A perfect dress is hard to find. A lot depends on the material used and one's body shape. But once you know materials' properties and your body, you will style your looks like a pro. I will share with you my knowledge about types of materials, body shapes, things to keep in mind, and detailed drawings to help you gain as much understanding as possible.
The material of any garment plays an essential role in how the dress sits, flows, hugs; which in turn, can either flatter or clash with your body shape. There are three main categories of material that we will focus on - fluid, medium drape, and stiff.
The first category is fluid materials like chiffon, silk, viscose, crepe. They are light, flowy, and drape well, which makes them perfect for summer dresses, skirts, and tops. From my personal experience, I think this category works for most body types but do consider the length and cut of a garment.
The second category is medium drape materials like denim, woven kinds of cotton (cotton jersey knit), polyester or poly blend jerseys, and wool. These materials work well for clothing which needs some structure to create shapes or adjust silhouettes. This category works for dresses, jackets, tops, and skirts that need to hold shape and create slight illusions.
The third category is stiff material like scuba knit, pique knit, taffeta, coated denim, organza, Duchesse satin, and Dupioni silk. These are perfect for jackets, highly structured dresses, or skirts to create a final shape that holds its design no matter what. I can see these materials used with fancier clothing to create dramatic effects.
Material for your body type.
So, these are the three major categories that play an essential role in whether a garment flatters or offends you. Some frames look better in flowy materials while others should choose medium drape. The main idea is to create a balanced look at the top and bottom while accentuating a smaller waist.
If you are skinny with a minimal amount of fat and muscle, garments that will work the best for you are made with stiff materials. Dresses, tops, jackets made from a rigid material will add structure and shape, create an illusion of curves and volume. These garments will flatter your body by creating the desired hourglass shape.
If you have a large frame or hit a gym often, you are better off with medium drape materials. Garments with a medium structure that de-emphasize more significant body parts while helping accentuate your natural curves. Again medium drape materials will help balance out your shape whether you are more prominent on top or bottom.
If you are a fuller-curvy type, you need to stick with fluid materials that drape nicely around your body. But you have to be careful not to create a lot of unnecessary volumes. A perfect item should drape close to your body but not tight that it clings to every curve. You want to avoid heavy materials that weight you down.
Four body shapes.
Now that we know the basics about materials and how they work better with a particular body type, we can focus more specifically on four body shapes - apple, pear, hourglass, and straight.
1. Are you an Apple shape?
You are an apple shape if you have broad shoulders and wide mid-section while rocking slender legs. In this case, we want to balance out the top and the bottom to create a lovely hourglass silhouette.
To create a balanced look, we need to elongate your torso and add volume to your legs. Tops that have cowl necks or deep-Vs are perfect. We also need to amplify legs with help from wide-leg pants and longer skirts. We want to select medium drape materials to create more volume at the bottom half to balance out the top. When it comes to colors, choose darker colored tops but brighter bottoms.
Dresses: stick with empire or A-line styles.
2. Are you a Pear shape?
You are a pear shape if your top half is smaller than the bottom half of your body. Similarly, we want to balance out your proportions to create a flattering shape.
Pear is beautiful because you have curves at the bottom and we are going to use them! For the tops, pick bright colors with wide scoop necks and one-shoulder styles. Jackets or cardigans needs to be cropped to stop at your waistline to define your smaller waist. For the pants, boot-cut in darker colors is the pant for you.
Dresses: stick with ballgown, empire, or fit & flare styles.
3. Are you an Hourglass shape?
You are an hourglass shape if you have a big bust, slim waist, and curvy hips.
Hourglass is what many people consider the ideal shape. It is easy to dress but keep in mind that you need to highlight your waist with belts and jackets tailored at the waist. When selecting a skirt, pick the ones that stop at your knees or below.
Dresses: you can rock any style or material!
4. Are you a Straight shape?
You are a straight shape if you have a slender and athletic build with shoulders, waist, and hips being roughly the same size.
The straight figure means a sporty body that can benefit from adding some soft feminine lines and materials. Try asymmetrical dresses and skirts with a few ruffles. Avoid anything boxy. To add a few curves, try high-waisted or wide-leg pants. To add a feminine touch, try wrap dress with frill details, asymmetrical hems.
Dresses: stick with an empire, sheath, or A-line styles.
We have covered materials, body types & shapes. I hope my guide is helpful and will improve your shopping experience and wardrobe selections. These are, of course, are not laws; everything should be adjusted based on personal style.
The most essential idea to remember is - create balanced silhouettes - do not let one part of your body to look heavier than the rest.
Also, do not forget about your waistline. If you are a lucky one with a small waist, use belts, and tailored cropped jackets to define the waistline. If you are not excited about your waistline, select A-line designs with empire waistlines to accentuate curves, and create an illusion of hourglass shape.