How To Wear an Empire Waist

May 29, 2007 by SheFindsErin
shefinds |

Dresses and tops with empire waists — raised waistlines that fall right below the bust — can be fantastic for hiding a thicker middle or showing off a stunning décolletage. Unfortunately, wearing a poorly fitting empire (pronounced “ahm-PEER”) can also put your friends and coworkers on unnecessary bumpwatch. To avoid looking preggers while wearing one of the summer’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 Duek’s tri-color jersey dress ($110 @ and Weston Wear’s ‘Shoutin’ Mesh Topicon ($88 @ are great options that won’t inspire an is-she-or-isn’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 @, add some volume up top without making it look like you’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 Dressicon ($178 @ is a great example of proportions that work — 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:



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