Choose the Perfect Sheath Dress for Your Body Type

Woman wearing a bright yellow sheath dress and holding a purse

Simple, elegant and versatile – the sheath dress is an essential item that can be worn to suit a variety of different occasions.

A sheath dress is a reliable option that can look great if you know what to look out for.

Read on to find out what to consider and what to bear in mind when shopping for a sheath dress.

With a plethora of options available from your favorite stores and websites, finding a sheath dress that best compliments your figure can be overwhelming.

The sheer diversity and variability of sheath dresses on offer remains one of the styles strong points.

However, this can also make it tricky to pick out the right one for you.

However, by knowing what parts of your body to accentuate and what styles will help you do this will allow you to choose the perfect sheath dress for your specific body type. 

Keep reading as we show you how to do it.

Knowing Your Body TypeWoman wearing sportswear and showing off her body and figure

Throwing on a dress is a low maintenance, quick and easy option.

This is particularly true of the sheath dress design, which occupies such a minimalistic and classic shape.

The sheath dress is in an incredibly versatile staple that can be fashioned to suit a variety of different occasions and, most importantly, different body types.

Review The Features You Want to Show Off

It is important to choose a dress that best compliments and flatters your own body type.

To do this, review what parts of your body you wish most to show off, and those that you feel more insecure about.

Just because of its slim fit, don’t assume this style is only for those with narrow frames.

In fact, sheath dresses can really flatter a curvier build by it drawing attention to and flattering your curves.

However, baggier fits can carry the risk of looking tent-like and eclipsing your figure.

The secret to looking good is playing up to your natural assets and knowing how to respond strategically with the right material, cut and fit of the dress you wear.

What Features Do You Want To Revert Attention From?

The general shape of a sheath dress – narrow upper and lower half and hem – remains consistent.

But, the style does tend to vary concerning such details as arm and sleeve style, in addition to the neckline and length.

These seemingly subtle features whilst not appearing immediately significant, go a long way in altering the suitability of the sheath dress design for different silhouettes and body types.

If you’re conscious of your arms, instead of opting for a strap sheath dress, opt for a design that comes with long sleeves that are slightly loose.

This will save in terms of comfort, style and your consciousness of your arms.

What Is a Sheath Dress?Woman wearing a blue, sheath dress with a slit

A sheath dress bears a slim, narrow and streamline fit that occupies a straight figure hugging shape.

Sheath dresses are typically taken in at the waistline to accentuate the contours of the silhouette, therefore creating quite a feminine, sleek, and sexy look.

The name of the style itself serves as a clue as to what the fit looks like, with the word sheath eluding to the straight line of the of a knife sheath.

With its slim and narrow fit, many confuse sheath dresses with shift dresses which also emulate a narrow slim fit.

An important distinguishing factor, however, is the way in which a sheath dress hem tends to be narrower than a shift dress.

This typically bears more of a room and a swing to the lower skirt of the style.

Sheath dresses are distinctive in the sense that the tight and straight fit is consistent from the top to the bottom, boasting a slim hemline to reveal an overall tighter fit.

Whilst sheath dresses come in a variety of prints, colors and lengths, most dresses of this particular style and design tend to either be knee length or just above the knee.

A Brief History of The Sheath Dress

In it’s earlier incarnation when sheath dresses were first notably popularised in the early 1900s, sheath dresses weren’t deemed as a practical option.

This is due to the tight hemline that restricted ease of movement.

This made it incredibly difficult for the wearer to carry out simple tasks and actions.

It wasn’t until the 1950s where pleats and slits were introduced to make it easier for women to walk in.

More notably, the sheath remained a popular and iconic look of the 1950s.

This marked a departure from the big and rounded skirts of the Victorian era that preceded it.

The introduction of slimmer and narrower fits symbolized a significant shift concerning opinion surrounding the visibility and celebration of the female silhouette.

Which Type of Dress is Best for Each Figure?

Woman wearing an elegant, blue sheath dressAs a versatile and minimalistic style, the sheath dress comes in various forms and designs to suit every body type.

Its slim fit doesn’t mean that it can’t be worn and styled for figures other than slim and narrow body type.

Pear Shaped Figure

If you have a pear-shaped figure and you’re conscious of the size of your hips eclipsing your upper half, go for a sheath dress that’s a bit looser around the upper half.

Also choose a lower neckline, such as a boat neckline.

This will draw more attention to your upper half to detract attention away from the width of your hips and the general bottom half.

As for the skirt section of your sheath dress, ensure that the dress you go for isn’t too tight.

In particular, if you try on your dress and see any pulling or a rippled effect of the material, try and avoid it.

This will just only accentuate the width and size of this area.

Straight Figure

Alternatively, if you’re on the slimmer size and have more of a boxy, straight figure, wearing a sheath dress that’s too tight could effectively make you appear thinner and shapeless.

To avoid this, opt for a sheath dress with a bit of detail built in.

Another great rescue for this body type is patterned dresses.

Both floral and geometric patterns go a long way in adding intrigue and depth into a dress’ style and design.

Busty Figure

For those with a big bust and a small waist, you’ll automatically have more options.

You’ll also have less to be cautious about when shopping for the perfect sheath dress.

The sheath dress in its original and unedited form does wonders for this body type.

To achieve maximum shape and curves, opt for a thinner material to avoid restricting and compromising your natural shape.

What To Avoid For Each Figure

Woman wearing a black sheath dress with flower patterns on it

Choose Materials Carefully

If you’re prone to fluctuating weight, avoid stiff and thick materials with little give.

Such materials will feel restrictive and most importantly, will just feel uncomfortable.

However thick materials can work in your favor if you’re conscious about hiding any unwanted volume.

The figure-hugging fit of a sheath dress very follows the contours of your figure.

So, if you’re conscious of any potential rogue lumps and bumps in the wrong places. you can easily smooth over these by opting for a thicker material.

This will work to reduce any excess to create a slimmer, refined and perkier shape.

Thinner materials tend to emphasize and exaggerate overspills and bulges.

Materials such as cotton and polyester mark a perfect balance between sturdy and breathable.

Think About the Design

If you’re concerned about your mid-drift, opt for a sheath dress that features detailing such as shirring or pleating around the waist.

This can simultaneously add interest to the design, as well as detracting attention away from this perceived problem area.

What Color Looks Best on You?

Another great way to make your sheath dress work for your figure is to strategically opt for the color that best compliments your figure.

If you are plus sized, bear in mind that darker tones such as black and navy blues tend to be far more slimming.

Paler and neutral tones such as white, stone and light pink create the illusion of a wider frame and shape.

Consider Your Skin Tone

Your figure alone won’t just dictate which colors will most compliment you.

Your skin tone also goes a long way in determining this too.

Too often, bold colors such as reds and blues are cast off as risky and brave particularly if you’re of a curvier build.

This needn’t be the case.

However, as long as you align these colors with your natural coloring and remain mindful of whether the dramatic color matches the fit, these colors can look great on anyone.

With bolder colors and patterns, it’s important to pair these with a simple cut with minimal detailing.

For example, if you’re of a larger size and you’re conscious of your figure, avoid a coral sheath with a bold pattern and lots of shirring.

This will look busy and create unwanted shape, width, and volume.

How to Accessorize

Woman wearing a sheath dress with jewelry including necklace and ring

With its minimalist look and feel, with a sheath dress, you have a lot of scopes to get creative and adventurous when it comes to experimenting with different accessories.

What makes a sheath dress such a reliable and trusty option is its sheer versatility.

Accessories bear a lot of power to transform your outfit to suit any style or occasion you wish.


Pairing your sheath dress with jewelry is a great way to dress up your outfit.

The jewelry pieces you opt for will depend on the neckline of your dress.

If you’ve opted for a sheath dress with a round neck or V-neck, there’s ample opportunity here to add a statement necklace.

Or add a simple modest necklace if you’re donning a loud color or print.

To achieve a classic and elegant look, a pearl necklace is a great addition.

This will immediately give your outfit a classy edge.


To complement this look, why not opt for heels?

Alternatively, if you’re veering more towards a more day-time look, pair your dress a pair of chic ankle boots.

If you’re after an even more casual look, throw on a baggy cardigan and a pair of trainers.

Athleisure – which combined activewear with formal weather – is still very much in right now.

So, don’t be afraid to combine the slim fitting design with a pair of low-key pumps or sneakers.

Another great use for a sheath dress is work occasions.

If you have an important meeting at work and want to achieve the perfect balance between professional and feminine, a sheath dress is a great option for a base to your outfit.

Simply pair your sheath dress with a pair of patent heels and a smart blazer, or tailored cropped jacket to easily create a simple, confident and professional look.