Dress Shapes

From A-line to wrap dresses – The detailed guide to dress shapes

Do you recognise this situation: You want to tell someone about a dress you saw on your last shopping trip, but you really don’t have the words to describe it? Are you unsure about dress types other than the “little black one” or the very general “maxi dress”?

Here, we have compiled a simple list to guide you through the alphabet of dress cuts so you don’t run out of words next time you want to describe your new favourite dress.

Definition: What is an A-line dress?

Dresses that have narrow shoulders, but whose contour then widens continuously up to the hem – just like the capital letter A – are referred to as A-line. The A-line cut is one of the most popular in fashion. It’s timeless and a true classic. With its feminine tailoring accentuating the waist, the A-line is indispensable, particularly for work wear.

As a rule:

A-line dresses are best worn on their own, so the silhouette comes into its own.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Anything goes! Flat sandals or high heels, trainers or ankle boots, the A-line goes with almost any type of shoes. When it comes to accessories, we recommend anything that emphasises the wide, swinging shape of the dress: long necklaces, lightweight shoulder bags or flowing scarves.

Our three favourite A-line looks:

Tunic Dress Merosa 159 €
Cocktail Dress Merba 179 €
Simple Dress Melby 169 €

Definition: What is an asymmetrical dress?

Dresses with asymmetrical tailoring look extravagant and often drape lively and loose. Diagonally cut dresses with a leg cut out, handkerchief dresses with corners on the skirt hem as well as so-called hi-low (or mullet) dresses, which are tailored short at the front and long at the back, are all classed as dresses with an asymmetrical cut. The upper half can also be asymmetrical. You very often see dresses with a one-shoulder cut, which leaves a shoulder completely bare. Asymmetrical dresses come in all lengths and shapes, but generally they are midi dresses and knee-length dresses with more girly tailoring.

As a rule:

Asymmetrical dresses look youthful and modern, but – in certain contexts – can also seem too playful. This calls for a deft touch. You can create a mega-influencer style, for example, by wearing a T-shirt under your one-shoulder dress. Trust yourself!

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Depending on the length, trainers as well as sandals or ballerinas are great. When it comes to accessories, a bit of restraint is required, asymmetry is the star!

Definition: What is a babydoll dress?

Babydoll dresses are short, airy dresses in an empire cut. The waistline sits just below the chest, so that the hem drops wide and airy to about the level of the thighs. Babydolls are usually strapless or have narrow spaghetti straps. The oversized babydoll cut with long sleeves creates a more modern look. The babydoll dress usually looks very girly. Wear it with more masculine accessories to take the sweetness out of the style.

As a rule:

This playful dress is an ideal summer look for younger women.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Flat sandals emphasise the casual look, for an edgier touch choose Hi-Tops or loafers.

Definition: What is a balloon dress (O-line)?

An invention of the 50s, the O-line is sometimes unflatteringly referred to as the balloon dress. Instead of putting female curves in the spotlight, the O-line prefers to put itself in the spotlight. The widest part of the dress is found at the hip and waist. Then the dress narrows downwards, giving it the typical round balloon shape.

As a rule:

No patterns please! O-line dresses are excellent at concealing things, patterns however are noticeable.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Platform shoes are a brilliant match for an O-line. Put your trust in any accessories that emphasise length, such as long necklaces, scarves or bags with long straps.

Definition: What is a bandeau dress?

Bandeau dresses are strapless dresses with an elasticated band above the bust. They sit off the shoulders on the upper body. The term bandeau comes from the French and means ribbon/bandage. The “band” comes in different forms: It can fit very tightly, hang  loosely, or be completely ribbed to stretch. What’s more, playful styles often have a loosely falling ruffle over the bust. But what they all have in common is the characteristic straight cut of the top, which gives a lot of freedom to the neck and shoulders.

As a rule:

Usually made of light cotton or jersey, Bandeau dresses are real summer classics for casual occasions or on the beach. The look is always youthful.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Anything that cries out summer! Romantic sandals or slides, large sun hats and diva glasses, woven bags or sporty rucksacks. When it gets chilly, throw a colourful beach towel around your shoulders or slip into a boxy shirt.

Definition: What is a blazer dress?

Blazer dresses were very popular back in the 80s and are making a brilliant comeback in the 2020s, particularly for work. The blazer dress is a fuller length blazer, so there’s no need to wear trousers. This straight-cut dress stands out thanks to its deep jacket lapels and a single or double-breasted button placket. Many blazer dresses also feature a belt across the waist as an extra showstopper.

As a rule:

Choose a knee or midi length for business meetings, preferably in a tweed look. For a party, you can go for a sexy mini version of the short blazer dress. For brunch with the girls, simply wear the dress open with a shirt and skinny jeans.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

The outfit is timeless with heels. The look is more sophisticated with mules or more rugged with brogues. Its professionalism can be emphasised with an envelope bag. In the evening, you can really step up a gear: overknees look brilliant with a blazer dress!

Definition: What is a pencil dress (H-line)?

Here, too, it takes its name from the letter: it refers to a dress that is tailored to be straight and usually narrow, which ends at the knee. Often, the H-line also goes under the name pencil dress. The slim silhouette looks elegant and emphasises the wearer’s curves. Pencil dresses are 60s fashion icons and are an excellent choice for festive occasions.

As a rule:

The H-line focuses on the waist. With a belt, you can further accentuate your midsection.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

High heels or sandals go perfectly with a pencil dress. When it gets cold, put on a short tweed blazer. Or go for a more casual look with a short, oversized crop jumper.

Our three favourite pencil dress looks:

Midi Dress Mokyla 219 €
Cut Out Dress Melosa 169 €
Simple Dress Medara 149 €

Definition: What is a Carmen dress?

Carmen dresses, often called cold shoulder dresses or off-the-shoulder dresses, are characterised above all by their airy, light style. They come in vibrant colours and eye-catching patterns, reminiscent of the typical Andalusian flamenco costumes of women in Spain. A typical feature of this dress is a low neckline often with wide ruffles, which can be pulled over the shoulders by means of an elasticated cord.

As a rule:

Carmen dresses are a summer classic. A seamless tan with no bra strips highlights your shoulders and neck even more beautifully. If you want to keep wearing your Carmen dress in autumn & winter, you can combine it with a thin, plain-coloured roll neck.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Create an Andalusian flair with natural accessories such as straw hats, raffia bags and light, neutral flats. The neckline is the star, so stick to large earrings instead of necklaces. Once again, a belt across the waist visually picks up the horizontal line of the off-shoulder cut, creating a harmonious separation between the top and lower skirt.

Definition: What is a Charleston dress?

The Charleston cut is THE style of the 1920s. Usually sleeveless, straight and loosely tailored with a beltline normally positioned somewhat low. Mobility and comfort were top priorities for this cut. The relaxed, falling cut is spiced up by lots of decorations such as sequins, feathers or fringes.

As a rule:

Be economical with accessories, the dress usually speaks for itself. It is also important that the tailoring really hangs loose on the hips. Therefore, go a size up to create the typical straight silhouette with no visible hip and waistline.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Flat sandals or high heels are best. Classic 1920s items such as headbands, long gloves or fringe scarves are very suitable accessories.

Definition: What is a cocktail dress?

A cocktail dress is a short formal dress usually worn to cocktail parties or other social occasions such as receptions or important celebrations. It is usually made of an elegant fabric such as silk, taffeta or satin and is characterised by a classic-feminine silhouette.

As a rule:

The little sister of the evening dress is less formal and can also be worn during the day – but heaven forbid not on casual occasions. For shopping or brunch with friends, it is clearly “too much”.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

A cocktail dress in itself is already a real showstopper, so accessories should be used sparingly. High-end heels and fine jewellery made from precious metals are the perfect match, together with a clutch or micro bag. Stay away from big bags!

Definition: What is a cut-out dress?

With a cut-out dress, sections of the fabric are removed to provide an appealing view of the skin underneath. The cut-outs can be in various parts of the dress, such as on the back, shoulders, décolletage, hips or abdomen. Dress slits give the look a sexy or edgy touch and are a real knockout.

As a rule:

To keep a high-class look, you should not show too much skin. A cut-out for a “wow” effect is enough. For example, with a backless dress, make sure the upper half has a high neckline, and when wearing a waist cut-out, the skirt should be at least the length of a midi.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

A cut-out dress does not need large accessories, the refined slit in the fabric is already the biggest showstopper. Minimalism is the key: a petite ring, a simple bracelet or high-quality hoop earrings complete the look. Choose shoes according to the style of the dress: Romantic, playful cut-out dresses cry out for delicate strappy heels, while trainers or penny loafers go well with sporty pieces.

Definition: What is an empire dress?

In this fashion classic, the top, which usually has a wide-cut neckline, merges into a dart gathered directly under the bust. From there, the girly, romantic empire cut drops far to the knee or, in the long, classic version, to the ankle. Empire dresses experienced their first wave of popularity in the early 19th century, the cut is heavily based on the Greek tunics of antiquity. The empire cut really flatters the figure and draws the eye to the cleavage.

As a rule:

Empire cuts can conceal the middle and lower part of the body well, but beware, the cut can also make you appear larger.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

High heels stretch the body visually, as do long necklaces.

Definition: What is a sheath dress?

With their clean lines made of a single piece of fabric, shift dresses are the classics among medium-length dresses. The shift dress was very modern in the 1930s and was reborn in the 60s. Today, it is considered timeless, feminine and professional and is one of the evergreens of sophisticated women’s clothing. The hallmark of the shift dress is its figure-hugging fit and a collarless, often horizontal or semicircular neckline. Dresses in a shift cut are often sleeveless or have very short sleeves and usually stretch to the knee.

As rule:

You should not overload your shift dress with too many accessories. Instead, you can make a statement with the choice of material for the dress. In colder months, shift dresses in velvet or faux leather are a real knockout, in the summer, the shift cut in silk or jersey stretch fabric looks enchanting.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Heels emphasise the serious professional look, but ballet flats are perfectly suitable if you need more comfort.

Our favorite Shift Dresses Looks:

A-Shaped Dress Midia 159 €
Mini Dress Marisy 149 €
Sheath Dress Mesani 169 €

Definition: What is a shirt dress?

The shirt cut has become an integral part of designer collections, particularly over the last few seasons. The cut is typified by classic blouse tailoring with a collar and button placket, which extends straight down or with a slight flare. The button placket can feature just up to the waist or all the way.

As a  rule:

Shirt dresses are great everyday companions and suit practically every woman.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Suitable accessories/shoes:
Sporty trainers or ankle boots are ideal. As jewellery, use fine, short necklaces that do not cover the button placket.

Definition: What is a hoodie dress?

The hoodie dress is a sporty sweatshirt dress with a hood, usually made of cotton or jersey, a bit like an elongated hoodie. Hoodie dresses are cut straight and loose and deliver a cosy, comfortable everyday look. Many pieces have either a typical kangaroo-style reach-through pocket at the front of the dress or two side pockets.

As a rule:

Is your hoodie dress too baggy for you? Use a wide waist belt to add more silhouette to the look. This allows you to immediately switch from sporty to casual and elegant.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Of course, trainers are the classic go-to for the athleisure trend. Whether you choose a chunky style or retro chucks is completely up to you. Add a sporty rucksack or a crossbody bag across the shoulder and the hoodie dress look is complete. Influencers are setting an example: you can mix things up with elegant over-the-knee boots and a classy pouch bag with chain handles.

Definition: What is a Kaftan dress?

A kaftan is a loosely tailored, floor-length dress with long sleeves, the shape of which has its origins in the Middle East and some countries in Africa. It is recognisable by its summery flowing fabric, wide sleeves and straight relaxed tailoring. The mostly V-shaped neckline is also a common characteristic. Kaftans are versatile and are often worn as airy summer clothes with richly decorated embroidery, neckline trims or colourful printed fabrics.

As a rule:

It’s all about the material! Kaftans made of linen or cotton look too casual for elegant occasions in the summer, as do flat shoes. As a guest at a wedding or for a garden reception, it is better to choose a kaftan dress made of silk or satin. Delicate shoes with a heel make the kaftan look less casual.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

For informal occasions such as holidays and the beach, you can simply walk barefoot or wear lightweight espadrilles or open-toe sandals – complete your look with sunglasses and hats made of natural materials. You can emphasise the exotic origins of the garment with gold bracelets and hoop earrings.

Definition: What is a little black dress?

A black knee-length dress is usually described as an LBD. Usually in a shift cut, it exudes a special elegance and can be worn for decades due to its timelessness. The term “little black dress” was first coined in the 1920s and came from a Vogue article on a design by Coco Chanel. The piece gained widespread fame in 1961 thanks to Givenchy’s version appearing in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Since then, the historically significant piece has been reinterpreted by numerous designers to this day.

As a rule:

The LBD is every woman’s secret weapon and definitely belongs in her capsule wardrobe. It’s better to spend a few euros more and pay attention to high-quality fabric and excellent workmanship. You will then be able to enjoy your all-rounder at elegant occasions for years to come.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Heels, a pearl necklace and matching pearl earrings are the classic choice when styling the LBD and a tribute to Audrey Hepburn & Co. If you want a more modern accompaniment to the little black dress, wear it with elegant suit trousers in a tan shade, for example, or spice up the look with an extravagant brooch and leopard-print ankle boots.

Definition: What is a dungaree dress?

The dungaree dress is a fashionable twist on robust dungarees, usually made of sturdy cotton and denim fabrics. The dress features a practical dungaree pocket on the chest, which offers space for small items. Dungaree dresses usually have adjustable straps to adjust the fit on the upper body, which are closed with a brace buckle on the dungaree.

As a rule:

It’s better to buy a size bigger! If the dungaree stretches at the front or the skirt sits on the hips, the outfit quickly loses its casualness. You should always keep in mind that dungaree dresses are comfortable, practical casual outfits and have no place at elegant occasions.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Due to their open cut on the upper body, dungaree dresses are rarely worn without a top. Achieve a clean look with a simple white T-shirt, a summery, sexy look with a crop top or a rock-chick look with a band tee and a loose strap. In winter, simply put a warm turtleneck on underneath and the look continues into the colder months. Trainers and brogues go perfectly with a casual dungaree look, as well as a cap and rucksack. The look becomes a little more elegant with the addition of ankle boots and a small shoulder bag.

Definition: What is a mermaid dress (I-line)?
The “I” is like the “H”, but the I goes significantly lower than the style named after its preceding letter, usually even to the ground. You can call it a mermaid cut if the I-line does not end narrowly on the floor, but ruffles or frills flare out from the middle shin area.

As a rule:

Less is more. Dresses with ruffles in particular look best in one colour.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

The mermaid cut is elegant and figure-hugging tailoring that goes very well with slim, high-heeled shoes that lengthen the leg. Stilettos, strappy sandals or peep-toe shoes add a seductive touch to the outfit and accentuate the feminine silhouette. Large bags are a no-go here, choose a small clutch bag instead  and a small amount of jewellery, such as sparkling earrings, a subtle necklace or a delicate hairband. This enhances the style but does not direct the focus away from the mermaid dress.

Definition: What is a halter neck dress?

Halterneck dresses are dresses whose straps are attached to the neck and emphasise the shoulders. There are different ways of fitting the straps around the neck, e.g. two loose straps that are tied together at the back of the neck, a U-shape that is pulled over the head onto the neck or high stand-up collars that sit firmly around the neck. But they all have something in common: the upper back is usually uncovered by the halterneck and the shoulders are exposed.

As a rule:

The halterneck dress exists to show off the shoulders. As with all strapless pieces, you should make sure you wear a suitable bra where the straps are not visible. For more support, you can also buy a special halterneck bra that leaves the shoulders and upper back free.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Dresses with a halterneck are available in a wide variety of styles and lengths – from elegant evening pieces to casual beach dresses. It is difficult to give a recommendation here. But one thing is certain: halternecks and necklaces do not mix. Instead, go for earrings or bracelets.

Our three favourite looks in a halter neck:

Neckholder Dress Kolina 179,00 € 149 €
70's Maxi Dress Loaly 229,00 € 179 €
Neckholder Dress Lilea 199,00 € 179 €

Definition: What is an oversize dress?

Oversized dresses feature a comfortable fit and a casual style that conveys a rather laid-back aesthetic. The voluminous dresses are usually tailored a bit square, so that they do not fit snugly against the body. Today’s looks are based on the baggy fashion of the 1980s and 90s and often have a slightly masculine touch.

As a rule:

Oversized with more oversized is seldom good. Therefore, always style your XL dress with a more tailored piece, such as a slim-fit jacket or hip, fake-leather leggings.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Be sure to incorporate shaping elements into your look. If you do not want to appear too large, why not wear a belt? Many oversized dresses already have details such as ruffles and darts that make the look less “baggy”. Fine shoes with a bit of height, such as delicate strappy heels, ensure that the body outline narrows downwards. This way you achieve the perfect balance against the volume.

Definition: What is a princess dress?

Just like the ones we see in Disney films, the princess dress is classically tailored. It is particularly known for the slimming lines that run under the arms and over the waist which discreetly flare out in the lower half. Princess dresses really look like they come from a fairytale and are therefore only suitable for very special occasions such as balls or weddings.

As a rule:

Gowns are the queens of dresses. Here, styling must be performed with a deft touch, but the following applies: less is more!

Suitable accessories/shoes:

High heels are a must. Depending on the neckline, a choker or necklace can accentuate the dress. Earrings are also not a bad idea. Be careful: Make sure to wear high-quality material and avoid cheap costume jewellery.

Definition: What is a tube dress?

Tube dresses, often referred to as bodycon dresses, are tight, body-hugging dresses made of stretchy fabrics such as jersey, lycra or spandex. The cut of the dress follows the body and strongly emphasises the female curves. The tube dress is defined solely by its tight cut and can come in different styles from mini length with no sleeves to midi length with long sleeves.

As a rule:

When choosing the right size of tube dress, you have to be even more careful than with other types of dresses. Bodycon dresses are renowned for their tight fit. If you choose too large a size, the whole effect disappears and the dress hangs misshapenly on the body. Be careful when choosing your underwear: seamless panties and t-shirt bras ensure there’s nothing unsightly. Or you can go straight for shapewear like a shaper slip dress.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Bodycon dresses are popular party dresses, you can really step up a gear when getting ready for a club night: do whatever you want. For official occasions, you need a deft touch when it comes to styling so that the body-hugging dress does not look overly sexy. Avoid anything that makes you more “naked”, such as cut-outs or deep necklines, and choose an elegant colour such as black, dark blue or dark green. Pair your tube dress with closed, conservative heels instead of open strappy ones.

Definition: What is a pussy bow dress?

A pussybow dress is a high-necked type of dress with two long ribbons hanging from the collar –  the pussybows. The dresses are feminine and romantic, particularly when the ribbons are tied into a large bow. Pussybow dresses are usually long-sleeved and boast straight, classic tunic tailoring.

As a rule:

Their timeless, classic character makes dresses with pussybows the perfect companion for weddings or business meetings.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Classic shoe styles such as heels or ankle boots go perfectly with a delicate pussybow dress made of chiffon or satin. You can mix things up perfectly by taking the sweetness out of the dress and, for example, combining it with sturdy Doc Martens and a rocking leather jacket.

Definition: What is a strappy dress?

All types of dresses with straps that run from the cleavage over the shoulders and end at the shoulder blades are classed as strappy dresses. The straps are sewn to the dress and cannot be removed. Derivatives of the strappy dress include spaghetti strappy dresses with very thin straps as well as slip dresses – a simple, casual dress shape usually made of satin with thin straps, into which you only have to slip.

As a rule:

The sleeveless strappy dress is a real summer classic and the cotton version is one of the most popular beach dresses in the world.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Strappy dresses come in different lengths and fits, from short, figure-hugging pieces to wide, airy designs. It is therefore difficult to recommend accessories and shoes. Airy flats in the summer and casual trainers for a shopping trip are always guaranteed to go with the strappy dress.

Our three favourite looks with straps:

Maxi Dress Lismy 229,00 € 179 €
Strap Dress Kiamis 189,00 € 159 €
Silk Dress Lafory 259,00 € 179 €

Definition: What is a trapeze dress?

The additional versions of the A-type that need more material are referred to as trapeze. The narrow shoulder area usually runs down well below the knee and is often combined with a skirt dart at the waist. Trapeze dresses often have sleeves, sometimes with sweeping ruffles.

As a rule:

Trapeze dresses can be styled brilliantly and combined with different accessories.

Suitable accessories/shoes:
For a sporty look: denim jacket and chunky trainers, the look is more elegant with heels or sandals

Definition: What is a T-shirt dress (T-line)?

As we all know, this letter has already made fashion history with a more informal piece of clothing. The T-line dress is also the straight-cut extension of the T-shirt. Particularly for casual occasions, the loose-fitting T-shirt dress made of jersey or cotton is currently at the pinnacle of fashion. But the casual cut with a round neckline also takes the edge off elegant dresses – a fashionable twinkle in the eye.

As a rule:

T-shirt dresses are real all-rounders and should not be missing from any wardrobe!

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Flat or high – anything goes. The typical everyday look requires trainers or lace-up boots. Put a leather or denim jacket over it, casualness cannot get any more fashionable!

Definition: What is a tunic dress?

Dresses in a tunic cut spread the pure joy of summer. That’s because of their airy kaftan-like tailoring, which flows loosely around the body. Tunics are wide-cut dresses with mostly half-length, wide sleeves. The majority of tunic dresses end just above the knee. This summer basic often has embroidery or colourful patterns and suits every woman due to its loose cut.

As a rule:

Tunic cuts are the ideal casual and holiday dresses and can be combined in many ways.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Flat beach sandals or flip-flops go just as well as airy trainers or espadrilles, large straw hats and tote bags reinforce the casual holiday look.

Our three favourite looks in a tunic cut:

A-Shaped Dress Mika 149 €
Retro Dress Maina 159 €
Print Dress Mowea 209 €

Definition: What is a wrap dress?

The wrap dress is a figure-flattering garment in which the two halves of the open front are placed on top of each other and secured with the belt attached or, more rarely, with one or more buttons. This casual dress has its origins in the 70s and is still a fashion staple today. Dresses in a wrap-cut can have sleeves or be sleeveless, but always have a characteristic V-neck.

As a rule:

Watch out for the neckline! With the wrap dress, you can decide on the depth of your neckline yourself.

Suitable accessories/shoes:

Mid-height sandals or heels are ideal to wear with wrap dresses. A denim or leather jacket makes the dress more casual. The look becomes more professional with a trench coat.