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Dress Shopping Guide: How to Flaunt Your Figure

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It surely comes as no surprise that when it comes to wedding gowns, one size does not fit all. The same can be said for styles. You may have fallen in love with that empire-waist taffeta strapless from Melissa Sweet, but if you have an hourglass figure, this style could leave you looking like a linebacker clad in white. Even curvy women come in all shapes and sizes, of course, but knowing what styles might look best on your body type could save you tons of time and a few traumatic moments in front of the mirror.

What’s Your Shape?

Pear-shaped women, for example, look best in A-line dresses with empire bodices, or gowns that are fitted on top and have a ball gown skirt with a natural or drop waist, says Rachel Leonard, fashion director of Brides magazine. They should avoid fit-and-flare shapes, as these styles tend to accentuate the hips.

Apple shapes, on the other hand, should look to A-line shapes that have split fronts or dresses with vertical lines or lace details, all of which have a slimming effect. These women also look good in gowns that have side-draping at the waist, says Leonard, as it can help break up a round figure or define a small waist. If a bride also has a bigger bosom, Leonard recommends selecting an open V-neck with straps, a well-structured strapless or a one-shoulder gown. But both apple shapes and ladies with larger chests should avoid natural-waist ball gowns.

“Brides with hourglass figures look great in a fit-and-flare style, which is characterized by a form-fitting top which flares out toward the hemline,” says Leonard. These women should also check out mermaid dresses and corset-top ball gowns which will flatter their small waist – and avoid soft, empire-waist baby doll styles that will hide it.

Styles for Everyone

Leonard’s advice for heavier women: “A-line styles look good on most everybody, but it’s all about a dress with a good structure built inside,” she says. “Avoid flimsy fabrics and then continue to think in terms of proportions.” For example, heavier brides who are on the short side should look for fit-and-flare styles that elongate their shape. Or if your issue is bigger arms, avoid making them look larger with puffy sleeves; instead, opt for sheer short or three-quarter length sleeves, or go strapless and add a chic bolero or shrug for coverage.

“When making an appointment in a salon, heavier brides should make sure to ask if they carry larger sizes,” Leonard says. “It’s important to find a dress that’s right for your body type, and that you feel comfortable in.”

[Photo: Alfred Angelo]

© Brides 365

Tags: a-line, empire waist, v-neck