How To Style a Shift Dress on Hourglass and Pear Shapes

how to style a shift dress on hourglass and pear shapes Nineteen Sixties (24 of 36)Nineteen Sixties (33 of 36) When you search ways to make outfits online, there are always “rules” that people will lay out. Guidelines on how to find the most flattering fit for your body type, articles on what not to wear if you’re xyz, charts of which colors are best for your complexion. The lists go on and on. Of course, many of these things are helpful if you have a fit issue you’re trying to solve, or want to nail down the colors that make you feel amazing. But sometimes they’re ridiculous too, laying down strict statements about what bodies can and cannot wear. I must admit, for a very long time I have always adhered by my own rule that my body type — somewhere between an hourglass and a pear — cannot wear shift dresses. “Minimize your hips!” my brain shouts at me, “Emphasize your waist! Make sure it fits your top half well!” Whether these thoughts are a product of having been hyper-aware of the fashion “rules” for so many years, or whether they’re a product of my own insecurities, I’m not quite sure.

But putting those straight lines on my curvy body has always scared me a little bit. I become immediately self-conscious of the way the cut feels. How instead of calling attention to the things I like about my body — my waist and chest and shoulders — it obliterates those altogether. How it feels as though it’s emphasizing my hips and thighs, which are things about my body that I’ve always struggled to like.
Nineteen Sixties (18 of 36)

Dress, vintage (similar here, here, and here) | tights, We Love Colors | Heels, Amazon | cape, old (similar here) | Hat, vintage (Similar here, here, and here) | brooch, vintage (Similar here, here, and here) | check out my favorite amazon picks! 

Nineteen Sixties (32 of 36)Nineteen Sixties (36 of 36)Nineteen Sixties (3 of 36)
But when this beauty arrived at my doorstep, I knew I had to try anyway. With its beautiful colorful plaid, the bow neck detail, the buttons, and pockets (!!!) it hits many things that I love in a dress. Except the shape! So, how to style a shift dress on an hourglass figure? Here’s what I found:

It’s all about proportions. I find that when the length is longer, just at or below the knee, my cardigan (or in this case, cape) should also be long in line, skimming mid-thigh. If it’s a shorter dress (such as here) then my cardigan should also be shorter, hitting the waist. Then, choosing where I want to place emphasis is key! Creating a longer line with the fit of a looser dress once again helps with proportion and doesn’t make me feel like my hips are the focus. When I’m not wearing a cardigan or cape, I find that choosing a shorter dress with more fitted sleeves and a contrasting detail close to my face helps (such as this dress). The real magic came in topping this particular dress off with a cape. While capes may not be for everyone, I know now that the below-hip length of the garment helps keep from cutting me bluntly in half like adding a cropped cardigan would do, and the vertical lines draw attention back up to my face.

Nineteen Sixties (25 of 36)Nineteen Sixties (9 of 36)Topping it all off with this fabulous 1940’s cherry-and-blossom hat kept my head from feeling too small, and adding dark tights and dark heels spotlighted the bright colors in the dress, again drawing attention to the vertical lines and my face!

While I am all for wearing whatever you want to wear, and wearing what makes you feel amazing, I know that it’s always helpful to find someone with your body type breaking down styles you might not choose right away. Or, heaven forbid, that the internet tells you your body type shouldn’t wear. Personally, I think there’s a way to rock just about any style you want to rock, you just have to play with your colors and proportions until it feels comfortable! It’s totally okay to dress “flattering” for your body type, but I think I’ve just shown that even a shift dress– the big “no no” for a curvy girl — can be flattering on an hourglass figure. So there’s that style rule broken and busted! And the next time you find a garment you love that someone has told you you shouldn’t wear, I hope you put it on, play around, and prove them wrong.

Nineteen Sixties (12 of 36)c1Nineteen Sixties (16 of 36)

Dress, vintage (similar here, here, and here) | tights, We Love Colors | Heels, Amazon | cape, old (similar here) | Hat, vintage (Similar here, here, and here) | brooch, vintage (Similar here, here, and here) | check out my favorite amazon picks! Nineteen Sixties (21 of 36)