How Prom Dress Fit is Affected by Dress Style
From lace-up corset dresses to sheath mermaid dresses, finding a prom dress style that is flattering on you is key to achieving the perfect (and comfortable!) prom dress fit. Although you’ll still want to have your bust, waist, and hip measurements handy, you’ll definitely want to consider the style of the dress when consulting the prom dress sizing chart provided. For example, special features like adjustable straps or corsets can often provide a bit of leeway for making the dress a little more snug or loose, and size charts just don’t often take that into account. Let’s not forget about our body types! A flattering prom dress style for one person might not be so charming on another person, so you’ll want to find a style that celebrates your silhouette. Check out the advice below to see how you can get a just-right prom dress fit when you consider how dress style affects the way sizes fit and flatter your body type.
How Does the Style of My Dress Affect How It Fits?
When it comes to prom dresses, the style of the dress can play a role in determining which size you should order to get that perfect fit you want! Once you have your bust, waist, and hip measurements and are looking at the size chart for the dress you want to order, you should consider the style of the dress before selecting your size. While curve-hugging styles that are fitted through the bodice and skirt require a careful match between all of your measurements and those listed in the size chart, some prom dress styles have looser fitting features that allow for varying measurements, rather than demand an exact match.
Check out the fitting tips for each of these styles of dresses:
A-Line Dresses (Bust Measurement is Key)
A-line prom dresses create an “A” shape when it is on your figure because it has a fitted bodice (the top of the “A”) and a flared skirt (the bottom of the “A”). A snug fit along the top of a-line dresses means that when selecting a size, your bust measurement should be right on-point with the measurements in the size chart for this style dress. The gradual flare of the skirt away from the body allows for a larger range of hip measurements.
But, what about your waist measurement for a-line dresses? Well, here’s the thing… that depends upon the type of waistline on that gorgeous a-line dress! Dresses can have an empire waistline, natural waistline, or a drop waistline. What is important to remember here is where the dress will hug your figure versus where the dress will flow away from the body.
With an empire waist, an a-line dress flares out immediately under the bust, so there’s flexibility with which size to order for the waist measurement.
If your a-line prom dress pick has a natural waistline, this means that the bodice is fitted below the bust, so you will want to select a size that carefully matches your waist measurement to the size chart.
The one time that your hip measurement needs to match closely to the size chart of an a-line dress is when the style has a drop waistline (most common in ball gowns). When the waistline falls just at or below the hips, then your hip measurement needs to be carefully considered, in addition to the bust and waist measurements, on the size chart.
Regardless of the type of waistline on an a-line dress, your bust measurement should be the first and last measurement you consider when selecting a size to order. Sound like a style you want to explore? Find a variety of a-line dresses here.
When searching for an a-line style dress, there are a few different types of prom dresses that you might come across
Babydoll Dresses - Babydoll dresses are adorable thanks to their, stand-out, ball-gown-style skirts that end above the knee. With a fitted bodice, babydoll-style dresses have a snug fit through the bustline. The flared skirt allows for a range of hip measurements that fit into a particular size. When comparing your measurements to those on the size chart for a babydoll style dress, keep this in mind! Ready to shop this style?
Check out babydoll dresses here.
Ball Gowns - Think "Cinderella." Cinderella's iconic dress was definitely a ball gown! Ball gowns hug the body through the chest and then flow out to the floor like an umbrella. All ball gowns are fitted through the bust, but some ball gowns are also fitted through the natural waistline or even further beyond the bodice (a drop waistline) before flaring out. A ball gown with a drop waist will be more of a snug fit through the entire bodice and the hips, so keep that in mind. Since most ball gowns flare away from the hips, your hips will more than likely fit into multiple sizes of the dress, so don’t let your hip measurement be the deciding factor on which size to order. The exception to this is a drop-waist ball gown…why does there always have to be an exception? Want to discover your own princess-inspired look?
Explore a range of ball gowns here.
Fit & Flare Dresses - Fitted, flared, and full of sass, these short dresses are curve-hugging through the bust and waist, but flow out dramatically over the hips. For fit-and-flare dresses, choose the size with bust and waist measurements that most closely match your measurements. Your hip measurements can be a near match, instead of an exact one, to those listed in the size chart, thanks to a voluminous skirt.
Find your favorite fit-and-flare dress here.
While a-line dresses typically require closely matched measurements for the bust (with some flexibility for the waist and hip measurements depending upon the style), there is, of course, an exception! You know what makes sizing measurements even more flexible on a-line dresses as well as other style dresses? Corsets!
Lace-Up Corset Dresses (Flexible Measurements)
Do you want a fitted bodice, but have a hard time finding dresses that accommodate both your bust and waist measurements? Let’s face it, we don’t all have the same proportions! This design gives you the ability to tie the corset bodice tighter or looser depending upon your desired fit, giving you some wiggle room to adjust the bust and waist measurements of the dress. Even if your bust and waist measurements don’t perfectly match the size listed in the provided chart, lace-up corset dresses are typically measured with the lace-up design pulled comfortably closed. So, it’s possible to adjust the fit slightly smaller than the size chart measurements or let the laces out for a little more room! When shopping lace-up corset dresses, keep an eye out for how far down the lace-up design goes. Some dresses even have a lace-up design that dips below the waist to give you some leeway in the hip measurements as well. A lace-up corset dress is every girl’s perfect dress-fit goal! Sound like a dream to you? Discover the possibilities when you shop corset dresses here.
Mermaid Dresses (Bust, Waist & Hips Measurements are Key)
Love your curves and want to flaunt them? Mermaid dresses are the way to go! Hugging the body from neckline to knees, mermaid dresses highlight the natural shape of your body. The fabric begins to angle out in the iconic “tail” shape of the skirt around the knees. Unlike some other dress styles, all three sizing measurements (bust, waist, and hips) play an equal role for selecting your size. If your bust, waist, or hip measurements don’t align with the size chart provided for a mermaid style dress you should consider finding a mermaid dress with a lace-up corset back or a stretchy fabric to help you find that perfect fit. While you want to be breathtaking on your special night, you don’t want your mermaid gown taking your breath away because it is too tight! Want to dive right into this style? Check out a variety of stunning mermaid dresses here.
Sheath Dresses (Bust, Waist & Hips Measurements are Key)
Snug and sultry from neckline to hem, sheath dresses are close-fitting for the entire length so each measurement in the size chart is equally important for selecting the right size. When checking the size chart, ask yourself: “How much curve do I want to flaunt?” For the tightest fit, make sure you choose a size that has a very close match to your bust, waist, and hip measurements. For a looser fit, pick a size with size chart measurements that are slightly larger than your own.
Shift Dresses (Flexible Measurements)
Shift dresses are loved for their casual, relaxed design. Because shift dresses are loose-fitting from the neckline down, there is a little more wiggle room in the measurements for the bust, hips, and waist. While it’s important to note all of the sizing measurements in the chart, they are more like a guideline rather than an end-all-be-all rule when it comes to such a loose-fitting style. Are your measurements just a tiny bit over those listed in the chart for a particular size? If so, and you go with that size, the dress may fit a bit more tightly in some areas than the way it is pictured, so keep that in mind when considering what size to go with! Pro tip: Always make sure your largest measurement (bust, waist, or hips) fits in the range of measurements for the size you select!
Which Dress Styles Are Most Flattering for My Figure?
While dress sizing charts can act as a magnificent guide to finding a prom dress that fits, the style of the gown will determine what flatters your body best. Not sure which body type best describes you? Most people aren’t just one cookie-cutter body type, so you may find that you have the characteristics of more than one body type. That just means all the more options for you to explore! The different body shapes serve as a framework for finding styles that flatter. Whether you’re aiming to steal the spotlight, seem subtly chic, or enjoy the event in comfort, finding the appropriate prom dress cut is key to looking and feeling great all night. Highlighting in all the right places can make a formal dress seem like it was cut specifically to fit you. Nail your prom look with tips on how to find the best fitting gown for the following body types:
Apple body shapes refer to figures that are rounder on top -- just like the fruit and equally sweet! Usually, apple-shaped women are on the shorter side and typically have undefined waistlines. These figures look fantastic in prom dresses with empire waists and loose-fitting skirts. Empire waistlines define the figure just below the bust to accentuate the upper half of the body. Then the skirt flows over the natural waist and hips. Other evening dresses can suit an apple body shape by balancing the upper and lower halves of the body. A-line dresses or dresses with ruching (gathering) around the midline offer definition to highlight the curves. If you want to draw attention to the upper half of the body, try a prom dress with a beaded or sequined bodice, an off-the-shoulder neckline, a one-shoulder neckline, or a sweetheart neckline. Whether you want to balance your figure or draw attention to your favorite assets, there are many flattering styles for apple body shapes from which to choose.
Girls that are busty are beautifully curvaceous above the waistline, so they may find that many evening dresses fit tightly in the bodice. If you fit the characteristics of the busty body type, choose a dress style that offers support, balances the figure, or emphasizes the curves, depending upon your personal style preference. Dresses with off-the-shoulder necklines tend to fit more generously at the bust, but may require spaghetti straps or elasticized trim to avoid wardrobe malfunctions. Halter dresses, one-shoulder dresses, or sleeveless dresses with wide shoulder straps offer stylish coverage and support. The prom dresses that work best for busty girls who want to balance their silhouettes are the ones that define the waist and add volume around the hips. Babydoll dresses, ball gowns, and fit-and-flares are some of the best prom dress styles for balancing a busty body type. Ruffles, tulle skirts, and peplums are dress details that have a similar effect. Above all, dresses with bra cups or bra-friendly dresses can be a busty girl’s best friend.
Shaped more like an hourglass? This gorgeous body type has a bust measurement that is almost identical to the hip measurement. The major perk behind this symmetry? If you have an hourglass figure, you can easily achieve a balanced look by rocking any prom dress that accentuates the waist. Embellishments over the midline can also define the area to make the curves stand out. Prom dresses with cinching around the natural waistline, as well as fitted sheath-like dresses, mermaid dresses, and wrap-style dresses, are incredibly flattering for hourglass figures. Really want to show off the curves? Wear a dress with a fitted waistline.
Pear body shapes are stunningly curvy below the waist. With hip measurements that are a bit bigger than the bust measurements, pear figures have options when it comes to creating a flattering look. Prefer to rock those curvy hips? Then highlight the contrasting measurements by flaunting the hips in curve-hugging fabrics or mermaid-style skirts. If you want to balance your contrasting measurements, wear a dress with embellishments over the bodice. Sparkling sequins, intricate lace, and frilly ruffles can give the illusion of volume to the upper body and even out the silhouette, if that’s your style. Work it, girl!
Petite girls are beautifully diverse. They can have any body shape already mentioned, but it is on a shorter frame. Ever heard the expression “great things come in small packages?” Well, if you’re under 5’4”, you fit the bill! The key to a flattering dress fit for petite figures? Dress length! Tired of getting long dresses hemmed? Sometimes, ankle-length, tea-length, or cropped dresses sneakily fit a petite girl as a floor-length gown. Also, short dresses, dresses with high-low hemlines, and dresses with asymmetrical hemlines are go-to options for keeping the length alterations to a minimum and the trendy style to a max. While not tripping over your prom dress is a major perk, Dresses with features that visually elongate the figure are also top picks for petites. A few types of dresses that create the appearance of length are princess-cut dresses, v-neck/v-back dresses, dresses with vertical prints, and pleated dresses.
Slender body types have beautiful, even symmetry that provides a visually lengthening effect. With similar measurements for the hips, waists, and busts, a slender body type looks amazing in a body-hugging prom dress that’s fitted from the neckline to the hem. Sheath dresses and bodycon jersey dresses put the figure on display, flaunting the slender girl’s long and lean physique. Prefer to add the illusion of curves? Choose an a-line evening dress that offers volume to the bodice and the skirt, but defines the waist. Flounces, or other layered fabrics around the neckline, can give the top a bit of a boost. Ruffles or embellishments around the hips can do the same for the skirt. An elegant look is yours to be had!
Choosing a formal dress is sometimes more about the style than the measurements in the size chart. A busty figure wearing a plunging v-neck dress could result in a lack of adequate coverage, but not necessarily due to needing a different dress size. The same could be said for an apple-shaped woman wearing a mermaid dress: it just might not feel as flattering as it looked in the image. Different figures and silhouettes should be honored for their unique characteristics. How you dress your figure is your choice. Rock a dress that makes you feel comfortable and confident.