Summer Dresses & Our Bodies
" What styles of dress works for my body? "
Dresses are one of the best wardrobe staples! In one piece you have a complete outfit- no need to put together a top and a bottom! So why do so many of us tend to steer clear of dresses, or reserve them for only "dressy" occasions?
When we overthink the way a dress looks, the more complex and mysterious it becomes. But this isn't necessary- a dress is a dress, and if you like it, you should wear it! No rules. No mystery. No complexity.
That being said, the top questions I'm receiving this season from my Personal Styling clients here in Calgary is about which dress styles they should buy : "What styles of dresses should I wear for my body?". We all have our things (you know, those areas that we do & don't want to flaunt), so let's look at some of the best summer dress style and chat about what they do for our body!
Summer Dress Style #1 :
Fun, flirty and feminine, these two dresses (both from Sublime in Calgary) have a lot going for them.
Let's break down each feature in these dresses and talk about what they do :
Both have a defined waistband which is key for creating shape and proportion.
Below the waistline the material goes away from the body in a subtle A-line, and this is a beautiful feature that pulls the material away from the midsection, hips and thighs.
The v-neckline is very flattering because it draws the eye up and towards the face.
The main feature of these dresses is the sleeve and shoulder details. Elements like ruffles and cap sleeves creates a lovely, strong shoulder that many women love!
Both dresses also have added details across the chest (pleating and ruffles) which amplifies the bust, and the allover print is a fun and effective way to not only add style and personality, but it also helps camouflage anything we may want to distract from.
Summer Dress Style #2 :
This dress style is *the* summer dress - a nice long length that moves with you and gently blows in the wind, a thin strap, and beautiful colours. Both of these pretty dresses are from Crabapple Clothing Co.
The length! Sure, a longer dress is fun, but it's also flattering because it helps us look taller.
Thin straps gives a beautiful feminine look, and both of these dresses have straps that are thick enough that you can wear a normal bra (win!).
V-necklines are always flattering because they help create a vertical line that draws attention up towards your chest (which doesn't necessarily mean your bust), collarbone and face. If you want to amplify or bring attention to your chest, look for a v-neckline that is low and/or wide. If you want to distract from your bust, a thinner cut v-neckline does the trick!
The dress on the left (lighter colours) is a straight-cut dress with a belted waistband. This is great for those of us that have more of a straight frame.
The dress on the right has a seam at the waist and then the material puckers and flows away from the body. This helps draw attention away from the midsection, hips and thighs.
Little tip : Whether in the front or on the side, a slit not only allows for great airflow, but it's also a super flattering detail the creates a beautiful vertical line!
Summer Dress Style #3 :
A t-shirt dress is so much more than *just* a t-shirt dress- comfortable, easy to wear, and always a classic, this wardrobe staple comes in so many options with colours, shapes and details, you simply can't go wrong!
These dresses are from Jackson Rowe, Crabapple Clothing, and Sublime.
A short sleeve is not only comfortable, but flattering as well, and it really allows you the option to wear it from spring through to fall. If you don't want to bring attention to your arms, look for a sleeve that is loose and hits just slightly below the area of your arm you want to distract from. On the flip side, if you love to show off your arms, you could look for a sleeve length that hits at or above the area that you like.
If you want to distract from your midsection, look for styles the provide details like a cute tie (see the Jackson Rowe dress), nice ruching details like on the camo-print dress from Crabapple (which is also great for showing off those legs!), or a faux knot detail as shown on the black dress from Sublime.
For those that want to be a little more covered without sacrificing style, look for a great mid or full length t-shirt dress. This way you have all the comfort & style, but can feel confident that you have the coverage that you're looking for!
A little tip : There are so many t-shirt dress style options out there and I always suggest looking for one that has some shape too it, rather than one that is essentially a rectangle with sleeves. Shape is given when a dress is cut with actual shape to it, or with details like ties, knots, seams and ruching.
Summer Dress Style #4 :
A longer sleeve and waist definition- what more could a girl ask for?! Check out these dresses from Jackson Rowe and Crabapple Clothing Co.
While each of these dresses are somewhat different from one another, there are some great similarities that can work for so many women!
The first two dresses are similar in how they fit in the body- loose at the top and flows out from the waist. This type of fit is really nice for those that want to amplify their chest area.
The last two dresses shown (green and blue) have a bit more structure in the upper body, which is a universally flattering style for anyone! The green dress has nice buttons and a collar that creates a pretty v-neckine and allows you to button it as high or low as you want. The blue dress is a classic wrap style that, again, gives a beautiful neckline and creates shape in the upper body.
All of these dresses have great sleeves! They're loose and airy, provide coverage, and creates a wonderful style that looks great on anyone! Any of these sleeves are a great choice for those looking to bring attention away from their arms.
Patterns are such a fun way to add a little detail and charm without going overboard. These dresses all have a small-scale pattern or texture to them that provides a nice feminine detail, but also covers, or distracts from, a multitude of things that we may not want others to notice.
Tip : I love a dress with functioning buttons that go from the top to the bottom- these types of dresses can be maximized and worn as a dress, or worn unbuttoned over any tank or cami and skinny jean, pant or shorts (in lieu of a cardigan or jacket).
Dress Style #5 :
Sleeveless styles featuring all the vertical lines, each of these dresses are unique, simple in detail, but really packs a (style) punch!
For this section of dresses, I'm going to break it down by each individual dress.
Dress 1 - Black midi-length dress with white buttons from Crabapple : It's tough to tell in the photo, but this dress is a wonderful cotton/modal knit, which means comfort and modern style! However, this laid-back look is anything but frumpy! Just because it's easy to put on and wear all day, every day, doesn't mean you can't look chic, cool and stylish to boot! The thick strap ensures you can wear whatever bra you want, the v-neckline is absolutely perfect for creating a vertical line and drawing the eye up to the face...without showing off the girls, and the white buttons gives a fun detail and great vertical line. Let's also notice that this dress has shape to it, which means that it doesn't take away from your shape, but it compliments it perfectly! This dress really is a flattering style for anyone!
Dress 2 - Orange knit dress from Jackson Rowe : Retro vibes in a wonderful modern style, this dress is a perfect summer (or vacation) go-to for those that want to bring a little magic to the chest. With a combination of the square neckline, the thick rib details along the neck and waist, and the buttons, this dress draws the eye to the bust area...but in a traditional, or conservative, way. The not-too short/not-too long length is impeccable for everyone, but those looking to distract from the thigh-area will particularly love it. The overall shape of this dress is more on the straight side, but the details give the effect of shape all while maintaining ultimate comfort.
Dress 3 - Black mini dress from Sublime : This dress is so cute and really can be dressed up or down. The thicker straps are bra-friendly (win!) and the deep v-neck gives this linen-blend dress a feminine, classic and modern look. Both the strap and the neckline brings attention to the chest, but if you don't want to show any cleavage, you can easily wear a pretty lace bralette underneath to give a little coverage and pretty details.
The length of this dress makes your legs look incredibly long (even for not-long-legged-ladies like me). Another great bonus to this dress is the shape and structure- it is cut and sewn to be slightly fitted at the top, but then has a slight A-line from the ribcage down.
When you combine all of these style elements you create an elongating look that is great for showing off your legs and drawing the eye up towards your upper body and face.
Dress 4 - Blue chambray'esque dress with tie from Crabapple : Such a classic look- the button-up collared shirt dress in a sleeveless style and cute midi length. I love how this dress is so effortless yet gives an instant infusion of classic, feminine charm. With the looser-fitting top, large pockets on the chest, and a great structured collar, this dress gives a little added volume from the waist up, while keeping it slim & trim from the waist down. With the v-neckline, buttons and front slit, this style also has all the right vertical lines that help us look just a wee-bit taller too!
The selection of summer dress styles is seemingly endless, but when you know which individual details to look for, it really helps take the guesswork out of your shopping! For example, now you know that if you want to amplify your chest or upper-body area, look for large v-necklines, details like lace, buttons or patterns around the chest, and a little volume. Or, if you want to distract away from your midsection, dresses that are slim-fitting up top and then has a slight A-line from the waist down, and hits either right above or right below the knee, works wonders!
As always though, when it comes to fashion and your style, the main rule to go by is : if you love it, wear it!
The dresses shown here are from two incredible boutiques here in Calgary, and one amazing Canadian brand. You can click on any image to be directed to the website, or here are the links below in alphabetical order :
Additional Things To Keep In Mind :
When a dress has a defined waistline, either with a seam, tie, belt, or elastic, make sure that it hits you at the your natural waistline. If it's too high, it could look a bit too maternity, or too low and it can look frumpy or just a bit off.
A great look is when we have, or can create, the look of longer legs. So this means wearing a dress with a defined waistline that is above our bellybutton- this creates a beautiful 1/3 proportion, where our legs look to be longer than our torso.
To Find Your Natural Waistline :
Everyone's natural waistline is in a different spot and is determined by height and genetics. Here's two ways to find yours : Look in the mirror and see if you can spot the narrowest spot between your hips and the bottom of your ribcage. Or, look in the mirror and bend to one side. Place your hand or a finger on the top fold and stand straight. Where your hand is marks your natural waistline.
Dress Length :
No matter what the length of your dress is, ensure that it doesn't hit at the widest part of your leg.
Mini dress (hits above the knee) and shows off your legs : Go for either mid-thigh or just above the knee.
Midi length dress (below the knee, but not full length) : Go for right below the knee or slightly above or slightly below the widest part of your calf.
Maxi dress (full length) : Right above the ankle bone ensures that it won't drag on the floor and look sloppy- plus it allows it to continue to move with you!