9 Tips on How To Look Slimmer in a Dress & 12 Dresses You’ll Love

Who else loves the ease of a one-and-done piece? I LOVE being able to throw on a dress and be ready in minutes, but still feel stylish and put together. Dresses are comfortable, easy to dress up or down, and there are SO many different styles. This can be a good and a bad thing…some kinds of dresses can make you look bigger while others incorporate style elements that can actually make you look slimmer and accentuate your best features. I’m sharing some of those style elements, details, and styling tips to help you look slimmer in a dress.

If you’re looking for tips on how to look slimmer in tops, make sure you check out this post next. For more general tips on how to look slimmer, check out this post too!

How To Look Slimmer in a Dress

How To Look Slimmer in a Dress

Add a Belt

I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years and before that, I styled women one-on-one. Something I’ve noticed many women do when wearing or purchasing a dress is that they just pick a big, billowy style because they want to hide or cover up their figure. This makes you look larger than you are because billowy dresses are oversized and don’t help accentuate your body shape. So, if you already have those big billowy dresses in your closet and want to know how to look slimmer in them…just add a belt! Yep, it’s that simple. Adding a belt will help highlight or define the waist, which is much more flattering. You can also look for dresses with a tie waist detail or cinched waist when shopping for dresses.

Choose Dresses with Vertical Lines

Next up, if you want to look slimmer in a dress, wear dresses with vertical lines rather than horizontal lines. Vertical stripes are much more elongating. Along the same lines, try to avoid large-scale prints if you’re trying to minimize your frame. Larger prints draw attention more than smaller, more subtle prints.

Wear Dark Colors

This one is kind of a no-brainer but wearing dark colors will always make you look slimmer. I personally love to wear light colors so if you do too, don’t shy away from them! But if you’re most interested in looking slimmer, darker colors are the way to go.

Wear the Right Undergarments

This is another one that’s obvious, but SO important to mention. Wearing the correct undergarments under your dress can really help with that slimming effect. The right, well-fitting bra puts the girls in the right place and will therefore make your dress fit better.

how to look slim

Avoid Voluminous Details

I love a fun puff sleeve, but if you’re trying to look slimmer in a dress, try avoiding voluminous details like ruffles, pleats, etc. The caveat here is that if they are strategically placed so they benefit your body type, then you can definitely wear these details. For example, wearing an A-line dress with a puff shoulder and a cinched waist can actually help create that hourglass figure. But you really need to know your body shape and how to dress your body shape. Details that work and are more flattering include strategic ruching around the tummy, twist fronts, wrap-style dresses, and empire waists.

Try Structured Dresses

Dresses with structured fabrics will be more slimming because they hold everything in place and minimize the midsection. This is a little more difficult during the summer when we want to wear lightweight dresses, but a cotton poplin dress would be a great option for a more structured summer fabric.

Strategic Necklines

Choosing the right neckline is another important piece of the perfect dress puzzle! V-necklines are the most universally flattering for all body shapes, but scoop necks are another great option. The V-neckline is elongating and draws the eyes up and away from the tummy area.

Strategic Silhouettes

There are SO many different dress styles out there so knowing which styles are the most flattering is important. BUT what’s flattering on one body might not be flattering on another body. Which is why knowing your body shape is so important. In general, A-line dresses, empire waist dresses, and wrap dresses are the most flattering. And remember…you can always add a belt to create the shape you want!

Try Cutouts

I know that many of you are not open to trying cutouts. But before you completely write them off…hear me out! Strategic cutouts around the waist can actually be SO flattering and slimming. Cutouts that hit just below the bust create the illusion of a smaller waist the smallest part of most women’s bodies.

Dresses That Make You Look Slimmer

Dresses That Make You Look Slimmer

Sezane Tie-Waist Dress

This gorgeous white Sezane dress is the perfect example of tip #1…add a belt! With this dress, I didn’t even have to add my own belt because it comes with its own tie-waist detail. You can see in the photo above that having that tied-up waist creates more shape for me. The open V-neckline is also very flattering. If your problem areas are your butt, hips and thighs, something like this would be great for skimming those areas without going too billowy, and you’re still accentuating the waist.

I featured this dress in a recent post on how to dress if you’re petite. Check that out here if you’re interested!


BCBG Blue Ruffle Dress

BCBG Blue Ruffle Dress

Remember earlier in the post when I mentioned that you should avoid voluminous details…well, this is the exception! This gorgeous blue dress has fun, feminine ruffle details…but they’re strategically placed! The way that they lay and how they’re placed creates the look of an hourglass figure. This particular dress is only available in limited sizing, so we’ll link a few dresses below with similar flattering ruffle details.

pink Staud Dress

Staud Dress

This Staud midi dress is a great example of a more structured dress. The dress has thicker (but still lightweight) cotton poplin fabric and the structure on the top will have that slimming effect. The skirt does have subtle pleats but since it’s an A-line dress it’s still very flattering. I love the pink but it comes in a bunch of other colors as well.

Veronica Beard Blue Taffeta Dress

Veronica Beard Blue Taffeta Dress

This blue Veronica Beard dress is another example of a structured dress. It’s taffeta so you really won’t see any lumps and bumps, it doesn’t cling to your skin, and it really slims your body. I also love that the halter neckline on this dress helps draw the eyes up.

BCBG Colorblock Dress | How To Look Slimmer in a Dress

Colorblock Dress

Strategically placed color blocking has always been a great way to highlight the waist and look slimmer. This gown is a beautiful option if you want to look slimmer for your next wedding or special occasion. The colors meet at the slimmest part of my body, which makes it very flattering. Even if you’re not going to wear a gown like this, look for this same color blocking concept when shopping for dresses.

Pink Alexis Belted Dress

Pink Alexis Belted Dress

Next up is this super cool Alexis dress. I love the color, the cinched belted waist detail is SO flattering, the A-line silhouette is slimming, and I’m a huge fan of the midi length, v-neckline, and short sleeves.

Waimari Ruched Midi Dress

Waimari Ruched Midi Dress

Do you remember this Waimari dress from my trip to Utah this spring? I also shared it in one of our For Less Friday series posts here. The ruched panel on the midsection of this dress is one of those slimming details you should look for when shopping for dresses. I love the v-neckline and puff sleeves but if you’re trying to avoid drawing attention to your upper body, I’d go with a dress without puff shoulders. The one I’m wearing keeps going in and out of stock so I linked some similar, waist-cinching options below.

blue printed maxi dress by velvet blue printed maxi dress | How To Look Slimmer in a Dress

Velvet Billowy Dress, Belted!

I wanted to show you a billowy dress without a belt and with a belt so you can see how much more slimming belting a dress can be. On the left, I’m wearing a pretty printed blue and white one-shoulder dress by Velvet. It looks fine and I’d definitely wear it like this. But if you want to make yourself look slimmer, I’d add the belt like I did on the right! Can you see the difference and the magic of the belt?!

Me+Em Cutout Dress

Me+Em Cutout Dress

Next up is an example of how cutout dresses can make you look slimmer! This Me+Em maxi dress has 1) a super flattering V-neckline and 2) strategic cutouts under the bust that really slim the waist!

Black Steve Madden Mini Dress | Black Steve Madden Mini Dress

Black Steve Madden Mini Dress

This chic little black dress has a cinched waist that helps create a skimming A-line shape and conceal a tummy. The puff sleeves are very subtle and combined with the A-line bottom, are very flattering. This dress is older but they have similar options by the same brand here and here.

Yellow A-Line Dress | How To Look Slimmer in a Dress

Yellow A-Line Dress

This gorgeous yellow Monique Lhuillier dress has so many flattering, slimming details…an empire waist, tie waist, and fit-and-flare silhouette. These are the kind of details to look for when shopping for dresses. This exact dress is sold out but this dress and this one will give you a similar look.

Amanda Uprichard Body-Skimming Midi Dress

Amanda Uprichard Body-Skimming Midi Dress

Last but certainly not least is a dress I’ve owned for years and love. If you like the more billowy, oversized dresses and are ready to give them up, instead try something like this body-skimming dress by Amanda Uprichard. You still get that easy, breezy feel of a billowy dress, but it has more shape to it!

Do you have any tips on how to look slimmer in a dress? Don’t keep that to yourself! Please share in the comments below!

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