Summer dresses are the most effortless garment of the season, for both work and play. Yet, cut and fit of a dress is crucial – it can make or break the entire look. It can move you from looking like you’re “trying too hard” to “owning it”. So, we’ve come to the Rescu.
These tips and tricks are definitely generalised, so you’ll need a personal analysis with a stylist to best educate yourself on how to camouflage or highlight your individual assets. However, take on what resonates with you. These strategies are like a real-world version of Photoshop.
I’ve narrowed in on the 7 most enquired about styling tips for dresses, that I get asked in client personal styling sessions. Let’s roll.
So, you may be in for a big day of eating and drinking at Christmas lunch. I don’t know about you, but I treat these events like an all you can eat and drink buffet. Consequently, the stomach tends to expand a little (OK, a lot). The key to camouflaging your mid-section, without feeling the need to suck it in all the time, is simple. The peplum dress will cleverly highlight your gorgeous waist, whilst hiding the bloating that may come from too many Christmas puddings. If your assets are your arms and legs, then the printed or colour-blocked Shift Dress is perfect for you (just ensure that the fabric doesn’t cling to your stomach). Buon Appetit.
Create a Waist
Do you naturally go straight up and down? Or perhaps having kids has filled out a small waist line that was once there (all worth it right?). There are so many ways to cleverly create the illusion of a waist. Here’s one – avoid structured dresses and take advantage of flowing dresses that cinch in at your waistline (or ones that you can cinch at your natural waistline using a thin belt). The flow will create the illusion of a curvier silhouette rather than a rectangular one. Heads up – to find your natural waistline, tip to your side and pinpoint where your side bends. The key is to highlight this exact area – not higher, not lower.
If you’ve got it, work it, I say. I’m a massive fan of a woman’s “curvilicious” silhouette when it’s carried out in a very elegant way – think Dita Von Teese and Marilyn Monroe. Femme fatale mixed in with sex Goddess. Reor! Let’s highlight your gorgeous curves with a fitted number. Fitted (not tight) Pencil Dresses are insanely flattering for enhancing shape. And, if you’d like to elevate the derriere, the Fit and Flare (Trumpet) Dress will do just that. Pair both with a thin heel and strut your stuff.
Make Breasts Look Bigger
Let’s give the booster bra a helping hand here, it’s been doing its job, but sometimes we just want that little bit more. Hail the frill. We want it to be strategically placed on the breasts to create volume where we need it the most. Go crazy with colour and texture around this section. If you do not want to look bulky, be-careful of the baby doll dress. If the dress cuts right underneath the breasts, yes it will create the illusion of bigger bazookas, however it will also create bulk around the stomach. Ideally, you want the dress to cut in at the waist.
If the dumb bells have been MIA leading up to Summer, it’s all good. We can camouflage your beloved appendages with a few styling tricks, without necessarily covering them up. Short sleeves and cap sleeves with straight definite horizontal lines, bisect the upper arm at its widest spot, visually widening the area. However, there are always exceptions – enter, dresses with flutter sleeves (sometimes called frill or ruffle). Their loose unconfined shape means they’re less harsh on upper arms. The bigger the flutter, the better; this balances out the proportions and commands the eye to look at the statement detailing. Want more info? I’ve got your back. There’s an article dedicated to how to flatter your arms here.
Hide Thighs and Butt
If Kim Kardashian is not a style icon of yours, then this section is for you. If you’re wanting to play a never-ending game of hide and seek with your thighs and butt, then the Flare Dress is a winner. In and out from the waist, flaring over the two body parts that you want to camouflage. Even though pleats are on trend this season, avoid these – this will create width where you need length.
This is one I had to learn how to nail as my natural body proportion is long torso, short legs (cheers parental genes). Two things are important here; highlighting the waist (never hip), to create the perception that your legs start higher up. And, length; either, half way up the thigh, or past the knee. It could be a Mini, Midi or Maxi Dress. Why not at the knee or slightly above? Drawing a line around the knee will cut your leg length in half. You’re welcome.
Images from Asos