Formal Dress Styles For Plus Size Women: What Looks Good And What Doesn't

A plus size woman can look sensation in formal wear if she chooses an outfit that showcases her figure and her beauty.

Women's formal wear is different than men's in a crucial respect. While men are now being granted more leeway in color, style or fabric details, they are still expected to wear some variation on a tuxedo. A woman, on the other hand, can wear a wide range of garments and still be dressed appropriately for a formal situation.

She can wear male formal wear if it's becoming, or she may chose an outrageously feminine dress suit with a skirt or pants. She can wear a dress with a high neck, a dress with a low neck, a long elegant evening gown with a train, or a little satin frock. She can wear black, white, red or green and every color in between. The only true requirement for a woman's formal dress is that it should make her look beautiful.

What's true of women in general is especially true for the plus size woman. The full figured woman has many choices, and there's no reason she can't look just as attractive in formal wear as any other style. If possible, a woman should shop with a trustworthy, honest and supportive friend who can see her in the garment from all angles and let her know whether it is a becoming choice. No one can see herself well from the back. If a woman wants to look good in any clothing style she needs to identify her best attributes and dress to display and enhance them.

For example, many plus size women have a lovely full bust. The right low cut neckline can show it off. The garment should be well constructed and so that it will stay in place. The shape of the neckline may call for a particular style of brassiere or other foundation garment. The undergarment should not show unless it is part of the fashion look.

A low neckline does not necessarily mean the gown is strapless unless the lady has flawless shoulders and upper arms. Because they require considerable construction at the top of the bust to keep the gown in place, a strapless gown may suppress rather than enhance, making a woman look broad-shouldered rather than well endowed. Unless the gown fits perfectly, it is likely to cut into the flesh of the shoulders or back, creating a bulge that is uncomfortable and unbecoming.

Instead look for a garment which has straps or sleeves and a round, sweetheart or v-neck that can support and showcase an attractive cleavage. The shape of the neckline should be becoming to the face, neck and shoulders of the wearer. There are many fashion theories about facial shapes and neckline shapes, but the important thing to remember is this: if it doesn't look good on the woman, it doesn't matter how good it looks on the hanger.



Let's look at another example. This is a woman whose figure is somewhat chunky, but who has long fabulous legs. What kind of design will be the most flattering for her? She could wear boxy jacket and dressy camisole over slim line pants and stiletto heels to emphasize her legs. Or she could opt for a simple black dress with a short hem or strategically located slash to focus on her legs in a sensational pair of stockings.

If she has beautiful skin, there are a variety of ways she can focus the attention there. Lace-up backs with an opening are quite sensational, but may be too revealing for a modest woman. It's possible to add a modesty panel under the lace-up and keep the flattering line if one has an hourglass figure. The classic black dress worn with a strategic color accent is another way to put the focus on the wearer rather than the dress.

Generally speaking, a plus size woman should wear the same color top and bottom, and avoid horizontal design elements that emphasize the widest point of her body. Vertical drapery or asymmetrical hemlines are examples of fashion details that draw the eye up and down rather than across the body. The princess line with shaped vertical seams is especially flattering to a full, curvaceous figure. Slit or petal sleeves are kind to heavy upper arms, as is a tiny cover-up coat. Sheer fabrics can provide a lovely flow while camouflaging figure faults, but be careful not to get carried away with too many layers, or you may look more like the Bride of the Mummy than Madonna.

Formal wear is particularly kind to the woman with a pear shaped figure. The classic full skirt and fitted top provide romantic cover for any figure flaws and emphasize the slenderness of her upper body. If her shoulders and chest are very thin, design elements like a boat neck or portrait color will provide a graceful frame for the head and neck.

Fabric type and weight and the season in which the garment will be worn are also elements to be considered when shopping for formal wear. No matter how lovely and richly colored the velvet gown, it will be too hot for a summer wedding in most climates. Conversely, a floating gossamer sheer may be wildly flattering, but if the lady catches pneumonia at that midwinter winter dance it can hardly be considered a wise fashion choice.

If you are a plus size woman with a big event on your social schedule, the best plan is to start shopping well ahead of time. Even when shopping on line you may have to wait several weeks to have the dress of your choice made up in your size. Schedule your investigations accordingly. You will also have a great opportunity to spend time with the friend who is advising you. Pay attention to what she suggests as well as to what is in fashion. No matter how fashionable the look, if it does not emphasize your best points, it is not a good choice for you.

Once you've found a gown that looks truly sensational on you, you can order or purchase it with confidence. You'll still have plenty of time to locate the right accessories and plan makeup and hairstyle. Finally, at the big event you will be able to focus on enjoying yourself, knowing that you are as lovely as you deserve to be.

© High Speed Ventures 2011