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Video: Dresses that will flatter your figure

updated 5/30/2007 11:35:41 AM ET 2007-05-30T15:35:41

Empire waist, bubble, a-line, even the mini — this summer it's all about the dress. But not ever dress works for every body. Shape Magazine's Jacqui Stafford has tips to help you choose the best dress for you..

Big bust:
With this body type, it's easy to look heavy with a larger bust, so focus on detailing with an empire waistline. Go for dresses with wider, bra-friendly straps (it's key for someone with a bigger bust) and avoid dresses that don’t have support, or ones with spaghetti straps that mean you can’t wear a bra. Often, it's tempting to go for higher necklines that can cut off at the neck, but that simply serves to emphasize a fuller bust.

What you saw on TODAY:
Dress: Ann Taylor ($148; Ann Taylor stores & anntaylor.com)
Shoes: Bebe “Kijana” peep toe ($190; Bebe.com)
Bracelet: Totally Fab Design ($50; totallyfabdesign.com)
Handbag: Matt & Nat “Jorja Fox” bag ($130; tiasplace.com)
Sunglasses: Pop ($22; tiasplace.com)

With petites, proportions are key so you don’t overwhelm a small frame. Use color and texture instead of volume, and always add a high heel to create an elongated frame. Petites should go for extra rusching around the bust line, which adds volume and creates the illusion of a bust. Be careful with length — too long can make you look shorter. Fun accessories add to the look, but go for structured ones that are not too large.

What you saw on TODAY:
Dress: Shoshanna dress ($350; Sak's Fifth Avenue stores)
Shoes: Bebe “Kerry” patent shoes ($119; Bebe.com)
Sunglasses: Pop ($22; tiasplace.com)
Bag: Matt & Nat ($100; tiasplace.com)
Bangles: AV Max ($45; tiasplace.com)


Apple shape:
Apple shapes look best in outfits that skim the body. A flattering neckline and the rusching draws attention away from a wider mid-section. The empire-line neckline is best for someone with a thicker waist as it makes the body look longer and leaner. It also diverts attention away from the natural waist line. A slight A-line skims the body and an all one pattern doesn't cut the body in half but makes you look longer and leaner. Key points: Use rusching to create the illusion of a more shapely figure. Play up other assets such as good legs and arms.

What you saw on TODAY:
Dress: New York & Company ($39.50; New York & Company stores)
Shoes: Nine West “Alva” shoe ($89; Nine West stores;ninewest.com)
Bag: Echo bag ($34; tiasplace.com
Cuff: AV Max ($22; tiasplace.com)
Bangles: AV Max ($64; tiasplace.com)

Go with a fluid bottom of the dress to camouflage problem area. Emphasize shoulders and arms, which are often the most flattering part of a women's body. A fresh-looking loose tunic style silhouette draws the eye upwards and easily camouflages a heavier bottom half. Pair it with a small ornate clutch, rather than a larger, roomier bag. For the petite woman you want the dress to be the framework.

What you saw on TODAY:
Dress: Tibi ($280;
Shoes: Bebe “Valora” ($139;
Jewelry: Totally Fab Design ($345; Saks Fifth Ave)
Sunglasses: Pop ($22;
Bag: Shih bag ($65;

Boy shape:
The trick for boy shapes is to give the illusion of feminine curves. The perfect solution is a halter style since it shows off a great neckline and the V-neck since it draws attention to the bustline shape. Vertical stitched seams are key, since they create curves where they didn't exist before. This is an ultra-feminine dress.

What you saw on TODAY:
Dress: White House/Black Market ($138; Whitehouseblackmarket.com)
Shoes: Bebe “Glenda” ($129;
Sunglasses: Pop ($22;
Bangles: AV Max ($56;

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints


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