A classic fixture of the formal scene, the A-line dress features a fitted bodice and a wide skirt that flows out at a straight angle from the waist, creating a silhouette in the shape of an "A". Floor-length A-lines are ideal for formal occasions while full-length or shorter hems work best for semi-formal affairs. According to Allure fashion magazine, the major virtue of an A-line dress is how well it works with a range of body types, providing plenty of wiggle room for legs and hips. The only constraint on an A-line dress applies to women who are very petite; a very long A-line skirt can overwhelm a small build. Shorter women who want an A-line might look for full-length options that end at the ankle on taller women to achieve a manageable floor-length look.
Anything from a spring wedding to an evening cocktail party might require the shorter silhouette of a cocktail dress. Typically, a cocktail dress ends at or just above the knee. A common skirt silhouette to see on a cocktail dress is the ballet skirt, making these fun and flirty options. Cocktail dresses also often come with capped sleeves or straps on the top, providing women with more comfort, coverage, and support than many other formal options.
A strapless sweetheart has a curvilinear top to the bodice that wends its way up and over the chest, creating the shape of a heart's top. This silhouette provides a feminine look and can also make the chest look fuller. A sweetheart neckline can pop up in tandem with any array of skirt silhouettes, including A-lines. One elegant choice to consider is the empire waist sweetheart on which the skirt flows out directly in a straight line from just below the chest. This highly wearable and feminine option is a great dress for longer formal events where women want to be as comfortable as possible.
Having a halter silhouette at the top of a dress offers a range of advantages. For one, it provides a much more comfortable fit for women who do not want to hike up a strapless dress all night, as it fastens behind the neck. It can also flatter almost any bust line. A full-length halter dress often has a column or sheath silhouette through the skirt, making it a slinky and sassy option, too. A variation from the standard halter to consider is a halter top with a draped neckline. Instead of having a clean line at the bust, the top of the dress features excess material that cascades down like a shawl or cowl neck design. This can provide more volume to a smaller bust thanks to the fullness of the drape or, ironically, more coverage for larger busts since there is more material with which women can work.
Available in knee-length and full-length versions, the ruched dress features pleating around the body of the dress that works with the natural curves of a woman's body. While form fitting, the ruched dress actually offers a good deal of support and coverage. The doubled layers of fabric reinforce and support the body, holding in curves. Also the ruching, when done well, works to accentuate the right spots and draw attention away from problem areas.