The Pear or Triangle

You have a small bust in relation to your full hips.

Look for dresses that de-emphasize your lower half and bring width to your upper half. A portrait neckline helps widen your shoulder line, as do capped, poufed, balloon, melon, or Juliet sleeves. You may also add a little more to your bodice with an applique, beading, or lace overlay. Look for a plain skirt with a high waistline such as an empire waist.

Avoid dresses that will call attention to your shape, such as the clingy sheath or mermaid style dresses, and necklines that cut inward, such as halters. Also, steer clear of full skirts or skirts with heavy folds, ruffles, bows, beading, and bustles.

Full-Figured

You have a fuller bust, hips and waistline.

Look for simplicity. You will want dresses that minimize your waistline and create the illusion of smaller hips and thighs. Keep beading to a minimum, and opt for flat beads instead of round ones. A fuller skirt will mask your lower body. Angled lines will minimize the fullness of your figure, so look for a dress with a dropped V-waist and a V-neckline. Princess and A-line dresses are the best silhouettes for you.

Avoid dresses that are too form fitting and have too much detailing.

Petite

Your shorter height is proportional to your smaller bust, hips and waistline.

Look for dresses that will lengthen you. Vertical lines will make you look taller. Find them in narrow mermaid or sheath style dresses and in dresses with vertical pleats in the skirt. Lengthen your torso with high necklines and with asymmetrical and Basque waistlines. If form-fitting options don’t look ideal on you, look at A-line or Princess style dresses and dresses with an Empire waist.

Avoid large, poofy dresses. They tend to drown you and make you look like a giant marshmallow. Also avoid large amounts of detailing.

The Rectangle

You are proportional through the bust and hips with an undefined waistline.

Look for dresses that are ambiguous about your shape or dresses that add curves to your body. A princess style dress gives the illusion of curves. An empire waistline hides your actual waistline and draws the eye toward the detail on your bodice. Bateau and off the shoulder necklines provide horizontal lines to break up the verticality of your figure.

Avoid dresses that have a definite form you will need to fill, such as those with darted bust lines, and dresses that cling to your silhouette.

The Inverted Triangle

You have a full bust in relation to your small hips.

Look for dresses that highlight your lower half while de-emphasizing your upper half. Minimize your shoulder width by opting for a dress with a simple bodice, natural shoulder lines, and little sleeve or shoulder detail. Lengthen your upper half with a dropped waist, such as a Basque waistline. Feel free to have a full skirt or one with bow, pleats, beading, lace, etc.

Avoid dresses that call attention to your top, such as low cut dresses, high waistlines, slim skirts, or dresses with beads, sequins, lace, or appliques on the bodice or sleeves.

The Hourglass

You have a full bust and hips with a small waistline.

Look for almost any style you want. You can highlight your curves by wearing a mermaid or sheath style dress. Downplay your lines by wearing a classy dress with simple lines. Off-the-shoulder or sleeveless, princess or A-line, scoop or v-neck, they all look good!

Avoid very low or very high necklines, because they either show too much or cover too much. Steer clear of too much detail on the dress because it may make you look heavier than you are.

Other Considerations

Issue: Thick waist
Fix: Empire Waistline

Issue: Short waist
Fix: Princess-style dress

Issue: Long waist
Fix: High waistline (i.e. Basque waist)

Issue: Heavy hips
Fix: Cover it up with a full – not poofy – skirt. Avoid adding anything to the skirt (e.g., ruffles, bows, etc.).

Issue: Small bust
Fix: Look for dresses with jewel, bateau, Sabrina, or squared necklines. Accent what you do have with gowns that are pleated or ruffled across the bust. Opt for intricate detailing with beads or embroidery along the bustline. Remember that you will need a push-up bra, so steer clear of dresses that cannot be worn with the type of bra you need.

Issue: Large bust
Fix: Pick a dress with a simple bodice. Stay away from beads, embroidery, lace, and sequins. You have versatility in the type of bustline you wear. Square, strapless, scoop, sweetheart, v-shaped, Queen Anne, and off-the-shoulder all look good, but steer clear of high necklines such as jewel, bateau, portrait, and halter tops. Balance your proportions with an eye-catching skirt.

Issue: Tall
Fix: Look for dresses with horizontal lines to break up your height, such as strapless dresses, sashed waistlines, and various-length skirting layers. Steer clear of long fluid lines, such as sheath style dresses. Halters are very flattering on tall people, especially if you have strong shoulders.

Issue: Bulky arms
Fix: A little coverage. Pick a dress with 3/4 or full length sleeves. Steer clear of capped sleeves and strapless dresses, which tend to accentuate the arms.