Here are my tips and picks for choosing a plus size dress to make you look fabulous on your son or daughter’s wedding day. Ideas for all figure types.
If you want to look superb don’t just choose a dress designed for smaller sizes that has been up-sized to plus. Look for retailers that stock dresses specially designed for the plus size woman. Then stay realistic and dismiss any dress targeted at women much younger than you.
In this way you will find outfits that look elegant whilst minimizing body areas where older women usually accumulate extra weight.
Are you apple-shaped? Here’s what to look for when buying a new dress.
If your waist has expanded to give a bow-fronted look to your silhouette then concentrate your search on dresses that have enough fullness here. You absolutely do not want to have to ration your eating on the big day for fear of splitting a waist seam. So once it comes to trying on, make sure on a normal day you can pull up the zipper without risk of trapping flesh.
Dresses that fall straight from shoulder to hem can look good for retro weddings as they have a sixties look if short and a hippy look if longer. But if the wedding is a little more formal then you’ll need some sort of definition somewhere around your middle. You can wear a broad soft sash or belt that is easily loosened. I find fabric sashes (belts) look best on me if I position them just below my waist, especially if they have a noticeable tie, bow or buckle fastening which I can position slightly lower, off-centre, on one hip. It stops a straight or wide dress looking like a sack.
Other good styles for a large waist are empire line dresses – where the waist is positioned just under your bust. The defined waist – perhaps with lace or pearls or other eye-catching embellishment – stops the dress looking shapeless whilst still allowing plenty of material to drop straight over your tummy.
Are you pear-shaped? Keep these tips in mind when trying on dresses.
Have your hips and thighs got heavy as you’ve got older so that they now look more prominent than your bust and shoulders? If so you will want to draw the eye to your top half – face, neck, décolletage and arms. You can do this by wearing a hat, emphasising your eyes and/or lips with make-up or wearing an interesting hair style.
For the dress you should look for a neckline that is the focus of the frock. This includes Bardot necklines, and sweetheart , scoop and V necks. Think about wearing statement jewellery too. Large earrings or a dazzling necklace can pull eyes upwards.
The skirt of the dress will need a generous cut. Make sure the fabric can move when you walk. Silks, satins and chiffons will flow as you move and look very feminine. Anything clingy or stretchy will not.
There is a fashion at present for what I term the ‘sugar plum fairy’ look. A plus size dress that hugs the figure then flares out at the skirt, stopping above the knee. This can look such fun on a young woman because her figure may be large but it will also be relatively firm. If you are over 50 that will not be the case for you. Our excess weight can easily form lumpy rolls or wobbly bits which is much less fun.
So give any tight or above the knee dress a miss if you are plus size.
Sleeves or sleeveless?
Older women usually feel more confident in dresses with sleeves. Or take a jacket or wrap.
Stand in front of a long mirror and decide whether your upper arms are toned enough to make you feel great when they are revealed. If they are creased or a bit saggy – tell me about it! Few of us reach sixty without our upper arms drooping into ‘bingo wings’ – then only allow yourself to consider dresses with a sleeve. You’ll feel so much more relaxed at the wedding if you are not constantly dragging a cover-up stole across your shoulders. Even a cap sleeve will tend to disguise those less-than-perfect upper arms.
Legs. Love’em or hate’em. Just plan your outfit accordingly.
Unless you have lovely legs I would not go for the current fashion of long split skirts. That split that looks elegant when you are standing still in front of the mirror will look a bit different when you sit down or even walk. You may well show more than you had expected – and all eyes will focus on your thighs rather than on your beautiful face and neck.
And finally a note on the devilishly difficult wrap dress. These seem to be popular in plus sizes but frankly they have the look of a dressing gown as you exit the bathroom. And what is more, they open to reveal everything as soon as you sit down, both at the bust and at the thigh. Definitely not a good choice for an occasion when you will be standing then sitting then standing all day long. My idea of fashion stress!
Adorable plus size outfits from Chesca
Here are my pick of the best 2019 Chesca mother of the bride outfits to flatter the plus size figure. If you buy them through John Lewis you will pay in your own currency, at an accurate and fair exchange rate, and they will ship fast worldwide.
This beautiful lace and embroidery dress emphasises the throat and neck then falls gracefully to near the floor with a ripple of folds that will sway as you walk. It has just enough curve to make you look feminine.
Pin the hem to several different lengths when you try it on to get just the balance you want. I would suggest you get it professionally altered if necessary as the fabric is more difficult to sew and there is a little edging at the hem which adds to the difficulty.
There is an optional single button jacket if you don’t wish to show your upper arms.
Read the rave reviews here on the John Lewis & Partners site and hear how confident the dress made all the mothers feel on their child’s big day.
Here’s a fabulous lace long jacket or coat to wear over a simple sleeveless frock or over a floaty pant suit. It’s in the Chesca range at John Lewis with sizing up to 24. This is ideal for either an apple or a pear as the straight lines made by the open jacket quite simply cut off your rounded bits and the eye focusses only on the long rectangle running from neck to hem. Make sure the dress or pant suit underneath the jacket is in a different colour or tone so that the ‘rectangle effect’ works. You will look beautiful both day and evening in this versatile jacket.
Stunning plus size dresses from Gina Bacconi
This floaty feminine spotty number will discreetly cover any little lumps and bumps you may be worrying about. It will move with you yet remain light and fun. Its spots will get you noticed in any crowd and you’ll look great in the photos. It’s by Gina Bacconi at John Lewis and exists in sizes up to 22. The cape shoulder stops just above your waist so, magically, you suddenly look much slimmer and have a defined waist. That’s why this is a sure winner for a young at heart mum at her daughter’s or son’s wedding. Summer or winter, day or evening, this gorgeous dress will make you look stunning.
This smart dress and jacket combination available through John Lewis & Partners will work well through summer, autumn and into winter. Made in a cotton blend with a lace overlay and fully lined it will not easily show creases as the day goes on. The peplum waist is ideal for defining your mid region but disguising its width at the same time. Heaven for those of us with an apple figure.
But the flare at the waist and at the sleeves also works well to make your hips look slimmer – so pear-shaped ladies will love this little outfit.
And even better, the silver line made by the zip at the front not only shows you are on trend but also takes the eye straight up and down your silhouette and not across.
Just make sure to emphasise your face and neck by choosing some stunning jewellery. The ruffles on the sleeves are quite enough decoration for your arms and wrists so don’t complicate things with bracelets. It’s all about a necklace and/or some fabulous earrings. So go on, push the boat out for this special day.
Affordable and pretty plus size dresses from ASOS
If you start searching the massive ASOS site it’s easy to get dispirited. Because, although they have lots of curve and plus size outfits the designs are mainly for younger women and girls. But, they are so honest about using plus size models. You can get a realistic view of how you will really look in a dress even if the model is decades younger than you. So I’ve searched hundreds of their styles to bring you my favourites that will look great for a mother of the bride.
This summery frock does exactly what you want a plus size outfit to do if you are pear shaped. All the focus is on your face and your top half. The wide shoulder line balances your larger hips and the tie just above your waist gives your silhouette definition. The top of your arms are covered whilst still looking cool.
It’s got elasthane in it so will be quite clingy but I think the generous cut and styling of the top will make the smooth pencil skirt look fine.
It comes in sizes up to 30 with plenty of online help to find your exact size. ASOS has excellent free worldwide delivery.
Made of polyester it is machine washable.
A small gold chain will look great at the throat but don’t clutter up the stylish neckline with anything too large. Get your hairdresser to put some flowers in your hair perhaps to lengthen your silhouette. You’ll need to wear heels with this dress but these can be comfortable wedges. Just take the dress with you when you buy them. And remember that changing into white trainers for the dancing is now what everyone does at a wedding, however smart the frock.
I must admit I just love this dress and the cherry on the top for me is the amazingly low price.
For a dress with more movement this ASOS dress with lace inserts will make you look very feminine and elegant.
The high waist allows plenty of ease for an apple figure and the softly draped sleeves mean there’s no need to worry about having a wrap ready for the wedding day.
You will need to think carefully about how to decorate your throat as this dress has quite a deep V. If your best feature is your decolletage then you will get many appreciative glances from the guys in this dress. If you want a more modest look then find a small square of fabric and insert it into the bodice with a few little handstitches on the inside so that the V is shortened. You could use a small piece of silk or lace or a lightweight patterned fabric for this.
This frock can work with any heel height as long as you adjust the hem, if necessary, to suit the shoes.
Again, being an ASOS own design, this outfit is wonderfully inexpensive whilst still looking superb.
If dresses are not really your thing there’s simply no need to splash out on an expensive outfit just for a single day. With a feminine hair style, eye-catching jewellery, comfortable summer shoes and a wonderful smile, you will look perfect. And if that means you now have money to help the couple, all the better. Long live ASOS!