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Women's Formal Dresses - Finding Flattering Styles in Women’s Formal Dresses

choosing the correct style necklines and sleeves short or long?

Women’s formal dresses come in a variety of styles, colors and prices but shopping for the dress can be an enjoyable experience or it can be a daunting task. Choosing the one that is most flattering to your figure is the most important consideration.

Choosing the Correct Style

Despite the wide array of women’s formal dresses on the market, they all fall into a few basic styles:

Ball Gown – This style is closely fitted across the bust and waist with a full skirt gathered at the waist. For the average to slim figure, this is an attractive style and has a youthful appearance. This style is not flattering to women with large midriffs and hips.

A-Line – As the name implies, the skirt on this style is slightly fitted at the hip and gently tapers out. The top is usually fitted. Women with large hips will find this style more slimming in appearance.

Princess Style – This style has vertical bodice seams that taper out to an A-line skirt. The side sections have the effect of slimming a heavy bust line or large stomach and hips.

Empire – The skirt on an Empire waist starts just below the bust line. The skirt is usually softly gathered or flowing. This is an ideal style for hiding large hips or midriff or emphasizing the bust.

Sheath – A sheath dress is fitted from the bust line to the hips and down to the hem. To walk easily, a slit is required at the side or back . As this dress gives the illusion of height, it can be worn by the short or average woman. The long straight silhouette can also be flattering to a plus size figure.

Mermaid – A sheath dress that flares out below the knee is known as a Mermaid style. The flared section can be made into a train at the back of the gown. Because the eye is drawn to the bottom of the dress, this style is suitable for de-emphasizing a top heavy figure.

Necklines and Sleeves

The neckline of a women’s formal dress should flatter the neck and face. Small to average sized women can wear a strapless style with no problem. However, a heavy bust line requires extra support and coverage. An alternative is spaghetti straps or a small bolero jacket. Scoop and sweetheart necklines are flattering for juniors and teens.

For women who want a bit of drama, but want to be covered up, a dipping neckline in the back of the dress is a good alternative.

Sleeveless styles are popular for formal dresses; however, if upper arms are heavy, a small cap sleeve would be more flattering. Long sleeves are appropriate for a daytime formal affair or for a more mature woman. Sheer sleeves may be worn for an evening affair.

Short or Long?

In the past, the word “formal” meant a long dress for women and a tuxedo for men. Nowadays, women may wear a long dress, a calf length dress or a dressy short dress to a formal event. Only when “strictly formal” is indicated should women feel obligated to wear a full length dress or gown.

In some circles, formal dresses should be either black or white and should not be overly adorned or sequined. However, as trends are constantly changing and as society becomes more relaxed in its rules, your final choice of a dress will depend on your best judgment.

Where to Buy Women’s Formal Dresses

Finding a dress online or from a catalog will give you a much wider choice in price and style. However, seeing something online or in a print ad is not the same as seeing the actual item. If you are buying online, allow enough time to receive the item, try it on and return it if necessary.

Bridal stores can be a good source for finding women’s formal dresses. They will usually have a wide selection of sizes, styles, colors and prices. They regularly offer sample dresses and designer closeouts which offer real value for your money.

Whatever your final choice in a formal dress the most important thing is that it looks great on you and is flattering to your figure.

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over 5 years ago

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