The fabric of a dress might be more important than you think.
I might surprise you by telling you one of the first things I consider is the weight of a fabric. Light-weight fabrics tend to flatter slimmer people. I personally prefer at least a mid-weight fabric – I simply think it’s more flattering on my not-so-stick-thin body. Light weight fabrics are less forgiving in that sense but very feminine on the right person. I just worked out early on that’s not me.
Another tip for a flattering fit is to buy lined dresses. You’ll generally get a better shape / movement with a lined dress. With an unlined dress you’ll need to pay more attention to what you wear underneath especially if the dress is figure hugging.
Composition matters too. I am a fan of stretch silk but would not turn a dress down because it includes a lot of manmade fibres. Good examples are dresses featuring lace or netting. Designers can create special effects that are only possible with manmade fibres. If a dress is designed to be close fitting check to see if it includes elastane or lycra. In my book this is a big bonus because it will make the dress both more comfortable and more forgiving. Stretch to fit is music to my ears.
The other things you could consider are the pattern and texture which will have been foremost for the designer. A small pattern will generally suit a slimmer frame whereas everyone else can get away with larger patterns. You might think a patterned dress is less versatile but don’t forget you can switch it up or down with different accessories.
Pattern and texture often go hand in hand – think of a dress with a raised pattern. Generally, a soft texture is going to cling to the body more. For many, a stiffer fabric is more flattering. As the old phrase goes, these types of fabrics can hide a multitude of sins. Like-wise dull/matt fabrics are more flattering than super shiny ones on a person of average build. Smooth fabrics are a forgiving choice for most women.