How to Choose the Perfect Prom Dress for Your Body Type

choose a prom dress by body shape

Whether you’ve dreamed of prom since freshman year or you’re gleefully pioneering the anti-prom party, you need a dress. Not just any dress, though–a dress that shows everyone who the real queen is. 

 

And for that, you need to know what kind of dress flatters you. 

 

The good news is it’s easy to find the perfect prom dress for your body type. You just have to know your body type and what characteristics to play up. Here’s a quick guide to deciphering what dress will look fabulous based on your best features. 

Petite

Petite is a tricky category, because it refers to height more than anything (hint: if you’re 5’3” or below, you’re petite). However, petite women can come in all shapes regardless of their stature. 

 

You can have long legs or short legs. You can have a short or long torso. You can have a defined waist or none at all. You can have a curvy bust or none to speak of. 

 

The key is to find a dress that flatters both your height and your build. 

 

The first concern is, obviously, your height. Certain dresses will be off limits simply because they’re too long. But in general, you’ll want to avoid dresses with a lot of material, as this will overwhelm your frame. The goal is to create the illusion of height. 

 

To that end, look for shorter dresses and avoid fuller skirts. Vertical prints, detailing, slits, and V-necks all serve to elongate your frame. 

 

Also, don’t underestimate the value of a great pair of platform shoes. They can create just as much height as regular heels, but they’re far easier to walk in. 

Apple

Girls with an apple shape are characterized by broad shoulders, a larger bust, an undefined waist, and a wider torso. The key with this build is to emphasize with care–emphasize your shoulders and de-emphasize your waist to create the illusion of an hourglass. 

 

In other words, you want to draw the eye either up or down. 

 

To that end, an apple shape is well served by dresses that draw the attention toward the neckline and the bust. Think sweetheart necklines and plunging necklines. 

 

As for the skirt, the same principle applies. Look for features that draw the eye down–A-line silhouettes and empire waists are perfect for the job. 

prom dresses for your body shape

Hourglass

If you have a natural hourglass figure, congratulations–you have a body type that many a girl yearns for. An hourglass figure is defined by a narrower waist with bust and hip measurements that are roughly equal. 

 

The good news for hourglass girls? Almost all styles look good on you!

 

The best choices are form-fitting dresses that show off those fabulous curves. Look for dresses that accentuate your natural waistline, ideally a mermaid or trumpet dress. Avoid maxi skirts or oversized dresses that hide your natural curves. If you’ve got ‘em, don’t be shy–rock ‘em. 

Pear

Are you pretty as a pear? 

 

Pear-shaped or triangle body types are characterized by a fuller lower body with wide hips and a comparatively narrow bust. Basically, you’ve got the curves of an hourglass figure, but your top half is less curvy than your bottom half. 

 

Your waist and your curves are in your favor. And hey, any features in common with Rihanna are a great thing. The key is to bring your upper body into balance with your hips. 

 

Fortunately, this is relatively easy to accomplish. Look for details up top, like a beaded halter or crystal details on the neckline. You can also go for a dress that draws attention to the bust, like a sweetheart neckline. 

 

Regardless of your choice on top, avoid dresses that are 100% body-hugging (hint: no mermaid or trumpet dresses). Instead, reach for skirts that skim your lower half. 

Rectangular/Slender

If you have a rectangular or boxy body type, a la Anne Hathaway or Keira Knightley, you’re all-around consistent. Your measurements for your waist, hips, and bust are all pretty much equal. As such, the best dresses are those that create the illusion of a defined figure. 

 

The key here is to work with your streamlined physique while also creating shape. The best options are fitted dresses with details that accentuate the waist while adding volume to the bust and hips. Think mermaid, empire, A-line, and ballgowns that hug your hips. 

 

Whatever you do, avoid baggy dresses or dresses with a poorly-defined shape–they’ll swallow your figure, and if you’ve got a naturally slender figure, it’s worth showing off. 

Busty

Blessed with a fuller bust? 

 

The busty body type, also called the inverted triangle, is the inverse of the pear-shape. You’ve got a larger bust and wider shoulders with narrower hips. In other words, top-heavy. 

 

The trick to the perfect dress is to flaunt what you’ve got while also bringing your silhouette into balance by creating the illusion of equally curvy hips. Generally, a long dress with more fabric at the bottom will do the job nicely, but don’t be shy about a slight V-neck. 

 

Emphasis on slight. A plunging V-neck will attract the eye up, throwing your proportions back out of balance. Instead, look for a smaller V-neck–this will show off what you’ve got while keeping your proportions balanced. 

The Perfect Prom Dress for Your Body Type is Out There

When you’re clicking through endless pages of dresses, finding the perfect dress can feel exhausting. It’s hard to know what to look for, especially if you aren’t sure what you like or what vibe you want. 

 

The good news is that once you know your body type, you can narrow down your search to dresses that you know will flatter your figure. From there, you can focus on your favorite details or styles. Are you edgy? Bohemian? Glamorous? 

 

It all starts with finding the perfect prom dress for your body type. After that, there’s nothing standing between you and a dress made for your perfect prom