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Flavors of Fashion: Dress to Impress

June 30, 2010

This week you’re in for a treat. Style File double dose! While I’ve highlighted the do’s and don’ts of bags below, with July 4th just around the corner (and frankly because it’s just plain hot out) I think it’s important to talk about that perfect summer dress. – Carolyn

We all have those personal attributes we want to change, hide or even highlight. No matter what our body shape is, everyone wants to wear something that is going to flatter their figure. And it’s important to wear things that make you feel good, because I can guarantee you, you will look your best when you are exuding that inner confidence! So with that in mind, here are a few helpful tips about styles of dresses that can complement various body types and give you a great summer look.

Shirt dress by Velvet, $195; Jan Byce Designs
Necklace, $48; Jan Byce Designs

Arms: Not defined to your liking? BRAVA hears ya. Not every dress has to be shoulder-baring, sleeveless or skimpy to fall under the definition of a dress. Try a dress that has a bishop style or loose-fitting sleeve. This style, available at Jan Byce Designs, has a wonderful three-quarter length sleeve, with a slouchy, rolled appearance. It will cover the arms, provide a wonderful neckline, and could even be belted to show off the waist!


V-neck dress by Lily, $108; Patricia Shoppe

Bust: If you have a large bust there are certain things you can do to detract from it being the focal point of your outfit. Certain necklines like the square neckline, a wrap dress neckline, or a v-neckline (shown above), can visually lift and separate the breasts. You want to avoid any high-neck tunics as they emphasize the bust. Halter-necks should be handled with care as well because it is hard to achieve adequate support with a strapless bra in that backless style. Anything sleeveless is going to bring people’s eyes to the bare shoulders and bust. Three-quarter length sleeves, like on this dress from Patricia Shoppe, are great for drawing attention away from the bustline and blending large breasts into the rest of the outfit or design.

Flower petal dress by T. Bleu, $108; Patricia Shoppe

Waist: For those of us not wanting to draw attention to our waists, try a flowing slip dress. Anything that has a tunic silhouette is going to help blend the curves of your frame. It will straighten out the line between the bust, waist and hips to create a proportionate appearance—all while exhibiting a flowing and modern fashion statement! The dress above has a loose drape straight from the bustline, and also petal-like panels that will help disguise your tummy. The sequins around the straps and bare shoulders will draw eyes upwards, away from the waist.

Floral dress by Weston Wear, $166; Patricia Shoppe

Hips: Hide wider hips with a dress that draws attention to the natural waistline and bust. Empire waist dresses or dresses that are “cinched” at the waist are some options.  This floral ensemble brings the eyes to bust and high-waist area of the of the wearer because of the ruffles and fabric wrapping, creating a slimming look. While the lower hips are hidden by a fun, full skirt!

Maxi dress by Ryu, $72; The Purple Goose

Legs: Don’t want to show off your legs? You can still look beautiful in a dress, instead of opting for those default pants.  Try wearing a dress with a longer skirt, one that hits midcalf or lower, like the maxi dress featured above. This maxi dress, found at The Purple Goose, has a great romantic and feminine style, while still providing coverage of your legs. It also has great detailing around the neckline and straps, bringing the visual focus up. It could even look great with a coordinating shrug for those summer nights!

Jan Byce Designs/ Hilldale Male; (608) 233-1606

Patricia Shoppe/ 137 West Johnson, Madison; (608) 256-1111

The Purple Goose/ 400 West Verona Avenue, Verona; (608) 845-2368

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