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!
Apple Body Type
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.
Busty Body Type
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.
Hourglass Body Type
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.
Pear Body Type
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.
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 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.
Slender Body Type
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.
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!
We Picked For You!
- JovaniLeafy lace diffused with matching rhinestones glamorizes this fitted, backless gown. Color (s) : cranberry/ nude. Brand: Jovani. Style Name: Jovani Embellished Lace Gown. Style Number: 5209164. Available in stores.$898.00
- JovaniBarely visible mesh insets secure the plunging neckline and sides of this glittering evening gown cut with a glamorous train. Color (s) : navy. Brand: Jovani. Style Name: Jovani Illusion Glitter Knit Mermaid Gown. Style Number: 5253569. Available in stores.$488.00
- JovaniLuxe embellishments glimmer in textural patterns all throughout this fitted evening gown that pools at the train. Color (s) : black. Brand: Jovani. Style Name: Jovani Sequin Lace Mermaid Gown. Style Number: 5253570. Available in stores.$678.00
- JovaniThe darted, asymmetrically embellished bodice of this knit gown foreshadows the dramatic garden of shimmering, colorful embroidery all the way down the sheer back to the pooling train. Color (s) : black/ multi. Brand: Jovani. Style Name: Jovani Embellished Knit Gown. Style Number: 5209171. Available in stores.$578.00
- JovaniPassionate colors bring out the luxe texture of this embroidered, beaded ballgown abloom in roses. Color (s) : black/ multi. Brand: Jovani. Style Name: Jovani Embellished Tulle Ballgown. Style Number: 5253572. Available in stores.$718.00
- JovaniReminiscence of spring's first bloom this plunging illusion floral print evening dress by Jovani is simply exquisite. Delicate sweetheart neckline and luminescent floral blooms are accentuated at the knee with a fit and flare hem. Pair this dress with a jeweled earring and cocktail ring to match.$790.00
- JovaniBe prepared to have all eyes on you in the Two-Piece Beaded Jersey Dress by Jovani. This on-trend two-piece features a high halter crop top with horizontal bead striping, and body-hugging jersey skirt with a slight sweep train. Add long drop earrings and a rhinestone bracelet for the perfect finishing touches.$590.00
- JovaniYou'll be turning heads all night long in the Plunging V-Neck Jersey Evening Dress by Jovani. This alluring style features a daringly low V-neckline and back, and a fitted bodice with a slightly flared skirt. Add sparkle and shine to this look with large chandelier earrings, rhinestone bangles, and an embellished minaudiere.$440.00
- JovaniWalk the runaway in this well structured illusion beaded bodice dress by Jovani. This evening gown features a round neckline and illusion sweetheart jeweled bodice. Natural waistline is then met with a fitted satin skirt which flares out at the knee for a dramatic entrance at your next event.$790.00
- JovaniThis happily ever after semi lace cap sleeve and bodice evening dress by Jovani is simply exquisite. All over lace dress with studded jewels and nude underlay is accented with a jeweled encrusted waistband. Satin ball gown skirt with delicate pleating on each side completes this glamorous look. Pair this dress with jeweled shoes to match.$800.00
- Jovani PROMMake a bold statement in the Embellished Ruffle Open Back Prom Dress by Jovani. This amazing style has a mermaid silhouette, a sultry open back, and adorable ruffle detailing. Complement this bold dress with a simple piece of statement jewelry.$700.00
- JovaniThe Notched Strapless Evening Dress by Jovani is a must-have for your evening wardrobe. This classic gown features a straight-cut strapless neckline with a V cutout, and a body-hugging mermaid silhouette to show off your curves. This versatile and classic dress can be worn to any special event, from Prom to a formal gala. Add decadent jewels and a beaded handbag for a sparkly finish!$500.00
- JovaniThe Cap Sleeve Beaded Ball Gown by Jovani is a timeless and elegant piece for your evening wardrobe. This sophisticate style features a delicately beaded bodice with cap sleeves, and a full ball gown skirt. Add jeweled chandelier earrings and a delicate bangle bracelet to complete this classy look.$900.00
- JovaniThis iridescent scalloped plunging neckline evening dress by Jovani is a statement on its own. Delicate cap sleeves are embellished with studded jewels and an ornate jeweled waistband. Asymmetrical drop waist with A-line skirt resembles the look of a ball gown. Pair this dress with a jeweled clustered earring to match.$640.00
- JovaniThis beaded midi cocktail dress by Jovani is a perfect addition to add to your little black dresses. Semi sweetheart neckline with nude underlay is accented with jewel studs. Delicate leafy vines and scalloped lace hem completes this sparkly yet simple number.$640.00
- Jovani PROMYou'll be the belle of the ball in the Embellished Two-Piece Ballgown Prom Dress by Jovani. This glamorous style features a crystal-embellished off the shoulder top with a cutout open back, and a full satin ball skirt with a sex leg slit. Add drop earrings and a beaded handbag to complete the look.$700.00
- Jovani PROMTurn up the heat in the white-hot Sleeveless Embellished Illusion Prom Dress by Jovani. This on-trend jersey dress features an illusion neckline, geometric stone embellishments, and an alluring open back. Wear with silver rhinestone drop earrings and a matching statement bracelet.$700.00
- Jovani PROMThe fine lace detail and sleek fit of the Beaded Floral Lace Prom Dress by Jovani is sure to turn heads. Features sparkling beaded accents and a low open back. Looks best with crystal drop earrings and an embellished handbag.$640.00
- Jovani PROMFor a showstopping look that will make you feel more fabulous than ever, wear the Off the Shoulder Mikado Prom Dress by Jovani. This divine style features a sweetheart neckline, off the shoulder straps, and a dramatic tiered trumpet skirt. To complete this glamorous look, pair with fabulous crystal drop earrings and a beaded handbag.$550.00
- Jovani PROMThe Strapless Beaded Jersey Prom Dress by Jovani is the perfect choice for prom. This style features a sweetheart neckline with an illusion inset, a fitted bodice, and scattered bead embellishments. Complement the bold tones with a single piece of statement jewelry.$590.00