Flattering Summer Dresses for Every Body Type

Once the temps start rising, dresses are ideal. They’re pretty, they’re way cooler than pants and they require very little thought, since there’s no top-to-bottom matching required. But finding one that best complements your particular frame is a tiny bit tricky. Here’s how to choose the style that flatters your body the most.


Full-skirted dress for a pear-shaped body

Two things you want to do here: highlight your best assets while still feeling breezy and carefree. But if you have wider hips, a lot of straight-cut summer dresses are likely your worst nightmare. Instead, opt for a dress with some structure—specifically a fitted bodice, a nipped waist and a pleated skirt. Then, twirl.

Get the look: New York & Company ($70); Calvin Klein ($139); Kate Spade ($348)

Flared shift dress for an apple-shaped body

Well, isn’t this the summer dress of our dreams? Look for something that drapes your figure without hugging your midsection too closely, but don’t settle for just a shapeless sack dress. Try to find one with a slight trumpet hem to give the illusion of a smaller waist. Trust us: It works.

Get the look: Old Navy ($20); Charles Henry ($88); DVF ($200)

flattering summer dresses hourglass shape
Girl with Curves

Fit-and-flare for an hourglass-shaped body

This silhouette is a curvy lady’s best friend. It’s perfect for showing off your well-proportioned body and, in a stretchy knit, couldn’t be more comfortable. To highlight your slim waist even more, make like the photo above and tie a cotton sweater around your narrowest part.

Get the look: Eloquii ($120); Banana Republic ($138); Rebecca Taylor ($160)

flattering summer dresses boyish shape
Brooklyn Blonde

Belted shirtdress for a boyish-shaped body

If you’re looking to add curves to a straighter shape, opt for something that can be easily accessorized to define your waist. The perfect piece: a crisp shirtdress that you can cinch with a thin belt. It creates the illusion of an hourglass and also shows off your toned legs.

Get the look: Gap ($70); Madewell ($110); The Odells ($198)

Mini shift dress for a petite body type

The key to flattering a slight figure is not drowning it in fabric. Choose a dress with a shorter hemline that will give the illusion of longer legs. But since it’s short, be sure to steer clear of anything super tight, lest you look like you’re heading to the club circa 2002. A structured mod shift should do.

Get the look: Loft ($90); J.Crew ($110); Joie ($288)

Flowy midi dress for a tall body type

Unlike the petite gals, taller woman can opt for styles with a little more fabric. But don’t feel like you have to go full-on maxi. This summer, show some ankle in a romantic midi dress. The cropped hem will keep you from feeling too elongated.

Get the look: Zara ($70); Topshop ($95); Donna Morgan ($228)

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...