How Do I Choose the Best plus Size Evening Wear?

Judith Smith Sullivan

The best plus size evening wear will be beautiful, flattering, and affordable. It will be in a style and color that flatters your body and skin type. The best gown will also have features that emphasize your body's positive attributes and hide your body's flaws. Before you begin shopping, you need to take a good look at your body and indentify your body type.

Women with "pear shaped" bodies should avoid tops with deep V-necks.
Women with "pear shaped" bodies should avoid tops with deep V-necks.

Plus size body types are typically grouped into three basic shapes: hourglass, pear shaped, and round. An hourglass plus sized body is quite shapely, with hips and bust fuller than the waist. The pear shaped body has narrow shoulders and small bust, with a full bottom and thighs. The round shape has a full bust and bottom, but an undefined waist and rounded tummy.

To find your shape, use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your body at the fullest line of your bust, waist, and bottom.
To find your shape, use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your body at the fullest line of your bust, waist, and bottom.

To find your shape, use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your body at the fullest line of your bust, waist, and bottom. To find your waist, simply lean your torso to one side. The resulting crease on the side of your torso is where you should measure your waist.

A typical hourglass figure has a waist that is 5 or more inches (about 12.5 cm) smaller than the bust and bottom. The pear shape will have a bottom that is larger than the bust by more than 2 inches (about 5 cm). A round shape will have a waist which is equal to or larger than the bust and bottom measurements.

When you have determined your body type, consider what colors you look best in. Of course, dark colors are often slimming, but they are not flattering to all skin tones. You may also find that you look better in deep colors versus light colors, or vice versa. Warm skin tones respond well to peach, gold, tan, brown, and tropical blues like teal. Cool skin tones look good in pure, icy colors like purple, emerald green, black, and silver.

With your body type and most flattering colors in mind, you're ready to shop. A woman with an hourglass figure can wear many styles, but should avoid anything too tight or accessorized. An evening dress that is too tight will be uncomfortable and unflattering because it will too small. Too many accessories can make an hourglass figure look heavier than it really is, throwing off the balance of the silhouette.

The best plus size evening wear for the hourglass shape will emphasize the waist and either the bust or bottom. For instance, a long dress with a deep V-neck looks flattering. Another good option is a skirt in dressy fabric like satin, velvet, or sequins, coupled with a wrap top. Take care not to draw attention to all curvy areas at once, as this will disrupt the natural proportion of the body.

If you have a pear shaped figure, avoid full skirts and tight bodices. To create the illusion of a proportioned body, look for dresses and tops with a few embellishments. Also avoid deep v-necks as they emphasize the smallness of the chest. Instead, look for a portrait collar or bateau neckline to make the shoulders appear wider.

Bright colors in tops and bodices are also attractive on pear shaped bodies. The best plus size evening wear for a pear shaped figure will have a skirt which skims the hips and bottom, in a darker color than the top. This will help the hips to appear smaller.

Women with round shaped bodies should avoid styles that draw attention to the waist. Belts or seams horizontal to the waist line often make it appear larger than it is. Very full skirts can also emphasize the tummy and bottom. Wide necklines should also be avoided.

Flattering plus size evening wear for round body types is a dress or top with a medium to deep V-neck, with asymmetric ruching along the torso. An empire waist is also very flattering, as it creates a horizontal line at the smallest part of your body, directly underneath the breasts. This accentuates the bust while lengthening the overall silhouette of the body.

If you find a gown in a great color that flatters your body type but doesn't fit correctly, have it altered. Many department stores do simple alterations, like shortening hems or adjusting straps, for a minimal fee. A seamstress can also adjust the fit along the bust, waist, and hips. If you are in between sizes, purchase a size larger, as there is not always enough fabric in the seams to be let out. A dress that is fit to your body will be much more flattering and attractive.

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Discussion Comments


@Iluviaporos - I do agree to some extent that people (men and women) shouldn't worry about their looks too much, but on the other hand they also shouldn't force themselves to wear something that's going to make them self conscious.

If you are wearing plus sized evening dress, it's probably a formal occasion and the last thing you need in that kind of situation is to be worrying about what everyone thinks. Wear whatever you can find that will ease your mind.


@KoiwiGal - Another thing I've noticed is that a lot of women seem to avoid wearing what they want to wear because they are trying to make themselves look as slim as possible, rather than as beautiful as possible. The plus size gowns that look the most beautiful on you aren't necessarily going to be the most slimming. They might not completely hide your arms or your back fat or whatever.

I can still remember the gorgeous old fashioned blue dress one of my friends wore to a dance when we were in college. She had found it in a second hand store and loved it so much she wore it even though it didn't hide her arms (which she thought were too large).

She had never had so many compliments as that night and she deserved them. She looked wonderful.


I know we all like to go for black as a staple of plus size clothing and that it does tend to be fairly flattering, but I've found that jewel colors or even the occasional pattern can do wonders as well. Wearing black will often just make it look like you're trying to blend in and give people nothing to look at.

You've just got to play up your assets. So, if you've got awesome legs, that's where the color and patterns should go. Don't get a really full skirt because you're just going to hide them.

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