Shopping for plus-size dresses can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With so many gorgeous styles and brands catering to curvy figures nowadays, finding the perfect dress for any occasion is easier than ever. Whether you’re looking for a casual day dress, a cocktail dress for date night, or a show-stopping gown for a formal event, understanding your body type and knowing what silhouettes work best can help you choose a flattering and fashionable plus-size dress with confidence.
Plus-size dresses come in a variety of shapes and lengths to suit different body types and styles. Getting familiar with the most common plus-size dress silhouettes will help you shop smarter.
A-line dresses are wider at the top and narrower at the bottom in the shape of a capital A. This classic style flatters pear, apple, and inverted triangle body shapes by balancing shoulders and hips. A-line plus size dresses come in everything from casual jersey knits to elegant satins and chiffons for formal occasions. Try an A-line plus size dress in a soft jersey knit fabric for casual everyday wear. These stretchy, comfortable dresses work well with denim jackets and sneakers. Choose A-line plus size cocktail dresses and bridesmaid dresses to flatter your shape for special events.
Wrap dresses across the front and tie them at the side or back. The faux wrap style features a fixed wrap look without the ties. Both create a beautiful hourglass shape for apple and pear figures. Plus size wrap dresses often feature vibrant prints, making them a go-to style for daytime events and tropical vacations. Jersey wrap plus size dresses, like those from Diane Von Furstenberg, have stayed on trend for decades thanks to their effortless elegance and curve-flattering fit. Pick a wrap-plus dress in airy chiffon or lace for weddings and garden parties.
Loose, straight shift dresses skim over the body gracefully. They flatter rectangle and oval body shapes. Shift plus size dresses make great workwear with blazers and heels or sandals and pendant necklaces for weekend wear. Opt for sleeveless shift plus size dresses in the warmer months, pairing them with lightweight cropped cardigans or kimonos for arm coverage. When cooler weather hits, choose long-sleeved shift plus size dresses in cozy fabrics like wool blends and corduroy. Go bold with a graphic print shift plus size dress, or keep it neutral with classic stripes and solids.
Maxi dresses are long, typically hitting around the ankle or floor. The column shape flatters tall or petite plus size figures, creating a streamlined silhouette. Plus size maxi dresses come in everything from free-flowing chiffon beachwear to halter neck gowns for black tie affairs. Jersey knit maxi plus size dresses provide an effortless summer style. Take your pick of short or long-sleeved jersey maxi plus size dresses paired with jean jackets, shawls, or dusters. For evening events, look for luxurious maxi plus size dresses in satin or chiffon with elegant embellishments like beading and lace trims.
Plus size bodycon dresses are formfitting to showcase curves. Stretch fabrics like spandex blends, scuba knit, and thick jersey mold to the body, making bodycon dresses a top choice for hourglass figures. Choose underwear and shapewear wisely to avoid lines when wearing bodycon plus size dresses. Opt for thongs and seamless shapewear styles under bodycon dresses. Finish the look with sky-high stilettos or strappy heels and dramatic jewelry.
With so many plus size dresses to choose from, narrowing down your selection can take time and effort. Follow these key tips when shopping to pick the most flattering silhouette and style for your body.
Identifying your body shape is a must when plus size dress shopping. Study your proportions in the mirror, and determine if your shape is nearest to apple, pear, hourglass, rectangle, oval, or inverted triangle shapes. Once you understand your silhouette, focus on dress styles made to balance and flatter that shape. Rectangles can highlight their waist with belted plus size dresses. Inverted triangles should seek out off-the-shoulder and sweetheart plus size dresses to soften broad shoulders. Take note of how different plus size dress silhouettes impact your shape to choose the most figure-flattering options.
Pay attention to the fabric when choosing a dress. Stretch jersey knits and scuba fabrics highlight curves beautifully but can cling to lumps and bumps. Flowy chiffon, crepe, and lace help camouflage problem areas. If you don’t love your upper arms, pick a plus size dress with sheer long sleeves or a cap sleeve rather than a sleeveless dress. If you carry weight in your midsection, a subtly draped waist will slim that area. Matching fabric weight to the formality of the occasion also helps. Save heavy brocade, jacquard, velvet, and size dresses for formal events and winter weather. Lightweight jersey knits, voile and lawn plus size dresses suit hot summer days best.
The length of a plus size dress impacts how slimming it appears. An ankle or floor-length maxi dress slims the thighs and elongates legs on all body types. Knee length styles work well for apple and pear shapes. A midi length hitting a few inches below or above the knees keeps the figure balanced. Stay away from plus size dresses ending right at the widest part of your thighs or calves for a leaner look. Consider your height, too, when assessing dress lengths. Petite plus size figures often fare best in dresses hitting just above or below the knee. Tall plus size figures can carry off daring super short plus size dresses or sweeping maxi plus size dresses gracefully.
Accessories like the right neckline, belts, jewelry, layering pieces, and footwear complement plus size dresses flawlessly. Plunging V-necklines draw eyes down to minimize a large bust or shoulders. Statement necklaces divert focus from figure flaws. Belts with rhinestone or interesting buckle detailing add polish to simple shirtdresses. Lightweight shawls, kimonos and dusters layer gracefully over sleeveless plus size dresses. Pointed toe heels or ballet flats always elongate the legs. Pick neutral shoes that blend with the dress so they don’t cut off the leg visually. Statement earrings and cuffs highlight gorgeous sleeve details in many plus-size dresses nowadays.
Shopping for the perfect plus size dress is easier when you know which silhouettes flatter your unique body type. Now that you’re armed with tips on the top styles, fabrics, lengths and accessories for plus size dresses, you can shop with confidence for everything from day dresses to formal gowns. Whether you’re heading out for Sunday brunch or walking the red carpet, there is an incredibly fashionable plus size dress that will make you feel and look amazing.