Finding a wedding dress to flatter your figure

Sunday, February 1, 2004

  • Full hips. A-line skirts are best bets for women who are bottom-heavy. You might also play up other areas -- like a lovely bustline or shoulders and a small waist -- to take attention away from full hips.

    Less-than-perfect arms. Don't cover them up; go strapless, some designers say, because sleeves or straps sometimes draw more attention to the area. In particular, avoid cap or band sleeves, which cut the upper arm at its widest spot.

    Small bust. This "flaw" can work to your advantage and allow you to have fun with design flourishes, like detail on the neckline. Draping at the neckline is flattering, as is an empire-style gown with a seam under the bustline.

    Big bust. Avoid a closed-up neckline, and strapless gowns, which usually push the bust up too much. Sweetheart, scoop and V-necks are the best choices for necklines, and a drop waist helps minimize bustiness by creating space between the bust and the waist.

    Tall. Big, poufed dresses can be overpowering on a tall woman, and very slim dresses can make you look even taller. For the right balance, try a soft ball gown without too much fullness or a skirt shape that is flat in front with draping or bustles in the back.

    Petite. A drop-waist style is a sophisticated choice that can make you look taller, and a princess style works well for full-figured petite women.

    Broad shoulders. A halter style is a good choice because it pulls the eye up and makes the shoulders look narrower. Or try a strapless dress, which de-emphasizes the broadness of the back. Avoid off-the-shoulder necklines, which make shoulders look bigger.

    Narrow shoulders. Halter tops and strapless styles accentuate small shoulders, so try a style with straps, preferably thick and wide-set. An off-the-shoulder shawl collar can balance out your figure, as can a bolero jacket or a shawl.

    Short neck. Open necklines are the key to lengthening a short neck -- collars that close around the neck only make it appear shorter. Strapless, V-neck and spaghetti strap styles are flattering, and wearing hair in an updo cab add length as well.

    Short waist. A Basque waistline, or any drop-waist style that angles downward, will lengthen a short torso. A-line skirts are less likely to add pounds than a skirt that is puffy at the hip.

    Long waist. A high empire waist or a waistline that just a bit lower than an empire, paired with an A-line or straight skirt, are best for long torsos. Avoid any styles with a drop waist, which adds length to the torso.

    Thick waist. The contrast of a big fluffy skirt can make your waist look slimmer in comparison, or you can use a corseted bodice to create an hourglass shape.

    --AP

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