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Wednesday 20 March 2024

Find the Best Dress for Your Shape

 Is This Mutton's guide to finding the best dress for your shape and style personality

Dear friends. The summer dress season is almost upon us. You'll already find a guide to finding the best trousers, and skirts, for your shape on Is This Mutton. Now it's how to find the right dress. 

We'll look at each shape first and then discuss patterns and lengths, followed by what we're seeing so far as the spring/summer trends.

A few celebrities in dresses won't hurt either! Plus I share my favourite dresses and those which didn't suit me.



If you're apple shaped your shoulders and bust are larger than the hips, and your waist is not well defined. Apples often have shorter necks, narrow hips and great legs. 

Wrap dresses featuring v-neck and plunging necklines highlight your bust and often feature a belted fastening to define your waist. 

Smock dresses feature a loose and floaty silhouette that doesn’t cling, and nips in under the bust defining your waist. They often feature puff sleeves too, helping to balance out broader shoulders.

Skater dresses instantly create a more defined shape with the fit and flare design sculpting your waist and flaring over your midsection and curves.

Celebrities with an apple shape include Adele and Kate Winslet. Adele often wears black for her major appearances, and choose fabrics which stretch and shape to give her a defined waist. 

Below: Adele in a glittering black custom Louis Vuitton gown by Nicolas Ghesquière, 2021.  In dresses Kate Winslet makes a virtue of her strong shoulders and toned arms. Her trademark look is a dress in a solid colour with a defined waist. 

Hour glass

Women who have an hourglass body shape have shoulders and hips of proportional width and a defined waist.

Your best dresses are those which are fitted but not tight that showcase your waist. Wrap dresses with a V-neck, soft prints and solid colours, in soft rather than rigid fabrics are all good. Soft ruched looks are good. Steer clear of any “spandex" or "scuba" type fabrics. These are too tight and will ruin the elegance of your shape. Also avoid boxy dresses that hide your waist. 

Hour glass celebrities Christina Hendricks and Salma Hayek (left) both have generous busts and wear dresses that show off their curves. 

Pear shaped/Triangle 

Pear body shapes have a well defined waist and hips that are proportionately wider than the bust.  Your goal is to make your shoulders look broader to help balance your hips. The triangle body shape is similar. Your lower body is wider than your upper body. When you gain weight, it tends to go to your hips, butt or thighs.

In terms of best dresses to suit your body shape, A-line or fit and flare skirts are the most flattering pear shaped dresses. They skim past your hips and won't cling to the widest part of your body. Wrap dresses can also be great dresses for pear shapes, as they cinch you in at the waist creating a slim silhouette.

Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon from Sex sand the City / Just Like That are both pear shaped. Kristin wears dresses with belts, Cynthia often prefers a flowy look which shows off her shoulders, or a streamlined asymmetric dress. 


A rectangle shape is defined by your shoulders and hips measuring about the same and a waistline with little to no definition. 

Dresses that fit at the waist, such as fit and flare, are great as they flare at the hips, creating the illusion of an hourglass shape. A sheath dress with a defined waist, or wrap dress, is also a good style. Try to avoid skinny belts which typically come with a dress.  A wider belt at the waist is more flattering. Try the Lara belt from Kettlewell. 

This is actually my shape, and I also like dresses with a gentle, and concealed, elasticated waist.  The worse dresses on me are big "buffet" or tent dresses and anything with an empire line, as they make me look huge. 

Famous women with rectangle shape include Goldie Hawn and Jennifer Garner. 

Inverted Triangle 

You are an inverted triangle if your shoulders or bust are larger than your hips.

Wrap and fit and flare dresses add volume and interest to your hips and bottom to make them look curvier and your shoulders smaller.  Necklines to avoid are wide and low. That includes styles like boat necks, V-necks, and plunging necklines. 

Renee Zellweger and Kim Cattrall are both described as having inverted triangle shapes. 

Your Style Personality

In addition to your body shape, your style personality is also central to choosing a dress that works for you. To visualise a "style personality," think of Audrey Hepburn, a typical gamine, whose style signatures were cropped capri trousers and high-necked tops, often paired with a classic pair of ballet pumps. Meanwhile Stevie Nicks has a totally different look as she favours boho, or natural, style and is often seen with a signature top hat, scarves, and billowy dresses.

What are your distinctive style touches?

As I said in a previous post on style, you can get your style professionally analysed, which might seem a big expense short term, but long term saves you money because you know what to buy. 

My own style preferences are pared down and neat;  I don't suit frills, bows, large patterns, florals or large jewellery. 

I've learnt over time that dresses and skirts just below knee length are best on me as I am fairly petite at 5'4, although I can get away with midi length.

Here are 4 dresses I liked.  I still have the first 3. I sold the fourth dress because I wore it at a wedding and figured it was too distinctive to wear it again.

As a rectangle, I like the first dress because it has a self-tie belt;  the second dress also has some invisible shirring around the waist. The third dress has some drapey ruching which pulls in the waist. The fourth dress was a nice shape, although it required shape wear underneath. 

Is This Mutton's favourite dresses - and why they work
And here are dresses which didn't work on me. 

The first dress was returned after I tried it on, in 2017.  The style, the sleeves and the floral print are all wrong for me.  The second dress was one I tried on last week, thinking it might work as a shirt dress with a belt.  In fact it just looks staid, even when I tried it with a wider belt and a jacket. I'm not very keen on the print or the colours.

The third dress is a Bombshell dress. I'd always wanted one, particularly in red. I thought the style would give me a waist but it doesn't.  The length looks wrong. The red is the wrong type of red. I never knew what type of tights to wear with it  (here I'm wearing nude fishnets). Reader,  I sold it. 

Dress Trends for 2024

So what's hot for this year, dress wise?

Red: Who What Wear predicts that red will continue to be hot, and red dresses will be the hit of spring.

Roses: florals are always around in springtime, but this year there's a hot trend for rose prints.

Metallics: Glamour predicts that metallic dresses - gold and silver, they say, are one of the hottest trends for 2024.

Drapery: Who What Wear predicts that Goddess Drapery will be all the vogue: liquid-like fabrics in rich tones.

So there you have it.  What are your thoughts on dresses?  Big fan, or don't think they suit you?  Do let us know in the comments. Scroll down below the link up to find the comments box. 

These are the fantastic sites where I share my posts. 


Find the Best Skirt for Your Shape

Find Trousers that Suit You Best


Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, where readers can find new blogs to enjoy and bloggers can find new readers. It's a win-win all round, provided you visit the posts that appeal and share the love by leaving a comment or two. 

Last Week's Favourites

How to Style Solid Color Dresses by Mireille of Chez Mireille

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  1. I like these posts, very informative and you can see clearly what works and what not. I absolutely love the tartan dress! Personally I love to wear longer dresses with a waist.

  2. All these dresses are gorgeous. I love red and how vibrant it looks on anyone. And metallics are very eye catching as well.

  3. Thanks for sharing this super post. I wear pear shaped styles but sometimes venture out and wear something different. I always find my way back though xx Jacqui x


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