Finding dresses that flatter women who are plus size does not have to be a daunting task. With a few practical design rules you will be able to know exactly what shapes and materials to buy clothing in. A cardinal rule is when in doubt, always try it on. No matter what the size, a dress can look very different on a hanger than it does on your body.


The ideal shape is a dress that tapers at the body’s narrowest point–the natural waist–under the bust, and then floats away from the body. This dress shape is typically known as an A-line, because the overall shape of the dress is a flattering “A.” Having many seams in the dress, as opposed to one large piece of fabric, helps create structure to the clothing and gives your body a streamlined appearance. A dress length that hits in the knee to upper calf region will also be most flattering, as it makes your legs look longer, elongating and slimming your body as a result.


Materials that cling to your frame like polyester are not flattering on a plus size body type. Choose quality fabrics, as they will fall over your body without being glued to every curve. Natural fabrics like jersey, cotton and silk will have an ideal effect on your frame and will compliment your curves rather than accentuate every detail.


There is a belief that dressing in monotones, specifically in all black, is the best way to hide a full figure. Though every woman should perhaps have a “little black dress” in her closet, using black to disguise your figure when you should be embracing it and showing it off is not the answer. Color and prints can work well to compliment a fuller figure, if used thoughtfully. Large prints and extremely tiny prints can work against you in accentuating the wrong areas and curves. Horizontal stripes also do not work well. A medium sized pattern, with emphasis at your narrowest point will work best to disguise any problem areas while highlighting your attributes. Vertical pinstripes can also help to streamline and elongate your figure for a flattering effect.