bodyshapes2Trying to navigate the mall is hard enough, but trying to navigate the dress department is nearly impossible. It seems like the stores only categorize their dresses by occasion and length. Great – if you know you need a cocktail dress and you want it short, go to the right corner. If you know you need a prom dress and you want it full length, go to the left corner. What about everything in between?

I have often said if only….if only there was a department for fuller-on-the-top or fuller-on-the-bottom. But alas we are left to our own search and find skills.

Perhaps some of these tips will at least narrow down the volume of choices that you might be inclined to drag into the dressing room, saving you time and calories!

Fuller On The Bottom

You are fuller at the hips and bottom and smaller on top. Balance a heavier bottom with styles that broaden your shoulders. Styling details could include shoulder pads, color blocking. patterns and prints, textured fabrications and luxury fabrics that shine!

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 7.42.24 PMFuller On The Top

Your bust or shoulder measurements are fuller than your hips and bottom. You will want to balance the body to create the illusion of an hourglass shape by adding volume to the lower level almost reversing the advice above. First line of defense? You must lock and load the girls. It is okay to show off your shape but be sure you are contained in a professionally fit bra as you don’t want them entering the room 5-minutes before you do. Then add styling details to your lower half with a-line skirts, tweed or shiny fabrics, and layered details.

Curvy Hourglass

Congratulations Marilyn, you have a full bust, defined waist and full hips. Your secret weapon is the fit and flare silhouette. You want to show off that waistline and balance the hip-line with the shoulder-line. Scooped and v-necklines will elongate the look of the torso.

Not Curvy

Your weight is carried around the middle without a well-defined waistline or you have a straighter proportion where there is very little definition between your bust, waist and hip measurements. Look for midriff defining details like stitching, wrapping and ruching. High necklines will boost the bustline making it appear fuller. Bias cuts and ruffles on the lower half will create curves. Color blocking with darker tones at the midsection give the illusion of an hourglass proportion. Also look for great details both at the neck and the hemline to tie the look together.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 8.08.20 PMRound

For fuller women we want to create shape and create definition. Many women tend to drape with flowing fabrics, but that often adds volume making them look larger than they are. Plus size departments are filled with wonderful options and I recommend you try several sizes with a 16W being comparable to a 1X, you should try both as a precise fit will flatter your shape. Try squaring off the shoulders with a minimal shoulder pad and wearing your dresses just at the knees. A pointy shoe helps to elongate the leg creating a slimming effect.

If shopping online for a dress many retailers now have drop downs by body silhouettes as well as links to define the dress styles such as a-line, drop waist, sheath, fit and flare, empire waist, peplum and wrap. You can sort by that as well as color and size. If you find something you love use the in-store search tool as there is nothing worse than investing an hour to head to the store only to find they do not have your size in stock. And remember if ordering online buy 2 sizes and return one. Otherwise you will never know if you are buying the best fit! Lastly you are not well dressed unless you are well tailored. If it needs tweaking, it needs tweaking! Get it tweaked! All bodies are different, this is not a cookie cutter exercise – adjust the sleeves, the hemline, the buttons, whatever it takes to look polished! And oh yes – polish your shoes, your nails and your lips!

Having trouble navigating the stores?

Join us on March 30th as we rock the theater! Doreen Dove hosts this entertaining evening of makeover reveals, closet secrets, shopping tips, raffles and giveaways. Grab your girlfriends and grab your tickets – this event will sell out! Remember to ‘dress with purpose’ as you just might end up on stage!

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