top of page

How to Find the Perfect Classy Black Dress For Curvy Women

Why is it that when you know exactly what you’re shopping for, it’s suddenly impossible to find? Have you ever had that shopping experience where you think, “I just need a simple black dress,” and then all you can find in the stores is….everything else? Frills, patterns, lace, colors and trends. It can be so frustrating!

Owning a versatile black dress means you’ll always have a piece that you're happy to reach for, for any occasion ranging from work to special events, gatherings, and so much more. So it’s worth doing your research and investing in a timeless style that will last for years.

This foolproof guide takes the mystery out of finding a go-to LBD for your wardrobe. Read on to discover how to find the perfect classy black dress that complements your curves and looks sophisticated so you can feel comfortable and confident, every time.

Step 1: Embrace Your Curves

The best way to start shopping is with to take an honest look at your body shape. If you’re like most women in the United States, you’ve got some curves (69% of women in the United States wear a size 14 or above, and the average bra size is 34DD).

The fashion industry loves to put those curves in body-shape boxes like “hourglass, pear, or apple." But the reality is that your body is unique, and factors like your frame size and height, shoulder width, and even your stage of life (hello, perimenopause) create important nuances that affect what styles look good on you.

So the most important question to ask yourself is, how are your curves distributed? Are they evenly distributed all over your body, or do they tend to be bigger in one area: on top, in the middle, on the bottom?

Generally, the fashion industry designs for the pear shape body, with a smaller bust than hip size. If you have those proportions, you’ll have a wider variety of options and can probably wear most mainstream brands.

However, if you’re one of the 7-out-of-10 women who aren’t shaped like a department store mannequin—and if you don’t want the hassle and expense of getting too-big items tailored—you’ll save a lot of time if you follow these steps.


TIP: It is helpful to know your bust measurement.

You can find it using this guide.


Step 2: Choose the right silhouette

When you’re curvy on top, simple is your best friend!

If you want to emphasize your femininity with a little black dress, silhouettes that look gorgeous on larger busts are sheath dresses and body cons. Their clean fit through the torso accentuates your waist without adding any unnecessary bulk. If you're shopping for a daytime office look, pair a sheath dress with a blazer for a chic, professional style. When you're feeling confident and sexy, go for the body con. At- or just-above knee lengths also make your legs look their best.

If you’re tall or if you don't like to show your legs, longer hemlines and a-line silhouettes always look elegant, and with the right dress you can easily dress this look up or down. When you want a slimming effect, look for vertical (princess) seaming, which elongates the body to draw attention away from a fuller bust or belly. Either of these styles work beautifully both for casual daytime looks (e.g. with boots and a jacket), as well as for evening, with heels and something sparkly.

A Fit and Flare is a classic, feminine and fun style that works for multiple body types. Choose a version with vertical princess seaming when you want to de-emphasize a a long or short torso, or for more ease in the lower half of the body. The flared skirt is forgiving if you’re self-conscious about your larger hips and bottom. And it works just as well if you’re top heavy, since the extra fabric in the lower half creates balance for smaller hips.

With these options as a guide, you can choose your favorite silhouette knowing you’ll look great and confident.

Step 3: Look for Strategic Details

When is a little black dress not just a little black dress? When it has subtle, strategic details that make the difference between ho-hum and “how YOU doin'".

For curvy women, details to look for include:

  • V-neck, deep or scoop necklines to elongate the skin area above the bust to draw the eye and balance proportions.

  • Fitted tops to minimize fabric bulk at the waist, bust, and shoulders.

  • Scoop back necklines or embellishments for back interest that balance the front.

  • The right sleeve length and style (see Step 4).

Step 4: Find the Right Sleeve Length and Style

For maximum versatility, choose one of the following styles for your black dress:

  • Sleeveless if you like to be able to add and take off layers, or show off toned arms. Avoid spaghetti straps and make sure the straps are at least 2" wide across each shoulder to balance out larger shoulders, arms, and chests.

  • Traditional long sleeves offer refined coverage and show off jewelry at the wrist.

  • A ¾ length sleeve is universally flattering for bigger busts because they draw attention to exposed skin at the forearm and wrist and away from larger upper arms, shoulders, and chest. This is an elegant, covered look that still shows a little skin in the most modest way. These sleeves are also versatile and good for seasonal transitions when temps are unpredictable.


TIP: Sleeves are also the best place to have fun with trends if you're curvy on top. Add drama and movement with bishop, bell, tulip or butterfly sleeves. Try a jacket to layer a new look while maintaining a sleek black base underneath. A tailored jacket that defines the waist will flatter a curvy figure.


Step 5: Choose Fabric for Comfort and Style

Look for high quality-fabric with some weight and structure – you’ll instantly look more smoothed and sophisticated.

The best choices should have substance and stretch, like breathable cotton blends in figure-smoothing fabrics like ponte or jersey. Avoid cheap or thin synthetic fabrics. Natural fibers are easy to care for, wash well, and last for years. They also feel better and allow you to breathe and move with ease while not sacrificing style.

Step 6: Invest in Quality

A young woman in a black sheath dress with 3/4 sleeves smiles on a marble staircase.

Finally, invest in the best fabrication and finishes you can afford. Look for neat, symmetrical stitching, construction and seams, and check for bound and covered edges on the inside of the garment. These finishing touches mean garment will last longer and fit better, as well as being more comfortable.

Step 7: Make Shopping Easy on Yourself

Instead of spending a frustrating day at the mall or scouring boutiques where you may never even find the right style, do this instead:

Take your measurements then research online for the silhouettes and features you want from brands that design for your body type, with with clear size charts and risk-free return policies so you can order with confidence. You’ll save time and hassle, and you’ll be able to try on your dress with your own accessories and shoes. You can also move around, bend, and sit to assess how it really feels and how it might work in your wardrobe.

Ask yourself: can you breathe deeply, stretch and move your arms, bend and turn, squat down, reach your arms out without feeling like you are constricted? Can you walk easily and freely, sit down and feel comfortable? You shouldn't haven’t to feel like you have to suck things in or stand ramrod straight. The dress should do the hard work, so you look and feel great without even trying.

Final Thoughts

To find a classy black dress than enhances your curvy figure, first assess your curves, and choose a silhouette that embraces and flatters your unique curves. Then look for the strategic details, insisting on high quality fabrics and fabrications. Do your research online, save your time and skip the malls. Invest in quality for a style that works for you on your best days as well as your worst days. Then get ready to reap the benefits of owning a classy black dress that celebrates your curvy figure. With the right dress, you will feel confident and empowered for years to come.

Jump start your search by exploring Embrago’s  collection of classy black dresses for curvy women. Every bust-friendly style is thoughtfully and meticulously designed to support and flatter larger, softer busts, and skillfully hand-sewn in the USA.


bottom of page