When buying a formal dress there are many elements you’ll need to take into consideration.
You’ll need to look at the type of formal event you’ll be attending. That includes what style of dress might be most appropriate to fit the dress code. 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. It’s about showing off your best features!
If this seems overwhelming, never fear – we’re here to help. 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.
What Body Type Am I?
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 body 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 dress that will flatter you and make you feel beautiful!
The Apple Body Type commonly has slim legs and thighs but with a wider upper body 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-neck 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, a dramatic ball gown with plenty of skirt volume will add more balance to your silhouette. For example, this stunning navy pleated dress with a sparkling belted waist.
If you’ve been blessed with a fuller bust, by all means flaunt it! 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 balance your lower half.
A dress with an A-line skirt will help add some flare and proportion. Another great choice is a mermaid dress, which naturally highlights your body type with a figure-hugging bodice. This style also has a nipped-in waist and flares dramatically at the bottom.
Avoid very high necklines. They’ll make you look even bustier and won’t provide a good balance. This fitted lace gown is the perfect choice with its plunging v-neck and flared end.
The Hourglass Body Type is easily identifiable – you’ll have a narrow waist with 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!
You’ll look gorgeous in figure-hugging styles that show off this stunning natural silhouette. Look for body-conscious jersey dresses. This design with an open back is particularly attention-grabbing.
A high neckline will show off your hourglass shape even more, as will a dress in a block color. Avoid over-sized styles that drown out your natural curves.
A Pear Body Shape has a narrower upper half (shoulders) with wider hips, thighs and bottom. This body shape is easy to balance out. All you need is to add pretty details on top. Add 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. 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 a loose or flared 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.
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 dresses since they don’t break up your body shape. They 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 add height to your look. For semi-formal events, you can also wear shorter length dresses (knee length) to show off your legs.
The Slender Body Type, also known as Athletic, can be identified as having a rectangular figure with few curves. Thankfully, it’s easy to add a few gentle curves with the right dress. Look for designs that subtly hug the hips and bust with a narrowed waist or flared tail.
For example, this mermaid style with one-shoulder design. Sweetheart necklines help add sexy curves and femininity to your shape, especially when paired with a mermaid or trumpet skirt. Try to stay away from a column dresses (dresses that are straight up and down).
You should try to add a few curves to look your best. A cinched waist and a ballgown skirt will also have a similar effect on the eye.
More Dress Options & Ideas
Don’t forget – pear shape, apple shape, 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 shape 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 shape by concealing where you are widest and highlighting your narrow points. When in doubt, a mermaid dress is the ultimate option. It naturally creates a gorgeous hourglass silhouette with minimal fuss.
Still don’t know what to wear for 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. Don’t miss out on our picks of the best gorgeous floral print designs. These are just right for Spring events too!