How to Choose Cocktail Dress For Your Body Shape

The right cocktail dress for your body shape is hard to find, but don't worry - with our tested tips, you will soon have the dress that perfectly suits your silhouette.

Coco Chanel once said, “Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” Every woman should have a selection of cocktail dresses in her wardrobe for evenings out or special occasions. There is something about a cocktail dress that makes a woman feel confident and sexy, and that men cannot resist.

There are so many styles out there to choose from, but not every cocktail dress will suit your shape. The key to finding a cocktail dress that flatters your body is to look for one that creates an hourglass silhouette by balancing out your proportions evenly and drawing attention away from areas you wish to de-emphasize.

You want to create the illusion of perfect symmetry between your bust and hips and a nipped in waistline, even if this is not the natural shape of your body. When you look great, you feel great; and once you have found the right dress to highlight all of your best assets, no one will be able to take their eyes off of you.

Pear Shaped

Pear Shaped Cocktail Dresses

If your upper body is smaller than your lower body, you are classed as pear shaped, as are Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez. Strapless dresses are perfect for showing off your slender shoulders and drawing attention away from your hips.

Emphasize your upper body with eye-catching detail. Halter-neck dresses will help balance your slim shoulders and wider hips. Low-plunging neck-lines will accentuate your upper body, drawing attention to your face and chest, and accessorizing with a statement necklace or large earrings will have a similar effect.

Cocktail dresses with flowing or A-line skirts are perfect for pear shapes, as they skim the hips beautifully. Don’t be afraid to wear figure-hugging dresses, but make sure that they are not too tight around the hips and invest in the right under garments to hide any bulges or unwanted underwear lines.

Most pear shaped women have beautifully defined waists, so show yours off with a cinched in waistline. Empire waistlines are ideal, as they draw attention to your upper body and make the most of a slender waist. Belts and detailing around the waistline will also play up this asset and balance beautifully with a full skirted dress.

Opt for block coloured cocktail dresses and steer clear of large prints, as they risk adding bulk to your hips. Alternatively, a two-toned dress with the lighter or brighter color above the waist and the darker tone below will balance out your figure proportionately.

Inverted Triangle

Inverted Triangle Shape Dresses

If you have been blessed with a naturally larger bust and/or find that you have broad shoulder and slender hips and legs, you have an inverted triangle shape. Create the illusion of an hourglass figure by drawing the eye away from your upper body and adding volume to your hips.

Cocktail dresses with V-necklines will work well with your shape, drawing attention away from your broad shoulders and emphasizing your bust. Sweetheart necklines create an illusion of narrower shoulders, as do spaghetti straps and cap sleeves. Strapless dresses and dresses with full sleeves should be avoided. Shoulder pads are the ultimate no-no for your figure.

Dresses with more detailing below the waist are ideal. Opt for cocktail dresses that have flowing skirts, A-lines and pleating, as this will create volume where it is needed and cinch you in at the waistline. Make the most of your slim legs by showing them off. Attention-grabbing shoes can also draw the eye away from your upper body.

Create an hourglass illusion by highlighting your waistline. Blouson dresses that gather around the waist will add a curve to the upper hip and show off your perfect legs. A wide belt or corset belt will nip in your waist, especially when worn in a contrasting colour to your cocktail dress.

The Hourglass

Hourglass Shape Cocktail Dresses

If your bust and hips are equally proportioned and you have a waist that is clearly defined, then consider yourself lucky. The hourglass is the shape that all women strive to achieve, so flaunt your assets. Your figure has just the right amount of symmetry, so look for cocktail dresses that emphasize the definition of your waist and avoid loose and undefined dresses.

Avoid high neck lines – you want to show off your cleavage, not hide it. Choose fitted cocktail dresses. Shift dresses and bodycon dresses are perfect. Dresses with pencil skirts will skim your silhouette beautifully. Look for dresses that nip in at the waist and stop just above the knee. Emphasize your slender waist by accessorizing with a contrasting belt.

Timeless fifties-style dresses are another great way to flaunt your enviable curves, with defined midsections and flared skirts. Strapless options are ideal. Wrap dresses will also suit you, emphasizing and enhancing your even proportions while cinching in at the waist.

Boyish/Rectangular Shaped

Rectangular Shaped Cocktail Dresses

Slender and athletic like Sarah Jessica Parker, rectangular shapes are straight up and down and have no curves or disproportions to hide. Create the illusion of a feminine physique by choosing dresses that imply curves.

Most dresses actually hang better on women with smaller busts, so consider yourself lucky. Choose a cocktail dress with a scooped or sweetheart neckline to add curves to your upper body. Dresses with collars, ruffled tops and detailing around the chest will also create volume around this area.

Peplum dresses will give the illusion of a curvaceous figure. Empire waists are also perfect for your frame, as they show off the slenderness of your waistline and add volume both above and below the midsection. Cocktail dresses with pleating and asymmetric detailing will provide you with curves in all the right places, and belts are a fantastic way to add definition to your waist.

Also, consider wearing a skirt and top instead of a cocktail dress. By doing so, you will break up the evenness of your frame. A wrap or scoop-necked top tucked into a high-waisted skirt will create volume around your chest and define your waistline beautifully.

Apple Shaped

Apple Shaped Cocktail Dresses

Women with apple shaped bodies have a little more weight around the middle, less defined waists and typically have fuller busts. The key is to streamline your figure and to avoid loose and shapeless dresses.

Opt for cocktail dresses with soft draping fabrics rather than clingy materials. Steer clear of stretchy fabrics. Wrap dresses are an ideal choice, as they emphasize the bust area and typically tie on the side, manipulating the definition of the waist. The A-line shape created by a wrap dress will add volume to your lower body, again creating the illusion of a smaller waist. Go for bold block colours or dark shades, as they tend to flatter apple shapes best.

You will find cocktail dresses with V-necks very flattering. If you are apple-shaped, then you most likely have plenty of cleavage to show off, so make the most of it. Avoid bodycons and choose dresses that flare from the waist and define your upper body instead. It is also worth investing in a contouring slip dress to streamline your figure.

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About the author


Nadine Saad loves writing about current affairs, style and beauty. She is passionate about fashion that makes women feel and look their best.


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    • If you look up pictures you can clearly tell that their hips are wider than their bust.

  • Where did you get these dresses from? Like what dress site? The first gold one in particular..

  • This is an extremely disappointing post. I was hoping to get some good visual examples of styles that would suit my body shape. The images used here are completely unrealistic and in no way a reflection of your ‘everyday girl’ body type. The images you have used do your article no justice.