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Don't ever forget how beautiful your skinny bod is, even if you don't have the curves of some of your pals. Keira Knightley and lots of petite or willowy actresses and models show off their frames with flair. Whether you're short and slender or tall and lanky, the right formal dresses will flatter you.
An A-line dress grows progressively wider toward the bottom. This makes the hips flare out, adding the appearance of curves. If you're more into the long, slim look than a curvaceous form, a subtle A-line still adds definition, especially if the dress has a broad waistband. Go for a higher neckline instead of a lower one if you have small breasts -- princess cuts look gorgeous on thin ladies. Flirty flutter sleeves cover skinny shoulders nicely, while spaghetti straps and one-shoulder numbers show off a sleek upper bod.
An empire waist also adds definition to an athletic shape. Instead of gathering at the waist, it gathers just under your bust, with the rest of the dress draping loosely downward. Empire-waist gowns often have spaghetti straps or fluttery, barely there sleeves. Choose a gentle scoop neckline, or spring for a more revealing one if you have cleavage and want to flaunt it.
Cocktail dresses are shorter formal dresses, usually hitting the mid or lower thigh. The shift dress is a popular style that looks good on most figures, typically hanging straight down. To keep from looking too straight, go for a shift dress with an A-line flair.
Any color will work for your form, as long as you choose a shade that complements your skin tone. Consider the look you're going for, too. If you want to appear taller, choose a dress that's all one color. Black and deep blue create a sophisticated look that emphasizes height. A dress with different colors above and below the bust line de-emphasizes height and adds a little width to your form. Large prints have a widening effect, meaning you're one of the lucky few who can pull them off with style.
Thick, stiff fabrics such as taffeta and layered materials work well for adding curves, because they puff out more. Silky fabrics that gather add subtle definition while gently flowing over your form for a graceful, willowy look. Layering on the bust area will add the look of curves there.