Add Curves to Your Figure with Dresses for Rectangle Body Shape

May 16, 2018 by Dale Chong

Whether you’ve got a formal event in the coming months (hello, wedding season), or are simply searching for a new summer dress, finding the right dress is much easier said than done. Before you start browsing which dresses to take for a spin, determining your body type will help you narrow down your choices. You may have already heard of a number of different ways to describe body types, such as an apple, pear or hourglass. But if you find yourself to be none of those, there’s a good chance that you have a rectangle figure.

So, what is a rectangle body shape?

The most recognizable feature of this type of figure is a lack of curves. Your rectangle body, also known as a boyish or straight (and even athletic) type, will have a little-to-no defined waistline. Your hips may be slightly narrower than your shoulders, and your bust and bum will be on the smaller side. But like an hourglass figure, your body is balanced on both ends—minus the curves, of course. That said, a few styling tricks can easily create the illusion of curves.

Lucky for you, a slender straight body type allows you to wear nearly any type of dress (which means your options are endless!). That said, the goal of dressing for a rectangular body shape is to create the illusion of an hourglass figure, so you’re going to want to avoid anything shapeless. Steer clear of baggier items like t-shirts and tank dresses, as well as anything that’s overly voluminous. They’ll overwhelm your frame, and we want you to wear the dress, not the other way around.

Now that you know what to avoid, read on to see the cool dress styles to keep an eye out for the next time you’re looking to rent. We’ll say it here first—these styles are practically made for you.

1. Add Curves with Draping

LEFT: J.O.A., CENTER: HELMUT LANG, RIGHT: HALSTON HERITAGE

Since you have a straight frame, any type of dress with draping  will fall nicely over your body, while also creating the appearance of curves. With the light hitting your dress just so, it’ll look as though your look has more volume than it truly does. Shoot for a more form-fitting style with touches of draping to add visual texture and movement.

2. Create an Hourglass with A-Line Wrap Dresses

LEFT: DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, CENTER: REBECCA TAYLOR, RIGHT: TORY BURCH

While an A-line dress will bring attention to your legs, it’s important to remember that with a body shape that’s already balanced, you’ll want to accentuate your top as well. To bring attention to your top half, look for styles with sleeves that will add volume to your shoulders. Finally, and most importantly, you’ll be able to adjust the tie around your waist to create the illusion of a narrower waistline. Hello, hourglass.

3. Highlight Your Shape with Shift Dresses

LEFT: WAVERLY GREY, CENTER: VINCE., RIGHT: CYNTHIA ROWLEY

Sometimes, it’s all about what you don’t have. While the main characteristic you want to stay away from is baggy or shapeless pieces, a shift dress is the one exception to the rule. This is thanks to its clean lines and tailoring. The shift dress will lay nicely on your body when you have a small bust or flat behind. Talk about flattering.

4. Add to Your Figure with Volume

LEFT: DRESS THE POPULATION, CENTER: JAY GODFREY, RIGHT: MARISSA WEBB

If you want to give an area of your body some extra love, such as your bust or hips, play it up with features with volume. Ruffles are a foolproof way to do this. When you’re selecting a dress, make sure the ruffles are focused on where you want to add more volume to your silhouette. They’ll instantly draw the focus to that area, just like highlighter works on your face.

5. Use Color to Your Advantage

LEFT: CUPCAKES AND CASHMERE, CENTER: CYNTHIA ROWLEY, RIGHT: MILLY

While creating curves typically involves the added embellishments or design details, you can also achieve the same illusion simply by the colors you wear. With strategic color blocking (particularly around your waist), the eye will naturally narrow that area of your body without actually adding more to your silhouette.

Along with color blocking, stripes can be your best friend. Whether they’re vertical or horizontal, you really can’t go wrong. Wear a fitted horizontal striped dress when you want to bring more attention do the curves you do have. To create a long and lean look (especially if you find yourself on the petite end of the spectrum), vertical stripes will do just that.

6. Belt It Up

LEFT: DEREK LAM 10 CROSBY, CENTER: SLATE & WILLOW, RIGHT: SABINA MUSAYEV

Whether you’re wearing a boxy shift dress or have something with an A-line shape or everything in between, a belt will help create the body shape you’re aiming for. Not only will an added belt bring attention to your midsection, but it’ll also help change the shape of the dress. Put this method into play and rent dresses that have a waist-tie or belted detail, or throw in a belt into the mix to give the overall look an accent without any additional tailoring. We promise, you won’t regret it.