We’ve all been through this predicament. We go into a shop, find a gorgeous dress that speaks to our soul and we head excitedly to the dressing room to try it on. Or perhaps, we saw a dress online, added to cart, made payment and can’t wait to feel like a million bucks in it.
Unfortunately, you can’t say yes to the dress.
The dress of your dreams made you look less than amazing and confident. Why? Most of the time it boils down to its silhouette and cut and how it doesn’t complement your body type.
We’ve got just the solution for you. Check out our handy guide to see which body type you belong to, as well as what type of dress fits you best. You’ll never leave disappointed again.
The holy grail for every body shape, A-line dresses fit at your natural waist and gradually widens towards the hem to form a triangular shape. This style is extremely flattering as it draws the eyes to your waist while adding the appearance of curves for those with more straight line body shapes.
Wear to: All occasions. The A-line dress is always appropriate, whether it’s a casual cocktail party (glam it up with heels and choose a more luxurious fabric like silk) or weddings.
Reminiscent of an apron (hence its name), this dress is a sleeveless number usually with a bib-like front, is held in place with waist bands and tends to be backless. This is a great style to show off those sexy back muscles and lean arms!
Wear to: Depending on the length of your apron dress, this versatile piece can be worn for a number of occasions. Opt for a maxi length, full-skirted number for beach parties, garden weddings or brunch parties, and a mini to midi length piece for dinners and cocktail parties.
Originally designed as nightgowns, the babydoll dress is usually a sleeveless or short-sleeved dress with a waistline that gathers just below the bust, with a skirt that ends above the knee.
Wear to: This style of dress tends to give off a young, girlish vibe so we suggest wearing this to more casual day events, like brunches, tea parties and even festivals (think boho when paired with cowboy boots).
Photo: Revolve Clothing
A style of evening gown for more formal events, the ball gown usually features an off-the-shoulder or strapless bodice, with a large, full skirt. The most common fabrics used for the ball gown are satin, silk, taffeta and velvet with lace, pearl, sequins, ruffles or embroidery trimmings.
Wear to: Save this beauty for very formal events like high society parties, award nights, VIP weddings or prom. A dress like this calls for some serious accessorizing, so think tiaras, elbow-length gloves, statement necklaces and chic up-dos.
This dress features a fitted waistband that makes the upper portion of the dress look like a blouse that’s been tucked into a skirt, and is great for creating the illusion of volume in your torso. The blouson dress can range from mini to maxi lengths.
Wear to: This elegant number can be rocked at a number of occasions, from formal dinners to weddings to cocktail parties. The blouson effect automatically elevates the entire outfit, and we suggest choosing a number with chiffon sleeves for an effortlessly dressed-up look.
Tight fitting and figure hugging from bust to lower hem, the bodycon dress is a sexy little number that literally emphasis every curve. These are typically made of a lycra and polyester blend which allows it the elasticity to hug your figure smoothly.
Wear to: This dress is great for any occasion that requires a little glamming up, we suggest working it as a day-to-night piece that’s perfect for those after-work parties (and post party clubbing). Simply opt for chic black number with longer sleeves and style with flats for the work day, and switch to heels when the sun goes down.
A cape dress either has a cape-like garment attached to the dress or is integrated into its construction. The length of this style of dress can range from mini to maxi, and is available in a number of cuts, from body con to trapeze.
Wear to: We love the cape dress for its ultra chic factor, and of course the sense of drama – talk about making an appearance! You can rock this dress at a number of occasions, but we like it for D&Ds, weddings and of course, cocktail parties.
Think 1920’s, Gatsby-era type vibe. This dress has a low waistline that falls near your upper hips (making your torso look much longer) and usually ends with a pleated or ruffled skirt. As a result, this style of dress is slightly harder to pull off as you’ll really need to watch your proportions. The best body types for this dress are slender and willowy and apple shaped.
Wear to: This dress sits right in the middle of the casual and formal spectrum, making it a versatile number that you can easily dress up or down depending on the occasion. Pair with flats for luncheons and heels for a dinner date or bridal shower.
This dress has a high waistline that is usually located just under the bust and above your natural waist, making the rest of the dress flow out. Empire waist dresses emphasizes the narrowest part of your silhouette (great for pear shaped figures) and adds curves for those with a more athletic body type.
Wear to: Depending on the design (is it a maxi with a halter or a playful sundress), the empire waist dress works for a number of occasions, but personally we like it for meals as it helps to hide the food baby!
Photo: Revolve Clothing
Fringe dresses can come in any silhouette, but is recognizable by, you guessed it, dramatic fringing down the front or around the dress.
Wear to: Any event where you want to stand out! We love the fringe dress for proms, weddings and cocktail events. Do note that because the design is already so loud, go easy with your footwear and make up (think barely-there strappy heels and a fresh face).
A dress that has a halter top, with straps that fasten behind the neck and typically has a backless design, leaving the arms and shoulders bare. The length and cut of the dress can range from bodycon to a loose maxi.
Wear to: This elegant number is great for showing off your shoulders and back, and depending on the style you choose, can look anywhere from stunningly sexy to fun and flirty to timelessly chic. Opt for a longer skirt for more formal events like weddings or fancy dinners, and shorter hemlines for date nights, proms or cocktail hour.
Aka the sweater dress, a jumper dress is a loose to tight fitting knitted number that flatters a number of body types. While it is more appropriate for colder climates because of the traditionally thicker material, it can also work in our weather if you choose a lighter piece.
Wear to: If you have a more formal event, pair a plain bodycon jumper dress with a statement necklace, heels and a clutch to elevate it from simple to elegant chic. If you’re going for a baby shower, dinner with friends or casual after-work drinks think a slouchy, off-the-shoulder piece and ankle boots.
Photo: Urban Outfitters
Layered dresses usually feature a layer of sheer fabric over the main dress, and can be of similar or contrasting colour. The layered dress is equal parts elegant and edgy, and can be easily styled to fit any occasion.
Wear to: The extra fabric provides beautiful movement when you move, so we love this style of dress for beach parties, formal dinners and even brunch, depending on the style of dress you choose. Flowery prints work best for day, while neutral tones make for a better canvas to doll up for night.
Maxi dresses are basically long dresses that reach all the way to ground, and is a perfect alternative for women who do not like exposing their legs! But don’t think it’s a conservative piece, as maxi dresses can come in plunge, strapless and bodycon styles too.
Wear to: The maxi dress is so versatile, you can literally wear it to any event depending on the style of dress you choose! For beach parties, brunches, garden weddings and any other day event, think a prettily patterned number with a full, flowing skirt paired with either strappy heels or sandals. For night, think sheath body-hugging cuts in jewel or dark hues and accessorized with statement earrings, bracelets and heeled ankle boots or pumps.
Photo: Revolve Clothing
Falling somewhere between your knees and mid-calf, the midi dress is in between a maxi and a mini dress, and is a flattering length for most women, whether you’re tall or petite. This length of dress is also known as “tea length”, giving it an elegant, ladylike ring.
Wear to: We think the midi dress is perfect for occasions that are in between formal and casual. Whether you choose a figure hugging midi dress or a fit-and-flare number, it’s best to wear shoes with a bit of heel to balance out proportions, as the midi can make your calves look shorter. If you are taller, you can get away with flats!
Ending anywhere above the knee, the mini dress is a short dress that is best for showing off toned gams and all those hours at the gym. Despite its length, you can rock the mini dress even for formal occasions.
Wear to: The mini dress (especially one of bohemian design) is perfect for daytime, as the shorter hemlines keeps things cool. Pair with sandals, chunky accessories and loose waves for beach parties, afternoon tea and Sunday brunch. We also love the mini dress in a shift cut, as the loose silhouette helps to balance all that display of skin. Pair with flats, a rope of pearls and a quirky clutch bag and channel your inner Audrey Hepburn at dinner.
Photo: Revolve Clothing
Baring your collarbones and tops of your shoulders, the flattering off-shoulder dress can have sleeves or a layer of fabric across the chest. This style is fun, flirty and subtly sexy, and is available in mini to maxi lengths, as well as loose fitting and bodycon cuts.
Wear to: Because of its versatility, the off shoulder dress can work anywhere from beach parties (think a shorter, lacy number) to even the opera (sleek, figure hugging silhouette). If you are blessed with a longer neck, don a choker necklace to draw attention to your collarbone area, or shoulder-skimming earrings.
Photo: Urban Outfitters
A tasteful blend of classic and sexy, this dress has just one sleeve or strap, with the neckline cutting across your chest from the bottom of your neck to the armpit. First made popular by the Roman toga, this dress has lasted the times and is a great choice for both day and evening occasions.
Wear to: Choose a lighter fabric and colour if you’ve a day event coming up, such as a garden party, formal brunch or tea party. To rock this style of dress in the evening is super easy, just pick a more luxurious fabric like satin or silk, and pair with statement jewellery, slicked-back hair and heels.
Featuring an extra band of frilled ruffles at the waist, gently flowing over a narrow skirt, the peplum dress is for you if you’re looking to add some extra inches at the waist, or give the illusion of fuller hips.
Wear to: This is the ultimate boardroom-to-bar dress, as its subtle sexiness works even during the day at work. Pick a well-tailored peplum dress with a more conservative top and longer hemline, and pair with sky-high heels. Avoid light colours and large prints if you’re not looking to add extra inches to your waist.
Photo: Revolve Clothing
Describing a cut of dress, this dress is usually fitted and features long panels without a horizontal join or separation at the waist. This cut is common for wedding dresses, as the lack of darting creates a lovely, full skirt.
Wear to: This aptly named romantic cut is perfect for weddings, dates and more formal cocktail parties. We love this cut with a dipped hem, and paired with high heeled peep-toe pumps in jewel tones.
Think a polo shirt, but as a dress. A polo dress is a casual dress with the trademark collar, and can be both long or short sleeved. Like the polo shirt, it Is usually made out of a stretchy knitted fabric.
Wear to: This casual style is your go-to for brunches and afternoon tea. We recommend styling a colour blocked polo dress with ankle boots and a bucket bag for a super chic uptown look, or a plain grey, white or black dress with leather sneakers in the same colour to channel athleisure.
Form-fitting and shaped by darts, sheath dresses gently skim your figure and fall anywhere from the lower thigh to above the knees. Famous figures like First Lady Michelle Obama, Jacqueline Kennedy and the Duchess of Cambridge are known for wearing this style of dress, as it is equal parts elegant yet sexy.
Wear to: Perfect for cocktail hour, dates and even weddings, every woman should have a go-to sheath dress in her wardrobe. We recommend pairing your sheath dress with nude heels to make your legs appear longer.
Falling in a straight line from your shoulders down to the hem, a shift dress is more giving than a sheath dress, and looks best on those with athletic or willowy figures. Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Wear to: This dress might appear simple, but offers the perfect canvas for accessorizing, meaning you can style it up or down as you please. For day time events, choose a shift dress in a brighter colour and style with statement necklaces, chunky bracelets and ankle boots or sneakers. If you’re heading out for cocktails, D&Ds or even a wedding, throw on your most expensive jewellery, highest heels and cutest clutch.
Photo: Revolve Clothing
A tailored dress that is styled like a longer shirt, featuring a yoke and buttons all the way down the front. The shirt dress is universally flattering, and can end from the tops of your thighs to below your knees.
Wear to: The shirt dress definitely errs on the casual side of things, so we do not recommend this for fancy events! For brunch, tea and even casual after work cocktails however, the shirt dress is your best friend. Cinch at the waist for accentuate your figure, and style with heels if you want to look more glammed up. If your hair is longer, opt for a messy top bun to show off the collar detail of your dress.
Usually supported by an internal corset or a tighter bodice, a strapless dress has no shoulder straps or sleeves to keep it in place otherwise. Strapless dresses are available in a number of styles, from beautiful pieces with beaded bodices and full tulle skirts to elegant silk numbers.
Wear to: Depending on the style of dress you choose, the strapless dress can be quite versatile! For date nights or cocktails, opt for a strapless dress with a shorter hemline in a more casual fabric that doesn’t have too many embellishments (although embroidery along the bodice is definitely a go!) For more formal events, look towards floor length or midi numbers in luxurious fabrics like silk, or satin with organza or lace overlays, and style with a shorter necklace, earrings and a clutch.
Basically any cut of dress that is intended to be worn in warmer weather. The versatile sun dress is available in a number of cuts and lengths, from mini to maxi, and long sleeved to bareback.
Wear to: typically informal, this dress should be a wardrobe staple especially if you live in Southeast Asia! Perfect for beach parties, brunches and of course, beach vacations, we love a backless, halter sundress in sunny hues paired with gladiator sandals and oversized sunnies.
Exactly as its name suggests, the t-shirt dress is basically the long version of a regular shirt, ending anywhere from above the knee to ankle. It can be more form-fitting or cut looser, and usually has short sleeves.
Wear to: This is super casual, so keep the t-shirt dress for after work drinks on casual Friday’s or dinner at less fancy establishments. To give your look more dimension, tie a jacket or shirt around your waist to accentuate your silhouette. Pair with strappy wedge heels or chunky ankle boots, and consider some body jewellery.
Possibly one of the most comfortable dresses around, the tent or trapeze dress hangs loose from the shoulders to below the hips, and does not have a waistline. They are typically worn as it, without belts or strings to cinch in at the waist. They can be found in both sleeveless and short/long sleeved styles.
Wear to: The tent/trapeze dress is definitely one of the more informal options, so while we don’t recommend this for high society dinners, choosing a structured one made of stiff linen or even denim still works for dinner or cocktails at hipster bars. Pair with heeled mules or ankle boots, and complete your look with a cute clutch or structured satchel bag.
A playful spin on menswear, the tuxedo dress features lapels and buttons and kind of looks like a form-fitting, oversized blazer. The perfect balance of masculinity and femininity, tuxedo dresses are available in both long and sleeveless styles, and typically ends above the knee.
Wear to: it goes without saying this is the perfect dress for work, and hence, the after work drinks, but this dress is also appropriate for a number of other occasions, such as dinner cocktail parties. Pair a tuxedo dress with peep toe pumps to balance out your look, and opt for one with a shorter hemline as these dresses can appear quite “bulky”.
Featuring a front closure formed by wrapping one side of the dress to the other, this style is iconic Diane von Furstenberg. Forming a v-shaped neckline and cinching in at the waist by either buttons or ties, this dress flatters basically all body type and is a must have in your wardrobe.
Wear to: From maxi wrap dresses to shorter, playful numbers, the wrap dress is a classic, timeless dress that is appropriate for a number of occasions. We like a sleek black number for its ultra flattering and slimming effect, paired with strappy heels. If your wrap dress plunges more than average, take full advantage of that and style with a lariat or choker drop necklace.
Who is it best for: Because the main form of the mermaid style is a bodycon, it will be best suited for the hourglass type. Rectangle body types may like this style to help them look taller as it elongates the torso.
This bright canary yellow Bambah gown is sure to command attention wherever you go. If it’s too ostentatious, play down the colour by matching with black pumps and acrylic bracelets. You can even match them with black boots for that skater girl vibe.
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