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The Best Dresses for Every Body Type

What better time than now to treat yourself to a fancy, new frock? But before you buy, take a tip from fashion expert Genny Iannucci on which dress will look best on your body type.

And because no outfit is complete without a great pair of shoes, Genny's also got the perfect style for every shape!

If you're a hourglass...

Your bust and hip measurements are approximately equal, and your waistline is very well-defined. You typically wear the same size top and bottom. The key to dressing your figure is to maintain a vertical balance.

Although most dresses will flatter an hourglass figure, the trick is to emphasize your curves without overexaggerating your shape. A defined waist is a must, and it's a good idea to look for strategic colour-blocking as well. Your shoes should increase the illusion of length through the body, so pick a pair that is feminine and sleek, such as a pointed-toe pump.


Above: BCBG Max Azria colour-blocked dress, at the Bay; snakeskin bangle, stylist's own; Sleep pointed-toe pump, Nine West.

If you're an oval...

Your bust and hip measurements are smaller than your waist. You typically buy a size larger in jackets and pants to accommodate your waistline.

Choose a semi-fitted dress. Stay away from anything with a defined waist, opting instead for a dress featuring elements that will create that illusion (e.g. ruching, horizontal or diagonal pattern, etc.). Pick shoes with a substantial stacked heel or wedge to anchor the look.


Above: London Times blue printed jersey dress, at Toni Plus; earrings and bangle, both stylist's own; open-toed wedge, Nine West.

If you're a triangle...

Your bust is smaller than your hips, and you have a defined waist. Your body type often requires a smaller size on top than bottom. Triangle is in fact the most common female shape.

Opt for dresses with semi-fitted to fitted tops, a defined waist and a skirt that skims the hips. Belted dresses are the most flattering on this shape, but keep the belt width under two inches. Look for slim, lightweight shoes that won't add extra bulk to the lower body.


Above: Jessica Simpson shirt dress with belt, at the Bay; necklace, stylist's own; Colourcode cork heel, Nine West.

If you're a rectangle...

Your bust and waist measurements are roughly even with a slight indentation (usually one to eight inches smaller) at the waist, if at all. You typically wear the same size on top and bottom but often find that garments fit snugly through the waist.

Find a semi-fitted dress in a soft fabric to create the illusion of curves. An empire or raised waist will work best, while a wide or patterned yoke will give your shoulders a welcome broader appearance. A shoe with a rounded toe is perfect for the rectangle to add extra curve to the ensemble.


Above: Tahari ASL belted empire-waist combo dress, at the Bay; earrings, stylist's own; Well leopard platform pump, Nine West.

Above: Vanessa Ocampo Duque (hourglass), Caroline Shenaz Hossein (oval), Cheryl Morreale (triangle) and Luana McDonald (rectangle); signage, CDG Display Solutions.

bio_genny_iannucci_dress_body_type.jpgA Canadian fashion-industry insider for over 20 years, Genny Iannucci (at far right) is an expert in how to flatter your figure and build a strong, versatile wardrobe. Her passion? Helping women look their best on a budget.


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