No matter what type of black-tie or evening event, you need the perfect gown that best reflects you. This means a flattering fit for your body type and a dress that shows off your figure in the best way.
When buying a formal dress there are many elements you’ll need to take into consideration. We’re here to share some of the best dress buying tips. If you have more questions, feel free to email our style team!
You’ll need to look at the type of formal event you’ll be attending. You’ll also want to make sure your dress is the right color and flattering for your body type too.
Finding formal attire that adds balance to your body’s natural shape is the key to finding a perfect dress. There are so many different body types. From hourglass to pear shape and apple shape – and everything in between.
Figuring out which body shape you are will help you in your quest to find the right formal look. Once you have a good understanding of your shape, you can dress accordingly.
If this seems overwhelming, never fear – we’re here to help with our tips. Today we’re taking a look at some of the most common body types out there. That includes what suits them, what you should avoid, and how to make the best choice for your special occasion.
Take a look at your natural shape – what shape is your silhouette (the outline of your body)? If you aren’t sure of your body type, measure yourself across the shoulders, bust, hips, and waist. You’ll start to see where your body inclines and where you are widest.
This is going to help you determine which shape you are. Read over the most common types below and our tips for formal dressing each shape to look its best. Remember, it doesn’t matter what size or shape you are. There’s a perfect black tie dress that will flatter you and make you feel beautiful!
Apple Body Type
The Apple Body Type commonly has slim legs and thighs but with a wider upper body frame and rounder mid-section. To dress an apple body shape the best, look for pieces that create a defined waist around your midriff. A plunging neckline such as a sweetheart shape or deep v will look gorgeous on you. As will an off-the-shoulder style.
If you’re attending a cocktail party, take the chance to show off your legs since you tend to have beautiful gams. For a formal event, opt for a dramatic strapless ball gown with plenty of skirt volume in an A-line structure will create more volume for your frame. For example, this stunning navy pleated prom dress with a sparkling embellished belted empire waist.
Busty Body Type
If you’ve been blessed with a fuller bust, by all means, flaunt it in a fitted look with slim waistline! The Busty Body Type has a bigger chest but narrower hips. The key to striking balance is to look for pieces that highlight and support your bust and also flatter your lower half.
A dress with an A-line prom skirt will help bring some flare and proportion. Another great option is a mermaid prom dress, which naturally highlights your figure with a short empire bodice. This fitted style also has a nipped-in waist and flares dramatically at the bottom. You can go shopping for skirts that skim your waist and legs. This can create a figure that is sexy and flattering. You can have fun and choose any style of neck you like, such as halter or plunging. Make the most of your upper body and add curves!
Avoid very high necklines on your search. They’ll make you look even bustier and won’t provide a good style. This fitted lace gown is the perfect choice with its plunging v-neck and flared end.
Hourglass Body Type
The Hourglass Body Type is easily identifiable – you’ll have a narrow waist with a fuller bust and hips that are about equal in width. This creates a symmetrical curve on your upper and mid-body. This is a very desirable shape in the fashion world!
You’ll look stunning in figure-hugging styles that show off this stunning natural silhouette. Look for body-conscious jersey fabric prom dresses. This design with an open back is particularly attention-grabbing.
A high neckline will show off your hourglass figure even more, as will a dress in a block color. Avoid over-sized styles that drown out your natural figure. Search for pieces that add curves and have a slim waistline. Skirts can be bodycon or flared at the end, with a long train if desired.
Pear Body Type
A Pear Body type has a narrower upper half (shoulders) with wider hips, thighs, and bottom. This body shape is easy to flatter. All you need is to place pretty details on top. Pick a flowing skirt to your lower half that gently skims over your bottom half.
Pear shape body types look beautiful in a halterneck or plunging bodice dresses. That includes a style that features beadwork on your upper half to draw more attention upwards. We love this gorgeous chiffon gown option for pear-shaped women.
One thing to try to steer clear of are dresses that are entirely body-hugging. Always opt for evening gowns with a loose or flared prom skirt. An attention-grabbing bodice can form your focal point for your formal look, so be sure to choose a top that really makes a statement. Choose an A-line style with a pretty off-the-shoulder bodice for a black-tie gala.
Petite Body Type
The Petite woman is often shorter in stature and with a slim, short upper half. To make the best of this body type, try selecting a beautiful dress in a block color. Petite women look great in single-tone prom styles since they don’t break up your body. These dresses draw the eye to the entire length of the gown, elongating your silhouette.
One other style to consider for petite shapes? Dresses with a higher belted waist that will give the illusion of longer legs and height to your look. For semi-formal events, you can also wear shorter length prom gowns (knee length) to show off your legs.
The Slender Body Type, also known as Athletic or tall, can be identified as having a rectangular frame and a square shoulder and midsection. Thankfully, it’s easy to add a few gentle curves with the right prom dress. Look for designs that subtly hug the hips and bust with a narrowed waist or flared tail.
For example, this mermaid style prom gown with a fitted one-shoulder design. Sweetheart necklines help create sexy curves and femininity to your figure, especially when paired with a mermaid dress or trumpet skirt. Try to stay away from a column dresses (dresses that are straight up and down). When shopping, choose a fun look that creates texture or volume.
You should try to add a few curves to look your best. A cinched empire waist and a ballgown skirt will also have a similar effect on the eye.
More Dress Options & Ideas
Don’t forget – pear, apple, hourglass, busty and athletic are just a few of the typical body types out there. If you don’t necessarily fit into one of these body categories, don’t panic! You can use your own measurements to decide what aspects you want to highlight and hide.
A good rule is to try to balance your body by concealing where you are widest and highlighting your narrow points. Take your own figure as the first sign. When in doubt, a mermaid prom dress or trumpet style is the best option. It naturally creates an elegant hourglass silhouette with minimal fuss.
Still don’t know what to wear to your formal event? You can make a start by narrowing down your choice by color, or by the type of event you’ll be attending. You can also email our team for more assistance. If you sign up to our regular email updates, you can also stay up to date with new trends. Don’t miss out on our picks of the best gorgeous floral print designs and prom dresses. These are just right for Spring events too! You can shop for cheap bat mitzvah dressses or get a designer piece from our collection.