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The Forgiving Dress

The Forgiving Dress

So what is a forgiving dress? A reader recently wrote to Sally McGraw at her Already Pretty blog with a question about a body that changes shape during the day (because of Lyme disease). She loved wearing dresses  because they are easy and comfortable but wanted recommendations for dress shapes and materials. And while Sally’s answer was directed to the specific problem of the reader, her general comments are most appropriate for us larger gals without those hourglass figures as they are forgiving of our tummy area while still presenting a fashionable silhouette.

A forgiving dress is also quite popular here in the tropics because they are flowy and breezy with good movement necessary for comfort in hot climates. They are worn in all lengths here  from minis and mid-thigh to maxi/ankle-length dresses. Add in a beautiful print with some lace or ruffles, some fabulous sandals or wedgies,  and a little bit of bling and you have summer glam and a whole lot of sex appeal.

Sally said, “In terms of dresses, the first style that comes to mind is swing, which is basically an A-line shape that starts at the shoulders. (I own a Karen Kane one, outfit post here.) This will give the midsection lots of room, and if the style feels too loose you can bring in the volume a bit with a blazer or jacket.” These swing dresses, also worn as a top and a skater skirt, are very popular here in Mexico. They’re largely worn by the younger crowd because they are short.


Some might point you to empire waist dresses which would also give you room and midsection comfort, but many of us look little-girly or pregnant in that style. You can also try for dresses that are stretchy but have some ruching or detailing in the front – though depending on the style those can add volume, too. Twist fronts and cascades are in the same family, and can give some shape to the dress without being super clingy and revealing.

forgiving dress-shapes-for-weight-change

I recently had a empire style LBD custom made with front pleating to hide my tummy and I was very pleased with the results.


Tasi in LBD

Sally also said, “Princess seams combined with a lack of hard waistband are another option. A dress that is shaped gently with this style of side-seaming can be a good fit for a fluctuating body and is less voluminous than the other two styles. It is the least forgiving of hour-to-hour changes, though, and depending on the cut may show off your shape. But if you add jacket or blazer that may draw attention away from your midsection.”

Sally was reluctant to make strong recommendations for materials, but most of these dress styles are made from more fluid fabrics anyway.

Here are a few stores to check out online:

As for me. I’m going to have some of these very popular shift dresses made for day time wear and I’ll fit right in as you can see from this women shopper at my favorite local grocery store. Check out my Pinterest pages on African Styles and Merida Fashion to see examples of the many colorful styles of a forgiving dress.

shopper in shift dress





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