Figure Flattering Dresses For Women Over 40

With the warm weather here, it’s a thrill to shed those heavy layers and throw on a pretty 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 particular body type is the key to looking wow! Here are three styles of summer for women over 40 that are guaranteed to work for you.

Figure Flattering Dresses For Women Over 40


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.

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 

Figure Flattering Dresses For Women Over 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 loosely 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 they often have a high scoop or boatneck neckline. Since they are looser than a sheath dress,  they give off a casual, relaxed vibe and are excellent for covering up problem areas because they give your body room to “shift around.”

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 a little looser

Shift dresses are tricky to wear if:

  • you are very curvy because they will hide your hourglass figure (although in some cases you can try belting one)
  • the dress is too baggy- a slightly tailored sheath with a slight A-line flare is best, so you don’t look like you are wearing a bag
  • you wear one that’s too 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.
Figure Flattering Dresses For Women Over 40
Best Dresses For Women Over 40

3. Fit and Flare Dress

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

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.

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!

Shop more figure flattering dresses for women over 40 here:

Which style of dress do you usually buy and which type do you avoid? Comment below.    

Join the Conversation

19 thoughts on “Figure Flattering Dresses For Women Over 40

  1. I’m a fan of fit and flare, on one condition. The length must be just below the knee. Anything higher looks goofy and too high school on me.

    Also a fan of short sweaters or jackets with the swing dresses: very 1950s.

  2. Hi! I love your blog . I am 52 years old, 5 10 and 145 pounds. I am looking for a nice dress to wear in Mexico this summer for our family portrait. Looking for a blue color.I was wondering what kind of dress you would recommend? I don’t know if I should get a pattern or solid dress for the family beach portrait? There will be 5 others in the photo with me. Any recommendations would be great! Thanks! Martine

    1. Hi Martine, You’re nice and tall and you are at the beach. What about a maxi dress? Generally I recommend a solid color for photographs, but since you are at the beach things are more informal and there are other people in the shot you could go for a fun pattern. You’re in Mexico after all, so saturated colors like bright oranges, blues, greens yellows, reds would look great. You really should coordinate your color/patterns with the others if you want the shot to look fabulous, otherwise it may look like you “didn’t get the memo”, if you know what I mean. You don’t want to have clashing patterns or colors. Have a wonderful time!

      1. Thank you for your advice Deborah! I will look for a maxi dress… possibly with an interesting pattern . I don’t have nice legs so I like this idea for that reason also.

        1. There are some great options for cute maxi dresses that are inexpensive at Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack…some are casual enough to wear to the pool and are made cotton t shirt material so they pack easily.

  3. I love the look of wearing a dress. However I quit wearing them when people stopped wearing hose. I am 57 and my legs are lily white and do not look good without hose. Is it ever alright to wear hose?

    1. I always opt for hose, if my shoes are closed toe – and if not, I go with hose / spanx down to mid-thigh; and use tan wipes on my legs and feet with a good pedicure.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!! :)

    1. 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

  8. 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!

    1. 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

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