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Women's Style Guide

A touch of feminity: Looking great in a dress or skirt

When it comes to looking and feeling feminine, you can't go wrong with a skirt or dress. Nowadays, items are designed with both comfort and style in mind, so you can feel at ease in your clothes and still look great.

When it comes to shape and styling, the options out there are endless, so it's important to figure out which is going to flatter you the most. Consider length, fit, fabric and body type, as well as the occasion for which you are dressing up. Taking all this into account, you will have your hands on the perfect skirt or dress in no time at all.


Whatever you end up wearing, the important thing is to ensure it fits properly. Even the most beautiful dresses and skirts can look unflattering if they don't fit and flatter your figure. Size is one of the most important factors (another is shape, but we'll come to that later).

If an item is too big, excess fabric can swamp you or even gather in really unflattering places. Alternatively, if it's too small, it can feel really uncomfortable and cut in around your hips, waist or bottom.


To combat this, look for items that have discreet elastic sections, which will most likely adapt to your shape rather than working against it. Skirts or dresses with this kind of design will be comfortable all day long; a proper fit will ensure you look as good as you feel.

Body Shape

The right style of dress or skirt for you will depend on what kind of body shape you have. The three most common ones are apple, pear and hourglass.

(If you want a little bit more help in figuring out what kind of body shape you've got, take a look at our dedicated guide 'Apple, pear or hourglass? How to dress according to your body type'.)

The trick to employ here is known as 'enhance and minimise', which basically means drawing attention to your best bits while concealing anything you're not so confident about.

If your body is what we call 'apple-shaped', you may want to pick something that will balance out your bust and give the impression of a smaller waist. A-line skirts and dresses are ideal for this, especially if they have a lot of layers and fabric around the bottom to create volume.

Anything that adds extra material around your waist, such as pleats, gathered fabrics and pockets, is best to be avoided. Keep your lines as clean and smooth as possible, especially at the front, to create a really flattering silhouette.


Anyone with a more pear-shaped figure should opt for dresses that draw attention more towards the top half of their body rather than the bottom. Be bold; play around with ruffles, sequins and other pretty details to create a more balanced look across your body.

This can also be achieved with the correct skirt - the most flattering style will fit nicely around the waist, before skimming over the lower half of your body. Team this up with a patterned or textured top for a really attractive look.

If you've got an 'hourglass' figure, your body is likely to be very balanced and, therefore, the key is to find dresses to best accentuate your enviable curves. Don't be afraid to choose items that hug your figure, rather than hide it – a slim-fitting T-shirt dress will fall in the right places, but won't be too clingy.


Some styles are universally flattering, like full-length maxi skirts; these sit beautifully on any frame, so long as they don't end up trailing on the floor! Paired with a pair of flat or low-heeled shoes, this will create a really relaxed look.


Shorter women may have to steer clear of mid-calf-length skirts, as these can shorten rather than lengthen your look. However, this length is absolutely perfect for anyone looking to define their shape a bit more, making them ideal for apple shapes as they tuck in at the waist and create a lot of volume at the bottom. Wearing heels with your midi skirt can also elongate your legs.


Dresses and skirts are very versatile; you can make them dressy or casual with the correct styling. Something mid-length and loose might be practical enough for everyday tasks, but with a structured blazer and heels, it can be perfect for a dinner out with friends.

Similarly, pencil dresses and skirts can be ideal for smarter occasions like an evening party if paired with a pretty blouse, but will also work beautifully for a casual look with a t-shirt and flats - perfect for a relaxed lunch with the girls!



For a dress or skirt to be comfortable, the fabric has to be right. Lightweight fabrics will be easy to wear all day long, so something made with cotton or even linen will help you stay cool. These are also great for layering up, so in spring and autumn when the weather is less predictable, you can easily slip on an extra layer to keep you warm.

In winter months, when you want something a bit thicker, chunky knits will keep you snug throughout the day. Again, these are easy to wear with a layer underneath, so pop a t-shirt or long-sleeved vest on under a knitted dress for extra warmth.

Dresses and skirts are available in so many styles, lengths and fabrics that you will easily find something in which you can feel comfortable, whatever the weather. From relaxed and lightweight to dressy and glamourous, you can always look great in the clothes you choose.

If you want to browse Cotton Traders' full range of dresses and skirts to find the perfect one, you can find them all here

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