Prom Dress Shopping Tips For Plus Size Women

Are you searching for that perfect prom dress?

The prom is an extra special occasion, and of course you want to have an extra special look. Do you imagine breezing into the prom as a retro starlet, a sleek sophisticate, or a fairy tale princess? Do you want to look timeless, trendy, sweet, or sexy? Formal occasions give us the chance to dress up in extravagant clothes that we don't normally get to wear---enjoy it!

However, in fashion-land, most clothes are designed for one body type, and that type doesn't always match up with the bodies of most girls and women. So we gals-of-larger-size sometimes have to be a little more creative when putting together our prom night ensembles.

The Style

One of the secrets to dressing well is simply discovering what clothes make you feel your best. Before you even hit the stores or start cruising the Web, take a few minutes and check yourself out in the mirror. What do you love about that gorgeous girl staring back at you? We all have things we adore about our bodies and things we're less than thrilled with---so think about how you can flaunt the stuff you love. Do you love your legs? Consider a cocktail-length dress instead of the floor-length formal that everyone else is wearing. Or maybe it's your killer curves that you want to emphasize. A tailored gown that skims those curves is sure to make you feel like the belle of the ball.

-To draw attention to a particular area, show a little skin! For example, an off-the-shoulder gown will highlight a beautiful neckline, a V-necked dress can reveal a hint (or a lot) of d├ęcolletage, and a halter gown is perfect for showing off sculpted shoulders and arms.

-In general, dark colors have a camouflaging effect, whereas lighter and brighter colors attract the eye. For example, if you want to minimize large hips and draw attention towards your bust, neck, and face, you may want to select a two-tone dress or a two-piece ensemble, with a dark color for the bottom half and a lighter shade of the same color on top.

-If you are fuller on top than on the bottom (or vice versa), you will want your dress and accessories to balance out your figure. For example, a ball gown with a full skirt and Basque waist (at the natural waistline) will create the illusion of an hourglass shape on just about anyone. On someone who is bottom heavy, the full skirt "hides" the bottom half of the body and draws attention to the top. However, for someone who is top heavy, the fullness of the skirt balances out the top.

-If you desire a sleek silhouette, keep the following tips in mind. Vertical details, such as seams and darts, and monochromatic clothes help to elongate your body and have a slimming effect. Also, dresses that feature long lines, such as princess-line gowns, with elongated torsos that gradually flare into a full skirt, or empire-waist, with the "waistline" right under the bust and one smooth, straight line down, can be very flattering on a variety of body types.

The Search

Now that you have some ideas about what to look for in a dress, it's time to go shopping. But where to go to find that fabulous dress? It's sad but true: the beautiful gowns in the junior's and misses' sections of your local department store often stop at size 12 or 14. However, you can find simple, elegant cocktail or floor-length formal dresses in any store catering to plus size women. Or you might have some luck in an off-the-rack bridal warehouse. Check out the current bridesmaids' dresses---today, you can find bridesmaids' gowns beyond those hideous taffeta constructions, and these stores tend to carry a wider range of sizes than the junior's department. If you have time to order a dress, check online. On the Internet, you can find quite an array of clothes designed for girls with bodies just like yours, like the clothes from Torrid, a company that creates hip clothes solely for teens sizes 14 and up.

The Fit

So you know what type of dress you want and you've found a few places to begin your search. But remember---the dress of your dreams means nothing if it doesn't fit perfectly. You don't want to spend the entire night holding in your breath so as not to split a seam! And it's not just a too-tight dress that you want to avoid. A dress that is too big, that bags, bunches, or droops in certain areas, is just as unflattering as a dress that is a size too small. Read ahead for some tips to ensure that your dress fits you fabulously.

-If you, like many women, wear different sizes on the top and bottom, think about looking for separate pieces rather than one formal dress. A full skirt paired with a sparkly velvet bodice top can be just as beautiful and formal as a long gown, and the separates are easier to size. If you desire a gown rather than separate pieces, make sure that the gown fits the larger part of your body and can be altered down to fit the smaller area.

-Fabrics with a little stretch are easier to fit than stiff fabrics with absolutely no give. When you purchase a dress that has a little bit of stretch, you don't need to worry if you happen to gain or lose a pound or two between now and the prom---the dress will still fit! However, you want just a little stretch; avoid too-clingy fabrics that stick to you like a second skin.

-Because your body is one-of-a-kind, it's likely that a mass-produced dress won't fit quite right in every place. If a dress has seams, darts, and pleats, then it can be taken in at those areas and made to fit your body exactly. Ask if the shop does in-house alterations, or find a good tailor or seamstress.

-Some women like changing the shape of their bodies with foundation garments like corsets, body slimmers, push-up bras, or girdles. If you plan to wear any of these the night of the prom, wear them when trying on dresses because the undergarments will affect the fit of the dress. Maybe you don't know yet what sort of undergarments will be necessary for your dress. For example, maybe you'd never considered a strapless dress, which will require a strapless bra, but you end up finding a gorgeous one that fits like a dream and looks amazing. In that case, have the store hold the dress, then hit the lingerie shops and return with the right undergarments for that dress.

-Remember, lots of cute accessories are one-size-fits-all! You can add drama to your dress with a handbag, a tiara or rhinestone hair clips, a pair of stretchy opera gloves, a painted fan, or a feather boa

Finally, do not be lured in with the thought, "I know this doesn't quite fit, but if I diet or hold in my breath all night, I can squeeze into it." There's no need to starve yourself before the prom to be gorgeous! Why not, instead, take the time to find that perfect prom dress---the one that fits you right now, as you are, and that makes you look and feel absolutely stunning? I promise, it's out there for you.

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