so your silhouette has definition.
You can add this effect with a simple belt. We recommend a thin belt with a small buckle, to keep the balance.
Shorter skirts are excellent on petite frames, adding length where there might not be any. Pair with a pointed shoe, to really lengthen the legs.
Avoid skirt lengths that fall below the knee. However, a skirt with a hem just at the calf can work if you keep the dress simple.
Anything to avoid? Layers can be awkward on a smaller frame. They swamp the shape and mask the figure. Be particularly careful of layers falling in different places.
10. If You Want To Hide Your Arms
If you lack confidence in your upper arms, they can be easily disguised with a simple set of sleeves.
That doesn’t mean your dress choices have to be boring and old-fashioned.
Sheer sleeves have a seductive touch to them and successfully hide any areas you might be less than comfortable with. Billowing sleeves with a V-neck can be sexy and boost your confidence.
If it’s the upper arms in particular that you dislike, try an off-the-shoulder look. Done right, it will draw the eye just above the arms, to the neck and shoulders.
Finally, if you’re heading to a wedding or special occasion, you can pair your favorite strapless dress with a wrap. Less heavy than a jacket, a wrap wallows for movement and feels comfortable on hot days.
Anything to avoid? Puff sleeves can really emphasize the upper arms, rather than hiding them. They can also become uncomfortable if they tuck in at the hem and dig into the arm.
11. If You Want To Hide Your Stomach
A thicker stomach and midriff means the waistline lacks definition. A good dress can create the illusion of a waistline, skimming over the stomach while drawing attention to other parts of the body.
A-line dresses are excellent for this body shape. By tucking in under the bust, they draw the eye upwards and away from the stomach.
Meanwhile, the slight flare of the skirt simply drifts over the thicker waist. While a flare dress can add the illusion of extra inches, an A-line dress is much more forgiving.
Another good shape is the shift dress. Again, these tuck just in at the bust. If you like showing off your legs, try a mini shift.
Finally, think about materials. Stretchy materials are difficult to work with as they’ll cling to everything. However, shirred bodices will tuck the waist before flaring out. This can add curves.
Anything to avoid? Watch out for anything with too much stretch at the stomach. It will pull across the hips and make them look wider.
12. If You Want To Hide Your Legs
There are so many different dress lengths available that if you don’t love your legs, you can find something that works for you.
If you have long legs, a maxi dress and a pair of sandals are a comfortable solution. To really accentuate the line of your legs, choose heels.
If you’re petite or have short legs, heels can ensure you don’t have to skip the maxi. Use tailoring to keep the hem of the maxi skirt around the ankles. When it pools on the ground, it can take inches off your height.
A slit up the knee can add easy movement to your maxi dress. As you walk, the slit will flutter open and closed, for intriguing glances of skin.
Anything to avoid? Of course, if you don’t like your legs, you’ll probably want to stay away from the mini dress.
Be careful with midi lengths as well. If they hit the wrong part of the calf, they can draw the eye straight to the legs.
13. If You Want To Hide Your Knees
Knees are very rarely someone’s favorite part of their body, but they can be a least favorite part. If you don’t like your knees, the best solution is the maxi dress. Dropping to the floor, it will completely cover that problem area.
Dresses that drop just below the knee are also excellent. They hide the knees but flatter the rest of the leg.
Otherwise, look for short dresses that can be paired with thick tights or leggings. These styles are perfect for transitional dressing when you need something that protects from the chill but won’t overheat.
Anything to avoid? Above the knee or below the knee is best. Avoid any skirt that cuts directly across the knee.
The clothes that we look best in are the clothes that we feel best in. That doesn’t mean hiding away the parts of us we don’t like.
Instead, it’s important to celebrate the bits we love. Dress to emphasize your favorite features, rather than to minimize your flaws.
When we start dressing to celebrate our body, we start to love our body more. You’ll find new ways to love all parts of you, from head to toe!
Frequently Asked Questions
When choosing a style for your body shape, find the parts of you that you want to celebrate.
Pick dresses that draw the eye to your favorite areas. Emphasizing your best features has the added benefit of drawing attention away from any bits you aren’t as happy with.
Looking for more guidance? Learn How To Dress For Your Body Shape When You’re Plus Size.
If you want to know your body type, you need to get to know your body.
That can mean spending some time looking in the mirror and considering where your curves are, what parts sit straight, and what parts of you you love!
Check out our article How To Determine Your Body Shape In 5 Minutes for a quick primer.