Figure Flattering Dresses For Women Over 40

Black and white dressAfter a long, cold winter of pants and bulky sweaters, it’s a thrill to shed those heavy layers and throw on a pretty summer dress. But with so many choices out there, how do you know which dress is best?

Before you fall in love with the color, vibe or even the price of a dress, you need to take a long, hard look at the style.

Does it suit your shape? Finding a dress that flatters YOUR body type is the key to looking wow!

Here are 3 styles of summer dresses for women over 40 that are guaranteed to work for you.

1. The Sheath Dress

A sheath dress is class all the way. It’s a long, lean body skimming dress that encases your body, enhances your curves or creates them where there are none. This elegant style is typically sleeveless with strong waist definition and a back slit or pleats.

It is unfussy and is a fabulous choice for work or anytime you are going to an important event and aren’t sure what to wear. Michelle Obama is famous for her sheath dresses.

blue and pink sheath dress

Sheath Dresses are perfect for:

  • hourglass figures- show off the curves you have at their best
  • boyish or thick waisted figures- creates the illusion of an hourglass

Sheath Dresses are tricky to wear if:

  • your body is not proportionate
  • you have a large protruding tummy

Find out why else I love a sheath dress and which Sheath dresses I recommend  to make you look Fabulous After 40!


2. The Shift Dress

A shift dress is the kind of dress every woman wants in her closet because it is easy and comfortable. It’s sort of like wearing a  long top.  It hangs loose from the shoulders (sometimes has darts) and falls straight down to above the knee with no waist definition.

Shift dresses can be sleeveless, have short or long sleeves and usually they usually have high scoop or boatneck neckline. Since they are loose they give off a casual, relaxed vibe and are excellent for covering up problem areas because they give your body room to “shift around.”

blue shift dress


Shift Dresses are perfect for:

  •  anyone with a boyish, straight up and down, rectangular figure
  • gals with a thick midsection
  • women with a jelly belly or large hips or thighs who need something loose

Shift dresses are tricky to wear if you:

  • are very curvy because they will hide your hourglass figure- although you can try belting one.
  • wear one that is too baggy- slightly tailored with a slight A-line flare is best so you don’t look like you are wearing a bag
  • wear one too that’s short- Shift dresses are on the short side and if you have large thighs, you will look heavy. The solution is to add tights or leggings. They look great with shift dresses.

Find out what else makes a great sheath dress.

Get more tips on how to wear a shift dress correctly, as well as my suggestions for  shift dresses that will make you look Fabulous After 40


3. The Fit and Flare Dress

The fit and flare is one of the most popular silhouettes this spring and it’s no wonder. It has a fitted top with a very defined waist and a flared skirt. This style will make you look very shapely and is a godsend is you have a heavy lower half. It’s very feminine and pretty.

black and white fit and flare dress

Fit and flare dresses are perfect for:

  • balancing out a bigger bust – the wide skirt can even you out creating an hourglass
  • concealing wide hips or heavy thighs
  • giving everyone curves especially women with boyish, no waist shapes

Fit and flare dresses can be tricky to wear if you

  • want to look sophisticated. Some look little girly if they are too short or depending on the pattern.

Find out what else makes a great shift dress.

Check out these tips on how to style a fit and flare dress as well as my suggestions for fit and flare dresses that will make you look Age-Amazing!

Will you be buying a new spring dress? Comment below and let me know which type?    

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Comments, Feedback, & Opinions:

  1. Victoria Estep says:

    I love the fit and flare but finding any dress that hits at the knee is impossible, they are all to short. Loved all of the dresses pictured.

  2. Linda Fravel says:

    I found a perfect style for me! A slightly A shape knit in a wild pink print with sewn- in “jewels” around the boat neck AND elbow sleeves. I loved it so much, i bought a very similar one in turquoise!

  3. I’ve recently discovered that I love the fit and flare silhouette! I was kind of off dresses for a long time, and I think it was because I was wearing styles that didn’t really suit me. I just find the fit and flare so flattering and comfortable! I see lots more in my future, especially with spring and summer!

  4. Great article, I love sheath as well as wrap dresses.

  5. LOVE the fit and flare dresses – the shift dresses are shapeless so um, no. Sheath dresses – maybe. Of course I’ve never been a “dress gal,” but I’m 43 and decided to try something new this year and change my style a bit……which is why I joined this site! Making the transition into what is appropriate at 43 and what is NOT is difficult for me – thank you for a wonderful website!! :)

    • Hi Patti, so glad you joined our community. I think what you said is important, you want to try something new. It’s good to shake things up a bit. All too often we get stuck in a rut buying the same old things which are not really us anymore. You need to take a few chances to discover who you are, and how you want to express yourself at 40+. When your clothes reflect the person you feel you are on the inside, it’s uplifiting and exciting and that shines through. Please send me a photo of you in your new dress, whatever you choose and I’ll post it. Cheers, Deborah

  6. Jean Kronzer says:

    I bought a navy sheath for my daughter’s college graduation in May. Versatile. However, I just never seem to get anything but a sheath style. I should try others, but lack of money holds me back. I love your blog, thank you!

    • Hi Jean, I think that’s a perfect style of dress for a graduation. You can’t go wrong with a sheath for any occasion. It’s class all the way. Look for the best sales on dresses starting in June. That’s when all the summer things go on sale and you are sure to find a nice fit and flare if you want to try it for a good price. This is an easy style of dress to wear so I think you will get a lot of use out of it too. Cheers, Deborah