How To Style… Different Dress Lengths

We’re always being told how to wear dresses to flatter our figure – but how do we make sure that the dresses are flattering us? Rather than making our bodies have to fit in with the fashion of the day, why not flip it and make sure fashion suits you first and foremost? Let’s start simply with dresses; so easy to want to wear them, but sometimes, so very difficult to get right.


It’s fair to say that no two people will look identical in the same dress. (Unless, perhaps, they are identical twins!) Most of us will sympathize with the following scenario: you stroll into your favorite dress boutique and spot the dress of your dreams on a mannequin. You want it instantly, so you rush to try it on and… you glance in the mirror to a completely awful reflection. That dress is doing nothing for you, and nine times out of ten, it’ll be the length that is the cause of your dismay.


Understanding how to style a dress is all about working with proportions and knowing how to match the length, particularly with your body. It’s also as much about the shoes you wear with the dress as the dress itself.


Curious about how to get it right? Here are a few pointers that should see you right through summer…


How To Style… Above The Knee Dresses




Cute and playful dresses that land above the knee might not be perfect for the office – but they’re cool and exciting to wear everywhere else.


The benefit of this length is that you can team them with pretty much anything. For a night out, go with stilettos for a risque and adventurous look. Or team a skirt of this length with flat sandals for a simple, lighthearted daytime look. One tip though: don’t wear this skirt length with opaque stockings – it’s far too fussy a look.


Most importantly, remember the golden rule: a skirt can be above the knee, but there are roughly six inches to play with there. The higher you want the hem to be, the more confident you have to be in your thighs and hips – shorter lengths will emphasize these areas in your silhouette. If those are areas you would rather hide, then go for a longer length that skims the top of your kneecap.


How To Style… Below The Knee Dresses



Again, there are a variety of different points below the knee that a dress can hit. As a general rule:


Just below the knee looks chic and sophisticated, suitable for evenings out as well as the office. Looks best with pumps and over-the-knee boots, the latter of which creates a clean line from your hips to your feet.


Mid-calf is incredibly difficult to pull off. In general, avoid this length. If you buy a dress that falls to this length on you, then pay a tailor to have it altered to just below the knee – your fashion sense will thank you for it.


Maxi skirts hit around the ankle and are generally very forgiving, though they work better with flats than they do with heels. If you want to wear a maxi dress with heels, ensure the dress has a slit somewhere around the knee to prevent the look from becoming too boxy.

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