The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shapes

by Karen


Finding the right dress shouldn’t be so hard. With so many fabrics, silhouettes, and necklines, it helps to have a guide to dress shapes for your body type.

Let’s be clear; there is a seemingly endless range of dress shapes. However, when it comes down to the bare essentials, we have the letters and the rest.

The letters regarding dress shapes come in seven types; A, H, I, T, V, X, and Y. Let’s have a quick look at what these letters present in terms of dress shapes and body shapes.


Know Your Dress by Knowing Your Body

1.    The A Shape

Also known as the A-line dress, the A-shape fits around the hips and flares out at the hem, resembling the A shape.

You’ll find plenty of A-line dresses in stores for formal occasions and casual outings. A-line dresses are easy to wear and are extra feminine when you pair them with flowing, gauzy fabric.

Most A-line dresses suit hourglass and pear-shaped bodies well. But only if the neckline is not too closed-off. Otherwise, it will make your lower half look bigger.

Shape-A Dress

2.    The H Shape

Considering that the H shape has no curves and snugs, this dress style fits those with similar measurements for the shoulders and hips and has a flat bottom.

Typically, if you have a wide waist, the H-shape in a dress helps create curves and accentuates your feminine features by targeting your bumps and lumps.

You’ll often find H-shaped dresses with asymmetric details and belts around the waist. That brings the eyes toward the hips and the upper body, adding more texture to your overall look.

The H Shape Dress

3.    The I Shape

Stretch out all the characteristics of the H shape, and you have the “I shape.”

The I type typically sport a lean body with hips and shoulders measuring similarly. These people also don’t have a defined waist, so dresses for I-shaped bodies use various elements to create more curves and volume.

The I-shaped dress uses boat necks, crew, and turtle necks to add more length. These dresses also focus on geometrics and swirls and patterns and prints to add some extra volume.

The I Shape dress

4.    The T Shape

The T-shape is also known as the inverted triangle. These dresses are ideally suited for women with a square shoulder line, flatter hips, long legs, and a small defined waist.

With a broader top and smaller bottom, the T-shaped dress adds volume to the lower half of the body and downplays your broad shoulders. In other words, it balances your look. By showing off your shoulders and bringing attention to your legs or your height, these dresses use wool, satin, crinkled fabrics, as well as simple, sharp lines to create a well-defined look.

Note: Women who choose a T-shape dress for a T-shaped body may find that not all such dresses fit them well. Some women may lean more toward the hourglass, while others may have lesser curves. If possible, try to find a dress that creates balance.

The T Shape Dress

5.    The V Shape

Also known as the cone shape or the Apple, the V-shape is characterized by a wider upper body and shoulders and smaller hips.

Dresses for V-shaped bodies often focus on the lower half of the ensemble to bring the eyes downward. The objective is to make both sections of your body equal. You’ll often find flared skirts, horizontal details, and embellishments around the waist to add more shape and curvature to your hips.

V-shaped dresses also use narrow necklines, like a round or smaller U-neckline, to make the dress seem more vertical. The fabric will also be more textured to add those solid lines to your overall silhouette.

The V Shape dress

6.    The X Shape

This is the hourglass shape. Regarded as the ideal body type, the X or hourglass body types typically don’t have a problem finding dresses because most cater to this shoulder-to-waist-to-hip ratio. However, even with hourglass bodies, these require more refined clothing since some women have shorter legs or longer legs or may even have a bigger body.

Most X-shaped dresses use A-lines or flare skirts and wrap styles to highlight the natural curves of the body. Patterns and designs are limited to the lower half of the body. And often, brands market skirts and blouses as the right choice for hourglass bodies because it allows them to put their smaller waist on display.

The X Shape dress

7.    The Y Shape

Y-shaped people often have a larger bust, smaller hips, and a narrow waist. Because of this shape, many women have problems finding the right dress because the necklines become overstretched, turning a simple dress into a sexy outfit. While that’s not necessarily bad, many Y-shaped women look for clothes that adjust their proportions.

If you look for dresses for Y-shapes, you’ll typically find fitted tops with higher closed necklines, making the wearer feel more comfortable. Dresses for Y-shaped bodies also use delicate prints, dark hues. Bright colours are used for the lower half of the dress. Most Y-shaped dresses are also full-length or below the knee, and in A-line, so you get a sense of a fuller half to complement the upper half.

The Y Shape Dress

Other Dress Shapes

Other Dress Shapes

The dress shapes mentioned above make the average collection of women’s dresses. But they’re not the only ones. There are plenty of other styles that suit different body types that may not resemble the types we’ve stated above.

Some of the dress types in this category include:

  • Trapeze
  • Triangle
  • Bill
  • Balloon
  • Charleston
  • Empire
  • Princess

The trapeze dress is a take on the A-line dress. Instead of being open and flowing from the top, the trapeze dress cinches around the natural waistline and extends down. Because of the fit, the trapeze dress does not fit everybody since some people have a more defined waist than others. So, it can be challenging to wear such an ensemble.

The triangle dress is universally flattering. This dress cinches loosely under the bust before flowing down in multiple tiered pleats. This style is aesthetically appealing for all body types, even for the long and lean among us. The tiered pleats add texture and movement to the look, making the dress look more filled and flowing.

The bill dress, known as the fit and flare dress, is another universally appealing shape. The fit and flare system means that the top part of the dress fits the shoulders and bust snugly and flares down from the waist, creating an hourglass silhouette, even for those who may not have an hourglass physique. The cinched waist works well for curvy bodies and adds body to those with a smaller bust.

The balloon dress or bubble dress isn’t exactly as the name describes. Although cinched at the waist with a body-hugging bodice to top it off, the balloon dress flares as it goes down then narrows as it gets to the knee. The hemline for this type of dress is typically hidden from view under the pleats. While old-fashioned, the bubble dress silhouette is slowly making a comeback in fashion.

Think of the Charleston dress as a take on the I-shaped dress, but with a twist. While these dresses use a loose and snug silhouette to hug the body, the real fun comes below the hemline, often decorated with beads, embellishments, or fabrics. A favourite among the flapper girls of the 1920s, the Charleston dress is vintage but continues to inspire designers to add fun elements like fringes and sequins to all the party dresses in the industry.

The empire dress takes inspiration from the fashion styles of the 19th century. The empire silhouette fits around the bodice before going straight down to your ankles. Empire dresses give you a high-waisted look and make you look longer as well. If you have a bigger tummy, a less defined waist, or short legs, this dress covers it all because it brings attention to your bust.

Finally, the princess dress may remind you of the long, frilly dresses of Disney princesses. However, the princess dress actually fits the woman’s natural silhouette. This dress uses long panels cut into the dress without separation. As a result, the skirt flares less, the body looks loner and leaner and shows off your curves while slimming you down.


All dress shapes we see in fashion cater to our body’s needs to look our best. Now, with the information we’ve provided, we hope you use all these details to get yourself the type of dress that makes you look good and feel good.

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