This article was originally written by a bridal shop but adapted here for the unique challenges of the transgender woman. Shopping for a dress is fun but it can be overwhelming too. Knowing basic dress silhouettes and body types and understanding how they flatter your figure will help. Remember: How you feel in that dress is also crucial to finding the right fit. Finding the right balance in your silhouette is essential for a fabulous look
You’re built like a swimmer, with wide-set shoulders. (Well, this is many of us)
Dress dos: Highlight your toned shoulders with a halter neckline, or go for drama in a dress with long sleeves worn off the shoulder. Select a dress with a bodice that highlights your waistline to offset your shoulders and create an hourglass shape. However creating that effect below the waistline may require some additional padding or an a-line/full skirt that adds fullness to your silhouette.
Dress don’ts: Trying to conceal your shoulders is not a bad idea but it sometimes produces the opposite effect. Stay away from cap sleeves or any garment which can add width to the shoulder area. Check the mirror from all angles. Designer comments: Igigi is probably the best example of dresses designed for broad shoulders
Petite, plus or average size, you’ve got a full bust. (Crossdressers love full busts, basically d-cup or larger)
Dress dos: Accentuate the positive with an uplifting foundation garment, like a good bra, or a corset. Or minimize your curves by balancing your top with a full skirt.
Dress don’ts: Be careful that your dress isn’t too revealing — you want the focus to be on your face. And don’t forget to move around in your dress to make sure everything stays in place and you’re not stretched in the wrong places
Terry Hall, fashion director at Kleinfeld Bridal, says, “Ruching can actually help slim and balance a larger bust.”
Short or tall, you have a boyish waistline. (usually described as a rectangular shape which is many of us)
Dress dos: Empire-waist gowns are made with you in mind. And a dress with a basque waistline, which is a V-shaped dip in the front, will give your waist a nipped-in look for more shape.
Dress don’ts: Steer clear of sheaths and dropped-waist styles, which will make you appear boxier.
Try the corset option which create the illusion of shape by defining your waist
You’re tiny. (I didn’t think we had tiny guys until I met Vikki at 5-2, 115 lbs)
Dress dos: The key word here is elongation. It’s best to keep it simple. A column-like sheath or an A-line dress works best: These will keep the eye moving and create the illusion of height.
Dress don’ts: Almost all silhouettes will flatter your figure, though a big ball gown or a dress with lots of voluminous fabric may look overwhelming on your small frame..
You’re five foot ten or taller.
Dress dos: Taller women look great in everything from sheaths to A-line styles and full ball gowns.
Dress don’ts: Skip dresses with high necklines because they’ll draw the eye upward and create more length. And avoid updos and headpieces that add too much extra height.
Short or tall, you’re not a fleshy woman.
Dress dos: Bateau necklines and sleeveless gowns are flattering options for you. A ball gown is a very feminine shape that will balance out your overall silhouette and visually create curves. Try one with a dramatic cutout back.
Dress don’ts: If you’re concerned your collarbone is too bony, stay away from portrait, off-the-shoulder or halter necklines. And if you’re flat-chested, avoid a bodice with pre-designed cups.
Designer to try: Elizabeth Fillmore is the ultimate designer for statuesque, sheath gowns.
(well, if you got this far, at least I know you are paying attention. No, we don’t get pregnant, but we do have apple-shaped bodies very similar to a baby bump. I’m one of them)
Dress dos: An Empire waist is your best bet for its loose structure and relaxed silhouette. Dress don’ts: Avoid anything that’s too constricting, uncomfortable or tight which will emphasize your middle.
You’re self-conscious about your arms, whether they’re heavy, jiggly or too skinny.
Dress dos: Choose long or three-quarter-length sleeves in a sheer illusion fabric, or add a bolero to your look, which can be removed whenever you like!
Dress don’ts: Steer clear of off-the-shoulder styles and cap sleeves, which will highlight the upper arms.
Designer to try: Reem Acra, Augusta Jones, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta
Multiple designers provide sheer overlays — cover-ups that camouflage arm issues.
Even though certain styles work best on certain body types, don’t let the “rules” narrow your search too much. It helps to try on all different kinds of dresses and then decide what shape and style you look and feel best in.. Check this brief video for some practical examples of what to wear for your body type. Then take a look at our broad range of day dresses and evening wear in the Sister House boutique.