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How to Choose A Cocktail Dress for Your Body Type

Last updated on : September 04 2018

choose the right cocktail dress

Definition of a Cocktail Dress

A cocktail dress is a dress worn for formal and semi-formal occasions like weddings, black-tie events and of course cocktail parties

While there might be a debate about the perfect length, color or design, they usually are shorter fitted dresses like a bandage or bodycon dress and can have decoration like lace or sequins. 

In this article, we look at how you can best choose a fitted bandage or bodycon dress for your next cocktail or party dress.

How To Choose The Right Dress

The goal is to choose a dress that highlights your best features and balances your body’s proportions. 

It is to create a look of perfect symmetry between your bust, waistline, hips, and booty. 

At the same time, the right dress camouflages or draws attention away from the problem areas you prefer to hide.

Sounds like a lot of work? In reality, it isn’t! Choosing the right cocktail bandage or bodycon dress requires a bit of focus, and knowing how to dress your body type. 

Let’s discuss body types in detail and figure out how to choose the right dress for you. 

Pear Shape

Having a pear-shaped body means that your upper body (shoulders and bust) is smaller than your lower body (your hips and thighs). 

Typical body traits of women with this shape include wide hips, thicker legs, a small bust, and narrow shoulders.

If you have this type of body, try highlighting your slender shoulders and collarbones with evening dress styles that draw attention to your shoulders and bust.

Appealing styles like halter necks, sleeveless and strapless dresses draw people’s eyes to your upper body rather than your hips and balance out your proportions for a beautiful, elegant look.

Necklines that plunge low combined with statement neckpieces or large earrings also work great for you and emphasize your face and bodice areas. 

If you like flowy evening gowns, go for full-skirted options like A-line, flared or mermaid skirts because these styles forgive your hips and keep your look classy.

Alternatively, thanks to Kim Kardashian West flaunt your hips and curves instead. Wear tight hip-hugging dresses to show them off, many pear-shaped women do. 

Being a bit clever about which styles of going out dresses suit you best can create an entirely new look for you. Just remember to wear the right undergarments to avoid unwanted underwear lines.

Show off your defined waistline with dresses that cinch it in. Play around with belts to create a bold or soft look depending on your mood and the occasion. Yes, you can wear a belt with a bandage dress.  

white cocktail dress

A figure-hugging strapless dress is an excellent choice for pear shapes

Rectangular Shape

If you have an athletic, slender build (like that of Sarah Jessica Parker), you have a rectangular body shape. 

This form has thin thighs, narrow hips and shoulders, and a small bust.

Since it is straight and sans any curves, women who are rectangular should go for sexy dresses that create the illusion of curves and a feminine physique.

Dresses that work well for your body type include peplum dresses and those with asymmetric detailing. 

These styles create the illusion of a curvaceous shape. 

Dresses with empire waists are ideal as they add volume both above and below your midriff and accentuate a slender waist.

blue cocktail dress

Asymmetrical dresses create the illusion of curves for a rectangular body

Dresses that have asymmetric details or pleating give you lovely curves. 

Remember that belts are also a great way to define your waist providing your body with recognizable feminine proportions.

Having a smaller bust does not mean that you have limited clothing options; instead, experiment with different necklines and choose the styles that give you the most confidence. 

Scooped or sweetheart necklines, tassels, and chest detailing are all styles that create volume and shape around your bust area. 

If you love wearing skirts, try a two-piece bandage dress instead of a one-piece. 

A high-waisted skirt with a scoop-necked top creates a beautiful look with volume around your chest. Mix and match to create more options if necessary. 

Rectangular body types can try patterns and prints. Solids are safe options. However a sexy floral or textured jacquard dress adds shape and dimension to your look. 

If you choose prints or textures, it is easier to forgo jewelry while still giving your body’s profile softer lines.

Hourglass Shape

The hourglass shape is the most proportioned feminine shape with the bust evenly balancing the hips in fullness or width. 

An average to full bust and a clearly-defined waistline are common traits in women with an hourglass body type.

If you fall into this category, flaunt your assets with short cocktail dresses that enhance your waist and curves. 

Bodycon and bandage dresses work well because they improve your silhouette and create a striking look. Accessorize with a stylish belt for contrast and to draw attention to your tiny waist.

Strapless dresses also look good on hourglass shapes because they emphasize your balanced proportions. Look for dresses that end just above your knee and nip in at the waist. Go for a classic look with fifties-style outfits that have flared skirts and well-defined midsections.

Remember to choose plunging necklines instead of high ones—you want to flaunt your cleavage rather than hide it. 

If you prefer to be more conservative explore mesh inspired clothing and bodice styles that expose less.  

red cocktail dress

Cocktail dresses with plunging necklines show off your hourglass figure

Although women with hourglass-shaped bodies can pull off many dress styles and cuts effortlessly, they need to avoid loose clothing. Loose or poorly defined clothing can create a shapeless look on these body types. 

Inverted Triangle Shape

Inverted triangles have a naturally abundant bust, broad shoulders, narrow waist, and hips, with slender legs. 

Since women with this shape look more substantial on top, picking the right dress means adding volume to your hip area and drawing attention away from your upper body to balance your proportions.  

Highlighting the waistline creates the illusion of an hourglass shape in women with an inverted triangle body type. 

Go for short cocktail dresses that emphasize your waist and show off your perfect legs. 

Detailing below the waistline such as pleating, A-lines, flowing skirts work great for your body type and gives you ample choices for picking the perfect cocktail dress.

To create an illusion of narrow shoulders and make the dress work better for you, chose sweetheart necklines, cap sleeves, and dresses with spaghetti straps rather than full sleeves or strapless ones. 

And because of your a fuller bust, opt for a dress with a V-neck style to show off your girls.

black cocktail and party dress

Try a cap sleeve dress for your cocktail party if you're an inverted triangle

Diamond Shape

If you have a more substantial midsection compared to your shoulders and hips, you are likely to have a diamond-shaped body type. 

Don't make the mistake of picking loose, shapeless clothing. 

While it is true that a clingy dress may not look very flattering, dresses that have soft draping material instantly transform your look. 

The key to rocking a cocktail dress for you is to streamline your form by creating the illusion of a narrower waist while accentuating your bust area. 

A flared dress is an excellent choice because these dresses usually create an A-line shape and add volume to the lower part of your body.

Skirts or dresses that flare from the waist look stunning on this body type.

red cocktail dress with flare

Try an A-line bandage dress if you're diamond shaped 

An advantage of having this body type is that you can show off some cleavage to distract from your more full midsection. Choose dresses with V-necklines for a sexy, sophisticated look.

How To Find Your Body Shape

If you're not sure what body shape you have Oprah has a great resource to help you. Check it out here.

What's Your Body Shape 

How To Wear Your Cocktail Dress

Although there are no hard and fast rules, there are some better practices to adopt when wearing your dress. For example. 

  • Always wear heels and avoid flats. Heels provide height, shape, and poise and will get the most out of your dress. Both open and closed toe heels are acceptable.  
  • Choose the right dress for the right occasion. Longer is better for formal and black tie occasions than shorter. Reserve your short cocktail dresses for informal events like after work drinks or parties. If you're unsure and hesitant, then wear a midi dress. 
  • Don't carry an oversize bag, instead use a clutch. And don't wear too many accessories, you are better off with a single statement piece. 
  • Ensure you wear the correct undergarments. Avoid unsightly bra straps and visible panty lines at all cost. 
  • Yes, you can wear a cocktail dress to a wedding. Just apply the right dress for the right occasion rule above.
  • Undecided on what color to wear? Be aware that the most popular choices, in order, are black, red, white and gold. You can never go wrong with a black cocktail dress of course. 

Bandage Dress Collections

We have referenced the following bandage dress collections in this article.


Summary

What you wear matters and gives you confidence in your body.

To bring out the best of your features, choose a fitted cocktail dress according to your body type.

Aim to give your body shape and proportion by defining your waistline and feminine profile. Explore colors and accessories to enhance your look and improve your confidence.

The right dress will highlight your best assets and perfectly camouflage those you want to hide.

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Sasithon Bella is the kewl in The Kewl Shop. Co-founder, chief buyer, bandage dress guru and a lot more. If you like what you see at The Kewl Shop it is because of Sasithon Bella. You might know her better as Sasi.

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