We turned to fashion stylist Manj Gill for some professional advice on how to find a fashionable frock that flatters. Whether you're curvy, busty, petite, athletic or anything in-between, our dress-buying guide will help ensure you look stunning and feel confident on your next night out.
1. If you're curvy
If you have an hourglass frame, show it off! "Go for a formfitting dress -- like a bandage style -- to accentuate your body," says Gill. To balance out bigger hips, opt for a design with a long hemline and flared skirt. A skirt that tapers all the way down instead of flaring will make your hips appear wider than they actually are, she warns.
2. If you're busty
If you have a larger chest, your best bet is a style that draws attention away from the bust. Look for dresses that are one solid colour on the top -- this will have a minimizing effect. And be cautious of too many details or excess fabric, says Gill. "Stay away from boxy dresses because a large chest will drape fabric and make the individual appear heavier." It is also important to avoid strapless styles. Instead, look for pieces that have larger shoulder straps that allow for a supportive bra underneath.
3. If you're athletic
Those with an athletic build, should steer clear of anything too severe in cut and design. "A strong shoulder will make the individual appear more masculine," Gill explains. Instead, opt for a deep "V" neckline to give the illusion of a bigger bust, or a dress with a tighter bodice to complement a toned body. If you'd like to create an hourglass figure, try a belted style or something with added texture (such as ruching or gathering) to create a more voluminous shape.
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4. If you're full-figured
Full-figured women look best in simple silhouettes that draw attention to the face, Gill explains. Loud prints can make women look larger, so stick to a solid colour from head-to-toe. It's also a good idea to wear a body shaper under your cocktail dress to further define your silhouette. "This gives the illusion of a toned body," Gill says. Outerwear options are also important for full-figured women. Select light layers such as shawls or wraps to avoid the addition of unnecessary inches.
5. If you're petite
Most dresses sold in retail stores are made to fit a taller woman, which means they may end up looking far too large on someone with a smaller figure. If you fall in love with a dress, get it altered. "Taking up the hemline will make the dress less overwhelming and will alter the entire fit, making it more flattering," Gill explains. When it comes to accessories, opt for delicate jewelry because big, flashy baubles can be too cumbersome for a pint-sized frame, Gill adds.
6. If you're tall
Statuesque women best suit sleek, tailored pieces. Aim for a dress that hits just below the knee and sits at your waist, not above it. "Refrain from wearing puffy-style cocktail dresses as they will generally sit higher on the waist and appear too small," explains Gill. However, having a taller frame means you can experiment with prints without having to worry about them being too overpowering, she says. A printed frock can also give a long, lean body the illusion of curves.
7. If you're pear-shaped
If you have a pear-shaped figure, a dress that just skims the widest part of your body is most flattering, says Gill. An A-line cut will glide over your hips, minimizing their size, while drawing attention away from the area. If you want to balance out your top half, look for patterns. "A detailed or printed top will work nicely to enhance a smaller bust." She also suggests accentuating the smallest part of your body -- your midsection -- with a belt.
No matter your body shape there is a cocktail frock that will flatter your figure and make you feel great. You just have to be conscious of what works -- and what doesn't. Gill offers women one final shopping tip: Don't be afraid to experiment! "Try to go out of your comfort zone," she says. "You might be pleasantly surprised by the effect a different design can have on your figure."
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