How to Choose Plus-Size Dresses That Flatter

Updated on November 23, 2019
prairieprincess profile image

Sharilee Swaity has been an online writer for more than 9 years. Her many interests include plus-size fashion.

How to Choose Plus-Size Dresses That Flatter
How to Choose Plus-Size Dresses That Flatter | Source

Dare to Wear a Dress

There is just something about a dress that screams "woman!" Wearing a dress is a sure-fire way to feel more like a woman, bring out your inner girl and lift your spirits. Why don't we wear more dresses? Wearing a dress takes a bit of courage—it's a bold move. The dress has a little bit of "look at me" in it and sometimes we might not want to be noticed. This article has some great tips for choosing a dress on your plus-size body.

The Woman At Her Toilet
The Woman At Her Toilet | Source

Plus-Size Dresses From the Past

The first source we will consider when looking at how to wear a dress are beautiful women from the past. We will go back in time to an era when "plus size" was not unusual but considered beautiful. What can we learn from the women of this time? Let's examine first some paintings from the Renaissance era and see how they wear their dresses.

The first lady we will look at is from a painting by Titian called The Woman At Her Toilet. The women is thought to be a model. We don't know her name but we do know that Titian chose her to appear in several of his works. The other painting we will examine is by Peter Paul Rubens and it is also named The Woman At Her Toilet. Both of the women would be considered plus-size according to today's standards.

What can we learn from these Renaissance beauties and the way they dress? Let's take the lessons from them to apply to today's dressing.

Principles for Choosing Plus-Size Dresses

  1. Create a corset by drawing in the smallest place in your body. Look for a dress that creates a waist for you at your smallest part, often right below the bust line. If the dress does not have this shape built into it, consider accessories such a belt or a scarf to create this silhouette. If you are blessed with a natural waist, emphasize it. If you don't have much of a waist, create a faux waist by cinching in the smallest part of your silhouette, either through the cut of the dress or by accessorizing.
  2. The skirt part should flow out from the waist or create a waist. This creates a pleasing silhouette. Notice how their skirt is made to flow outwards. When the skirt part flows out, it camouflages a large tummy and hips.
  3. Emphasize your assets. Both of these dresses feature an open neckline that emphasizes the women's neck and bustline. Flattering necklines for the plus-size woman are the v-neck the sweetheart neckline and the scoop neckline. Some plus-size women feel that because they are big in some places, they are "not allowed" to show off their best parts. This is nonsense! None of us are perfect but showing off our best parts does bring less attention to the other parts.

Good Dress Style Choices

Here are some specific styles to consider when shopping for your plus size dress. These styles are great for many plus sized women, but be sure to try different styles on, to see how they work on your particular body. All of these dresses help to create that fantastic hourglass silhouette.

  • A-line dress is a classic shape that tucks in at the waist and gently tapers down. This kind of dress is flattering for most body types.
  • Pintuck dress is one of the most recent trends that is very beautiful. It is actually a modified A-line style that features a flowing skirt for a flirty look.
  • Wrap (or faux wrap) dress is a shape that is very compatible with a bigger woman's body because it is adjustable to any body and hugs the curves very well. Just be sure that there is enough material in the dress to cover your body.
  • Maxi dress is a style that can be attractive for a plus size girl if care is taken to choose the right style. For maxi dresses, be sure to maintain a defined waist and do not allow that loose "mu-mu" look. As well, you may wish to consider a side split to break up the bulk of a maxi dress. An open neckline at the top also helps to offset the long length of the dress.
  • Shark bite hem dress is a very lovely style that features an asymmetrical hemline. This dress line is very flattering for a bigger girl because it creates a diagonal, which makes the woman look less big.
  • Con dresses are known as bar dresses and are very tight. For evening wear, they can be very attractive and tend to tuck a woman in very well. These dresses are very revealing, though, and do tend appeal to women in their twenties.

Adele, a plus-size woman, wears flattering dresses.
Adele, a plus-size woman, wears flattering dresses. | Source

Why a Dress Is Your Best Friend

Remember that a dress can be your best friend. Many plus size women shy away from dresses because they think they are for the "skinny girls" but it is not true. A dress allows you to show off your curves in a way that no other piece of clothing can.

Just be sure to avoid the mu-mu style or anything that has no fit. Don't go for boxy, shapeless dresses, either. One more style to avoid is the long, shapeless "prairie dress" so popular in the late 1980s. So, go for a flattering shape, and you can look feminine and beautiful in a dress.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. As a plus-sized woman, I enjoy writing about fashion that is good for a more voluptuous body. I have also written about plus size tops. If you are into working out, you may want to check out my hub on plus size workout wear. I also wrote about some of the best ways to accessorize your plus sized outfit.

More Good Style Ideas

© 2012 Sharilee Swaity


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Thank you so much for this article. I love your positive, uplifting (no pun intended!) celebratory tone and the beautiful, inspirational illustrations!! I'm going to Google pictures of Adele in dresses. I already knew about A-line dresses and V-necklines, but you presented even that familiar information in a fresh way, and you added new ideas that I had never thought of. I felt good about my body after reading this. The only problem? Now I want more!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      This is so much more of a better visual experience than other sites I have seen today. Those sites that have those tiny women modeling plus size clothes. Why do they insult like that. Its just mean. So thank you. For something real!

    • profile image

      Joan Harrington 

      2 years ago

      the pic's above like the pintail dress and the other one the models are not plus size put those dresses on a 2x or 3x size pic' of a woman to actually see what they look like on a bigger woman

    • prairieprincess profile imageAUTHOR

      Sharilee Swaity 

      5 years ago from Canada

      @Stargrrl, I am so glad you found it helpful. Thanks for the comment, and sorry for the long delay in answering.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This was a really good article. Very helpful advice!

    • prairieprincess profile imageAUTHOR

      Sharilee Swaity 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Love, thank you for coming. I am so glad you appreciated the article. Take care.

    • Lovelovemeloveme profile image


      7 years ago from Cindee's Land

      Interesting hubs with pictures and examples. Thanks

    • prairieprincess profile imageAUTHOR

      Sharilee Swaity 

      7 years ago from Canada

      @PSP, you are so right. The wrap dress, especially, is so flattering and attractive on any woman. Thanks for the great comment!

      @Maddie, thank you so much. Yes, I think we all tend to stick to old favourites but it's good to know there are some other options out there to try, too. Take care!

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 

      7 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I am a curvy lady, and I find that empire waists are incredibly flattering, so I often go for what I know, but wrap dresses are a great wardrobe staple, too!

    • plussizepixie profile image


      7 years ago

      Another great hub prairieprincess. Personally wrap and maxi dresses are my favourite style dresses. I think they flatter every type of curvy figure as long as they have been designed well and fit you.

    • prairieprincess profile imageAUTHOR

      Sharilee Swaity 

      7 years ago from Canada

      @Teaches, thank you so much. Yes, there are definitely are options out there. Dresses have come a long way in the last while. Have a wonderful day!

    • prairieprincess profile imageAUTHOR

      Sharilee Swaity 

      7 years ago from Canada

      @Tonipet, wow! That is great that you linked my site to your hub. I really appreciate it. I will go over and have a look, too.

      And yes, it is true that we sometimes are too busy to really "glam it up" and get girly. You make an excellent point. But well worth it when we do and it's great for all sizes to look beautiful, too. Thanks for the great comment and support.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      I found this interesting and love how you have posted examples in dress. You have options, even if wearing a plus size. Great topic and it will be useful to so many women.

    • Tonipet profile image

      Tonette Fornillos 

      7 years ago from The City of Generals

      Hi prairieprincess. With the almost fast-forward kind of lifestyle women have today, daring to wear a dress do takes a lot, but if one does, even if she has to go for a plus-size, things could be beautiful..a lot lot and lot beautiful. I love all your tips, and I'm linking my "Fat, Thin, Tall, Short - Clothes for Your Figure" hub. We'll be helping many women. Hope that is okay. Thanks once again and keep up!

    • prairieprincess profile imageAUTHOR

      Sharilee Swaity 

      7 years ago from Canada

      @Amar, thanks for your comment. I do understand that not everyone has a waist but I meant to suggest is that the dress should create a silhouette that suggests a waist, often right below the bustline. which is often the smallest part on many women.

      Have a great night!

      @Kashmir, ha ha! That made me laugh! I don't think you should dare to wear a dress, no matter how much anyone begs. LOL. Thanks for the comment and stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi my friend, sorry even if you dare me I'm not wearing a dress . :-) But really this is all great information to help all woman that may wear a plus size, well done !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • Amaryllis profile image

      Lesley Charalambides 

      7 years ago from New Hampshire

      I do so agree that a dress helps you feel feminine, and that there is no reason for a plus size woman to feel afraid of them, but we'll have to agree to disagree on cinching in the waist.

      Speaking as someone who hasn't had a waist since 1997, trying to pull it in just doesn't work for me, but you are right, i'st easy to get inspiration from the past. I find empire waists are ideal, they allow we show a little cleavage when I want to, but cover over the total lack of waist.

      Plus size isn't a single shape as I'm sure you know, maybe yanking in the waist isn't for everyone.

      But I did enjoy your hub!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)