Sometimes I just need style to be easy. Because dressing well is fun, but it’s not my top objective in life. I’m sure you can relate — no matter how strong your love for fashion, there are always days when something else is more important or requires all of your brainpower.
Often, those aren’t the days when we can stay at home wearing joggers and a t-shirt. Mostly it’s the opposite: we’re doing a presentation or running an important meeting or networking at a bigwig cocktail party.
For those occasions — when I know I’ll be low on creative energy, but what I wear matters — I bypass the whole question of body shape and lean towards universally flattering styles instead. These are the silhouettes that often look great on any figure.
My favorite clothes that flatter? Read on to find out what they are and how to buy them.
Clothes that Flatter — 5 Options
1. Shift dress
The fabric of a shift dress hangs straight down from your shoulders with just a hint of an A-line shape. Those clean lines can either add the appearance of curves on a very straight body or balance out proportions on a curvy body.
Having said that, not all shift dresses fit the same. Some are roomier than others, some have sleeves and, of course, patterns and color schemes make a difference. Try these tips to perfect your shift dress choice:
- Look for a dress that just skims over your body. Larger fits will look and feel frumpy.
- Try sleeveless or a three-quarter sleeve first. Short and cap sleeves are not that flattering on anyone.
- Color blocking and small floral patterns can be very flattering, while large patterns or thick stripes are the opposite.
2. Pencil skirt
A form-fitting pencil skirt is a career-wear workhorse, but it’s also appropriate for off-duty outfits. I have a lightweight pencil skirt that I love to wear with sneakers and a t-shirt, for example.
Because it follows the curve of your hip and then narrows to the hemline, the pencil skirt can either add shape you don’t have, or flaunt the shape you do have. You can create the same effect on your top half by pairing your pencil skirt with a tucked-in blouse.
Pencil skirts are easier to shop for than shift dresses, in my opinion. But here are some pointers to avoid pencil skirt fails:
- The most flattering length for a pencil skirt, or any skirt really, is just below the knee.
- A high-waisted skirt can be very flattering, but avoid this silhouette if you have a short torso.
- You lose all of the figure-flattering aspects of the pencil skirt when it’s too roomy. If it’s not snug on your hips, put it back on the rack.
- Hard pass if the skirt’s fabric is so thin that your panty lines show.
3. A-line skirt
At its best, the A-line skirt visually shrinks your waist, creates balance for your hips and streamlines even the thickest of calves. No matter what your shape actually is, the A-line skirt gives you the appearance of a proportioned, hourglass figure.
Often, a fitted top works best. A top that’s too roomy will overtake the outfit and you’ll lose that hourglass.
The main pitfall when shopping A-lines has to do with length. As with the pencil skirt, the safest hemline falls just below the knee. Too much longer than that and you risk exaggerating a bulky lower leg.
4. Peplum top
I almost didn’t include the peplum top in this list. Don’t get me wrong — I believe it is one of the most flattering styles for women. But there are many bad seeds in the peplum top category. And these styles don’t do the job they should.
First, what’s great about the peplum top? Done right, the peplum top does everything an A-line skirt does. It redefines your waist and hip area into hourglass proportions. It also drapes nicely over your body and lands just a couple inches below your hip bone.
Now, what is the peplum top gone wrong? It’s bulky or baggy from the waist up. Possibly it goes from loose around your midsection to even looser on your hips. Maybe the fabric is too heavy also, so it carries a shape that’s much larger than you are. Steer clear from that peplum top.
5. Ruched bodycon
Bodycon gets a bad rap, and much of it is well-deserved. But the truth is, a tight dress always gives a more slimming impression than a loose dress — that’s why bodycon is so popular.
Most women face one of two challenges when buying bodycon. Either the dress is so short or tight that it just looks trashy. Or, more common for the older set, you’re worried it’s too short or too tight, and that impacts your confidence.
Use these guidelines to address either scenario:
- Length is critical. Look for a hemline that falls just above the knee at the shortest. Any shorter than that is less likely to flatter (unless you have amazing legs). The shorter you go, the more you risk the trashy effect.
- The weight of the fabric also influences the trashy factor. Clingy, stretchy fabrics aren’t flattering and tend to look more scandalous.
- Ruching camouflages trouble spots and tones down the body-hugging vibe — both of which help you feel more confident wearing this dress style.
Are you ready to add these flattering summer styles to your wardrobe?