There are so many women that fall under the plus-size dress category that it seems crazy to classify all of them under just this one term and expect the same style dresses to suit them all. Crazier still is to expect plus size ladies to wear baggy clothes that are ill-fitting in the vain hope that they’ll look great and gain body confidence in the process. There are so many different plus size body shapes, all of which require different dress shapes to bring out and enhance their best bits. Below, a number of those styles are discussed as well as the figures they suit best so that you can figure out what flatters your body shape easily.
Dress Shape: The Tunic Dress
The tunic dress has a very simple shape and it can help hide a multitude of sins. Often made with long sleeves, this loose-fitting style softly nips in just under the bust to give an elegant silhouette. Sometimes made to a shortish length, tunics also look great with trousers or leggings and so are consequently very comfortable. They can also be warm, making them a brilliant way to wear dresses in the cooler months. They’re a great addition to any wardrobe as they can be dressed up or down and as such can be worn to a multitude of events. Tunic dresses also take pattern and embellishments really well so are an ideal way to show off personality and an individual sense of style.
Suits Body Type: Rectangle, Apple, Pear
Dress Shape: The Wrap Dress
A mainstay in many a woman’s wardrobe, the wrap dress is a hard working staple. For plus size ladies, the style’s natural V-neck will be incredibly flattering on one’s chest whilst the wrap around belt will accentuate the waist. They’re a great failsafe option too for those that want a dress that takes them from business casual to after work drinks. They’re also a classy way to answer the question of how to dress fashionably when you have plus size curves - a wrap dress will always be in style. For this reason, and the fact that it’s a style that suits many types of figure, they’re worth spending a little bit more than usual on, to make sure they last. It means that they will be made out of a better quality material too with the result that they will be even more flattering to the wearer.
Suits Body Types: Hourglass, Pear, Top Heavy
Dress Shape: The Shift Dress
The shift dress is a simple, yet smart basic that makes a great addition to a lady’s wardrobe, especially those with a job that requires them to look well turned out a lot of the time. Dresses that are cut well and made in a quality fabric will move with the wearer, regardless of being plus size or not. With a fitted skirt from the waist down, that finishes at around the knee, this is a great dress to wear if you have a pair of enviable and shapely legs to show off. The shift dress, whilst often worn in an office environment, can also look elegant when worn as a wedding guest or out for dinner with girlfriends. The Shift is often a style that plus size girls shy away from but it can really be used to the most flattering effect when worn properly. Try looking for ones that come with a matching jacket. This can obviously be worn separately, but when paired together will be nothing but elegant and chic.
Suits Body Types: Rectangle, Top Heavy
Dress Shape: The Bodycon Dress
Bodycon dresses are so often deemed as not suitable for women above a certain size. Yet these are actually a perfect dress option for plus size ladies. By their very nature they hug curves and, when made in the correct material, they can skim over bumps to create a very sexy and flattering silhouette. Bodycon dresses, with sleeves in particular, will be a hardworking addition to a plus size wardrobe. The contours that this dress shows off means that it’s ideal for an after dark event. That being said, dressed down with the right accessories and a pair of sneakers, it can also be worn by plus sized ladies out and about running errands at the weekend.
Suits Body Type: Suits all body types, just ensure the material doesn’t cling to where it shouldn’t!
Dress Shape: The Maxi Dress
The maxi dress should be a staple of any woman’s wardrobe, none more so than those with a plus size figure. They’re infinitely wearable owing to being so comfortable. Plus a maxi will balance out any issues that the wearer feels she has with her body. For example, if you have a top heavy body, a maxi dress with a deep v, will show a little bit of cleavage whilst the length of the dress will counteract a lack of hips. Conversely, if you are a pear, a maxi dress’s skirt will skim over those hips to create a fabulous feminine contour. Maxi dress outfits are the perfect option for hot summers and holidays away. Their loose-fitting skirts make them breezy and cool to throw into a suitcase for sunny days - if you find the right fabric, maxi dresses are more often than not perfect for travel as they require little ironing too.
Suits Body Type: Pear, Apple
Dress Shape: Strapless
Strapless dresses can be difficult for plus size women to wear, but not impossible. The secret lies in the quality of the material as well as wearing a well fitted strapless bra that actually works. These can be difficult to find in any size, but once they have been, strapless dresses should no longer be off limits. Ones cut with an empire line or fitted akin to a bodycon dress will be best. Strapless dresses can be casual or dressier depending on the fabric. Thicker, more rigid materials will not only be more suitable for evening events, they will help keep your silhouette sleek by giving support to parts of your body that need it. The strapless style of dress could also be an option for a plus size bridesmaid dress - no need for the shapeless numbers that so many curvy girls are often given.
Suits Body Type: Pear, Rectangle
Dress Shape: Off the Shoulder
An off the shoulder dress will be a sexy addition to a woman’s selection of dresses. Again, a well fitted strapless bra will be needed, but a bardot or cold shoulder neckline can be ultra-flattering on a plus size woman, especially for a date outfit. Additionally, by highlighting the shoulders, it diverts attention away from other areas that the wearer may want to stay a little more hidden. This style of dress should probably be left until after hours and should be worn out to a bar or restaurant. It’s also an option for a dress to wear to a social or dance. Given the pretty neckline, it’s important not to add bulk by wearing a scarf. It can create an overly fussy look that will be unstylish. Instead, let the dress and your womanly curves do the work and you’ll look nothing but beautiful.
Suits Body Type: Pear, Hourglass, Rectangle
Dress Shape: Fit and Flare
Fit and flare dresses are exactly what their name describes. They fit in at the waist and flare out from there. They are, questionably, known as the style of dress that will suit any body type. With the right cut and a quality fabric, this can indeed be true and, when coupled with the correct neckline, they can be fun and flirtatious or classic and chic. They can also be an ideal alternative for a plus size prom dress. The full skirt lends itself well to the dancefloor and remains impossibly feminine. For those dressier nights out, this style looks best with an elegant clutch bag so leave those totes at home. Finally, neck lines on fit and flare dresses can vary - high necked ones suit statement necklaces well, whilst V-necked dresses give away a hint of sexy cleavage. Wear what you are most comfortable in, throw on a great pair of shoes and you’ll be good to go.
Suits Body Type: All, particularly inverted triangles
Dress Shape: Slip Dress
This minimalist 90s classic can be worn by women with plus size curves if the dress has thick enough straps to enable the wearer to sport a bra. Thick straps also break up the chest area and stop it looking like a vast expanse of skin which can be unflattering. Beware of spaghetti straps if you have a big cleavage as they can make your bosom look like a huge weight that may break the dress, which never looks stylish. But if you find a slip dress that suits you, it can be a lifesaver of a basic in your wardrobe. It is an incredibly versatile piece that can be layered to create looks suitable for many different occasions. They’re great to throw in a suitcase for a hot holiday, but also perfect to wear with leggings or pantyhose in the winter with a longline cardigan or blazer. Plain block colors also take accessories well, so keep an eye out for scarves that you like the pattern on.
Suits Body Shape: Hourglass, Pear
Dress Shape: Gown
Every woman needs a gown in their wardrobe that they can turn to when an invitation for a black tie event comes in the mail. By having one ready, and one that suits you and your figure, when it comes to the day of the event, you won’t feel harassed by having nothing to wear or feeling self-conscious in an ill-fitting dress. There are plenty of available options for black tie plus size dresses, but it’s always good to try to pick one out that has a shape that suits your figure. When in doubt though, a long black wrap dress that comes in at the waist, or an empire line, will flatter most figures. Keep an eye out for these - especially ones in a super comfortable and glamorous black jersey material, even better if the dress has three quarter length or long sleeves. That being said, don’t shy away from color or pattern - vibrant dresses suit plus size girls too.
Suits Body Type: All. Just remember to find a cut that flatters your figure and makes you feel elegant.
Once you have figured out the best dress style for your plus size curves, it’s a good time to start looking at what accessories make dresses look their best. They’re a great way to let your personality shine through even more and show off a true sense of style.
Bearing all this in mind, the best dress, regardless of what your body shape is versus the dress’s style, is the dress that makes you feel good and therefore look good. You will never look fabulous in a dress that you feel self-conscious, awkward and uncomfortable in. The dress that you can’t help smiling in is the best dress for a plus size woman, like all others. Plus it is all the finishing touches that will make you feel like a million dollars - whatever the price tag of your dress. So make sure you put your best pedicured foot forward, ensure that those hands are manicured and that your hair gets regular cuts and blow outs. Without doing this, even when you have figured out what suits your body type, you will be wasting all your stylish efforts. Taking time for yourself makes all the difference to our overall confidence and self-worth - for if you don’t believe you’re wonderful, who else will?