Clothing fits, and looks, best when women heed their body type instead of letting designers dictate style. Once you know your type, shopping becomes less problematic. Cocktail dresses are no exception.
In her many TV makeovers, leading news style expert and author of The Style Method, for Clothes that Fit Your Mind, Body and Soul, Katie Rice Jones finds body balancing to be a key to success. Dressing to your type creates memorable looks and boosts confidence.
Nancy LeWinter, Editorial Director and stylist, believes it’s about balance for plus-sizes, too. She says that OneStopPlus.com offers tons of flattering style options for women who do not aspire to size 4, 6, 8, or even 10. You know, most of us.
This design, one of many at OneStopPlus.com, could work well for lots of body types/shapes.
To look stunning, the dress, any clothing really, should accentuate your best qualities and disguise or draw attention away from the less desirable ones.
Harold Clarke, head designer (www.haroldclarke.com) in his New Orleans’ shop, stresses four fashion considerations. No matter the type, he says, every woman must also consider size/fit, proportion, fabric and color. Women should also choose the proper foundation for the chosen gown.
The following four body types/shape should cover most of us. You’ll see variations on the names of each in other places, as well as some additions. Some stylists feel the four did not fit all well enough. However, these address most of the major problems in regards to cocktail/formal dressing.
Women with little body definition or curves fit here. Think Kiera Knightly or Kate Middleton. This type can wear nearly everything, but fluid fabrics and styles give the illusion of curves—particularly in the waist—which they need. Mr. Clark advocates sheaths, ball gowns—the gamut for bananas. For Ms. Rice, strapless and off-the-shoulder also look great on straight shapes.
PEAR/UPWARD TRIANGLE SHAPE/TYPE
Hips, thighs and legs dominate this type, like Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson or Jennifer Lopez. San Francisco-based image consultant, Michele Benza provides clients with written image assessments based on body types.
For pears, she suggests dark fabrics; accenting the waist; and defining the shoulders and breasts to balance the bottom half. More details at the top of the dress (ruching/ruffles, patterns) accomplish this also. For pears, award-winning designer Clark suggests empire dresses in flowing fabrics or A-lines. Stylist Rice also believes empires, and asymmetrical waists make a pear type look fantastic.
APPLE/DOWNWARD TRIANGLE SHAPE/TYPE
Broader shoulders, breasts and abdomen with narrow hips characterize apple types, who should choose dresses that balance this discrepancy, removing focus from the top. Ms. Rice advocates dark or jewel-toned colors, color blocking (dark on top)—which sculpts the body, and gowns that slim the chest and elongate the core, while smoothing the abdomen. She also believes that apples can work off-the-shoulder gowns, sheaths, corseted and V-necks. Mr. Clark says that V and stylized neckline or low backs look great on apples. Ms. Benza especially advises stylized necklines/décolleté for mature women.
A scoop neck will also help to balance an apple figure, as will a fun flouncy skirt (if you have the legs for it!).
Don’t hate this type, they’re simply drawn that way! Well-proportioned bust and hips with a narrower waist define the hourglass. Style expert Rice also recommends bubble skirts and spaghetti strap dresses for the hourglass type. Like Banana’s, the hourglass’ dress choices run the gamut, but Mr. Clark believes they look marvelous in form-fitting/ball gowns. Other stylists advise emphasizing the shape with nipped waists, jersey, etc. Think Sofia Vergara of Modern Family, who usually wears dresses and fabrics that hug and emphasize her curves.
Ms. Benza believes materials that skim, rather than cling, win here. Monica Barnett, Image consultant & personal stylist at Blueprint For Style, says a voluminous top and fitted bottom, or vice versa, creates balance for, and monochromatic coloring elongates, this type.
Image consultant Benza and Designer Clarke both discourage focusing on labels and sizes. Instead, they say, look for the perfect fit (altering if necessary) for your type and buy the highest quality you can afford.
Prepare to wow.
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