How to Choose the Right Cocktail Dress for Your Body Type

Last updated on : August 07 2017

choose the right cocktail dress

Elegant and stylish, cocktail dresses have become a staple of the modern woman’s wardrobe. There has always been a debate about the perfect length, color or design, but typically, these are dresses that work for formal and semi-formal occasions such as cocktail parties, black-tie weddings, and black-tie events.

The goal is to choose a dress that will highlight your best features and balance your body’s proportions. To create a look of perfect symmetry between your bust, waistline, hips, and booty. At the same time, the right dress will camouflage or draw attention away from problem areas that you'd prefer to hide. Sounds like a lot of work? In reality, it isn’t!

Meryl Streep once said, "Everyone tries to look a cookie-cutter kind of way, and actually the people who look different are the ones who get picked up." Choosing the right cocktail dress simply requires a bit of focus, and knowing how to dress your body. 

Let’s discuss the various body types in detail and figure out how to choose the right dress for you. But first a few quick lines about who we are...

About The Kewl Shop

We write a lot about Fashion, Lifestyle and Beauty and publish all our articles on our blog, The Kewl Blog, which you are reading right now. We do this because we believe we can make a difference.

We are also slightly biased here in our choice of dresses to start, that's because we sell sexy bandage dresses and believe these make the perfect cocktail dresses. So keep this in mind when reading the rest of the article below, because a svelte fitting bandage dress might just be the answer for you! 

Pear Shape

Having a pear-shaped body means that the upper body (shoulders and bust) is smaller compared to your lower body (your hips and thighs). Typical body traits of women with this shape include wide hips, thicker thighs, a small bust, and narrow shoulders.

If you have this type of body, you need to highlight your slender shoulders and create a flattering, sensuous look with dress styles that draw attention to your shoulders and bust.

Appealing styles such as halter necks and strapless dresses draw people’s eyes to your upper body rather than your hips, and balance out your proportions to create 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 are pear shaped you likely have a defined waist, so you show it off by going for dresses that have a cinched waistline. Empire waistlines and detailing around the waist are ideal choices. Play around with belts to create a bold or soft look depending on your mood and the occasion.

If you love flowy dresses, having a pear-shaped body is perfect as you can go for full-skirted options or wear opt for A-line skirts. These styles forgive your hips while keeping your look classy.

Thanks to Kim Kardashian West you no longer have to worry about showing off your hips and curves. Do not hesitate to wear figure-hugging dresses as many pear-shaped women do; in fact, being a bit clever about which styles of cocktail dresses suit you best creates a completely new look for you.

A two-toned dress with a darker tone below the waist and lighter color on the upper body enhances your shape while also creating the correct balance. Just remember to wear the right undergarments to avoid unwanted underwear lines.

Rectangular Shape

If you have an athletic, slender build (like that of Sarah Jessica Parker), you have a rectangular body shape. This shape is characterized by thin thighs, narrow hips and shoulders, and a small bust. Since this body shape is straight and sans any curves, women who are rectangular in shape should go for cocktail dresses that create the illusion of curves and a feminine physique.

Dresses that work well for your body type include peplum dresses, empire waists, and 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.

Dresses that have asymmetric details or pleating give you lovely curves. Remember that belts are also a great way to define your waist and give your body recognizable feminine proportions.

Having a smaller bust does not mean that you have limited clothing options; rather, most dresses flatter your body types so experiment with different necklines and choose the styles you feel most confident in. Collars, scooped or sweetheart necklines, ruffles, and chest detailing are all styles that give you plenty of options to create volume and shape for your body type.

If you love wearing skirts, having a sporty or rectangular shape works for you as you can go for a skirt-and-top dress set instead of a one-piece dress. A high-waisted skirt with a scoop-necked top creates a beautiful shape and volume around your chest.

For your rectangular body type it is a good idea to also explore patterns and prints. Although solids are safer options 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 one of the most proportioned feminine shapes because the bust and hips are evenly balanced in fullness or width. An average to full bust and a clearly-defined waistline are common traits in women with the hourglass body type.

If you fall in this category, flaunt your assets with cocktail dresses that enhance your waist and curves. Bodycon dresses work perfectly as well as pencil dresses as these styles skim your silhouette to enhance your figure and create a striking look. Accessorize your look with a stylish belt to for contrast and to draw attention to your
tiny waist.

Strapless and wrap dresses also look good on you if you have an hourglass shape, as such dresses emphasize the balanced proportions. Look for dresses that end just above your knee and are nipped in at the waist. Go for a classic look with fifties-style outfits that have flared skirts and well-defined midsections.

However, remember to choose plunging necklines instead of high ones—you want to flaunt your cleavage rather than hide it. If you rather be more conservative than expose your girls explore mesh inspired clothing and bodice styles.  

Women who have hourglass-shaped bodies usually pull off various dress styles and cuts effortless. However, you need to avoid is loose clothing. Dresses that are ill-fitting or undefined create a shapeless look when worn which should always be avoided.

Inverted Triangle Shape

A naturally large bust, broad shoulders, narrow waist and hips, with slender legs are some of the common traits of the inverted triangle body type. Since women with this shape look heavier on top as compared to the lower part of the body, picking the right dress should balance out your proportions by adding volume to your hip area and drawing the attention away from your upper 

Highlighting the waistline creates the illusion of an hourglass shape in women with an inverted triangle body type. Go for dresses that gather around the 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 even better for you, chose sweetheart necklines, cap sleeves and dresses with spaghetti straps rather than full sleeves or strapless ones. Since you are blessed with a full bust, opt for a dress with a V-neck style to show off your girls.

For an added glam, pair your dress with a wide belt or a corset style, especially in a color that contrasts with your dress.

Diamond Shape

If you have a heavier midsection compared to your shoulders and hips, you are likely to have a diamond-shaped body type. Those with this type of a shape often 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 and accentuating the bust area. A wrap dress is an excellent choice as 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.

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


What you wear matters and gives you confidence in your body. To bring out the best of your personal features, choose a cocktail dress according to your body type. Overall, always aim to give your body shape and feminine proportions such as defining your waistline.

Explore colors and accessories to enhance your best feminine proportion as well. When you look good, you feel good. Highlight your best assets, put on those heels, and get ready to shine with confidence.

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About the Author

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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