Look for: A nipped waist and volume below to balance you out. “Choose basic sleeves, or go sleeveless, which breaks up the shoulder and helps downplay width up top, making the frame look less wide,” says Elliot Staples, the head of design for The Limited. Stretch fabric or a rear vent offers more give through the back.
Avoid: Boxy cuts, epaulets, and puff or cap sleeves, which accentuate the width of the shoulders.
To buy:Unfortunately, this dress is no longer available, but find other styles atnautica.com.
2 of 14Jason Brownrigg
For Broad Shoulders: Mango Stretch-Cotton Dress
To buy: $110, 212-343-7012.
3 of 14Jason Brownrigg
If You Have a Large Bust
Look for: A simple V-neck, which is the most flattering. When it comes to fabric, 100 percent cotton, linen, or silk is less likely to gap between buttons than something stretchy, says Holly Getty, a personal stylist in New York City.
Avoid: Eye-catching accents near the chest and waist-skimming styles, which can make you look heavier.
Look for: A defined waist, which nips you in at the middle, and a roomy A-line silhouette that offers a forgiving fit below. “A-line dresses in a woven cotton or a not-too-flimsy synthetic blend mask the lower body,” says Alexandra Greenawalt, a New York City–based stylist. Another trick: Opt for styles with buttons that stop at the waist to prevent pulling across the hips. Also, choosing a defined waist nips you in at the middle. Knee-length hems are the most slimming.
Look for: Prints or three-dimensional details—ruffles, pleats, breast pockets—to add oomph to a boyish frame. “Cinched styles are especially great if the skirt area has some fullness to create curves,” says Greenawalt.
Avoid: Unaccentuated waists that make you look shapeless, says Staples. Plain and solid-colored silhouettes will also create the same effect.
To buy: Kate Spade New York cotton-linen dress, $325, katespade.com.
Look for: A long length (duh). But, seriously, a statuesque figure can pull off those 50s-inspired below-the-knee hemlines. Make sure the belt sits at your natural waistline, not awkwardly pulled up around your rib cage.
Avoid: Hems or sleeves that are too short. In the fitting room, sit down and raise your arms. See how much the dress hikes up as you move around.
To buy: Lauren by Ralph Lauren midcalf-length linen dress, $199, Bloomingdale’s, 866-593-2540 for stores.
12 of 14Jason Brownrigg
If You’re Tall: Minnie Mortimer Cotton Dress
To buy: $198, 310-476-5438.
13 of 14 Lauren by Ralph Lauren Dress Collection
2 Shirtdress Problems Solved
“I Don’t Know How to Iron a Cotton Shirtdress”
Rowenta style expert Jorge Ramon is here to help. (For an extra-crisp look, spray on starch before ironing.)
Step 1: The collar Set the iron to high with the steam turned on. Start with the underside of the collar. Press from the center outward to avoid creating creases. Flip and repeat on the exterior. Step 2: The shoulders Hook one shoulder over the round tip of the ironing board. Begin where the collar meets the arm and move toward the center of the back. Repeat on the other shoulder. Step 3: Cuffs and sleeves Lay one sleeve flat with the buttons facing up (elbow-side down). Start at the cuff and work your way up. Flip it and do the reverse side. Repeat on the other sleeve. Step 4: The body Unbutton the dress. Press the entire front panels first and then the back. Carefully iron between the buttons—don’t bulldoze over them, which can cause breakage. Give the collar a final once- over if needed. Step 5: Give it a rest To avoid creating a new batch of creases, let the dress set on a hanger for a few minutes before putting it on.