There are certain clothing styles that look great on anyone, and the empire waist is definitely one.
No, not all empire waists are created equal (some may make the body seem shapeless) but with just a few guidelines, you can easily find the right empire style for your shape.
What is an empire waist?
The term empire waist refers to a style of dress or top that cinches at the narrow point under the bust line (right where your bra band lays). The style emphasizes one of the narrowest points on any woman’s body, and is great for shorter women because the raised waistline can create the appearance of added height. It’s also a highly recommended style for women with wider lower bodies since it draws the eye to the narrow upper body and can make the bust appear more curvy.
Here are a few tips for wearing the empire waist style:
Avoid gathered material or billowy fabrics
The first guideline to keep in mind when looking for flattering empire waist blouses and dresses is to avoid billowing fabrics and gathering. Any gathering or pleating under the waistline can add the appearance of extra pounds in the tummy area, and billowing fabrics will completely hide your shape. Instead, look for a more body-hugging design.
For fans of “Mad Men,” consider the character Joan, a curvy secretary played by Christina Hendricks. She wears empire waists often, but always in dresses that hug her figure. Costume designers emphasize her narrow ribcage without hiding her natural waist or hips under extra fabric. Though you don’t need to wear garments that are completely fitted throughout, find clothes with fabrics that will skim your figure rather than float away from it, such as jersey or cotton.
Try an A-line or sheath dress
If you’re wearing an empire-waist dress, the best cuts to look for are A-line or a sheath. Either cut will highlight your narrowest point and still highlight your curves rather than hide them completely. Also, maxi dresses look great with empire waists, but be sure to find one that skims your lower body. It’s best to avoid baby-doll dress styles – they’re cut to hang away from the body completely, making a woman look shapeless, no matter her body type.
Avoid voluminous bottoms
When wearing an empire-waist top, avoid bottoms that will add volume, such as wide-leg trousers or A-line skirts. While the style of skirt looks flattering as part of an empire-waist dress, as separates the two styles don’t pair well. Instead, go for slim styles like skinny- or straight-leg pants, which will offset the more voluminous upper-body and create balanced proportions.
Choose deep necklines
Deep scoop, sweetheart and V-necklines are very flattering when paired with an empire-waist top or dress. These styles will add length to your natural neckline, making your body appear longer and slimmer. For busty women, empire waists can look amazing, but they also may put your breasts front and center. While you can still look great in a V-neck blouse, add a lacy camisole or other undergarment for a more conservative look if you want.