Finding the perfect dress shape to complement and beautifully flatter your body type may seem like a tall order, but believe it or not, there is one silhouette that looks good on practically everyone. Bonus: It’s totally effortless to wear and perfect for any and every occasion. Yes, really!
Meet the A-line dress, also known as the fit and flare. Just like its name suggests, this particular type of dress features a fitted bodice, a tapered waistline, which serves to accentuate the smallest part of the female figure, and a skirt that gradually flares out from the hips all the way to the bottom seam.
The A-line is a truly fantastic, as it offers ease of wear and will score you major fashion points thanks to the timeless and effortlessly chic look it helps create.
The very first A-line dresses
The term ‘A-line’ was first coined by iconic haute couture designer Christian Dior, although, at the time, it didn’t accompany the exact same dress shape that’s associated with the name today. As a post on the Met Museum’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History page explains, Dior’s A-line dresses actually featured an “waist and smooth silhouette that widened over the hips and legs”. They made their debut in Dior’s Spring 1955 collection, which was simply titled “A-line”, and they became an instant hit.
The evolution of the A-line
It wasn’t until three years later that the modern-day A-line silhouette was introduced to the fashion world by Dior’s assistant, fellow French designer Yves Saint Laurent. Following Dior’s unexpected death in 1957, Laurent was tapped to become artistic director of the fashion house and it was he who designed the A-line as we know it today.
As the New York Sun reports in a tribute to the late Laurent, the designer’s first solo collection for the House of Dior, dubbed “Trapeze”, featured a dress of the same name, which had “narrow shoulders and wide, swinging skirt [and] was a hit, and a breath of fresh air after years of constructed clothing, tight waists and girdles.” In other words, the A-line dress!
Truly flattering for every body type
What is it that has helped this style withstand the test of time and maintain its popularity and versatility for nearly 60 years? The fact that it creates a show-stopping, ultra feminine hourglass figure without the constraints of a tight bodice certainly has something to do with it.
Those with a pear shape are often drawn to the flare of the skirt, which accentuates and places the focus on the waist, drawing the eye away from the bottom half of one’s body. Less curvy women, on the other hand, appreciate the illusion of curves that the nipped in waist creates. The narrow shoulders of the dress and flared skirt also help the torso look smaller and more lean.
As celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger (who has worked with everyone from Lupita Nyong’o to Hilary Swank) explains in Who What Wear, “the one silhouette that is universally flattering is the A-line. Regardless of whether you’re bottom-heavy, boy-shaped, or petite, an A-line will accentuate the most amazing parts of your figure.” What’s more, “the A-line is also a gorgeous silhouette for women who are expecting”!
The perfect skirt length
The length of the skirt can be tailored to perfectly fit anyone’s height and elongate the body. Whether it be mini or midi, the skirt shape can be customized to flatter all types of silhouettes.
As Huffington Post fashion editor Michelle Persad declares, “there is one skirt that looks good on every woman, regardless of her shape, size or age: the A-line skirt. If you’re on the smaller side, opt for a shorter hemline; if you’re taller, go for a midi length,” she elaborates.
So, petite ladies can opt for a mini version and their legs will instantly look longer, making them look taller. Taller women will find a midi version, which hits at the knee (or right below it), to have the same elongating effect with the perfect amount of coverage. The A-line dress also comes in a floor-length maxi version for an extra touch of glam.