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woman wearing green graduation cap
woman wearing green graduation cap
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A Guide to the Perfect Graduation Dress

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.

It happens all the time: You pick out a gorgeous dress, start fantasizing about where and when you’ll wear it, and then, just as you’re trying it on, you suddenly realize the darn thing looks absolutely horrible on you. But it looked so good on the hanger right? I get it. It’s happened to me (a lot). And, what I’ve learned is that the key to avoiding that major bummer moment is understanding (and accepting) that everyone has different shapes and styles that flatter them best.

So, here I have broken down the most common body types — from the square to the pear to the curvy hourglass to help sort out the looks that really work for you. Here are some tips to help you pick out the dress that shows off your best assets especially since graduation is coming up right around the corner.

The key to looking the bomb in a dress is finding one that flatters your shape. To help you figure out your figure, here are some pictures to help understand the different shapes.

So here we have a bunch of celebs each with her beautiful body shape. Let’s go through them each from left to right.

·      Pear:

o   You have narrow shoulders.

o   Your bust and waistline are petite.

o   You have voluptuous hips, bottom and thighs.

·      Inverted triangle:

o   Your shoulders reach out past your hips, giving you a tiny waist.

o   You may have flat bottom and slim legs.

·      Rectangle or athletic:

o   You have toned arms.

o   You have a toned tummy without much curve.

o   Your hips are square.

·      Apple:

o   You are fuller in the bust-line and have full hips as well.

o   You have an apple-shaped or heart-shaped stomach area.

·      Hourglass:

o   Your shoulders and hips align with an indention towards your hips giving you the image of an hourglass.

Pretty easy to understand right? Well, now that you know what shape you are, let’s talk about styles of dresses that will most flatter your body.

·      Pear:

o   Take advantage of your slender waistline by choosing dresses that gently taper at the waist and slightly flare out over the hips and thighs.

o   A dress with a softly fitted waistline helps draw attention to your curves and gives your figure an attractive hourglass shape.

·      Inverted triangle:

o   Your goal is to create volume and width around your hip area and to make your lower body to look the same width and length as your upper body.

o   Wear darker colors on top and lighter on the bottom. Pleated and flared dresses work very well as well as bubble and tulip styles. 

o   Any kind of dress that is cinched around the waist will really give you more curves.

·      Rectangle or athletic:

o   Find a dress with details. Plain dresses won’t increase your feminine appeal as much as something that drapes or is cinched around your waist.

o   Don’t be afraid to flaunt your assets, but don’t go overboard. We all know you have gorgeous arms and legs but don’t overwhelm your onlookers with a super short dress.

·      Apple:

o   Sheath dresses are one of the most perfect dresses for you. Wear a slightly A-line dress to obscure your tummy.

o   If you are small in the bust department you can still get away with an empire waist dress.

o   If your bust is big avoid sheath dresses with built-in waistlines or empire waist dresses.

·      Hourglass:

o   Well aren’t you the lucky one? Wearing wrap dresses pull at the skinniest part of your waist, drawing attention to your bust.

o   If you don’t want to draw attention to your bust, try wearing a dress that has an empire waistline. This will give a nice balance to your torso.

o   V-necklines as well as U-necklines look great on you and won’t make you look top-heavy.

All right ladies how are you feeling now? Informed I hope! Now remember these tips are for general guidance. Everyone is different and you do not have to stick to these tips to dress well. Everyone has her own style of dressing. So now there is one last thing thing to do…SHOP ’TILL YOU DROP! 

Ivelisse Flores is a senior at James Madison University. She is a Writing Rhetoric and Technical Communications major, and a Creative Writing minor. She is a Chapter Advisor for many branches across the globe, and a Contributing Writer for Her Campus JMU. A city girl from Manhattan, she loves to go out around town with a "Shop-till-you-drop" attitude. On campus, you can find Ivelisse involved in other organizations such as The Blue Ridge Church of Christ Christian Fellowship, The Society of Professional Journalists, Rudi-SIA, and Curls. An avid volunteer, Ivelisse also strives to balance her time with schoolwork as well as a part-time job with the Center For Multicultural Student Services. When she isn't looking through the latest fashion magazine, you can find Ivelisse eating massive amounts of sushi, cheesecake, or singing aloud to a Disney song on her Ipod. Ivelisse enjoys all things girly, and is fanatical about the color pink.