Dreaded dress shopping

For a whole lot of women, dress shopping just plain stinks. Over and over I hear clients tell me that they just won’t wear a dress. Period. And not because they wouldn’t like to… they just don’t know how to shop for the right one.

When Karen and I embarked upon a journey for the perfect baby shower ensemble, I decided there would be no better time to talk about dresses, and how women over 40 can begin to sort out what shapes to look for, and how to accessorize to make the dress work for you.

THE SHIFT DRESS

Our first find was this straight-cut knit shift dress from Nordstrom Rack. A lot of women shy away from the up-and-down cut for fear of unwanted clinging to the hips or chest. The secret is to buy bigger!

This dress fell straight over Karen’s hips because it was a size larger than she usually buys. And, yes, this will most likely make the top half too roomy, but that’s easily fixed either by getting the dress altered, or simply layering something on top. Karen knew she would never be wearing the dress alone, so it wasn’t a problem having the armholes be a bit roomy.

Look how great this dress looks with either a long and loose cardigan or a shorter one that’s cinched at the waist. Both are flattering without looking frumpy.

THE SHEATH DRESS

The second dress option was a slightly more fitted sheath dress with vertical seams. FYI, a sheath dress has more body definition, while a shift is looser.

The key to making this shape work for you? Tailoring. This sounds labor-intensive, but I swear a little bit of adjusting goes a long way. You can also buy bigger with this shape of dress. That way it will be easier to take in the parts that are too loose. Always buy a dress that fits you at your thickest or widest part. Then get the other parts taken in by a pro.

We added a loose crochet cardigan that falls a little above the hip. The monochromatic look creates a long, elegant silhouette.

Finally, we added this funky necklace from Banana Republic (not online, sorry). It stands out brilliantly against the neutral backdrop.

THE TUNIC DRESS

A third shape to look for is the tunic dress. This is similar to the shift dress, but with sleeves. It’s a nice choice if you don’t want to cover your arms with a cardigan. This one had a romantic velvet detail over sheer fabric. It gives a sultry feel without baring anything.

As you can see above, she ended up going with the shift and long black cardigan. An elegant choice for baby shower chic.

There are also full-skirted dress options that are incredibly attractive on women with butts or hips! Check them out here.

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