Is Empire Waist Dress Flattering and What Body Type Looks Good in It?

Written by: Zuzanna Sato



Time to read 11 min

Is Empire Waist Dress Flattering and What Body Type Looks Good in It?

Is Empire Waist Dress Flattering and What Body Type Looks Good in It?

As a sustainable fashion designer, I'm absolutely hooked on empire waist dresses

They're just so versatile, flattering, and comfortable – what's not to love?

In this article, I want to take a deep dive into everything you need to know about empire line dresses. We'll explore what exactly defines an empire waistline. We will also answer some frequent questions, like: Is an empire waist dress flattering? Is empire dress good for a plus size? What body type looks good in empire waist dress? 


Plus, we'll clear up any confusion between empire waist and A-line dressesBy the end, I hope to convince you to experiment with the empire waist dress look and welcome them into your wardrobe. 

Let's get started! 

1. What is an empire waist dress and where does it come from?

An empire waist on a dress refers to a raised waistline that sits just below the bust, typically right where the ribcage ends.

This design feature creates a unique silhouette by cinching in just below the bust and then flowing outwards, skimming over the rest of the body.

The empire waist style on dresses has been around since ancient times, especially in ancient Greece. But it became really popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s, particularly during what's known as the Regency era.

This was when Empress Joséphine, who was married to Napoleon Bonaparte, made it fashionable in Europe.

The main feature of this style is the high waistline, which gives the dress a flowy and draped look, often made with light fabrics like muslin.

It was a big change from the tight and structured dresses that were popular before. People loved how simple and graceful empire waist dresses looked, and they became a symbol of femininity and elegance.

Since then, the empire dress style has held strong as a timeless fashion favorite rather than just a passing trend, making a come back again and again, from the Victorian era up till now.

Sure, they might not always be stealing the spotlight, but empire waist dresses are still a hit for all sorts of occasions, like formal events, weddings or tea parties.

They've got that versatile charm that keeps them in the game, no matter what the latest trends are.

Is Empire Waist Dress Flattering and What Body Type Looks Good in It?
Image from Dress Your Color

2. Is an empire waist dress flattering?

Is an empire waist dress flattering? Absolutely!

Empire waist dresses look great on many people because they are masters of optical ilusion:

1. First, that higher waistline makes your torso seem shorter, so you look taller and slimmer. This is especially cool if you're a bit shorter or have shorter legs.

2. Also, the way the fabric flows over your middle and hips hides any parts you're not crazy about, like a bigger tummy or hips. 

3. And here's another great thing: empire waist dresses often make your chest look bigger, which takes the focus away from anything you're not feeling great about below.

So overall, high waist dresses give you this really nice, elegant look that works for all kinds of body shape.

If you are interested in styles that flatter variety of body types, read our article about oversized fashion.

3. Does an empire waist hide belly fat?

Yes - an empire waist dress can help minimize the appearance of belly fat for some people.

When it comes to hiding belly fat with an empire waist dress, the fit is key.

Look for a dress that cinches in snugly just below the bust but doesn't feel too tight around the midsection.

You want it to define your waist without clinging too much to your stomach.

A looser fit around the midsection can help create a more flattering silhouette by skimming over any areas of concern.

Additionally, consider the fabric of the dress. Opt for materials that have some weight to them and drape nicely over the body, like jersey or crepe.

These fabrics tend to have a smoothing effect and can help minimize the appearance of belly fat without adding bulk.

Avoid clingy or thin materials that may highlight any lumps or bumps.

Ultimately, finding the right fit and fabric combination is key to achieving a flattering look and feeling confident in your empire waist dress. 

Is Empire Waist Dress Flattering and What Body Type Looks Good in It?
Image from DressYourColor

4. Is an empire waist slimming?

Definitely! An empire waist dress can indeed create the illusion of a slimmer silhouette.

By emphasizing the bust and flowing over the midsection and hips, it helps to balance out proportions and create a more elongated look.

However, to make the most of the slimming effect of empire waist dresses, it's essential to consider a few styling tips: 

1. First, ensure you choose the right fit. Look for a dress that fits well around the bust and skims over the midsection without clinging too tightly.

A well-fitted dress will create a smooth and streamlined silhouette, enhancing the slimming effect. 

2. Next, opt for darker colors like navy, black, or deep burgundy. These hues have a minimizing effect and can help create a more elongated and slender appearance. 

3. Consider dresses with vertical detailing such as seams, pleats, or stripes. These details can elongate the body and create a visually slimming effect by drawing the eye upward. 

4. Balance the empire waist silhouette by pairing it with fitted or tailored pieces on top, like structured blazers or tailored jackets. This helps define the waist and create a more proportionate look. 

5. Choose accessories that draw attention upward, such as statement necklaces or earrings. These accessories shift the focus away from the midsection and create a more balanced and elongated silhouette. 

6. Finally, consider wearing shaping undergarments like control briefs or camisoles to smooth and streamline the midsection further, creating a more polished and slender look under your empire waist dress. 

Why are oversized clothes so trendy? 7 reasons why oversized trend is popular
Image from Dress Your Color

5. What body type is empire waist dress for?

In case you are wondering who looks good in empire waist dress, the answer is: almost everyone!  

Empire waist dresses are known for being super versatile and flattering for lots of different body types.

Whether you're tall or short, curvy or slim, there's an empire waist dress that can make you look and feel amazing.

Let's dive in and find out what body type looks good in empire waist dress!


1. Pear-Shaped: If you're pear-shaped, with a smaller upper body and curvier hips, empire waist dresses are your go-to. 

The raised waistline draws attention to the narrowest part of the body, which is typically above the waist.

By highlighting this area, empire waist dresses help balance out the proportions between the narrower upper body and the wider hips.

The flowing fabric of the dress skims over the hips, creating a graceful and elegant silhouette.

The empire wast style allows pear-shaped individuals to showcase their slender upper bodies while subtly camouflaging any fullness in the hip area.

It's all about balancing those proportions, and empire waist dresses nail it!


2. Hourglass: Got curves for days? Empire waist dresses are your best friend.

The cinched waistline accentuates the natural curve of the waist, creating an exaggerated hourglass shape.

Meanwhile, the flowing fabric of the dress drapes over the hips and bust, enhancing the curves without adding bulk.

Empire waist dresses highlight the proportions of the hourglass figure in a flattering and feminine way!


3. Apple-Shaped: If you're apple-shaped and carry a bit more weight around your midsection, empire waist dresses are here to save the day.

The raised waistline creates the illusion of a narrower waist by cinching just below the bust.

This helps to camouflage any fullness in the abdominal area while accentuating the bust and creating a more balanced silhouette. The flowing fabric of the dress gently skims over the midsection, providing coverage and comfort without clinging to any problem areas.

Overall, empire waist dresses flatter apple-shaped bodies by creating a more proportionate and elongated look.


4. Petite: Short and sweet? Empire waist dresses are perfect for you!

Empire waist dresses are particularly flattering for petite individuals because they create the illusion of height and elongate the body.

The raised waistline visually lifts the waist, making the legs appear longer and the overall silhouette taller. Additionally, the flowing fabric of the dress adds movement and fluidity to the outfit, creating a sense of grace and elegance.

Empire waist dresses help petite individuals achieve a more balanced and elongated silhouette, making them look taller and more proportionate.


5. Plus Size: Empire waist dresses are a godsend for plus-size beauties.

Empire waist dresses are a popular choice for plus-size individuals because they offer both style and comfort.

The raised waistline defines the waist and creates an hourglass shape, enhancing the natural curves of the body. Meanwhile, the flowing fabric of the dress provides coverage and drapes over the body in a flattering way, minimizing any problem areas while still allowing for movement and comfort.

Empire waist dresses empower plus-size individuals to embrace their curves and feel confident in their bodies, making them a versatile and flattering choice for various occasions.

If you are interested in more styling advice, click here to read about how to wear an oversized coat.

6. What body type doesn't look good in an empire style dress?

While empire waist dresses are like magic for many body types, there are a few things to consider if you have one of the following body shapes:


1. If you're an inverted triangle, with broad shoulders and narrower hips, empire waist dresses might not play nice with your proportions.

They could make your shoulders seem even wider and throw things off a bit. In that case, it's all about finding styles that balance things out by giving your lower body some extra oomph.


2. For the rectangle body type, where everything is kind of equal in width from bust to hips, empire waist dresses might not add that va-va-voom you're looking for.

Instead, you might prefer styles that cinch at the natural waist to give the illusion of curves and make you feel like a bombshell.


3. And if you're rocking an athletic or straight body type, with minimal curves, empire waist dresses might not give you the shape or definition you're after.

You might be all about styles that show off your waist more, giving the illusion of curves where there aren't that much.


But hey, at the end of the day, it's all about your choice and wearing what makes YOU feel amazing. Fashion is your playground, so wear what makes you feel fabulous and happy!

Click here to read more about how to boost you self-confidence with clothes. 

7. How do you wear an empire waist without looking pregnant?

I've heard some people worrying that a high-waist dress might make them look like they are pregnant. 

Not to worry! To pull off an empire waist without resembling a mom-to-be, it's all about nailing the fit and style.

1. Choose pieces that hug your bust nicely and steer clear of any excessive fabric bunching around the tummy area.

2. Opt for fabrics like cotton or silk that offer structure without making you look bulky.

3. Keep the length in check, aiming for hemlines that hit just above the knee or fall at a midi length for a modern twist.

4. Mix it up with different necklines to balance out your proportions, avoiding anything too high that could make your bust stand out.

5. Add some layers like a tailored jacket to break up the empire waistline and give your outfit some depth.

6. And don't forget to accessorize thoughtfully with bold jewellery or a waist belt to define your figure and shift the focus away from your midsection.

Follow these styling tricks, and you'll rock the empire waist look with ease, no baby bump in sight!

Is Empire Waist Dress Flattering and What Body Type Looks Good in It?
Image from Pinterest

8. What is the difference between an A line dress and an empire waist dress?

Before we wrap up, let me address a common question that often pops-up when discussing empire dresses: What is the difference between an A-line dress and an empire waist dress?

The main difference between an A-line dress and an empire waist dress lies in their silhouette and where they cinch at the waist.


An A-line dress typically has a fitted bodice that gradually flares out from the waist down, forming an "A" shape.

The waistline of an A-line dress is usually located at the natural waist, which is the narrowest part of the torso between the ribcage and the hips.

This style is known for its flattering fit that skims over the hips and thighs, creating a sleek and elongated look.


On the other hand, an empire waist dress features a raised waistline that sits just below the bust, rather than at the natural waist.

This elevated waistline creates a cinched effect just below the bust, from which the rest of the dress flows downward.

Empire waist dresses are characterized by their relaxed and flowing silhouette, with the fabric cascading gently over the midsection and hips.

Is Empire Waist Dress Flattering and What Body Type Looks Good in It? - The Conclusion

I hope I've made a convincing case that empire dresses can be incredibly flattering for a wide range of body types.

Whether you're petite, curvy, or somewhere in between, the elongating effect of the high waistline can create a beautifully balanced silhouette.

By drawing attention to the narrowest part of the body and skimming over any areas of concern, empire dresses can accentuate your assets and boost your confidence.

So, if you've been hesitant to try out empire dresses, now's the perfect time to give them a chance and take a peek at my collection. You might stumble upon that perfect empire dress that just screams "you"!

Please, share your thoughts with us!  What's your take on empire dresses? Are empire dresses your style staple, or do you gravitate towards other fashion trends?

And if you've found your ultimate empire dress, tell us all about it – we're all ears! 

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