Dresses and tops with empire waists â€” raised waistlines that fall right below the bust â€” can be fantastic for hiding a thicker middle or showing off a stunning dÃ©colletage. Unfortunately, wearing a poorly fitting empire (pronounced â€œahm-PEERâ€) can also put your friends and coworkers on unnecessary bumpwatch. To avoid looking preggers while wearing one of the summerâ€™s most comfortable and flattering trends, follow a few simple shopping guidelines:
1. Look for fabrics like ultra-comfortable jersey or silk. Loose, flowy fabrics drape better and skim the body in all the right spots without clinging or adding extra weight under the bust. Tufi Duekâ€™s tri-color jersey dress ($110 @ Bluefly.com) and Weston Wear’s ‘Shoutin’ Mesh Top ($88 @ Nordstrom.com) are great options that wonâ€™t inspire an is-she-or-isnâ€™t-she debate.
2. Make sure the tightest part of the top cinches just below your bustline, where your rib cage is the smallest. A too-high waist can make your breasts look squished, and a too-low waist can give the illusion of droopiness in all the wrong places. The bow at the waistline of Banana Republic’s silk chiffon jersey dress ($128) lets you decide where the most flattering cinching point is. And for smaller busts, tops with raised waistlines, like this Romeo & Juliet Couture tunic ($66 @ Bluefly.com), add some volume up top without making it look like youâ€™re expecting.
3. Balance is key when it comes to dresses. A hemline that falls mid-knee to two inches below your knee shows just the right amount of leg, so you avoid looking top heavy or lost in a sea of billowy fabric. BCBG Max Azria’s Floral Printed Jersey Dress ($178 @ Bloomingdales.com) is a great example of proportions that work â€” the bold pattern and sensible-but-not-puritan length draw attention to all the right things.
Here are more picks for fabulous empire dresses and tops: