The Best Dresses for Curvy Women

Khloe Kardashian wears a long, flattering dress with a low neckline to the 2011 People's Choice Awards.

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Real women have curves -- stop obsessing over yours and start embracing them. There are millions of dresses in the world, and lots of them will flatter your curvy figure if you just give them a chance. Whether you need a business dress or one for a black-tie affair, learning to apply basic principles of fitting will help you choose the right dress for your body shape every time.

Neckline

The key in dressing for a curvy figure is to draw the eye to the most flattering places on your body. Opt for a low neckline to show off your assets and bring the viewer's eye up toward your neck and face. A deep V-neck makes a daring impression, while a square neckline will frame your face like it's a work of art. Any neckline that includes embellishment, beading or bright colors will also visually draw the eye upward to your winning smile and let you shine.

Shape and Structure

The shape of the dress can make a big difference. Choose a dress that has a bit of structure to it, like a shift dress that will hug your curves without squeezing the life out of them. If you wear a dress with textured or heavier fabric, the dress will stand on its own and smooth out your shape; a dress with clingy or flimsy fabric will show every lump and bump. To mask a fuller lower half, choose a fuller skirt that flows out from your narrow waist. This will help to disguise any extra width you've got going on down there. A dress with a high waist that tucks in at the narrowest part of your body shows off your hourglass shape as well.

Prints and Patterns

If you're petite and curvy, avoid large prints, as they'll only swallow you up. In general, the larger or taller you are the more you'll be able to pull off really big prints. Stick to prints that have vertical stripes or a visually vertical line so you will appear longer and leaner. Anything with a horizontal print will only make you look wider and shorter. A two-tone dress with a lighter color on top near the bust and neckline and a darker color at the waist and lower makes people look toward the lighter color, where they'll see your face and your chest area more than your lower half.

Length

Wear a knee-length dress to show off your calves if they are the thinnest part of your legs. Anything above the knee may show off too much thigh, but just slightly above the knee should still be fine. If you go too long, the dress begins to take over your body. A long, solid-colored dress gives a slimming effect, but avoid a bold print in a full-length gown; the combination may just be too much. Instead of a print, opt for a bright, festive color and a one-shoulder neckline to draw the eye upward and elongate the body.

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