How to Choose the Perfect Evening Gown for Your Body Shape

The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress.
— Givenchy

Getting the shape of the dress right is key to you looking great and feeling comfortable in it. When you think of the iconic images of Hollywood starlets, they all looked fabulous because they dressed for their body shape. in the classic photo of Marilyn Monroe in the wind tunnel she wore a dress which  hugged her tiny waist and showcased her hourglass curves. Audrey Hepburn wore a straight slim fitting dress in Breakfast at Tiffanys which flattered her slim straight frame. Neither would have worked in each others outfits, as the old saying goes you can't fit a square peg into a round hole!

There are five basic female body shapes; pear, hourglass, straight, apple and inverted triangle. If you, like me, have characteristic from more than one body shape. keep it simple and choose the advice which best reflects your overall outline.

Pear

You have a smaller top half with a tiny waist and tend to carry your weight around your bum and thighs. 50s style fit and flare gowns are great on you, but are difficult to find in a long style without looking like an American prom-queen! This one from Coast is perfect because all the detail is concentrated at the top, drawing the eye upwards and the cap sleeves extend the shoulder line to balance them out with your wider hips, whilst the skirt will flow over your hips and thighs.

Coast, Lori Lee Lace Maxi dress £175

Coast, Lori Lee Lace Maxi dress £175

Hourglass

You have what is often seen as the ideal body shape with your balanced top and bottom half and tiny waist. Showcase those curves with a dress that draws attention to your small waist. This wrap style from John Lewis will keep nip you in just where you need it and the soft jersey fabric will drape around your curves, whilst the ruffle will elongate your frame making you appear taller.

John Lewis, Sleeveless Jersey Maxi dress £120

John Lewis, Sleeveless Jersey Maxi dress £120

Straight

You are perfectly proportioned, but may feel a bit boyish with your lack of curves. Play up to them with a gorgeous sheath-style dress such as this stunning one from Karen Millen. The pattern will keep the eye moving around the dress, creating movement and the illusion of curves.

Karen Millen, pleated Maxi dress £250

Karen Millen, pleated Maxi dress £250

Apple

You have an amazing pair of legs and great arms, your problem area is your stomach. An empire line dress is perfect for you as it will nip you in under your bust at your narrowest part and skim over your stomach. The clever colour blocking of this Kalico dress will  make your stomach appear narrower than it is. 

Kalico, Colour Block Maxi £179 

Kalico, Colour Block Maxi £179 

Inverted Triangle

You have slim hips, with broad shoulders or a big bust which make you appear top heavy. Rebalance your body by adding volume and interest to your bottom half. The pleats in this Biba Dress will add width to your frame and provide vertical detail. The v-neck will slice the width of your wide shoulders or bust. 

Biba, Metallic Foil Pleated Maxi Dress, £135.20

Biba, Metallic Foil Pleated Maxi Dress, £135.20

Whatever you choose to wear, do so with confidence and a smile!