This is why I don't wear dresses.
November 13, 2005 11:44 PM   Subscribe

Ladies.. I haven't worn a dress since my father's wedding at age 3, but...

I have a wedding coming up in December. Originally I was supposed to be a bridesmaid but one of the groomsmen dropped out so now i'm just attending. Now the wedding isn't super formal because it's a bit of a shotgun affair and I have a sneaking suspicion knowing the friends of both bride and groom that some people are definitely going to show up in their best jeans, however, the bride's dress is of the Cinderella type.

I'm expected to wear a dress, but after trying some on the other day I really don't know what style would be best for my body type. I'm very tall, 5'10, and very slender about 135 pounds. I'm small-chested, with narrow shoulders and good-sized hips, about 40". Most of the selection I saw was of the backless sort which tied like a halter top around the neck. These made me look TOTALLY flat chested with enormous hips. Any stylish people out there know what kind of dress would minimize my hips and make my chest seem more in porportion? Would wearing a cardigan over my shoulders help?

I'll probably end up with something from Dillards (it's a small town) so it would be helpful if you could point one of these out.. Thank You!
posted by Ugh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
I'd go for the 'My Michelle' or 'Ruby Rox'. You want something that has a fitted top, but doesn't rely on cleavage - the idea is that you look pert, not flat. I'd think you want a skirt part that skims your hips - then the dress shape is working with your body, not against it. That kind of style is often called 'Empire line'.
posted by crabintheocean at 11:55 PM on November 13, 2005

You probably want something that's got some body on top, like draping or other details, to help balance out your chest, and something that's A-line or full on the bottom, to balance out your hips.

Something like this might work, since it goes in above your hips and will make your waist look tiny, and it has some detailing on top to add to your chest.

This might also work for the same reasons, though it's hard to tell how full the skirt is, as might this, where the upward-pointing detailing would help emphasize your chest. Ditto on this one.

If you can find something that's lighter colored (or printed) on top and dark on the bottom, that can also help. And yes, a cardigan (if it's small and fitted) would probably help.
posted by occhiblu at 12:01 AM on November 14, 2005

One of the most universally flattering dress styles is the "wrap dress", popularized by Diane von Furstenberg(here's some pictures). You should be able to find knockoffs most places.

I think the thing you may want to go for is to balance out your top and bottom halves - have some substance and structure up top and keep it flowy and skimming on the bottom. Going with something to sparse on top like spagetti straps or strapless may not be too flattering.
posted by dicaxpuella at 12:07 AM on November 14, 2005

TV to the rescue!

It sounds as if you could follow the guidelines for someone like Trinney in BBC's "What Not to Wear"
posted by mirileh at 12:17 AM on November 14, 2005

Wait, you know those are junior dresses, right? Is that because you're slim? They may look funny though because I doubt they'd be tailored for a 5'10" woman.
posted by barnone at 5:11 AM on November 14, 2005

If you get a dress with a back, you can stuff.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:18 AM on November 14, 2005

Can you wear a jacket with your dress? Maybe something like this? The padded shoulders should make your hips look smaller.
posted by sexymofo at 5:25 AM on November 14, 2005

Light on top and darker on bottom, diagonal eyeline pieces and material with slightly more structure will be good. This piece has all three.

The dress on the left here would be great -- the neckline and straps are really flattering on a smaller chest (believe me!), they hide your bra straps, and that square/v neckline would really balance out your hips. A halter is exactly the wrong thing - it will gape at the chest and emphasize your hips. And a little black dress like this can be repurposed really easily.

This square neckline might also really work.

Be careful of limiting yourself to the juniors sizes - I've included all women's sizes here. Even though you're slender, it's easier to take in some of these dresses if needed than to reformat the junior dresses. Even if you can fit into those dresses, the vast majority of them won't be properly proportioned for you - you're still a woman's proportion, not a pre-teen, especially with your height and hips.
posted by barnone at 5:27 AM on November 14, 2005

I once got a really, really great dress from a store called Cache, and I've seen them in a lot of malls. Look for one of those. Also, if there is a White House/Black Market store near you, they have really nice, really classic clothes.

I would suggest a round neck, maybe backless, sleeveless affair to show off your arms and back, which on a tall, thin person should be quite attractive. Maybe look for skirts cut on the bias, A-line, anything to emphasize your waist as being small and skm over your hips. Look in the grown-ups dress departments; do not limit yourself to Juniors. Finally, try everything on. Seriously. Just get a pile of stuff and try it all on. The one dress I've had that I've loved and worn to about a trillion functions I never would have thought would look good, but I was talked into trying it on. Oh, and if you have an honest friend to take along, do that. It's nice to have a dress-shopping wing-person who won't lie to you to get you out of the store.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:50 AM on November 14, 2005

A big part of looking great in the dress is picking the right underwear. Victoria's Secret has bras that are (subtly) padded (I think they call it, 'lined' or 'moulded' for the ones that aren't obviously marketed as making you look fuller on top) and will give the illusion of anything from one-half to a full cup size larger, without being glaringly obvious. There are also foundation garments there (or good old fashioned support hose, available at your local drugstore) that slim and smooth the hip area. I am a tall thin girl with narrow hips, and I still like the nice lines they give you with very fitted pants or certain dresses/skirts.
posted by availablelight at 8:58 AM on November 14, 2005

Late to the party, but oh well!

For your top, look for something in a v-neck that has detailing either right under the bust or along the v. For the bottom, avoid Empire waists (where the "skirt" part starts underneath the bustline), and go for an A-line or full skirt in a structured fabric. stay away from really light fabrics, those tend to emphasize the thighs more. In therms of structure, this one looks about right, the shoulders are far apart so it'll give width, deemphasizing the hips, and you can still wear a bra.
posted by orangskye at 7:28 PM on November 14, 2005

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