Thursday, March 4, 2010

Clothing for the curvy: Volume 4, Dresses

This is the final piece of my series, and in my opinion, the most challenging thing to buy...

Dresses: Dresses are hard to find when they're not made of knit or jersey.  I can't tell you how many dresses I've only been able to only zip up to my rib cage.  To add to the problem, I prefer to wear a regular bra whenever possible so spaghetti straps are usually out.  This is advanced shopping.

First things first, forget about strapless or spaghetti straps unless you have a fantastic bra and the dress covers the top of your breasts.  Adjusting your dress all night is just tacky. 

I think the most flattering cut is a sheath dress (with or without sleeves), but it has to fit right or you look like a walking rectangle.  The coverage up top allows for a supportive bra and a tight fit in the rib cage keeps you away from the 'is she pregnant?' effect.  Dresses with belts and a defined waist keep you from appearing shapeless (which looks terrible if you're going to have your picture taken).   Plan on trying on lots of dresses with little success, but it will be totally worth it when you find the right one.  I wore my black sheath dress for four years before having to replace it because of fading.  The dresses below look like they may accommodate some curves:

Ann Taylor Loft - Piped Dress with Waist Tie - $69.99

The Limited - Pieced Waist Sheath - $79.50  (I want this one!  So flattering!)

Many magazines would lead you to believe that there is an endless supply of wrap dresses to contain your curves and save the day.  However, I've rarely found a wrap dress that didn't reveal boobtastic cleavage and require a camisole.  The same applies to cross-front v-neck dresses with empire waists.  However, if you're the right size for that particular dress, they're super flattering. 

Target - Mossimo Crossover V-Neck Dress - $39.99

I've had the best luck with dresses at The Limited and J. Crew (outlet).  Unfortunately, their prices mean I don't have as many as I'd like.   Not being a common size and shape means needing to spend a little more and go for classic styles so you can wear them for a few years.  I refuse to point all of you to the cheap Old Navy dresses on sale right now because the material is so thin you can see every bra hook, but I've found a few things there in the past that have held up nicely. 

Moral of the story: Don't give up or expect everything to fit and if you see something that would flatter your shape, consider buying it and saving it for later.  Shopping with a deadline usually results in an expensive dress that isn't quite what you want.  (For me, anyway...)  Happy shopping!


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