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Best dresses for the full-figured body type

All too often, full-figured plus-size clothing for women is associated with baggy and frumpy—or being a plus-size woman may be seen as negative. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Size is relative, and one simple design principle will remove those issues every time: Balance. When the figure is well-balanced and a contoured shape is emphasized—regardless of a woman’s size—correct proportion is pleasing to the eye.

Plus size model wearing brown zebra dress with black belt with gold buckle.

This valuable tip is the key to creating a well-planned shopping experience and building your most figure-flattering wardrobe. A great place to start is with a dark, forgiving contouring dress.

Chic, stylish, and on-trend, a forgiving dress flatters full-figured women because the fabric softly flows away from the body, balancing your silhouette, and suggesting an hourglass shape.

Plus, a dark shade, such as black – a well-known slimming color – hides any imperfections. Even better, it can be worn by women of any body type.

Know Your Body Shape: First Step to Fabulous Fashion Choices

Whether you are a full-figured woman or not, if you’re not sure how to identify your shape, the answer is right here in simple, easy steps. First, use this helpful guide to take your measurements. Then follow the link below the guide to learn which of the five basic body shapes is yours.

monroe+main fall catalog plus-size fashions

By knowing some Fundamental Style Tips for Plus-size Women, you’ll find plenty more simple ideas to make the most of your best assets, and draw attention away from areas of concern.

Even better, learn how to choose the best plus-size dress style for your body type.

With that information in hand, you’ll be able to choose the clothes and looks that show you at your best. Plus, you’ll also understand how to choose accessories to enhance your best features.

A dark, forgiving contouring dress flatters full-figured women because the fabric softly flows away from the body, balancing your silhouette, and suggesting an hourglass shape.

Headshot for monroe & main
plus-size model wearing a navy long-sleeved dress with jewelry with silver heels.

The best dress for full-figured body types

Finding the perfect dress for full-figured women is a game-changer, offering versatility and a flattering fit. The ideal dress should celebrate curves, provide comfort, and boost confidence. Look for dresses that skim over your body, offering contoured shaping, and opt for classic black for a slimming effect. Dresses with integrated belts add waist definition, creating an hourglass figure that enhances your beauty.

Recommended dress types for full-figured women include A-line dresses, fit-and-flare styles, wrap dresses, and sheath dresses. These options provide a flattering fit that complements your curves while allowing for various styling possibilities. Whether it’s a casual outing or a formal event, having one of these dresses in your wardrobe ensures you’ll always look and feel your best, celebrating your unique beauty with confidence.

plus size model wearing a long-sleeved black dress.

Ellarie Maxi Dress

This is “that dress”…it has an updated button-down design that creates an easy, long line and looks good on every body. Relaxed fit with A-line silhouette, high/low hem, and self-tie belt.


Perhaps the best full-figured dress is the Ellarie Maxi Dress (above). It provides incredible versatility in styling options making this a must-have for plus-size women. The fabric skims over curves – hips, thighs & bust – to present an evenly-contoured shape, no matter the size. Plus, the black color is slimming and hides any major concerns. The integrated belt provides additional narrow waist definition and an hourglass figure.

plus size model wearing a floral blue dress holding a blue purse.

Accessories to Enhance Full-figure Body Types

Don’t forget about a wide range of accessories! These quick tips will give you insights into choosing all the extra touches that enhance your balanced look and also help to slim your silhouette. When you select strategic accessories, you further accentuate your beautiful, full-figured shape!

Jewelry: the Subtle Way to Contour Your Curvy Fashion

Select accessories proportionate to your body size, such as an oversized necklace for a large bust or upper body. If you’re worried about too much attention on the upper half of your body, choose subtle jewelry accessories in gold or silver.

gold earrings.

Jewelry doesn’t have to simply blend in. The right choices can actually make you look leaner. When selecting earrings, opt for long, dangling pieces. The straight line down your ear will make your neck look longer.

Fashion Help from Handbags

Though handbags should be proportionate with your body, full-figured women needn’t look frumpy with an overly large purse. Selecting the right handbag to complement your plus-size dress is all about achieving a balance between proportion and style.

plus size model wearing a burgundy long-sleeve dress with gold metallic heels.

While oversized bags are an option, opt for fashion purses or hobo bags rather than beach bags or casual totes to maintain sophistication. These bags can enhance your outfit’s elegance, whether you’re wearing a sleek cocktail dress or a flowing maxi dress. Focus on coordinating colors for a harmonious look, and prioritize functionality with compartments and crossbody options. With the right handbag, you can elevate your style and confidently celebrate your unique beauty in every outfit.

Full Figure-Finessing Shoes

The perfect dress goes perfectly with a striking pair of heels, and height can make you look instantly leaner. Real Simple suggests women with curvier calves or ankles go for open-toe or sling-back style footwear. The openness of the shoe will help create a longer visual leg line.

Leopard, silver metallic, white patent, and black Classique pump.

However, heels aren’t always doable for every woman, so pointed-toe flats can work for your style, too. The sharp shape will create a narrow line from your leg to your toes, making you look lean and tall, even without the height.

Rock the Legwear Layer

Legwear is a game-changer for plus-size women with wider hip measurements, or who aren’t ready to bare their legs for summer. Leggings offer versatility and confidence in equal measure. Black or grey tights are timeless essentials that flatter wider hips and seamlessly transition summer dresses into cooler seasons. Legwear adds coverage, comfort, and a touch of elegance, boosting self-assurance and celebrating body positivity.

athleisure leggings

To maximize your style, experiment with textures, colors, and layering, turning dresses into stunning ensembles. Whether you prefer fit-and-flare, sheath, or maxi dresses, legwear complements your curves, helping you express your unique beauty with confidence.

Full-Figure Shapewear

A flattering fit and a slimming color such as black will make your body look long and lean. You can also look extra slender with the help of shapewear.

Comfortable and undetectable, shapewear will hold you in and can be worn right under a dress. Many options provide a full-body toning appearance without peeking out from under the dress of your choice.

Various styles of body briefers adn shapewear

For other body types besides full-figure, check out our other articles about how this dress fits:

Comments (30)

Love the Styles of the dresses love the clothes keep making them look fabulous thanks

Do you have a sizing chart anywhere? I’m not sure what size I would wear in your clothing line.

I suggest that you can insert photos of models of plus size clothing in the article. Only intuitive images and corresponding photos can help readers.

I will probably not by a dress from this company ever based on the principal that they are selling a plus sized dress on a less than average (except her height) model… not a good company…

You’re talking about “full figured” and plus sized women yet your model is neither. You want me to buy your dress show it to me modeled by a 300lb model not one that looks to weigh 125. It is offensive when clothing companies do that.

Just making an observation. The girl and the black dress is probably a size four at the most. What about a size 18 20? I don’t understand these people who advertise plus size clothes with skinny little models. Of course it looks great on them. Put it on my fat ass and I would look like I was trying to pop out of the dress. That’s not cool. I personally have been very pleased with Lane Bryant because they quit doing any airbrushing on their models and they’re actually showing models that are size 22-24 even though they start plus size at a size 12 which blows my mind. 12? I’m 6 ft 1 and I’m an 18 and I’m thick I’m not fat. Of course I could always lose weight but putting me in one of their suits for work and put somebody that’s a size 18 and they’re 5’3 we are not going to look the same in clothes. I got recruited has a model for them one time right after I had my son when I was 27 years old I’m 39 now. They wanted me because I was tall and that made me look thinner which made their clothes look better and I told them where they could take that model offer. the recent change has made me start looking at some of their things again except everything on their page looks like an old lady. Personally even though I’m 39 I am newly divorced and of course there’s going to be another man at some point hopefully and I like torrid. Even though they cater to the younger crowd I’m not ready to look like a 60-year-old woman quite yet. I’m only 39. Their corsets zip up the back and they’re long enough for me to wear with a skater skirt thigh high fishnets and combat boots and that is my go-to go out and get free drinks all night outfit. Lol guys love long legs

The model you have inot full figured. If you are claiming it’s good for a full figured woman with some curves, you need to show it, like with a model who wears a size 24+.

Why so much black…and tips to hide behind a colorful bag? Is this to encourage plus size or shame us. I believe the tip in knowing you body type and shape is true but being told to wear black and a big necklace to takeaway from being a size is uncool.

I spend my Texas summers in pretty dresses. With a full slip and not a stitch more. I’m not skinny, but a T shape. Help having broad shoulders. When I sew a jacket, typically add 2″ to shoulder width.
Love the pattern.

Then why not show it on a full-figured model?

I agree with you. The neckline is too low. For work. For evening wear a date. Yeah, perfect show off your good assets and attributes

I am shopping for my wife. Bianca is 6 ft tall and wears a size 26?? dress. I want her to be stylish and be the “belle of the ball”. What direction could you point me in?? She works as an executive assistant to a VP at a community college, so I would need something appropriate

Try The Avenue or Catherine’s very nice clothes also Fashion To Figure and Ashley Stewart try those clothes for full-figured women very beautiful

You’re talking about “plus size” but yet you show the dress on a slim built woman…..its hypocrisy

@Margarita Garcia you beat me to the punch. My point is how can I believe this article when you didn’t believe it enough to use a full figure model to prove your point. So obviously your advice is suspect.

What she said. You lost me the second you used the model you did. You want to sell to plus sized gals, then show us what it looks like on actual women *she says as she heads to Torrid who uses actual plus sized models*

Exactly what I was thinking. I would love for just one of these articles actually show “plus size” women. And we wonder why we all have low self esteem.

Exactly!!! That was my first thought. Sure it’s flattering in the picture, that’s a tall slender woman… Not full figured at all. Even the shapewear is on someone slim. Seriously? So annoying.

Exactly! It’s got short sleeves and it clings in the mid-section. That dress would look terrible on me.

The convertible diva dress (MC719050) is exactly what I would like to keep on hand when traveling. I visited the monroe and main website, but noticed they sold out of all sizes except misses medium. Will more sizes be available soon?

I find it interesting that the article pertains to full-figure women and the first picture is of a tall, slender woman who would look nice in any style dress. It would have been nice to see exactly how the dress would look on someone who was actually ful-figured. Unless you are tall, this dress may not look good on someone full-figured. May make them look shorter and heavier due to the full skirt.

What about us older ladies.

It is too low necked.

Totally agree the neckline is ridiculously low. Can we please have some modest, work-appropriate clothing???

I agree with you. The neckline is too low. For work. For evening wear a date. Yeah, perfect show off your good assets and attributes

Would love to order the black dress,but can’t find the shopping part of your site

Hi Sabrina, here is a link to our Slimming Sassy Dress:! 🙂 Hope you still are able to place an order. Enjoy!

The model in your ad is not a plus-size model. You’re not doing anybody any favors by not showing. plus size models. I wear a size 22 22 on top. And a 16 to 18 on the bottom. I have seen women in ads. That say they are size 14 and honestly, they look like they’re much larger than that.

You need to model plus size dresses on plus size models

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