Whether you’re planning your wedding and are looking for the perfect gown or are simply searching for a new everyday dress to feel confident in, the most crucial aspect to pay attention to is also one of the most basic: the silhouette. There are more dress silhouettes than body types, which can make it feel overwhelming to choose.
A dress silhouette refers to the basic outline of a dress. When a designer begins crafting a new look, they start with a silhouette in mind. Some of the most popular dress silhouettes include A-line, trumpet, mermaid, empire, sheath, and straight.
When you’re trying to decide what silhouette dress you should wear, don’t make the mistake of choosing what your favorite celebs dress in. The most important thing to consider is your own body type and which silhouettes are made to flatter it. This guide will help you iron out the details so that you can walk away with a better understanding of your body type and what silhouette dress is best for you.
What is Your Body Type?
Before you even think about looking at dresses, take a look at yourself and get to know your body type. Most women fall into one of the four categories below.
Hourglass figures are curvy, balanced, and proportionate. This body type is known as having “curves in all the right places” and is characterized by a chest and hips that are larger than the waist. This body type’s naturally smaller, well-defined waist creates the curves that shape the “hourglass.”
A pear figure, also known as a triangle, is characterized by a thinner upper body that cascades into a larger hip and thigh area. Pear or triangle body types can appear more proportionate by adding more volume to the upper half of the body.
Athletic figures are also known as rectangular. This body type has a silhouette that’s characterized by being narrower in the hips than the shoulders. Athletic or rectangular body types generally have an undefined waist, which creates a straight line from the shoulders to the hips. It’s essential for a woman with an athletic figure to balance the upper body with the lower body, creating an hourglass effect.
Apple or round figures are characterized by a shorter, undefined waist, slim legs, and a flatter bottom. This body type carries most of its weight in the midsection. The best way to balance out an apple or round figure is to draw attention to the upper body.
Dos and Don’ts for Each Body Type
Once you understand which body type category you fall into, you can start to understand the dos and don’ts for your body type and the dress silhouettes that suit it best. For help getting sorted, follow the simple guide below.
Due to its natural proportions, the hourglass figure is among the most coveted.
Women with an hourglass figure can showcase their natural curves in body-hugging silhouettes like mermaid, trumpet, and sheath. If you’re more modest, choose an A-line dress with a sweetheart neckline or a dress with a V-neck design, which will flatter and accentuate your best characteristics without completely hugging the body.
Women with hourglass figures should steer clear of high-waistline dresses, like empire gowns, ball gowns, and evening gowns that hide their naturally small waist rather than accentuate it.
The goal for any woman with a pear-shaped figure is to balance the thinner torso and waist with the full and curvy bottom half of this body type.
The best dress silhouettes for women with a pear figure are A-line, ball gown, and similar dresses that mask the hips. One-shoulder, V-neck, scoop, and strapless necklines are ideal as they draw attention to the upper half of the body.
Women with pear figures should avoid fit-and-flare dress styles like mermaid and trumpet gowns as they accentuate the hips, drawing attention and adding more weight to the already-heavy bottom-half of this body type. Halter tops and dresses with high necklines should also be avoided as they create a disproportionate appearance for this body type.
The key to balancing an athletic or rectangle figure is to define the waist to create the illusion of curves.
Women with athletic or rectangular figures should look for dress silhouettes that highlight the smallest part of the waist, such as mermaid, empire waist, and A-line. Another way to create the illusion of curves is to draw attention toward the face with one-shoulder, V-neck, and strapless necklines.
Due to their super-straight design, it’s advised for women with athletic figures to avoid sheath dresses because they will only make this body type look more shapeless. Women with athletic body types should also avoid wearing dresses with high necklines or halter tops because they’ll draw more attention to the shoulders than the face and waist.
Women with apple or round figures carry most of their weight above the hips, making the torso the widest part of the body. The aim of this body type is to draw attention to the neckline, elongate the silhouette, and show off the legs.
Apple or round figures look best in well-fitted ball gowns and dresses with high waistlines like empire and A-line dresses. Tea-length and knee-length dresses will show off the legs and elongate the figure, while dresses with V-neck and sweetheart necklines will draw attention to the face.
Women who have apple figures should avoid fit-and-flare silhouettes like mermaid and trumpet, as well as straight silhouettes like sheath. These silhouettes will accentuate the widest part of an apple-shaped body type. Ballgowns should be avoided because they don’t have an elongating silhouette, and any dress with thin straps or a straight strapless design should be avoided because they won’t draw attention to the face.
Whether you’re shopping for a gala, cocktail party, or just looking for the perfect summer dress, the most important thing you can do to find the ideal silhouette dress is understand and shop for your body type. Follow the guide above to find looks you’ll absolutely love.