In what seems to be the busiest week of the year, picking your party dress can become a stressful experience. And with all the peplum frills, lace and bodycon, choosing the right dress without getting distracted by trends can be daunting.
And seeing as an increasing amount of us are cutting the crowds and the hassle of going from shop to shop trying on outfits, it’s even harder to gage what will truly suit us and what won’t.
New online tools can help with the fitting process and cut down on browsing time. ASOS has a brilliantly organised website where you can type in fit, size, style, budget and even sleeve length. More sophisticated still is Dressipi.com; a British site founded by Sarah McVittie and Donna Kelly, who understood women’s lives are getting busier, with less inclination to search the high street for that perfect fit. The site’s refined software means you can type in your height, body proportions and brand favourites, and it will choose outfits for you.
The biggest mistake most generic guides tend to make is to include ‘petite’ and ‘tall’ options. While these are obviously necessary to consider when searching for your perfect dress, they fail to acknowledge that tall and petite women have shapes too. Neither short nor tall can be classified as a ‘shape’ and neither one is necessarily shapeless.
So, with these points in mind, here is my guide to wearing party dresses according to your shape…
You will want to use your waist to your full advantage. Shift dresses and bodycon styles are great because they will skim the body and accentuate your curves to really maximise your best assets. If you’re into vintage dresses, 1950s styles work well with a fitted top, tailored waist and gathered or pleated skirt. Think Kelly Brook and Christina Hendricks.
Pear shapes typically have narrow shoulders and wider bottom halves so choosing a dress with an embellished or patterned top half (the trend for lace is great here), with contrasting darker slim line skirts look incredibly flattering.
Stereotypical advice for apple shapes is to wear a dress with a plunging neckline to help direct attention from the stomach area. But for a more subtle neckline and for those uncomfortable with bearing too much flesh try a flattering cowl; drapes can then be as exaggerated or modest as you prefer.
Also known as ‘boyish’, ‘straight up and down’ and ‘sporty’, an athletic figure normally has shoulders and hips of the same width, long arms and legs, a slightly (undefined) waist and small boobs. Pleats will add dimension and femininity and an A-line skirt will add definition to your waist and create the illusion of curves.
A note on special fit sectors
If you are petite the same rules apply with a few obvious exceptions. You will need to find dresses tailored to your proportions. For example; the shorter you are, often the narrower you are (not exclusively), shoulders need to be tapered more and the need for shorter hemlines and appropriate waist proportions are important. Both Topshop and Miss Selfridge do great petite lines, all scaled down as accurately as possible with a range of different styles to accommodate a range of shapes. Similarly, the tall range at Topshop is specifically designed for those who need longer lengths, with elongated hems and a longer fit in the torso for those in need of those few extra inches.