How to choose the right dress for your body type
Based on both my personal and professional experience as a fashion designer and dressmaker, most women want to appear to have an evenly proportioned (hourglass) shape. The hourglass figure is idealized by men and women in our culture and women do all sorts of things to alter their bodies to look like they have an hourglass figure. It was not too far back in our fashion history when women wore binding corsets to give them an (unnaturally tiny waist). When I look through one of my favorite catalogs to purchase my under garments (www.ladygrace.com) many of the products are designed to give women the coveted hourglass figure.
I think most people would be surprised to find out how few women have a natural hourglass shape. The definition of an hourglass figure is when the bust and hips are close to the same circumference and the waist is significantly smaller. Based on a study of 6,000 women 46% have a rectangle shape (bust, waist & hips very close to the same circumference), 20% were pear shape (bust smaller than hips), 14% inverted triangle (bust larger than hips), and only 8% of women have a true hourglass figure. 
The images we see in fashion magazines of models are unrealistic but you already know that. The real problem comes into play when fashion designers design clothes to fit the ideal hour glass figure when only 8% of the population can wear that silhouette well. Your only defense is to identify the body type that you have and wear silhouettes that compliment your shape.
I wrote the Dress Right for Your Body Type guide after getting many questions from my customers about how to choose the right silhouette for their body type. The other factor in choosing dresses that look great on your body is size. Depending on where you shop sizing varies from label to label and there is no requirement for standardized sizing in the fashion industry. Trial and error has been the only way to determine the size you wear from each designer.
Real women have different shapes and curves and CCB Custom Dresses has a collection of dresses for every shape and size; misses and plus sizes 2-28. Sizing is not an issue because CCB Custom Dresses provides free custom sizing to insure a perfect fit and one free alteration if it doesn’t. Our Dress Right for Your Body Type guide will help you identify your body type and choose the best silhouette for your shape. CCB Custom Dresses offers free personal shopping service via email or phone if you need more help.
Body Type Guide
Body type is determined by genetics, bone structure, and how your muscle and body fat is distributed. There are distinct differences between the most common body types. Knowing your body type and choosing a dress that compliments your shape is the foundation for putting together a great outfit. Here are some tips to get started:
- Take an honest and non-judgmental assessment of your body
- Decide what you want to showcase and what you want to camouflage
- Take your measurements to determine your size and body type
- Consider how to bring balance to your shape
Here are five most common body types and how to bring balance to each shape:
Rectangle: Circumference of bust, waist, and hips are very close with little to no curves in between.
How to bring shape to a rectangle: The rectangle body type has many options and can wear both sheath and A-line silhouettes well; the key is to create the illusion of a waistline. Shape can be created by wearing belted styles of a sheath and A-line dresses and it’s
also good to wear a scoop or v-neck to add dimension to your upper body.
Pear/Triangle: Circumference of bust is smaller than hip and has a small waist and full thighs.
How to bring balance to the pear shape: Draw attention upward by wearing a wide neckline like a boat neck. An A-line dress will camouflage full hips and thighs and is great for all pear/triangle body types. The ultimate silhouette for a pear/triangle shape with a small to medium bust line is an A-line empire waist dress which, depending on the style, can add volume to the bust. The goal with the hem length is have a balanced distance from the hip line to the hem; for petite frames knee length is good and taller frames mid
calf–full length. Keep in mind that if a pear/triangle body type wears an A-line that is too short it can draw attention to the hip line.
Inverted Triangle: Circumference of bust is larger than hips and has small waist and thin thighs.
How to bring balance to an inverted triangle: It may seem contradictory but wearing halter and strapless A-line dresses can help balance out an inverted triangle. V and scoop necklines are good but you may want to avoid a wide boat neckline drawing the eye to wide
shoulders. A-line and empire waist is great and don’t hide those slender legs; consider your height but showing off your legs is a must.
Apple/Round: Circumference of bust and waist are close to the same measurement and are bigger than the hips and thighs.
How to bring balance to the apple shape: Draw attention upward by wearing V and scoop necklines. Create an hour glass illusion by wearing A-line and empire waist dresses. Avoid
wear belted styles and dresses that have a seam at the waist. Don’t be shy flaunt those legs and wear your dress above knee length (consider your height if you are really tall or have long legs you may want to choose knee length).
Hour Glass: Circumference of bust and hips are close to the same measurement and has a small waist.
The hourglass body type is balanced and it’s what most women wish they had. Wearing fitted dresses and styles that can be belted showcase this awesome shape. An hour glass body type can wear just about any silhouette just keep in mind your height and length of your dress to maximize your look. If you are short you may want to go above the knee to knee length and if you are taller you can wear any length (just consider your leg
length for above knee length dresses).
Sheath dresses are typically fitted from bust to hips and the circumference of the hip line and hem line are the same width or slightly smaller (pencil hem).
Empire waist is fitted just below the bust line and can be A-line or sheath.
Wrap dress overlaps in the front, has a V-neck and fit can be adjusted by the belt at the waist. Wrap dresses can be A-line or sheath.
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1. McCormack, Helen (21 November 2005). “The shape of things to wear: scientists identify how women’s figures have changed in 50 years”. The Independent.