Dresses for Broad Shoulders: How to Find Styles that Flatter Your Figure

Growing up, I was always self-conscious about my broad shoulders. I envied my friends who could wear strapless dresses and cute spaghetti straps without looking like they were about to play linebacker.

After years of trial and error, I’ve finally figured out which dress silhouettes and details work best for my inverted triangle shape. I no longer stress about finding a dress – I know exactly what styles will complement my body type.

In this blog post, I’ll share everything I’ve learned over the years about dressing for broad shoulders.

I’ll go over the best dress styles, necklines, sleeves, and other details that help minimize and balance wide shoulders.

Determining If You Have Broad Shoulders

Before we dive into dress recommendations, let’s go over how to know if you have broad shoulders. There are a few key characteristics of this body type:

  • Shoulders are noticeably wider than hips. Rather than an hourglass or pear shape, your upper body takes on an inverted triangle shape.
  • You have a straight waistline rather than a defined curve. Your waist doesn’t nip in dramatically in comparison to your shoulders and hips.
  • Your shoulders have a “squarish” rather than rounded appearance. The angle across your shoulders appears wider and straighter.
  • You have a V-shaped torso. Your shoulders and ribs create an upside down “V” shape from shoulder to waist.

If these features sound familiar, you likely have broad or wide-set shoulders. This body type is sometimes referred to as an inverted triangle.

While broad shoulders might present some styling challenges, the upside is you have a strong, athletic build that allows you to pull off both feminine and edgy looks.

Once you learn which silhouettes and details enhance your figure, you’ll feel confident and stylish.

The Best Dress Styles for Broad Shoulders

When shopping for dresses, look for these styles that add balance and proportion to your inverted triangle frame:

A-Line Dresses

a full-skirted A-line dress

An A-line dress is fitted at the top and gradually widens at the natural waist to create an “A” shape. This silhouette flatters broad shoulders by adding volume and fullness to your bottom half. The full skirt balances out your upper body to create an hourglass illusion.

To enhance the waist, look for A-line dresses with a tie, belt, or other cinched detail at the narrowest part of your torso. For formal occasions, a full-skirted A-line dress creates an elegant, balanced look.

Empire Waist Dresses

Empire Waist Dresses

Empire waist dresses have a seam and detail (such as a tie or ribbon) positioned just below the bust. This high waist placement is extremely flattering for broad shoulders, as it highlights the narrowest part of your torso and skims over your waist area. The looser skirt disguises your straight waistline.

For casual empire waist dresses, look for smocked, shirred, or pleated fabric that hangs gracefully from the bust down.

Wrap Dresses

A wrap dress

A wrap dress drapes diagonally across your torso and ties at one side. This creates a V-neckline, dynamic silhouette, and ruching effect that complements and downplays broad shoulders. Wrap dresses come in jersey knits, silks, cottons, and many other fabrics perfect for day or night.

Look for a true wrap style that you crisscross and tie, rather than a faux wrap that simply has an overlapping front panel sewn in place. The adjustable fit of a wrap dress contours beautifully to your shape. Find incredible wrap dresses for every occasion on Amazon.

Peplum Dresses

Peplum Dresses

A peplum dress has a short, gathered “flounce” that flares out at the natural waistline. This detail adds interest, balance, and shape to your straight waist and hips.

Peplum dresses come in a variety of styles – from professional shirtdresses to evening gowns. For wide shoulders, look for a dainty, pleated peplum that provides feminine detailing without bulk.

Fit and Flare Dresses

Fit and Flare Dresses

As the name suggests, a fit and flare dress hugs your figure at the top and elegantly flares out into an A-line or circle skirt. This creates incredibly flattering proportions for broad shoulders. Look for stretchier fabrics, like ponte knit, that contour your upper body without squeezing.

For an ultra-feminine silhouette, try a fit and flare dress with a v-neckline and cap sleeves. The v-neck draws the eye down while the cap sleeves soften your shoulders.

Check out these slimming and feminine fit and flare dresses available on Amazon.

The Best Necklines for Broad Shoulders

In addition to dress silhouettes, the right neckline makes a huge difference in balancing broad shoulders. Here are the most optimal neckline styles:


V-Neck neckline

A v-neck is a go-to option for minimizing broad shoulders, as it creates a vertical line down your torso. The v-shape helps “cut” your shoulders in half visually, making them appear narrower.

For everyday dresses, look for a soft rounded v-neck- like these dresses on Amazon. For formal dresses, a plunging v-neckline slims your shoulders and adds drama.

Surplice Neckline

Surplice Neckline

Similar to a wrap dress, a surplice neckline features fabric that wraps across itself diagonally. This creates a v-neck effect and a slimming diagonal line.

Look for stretchier fabrics so the crossed fabric lays flat across your bust. Check out these surplice neck options on Amazon.

Halter Neckline

Halter Neckline

Halter necklines tie around the neck, leaving the shoulders and arms mostly bare. This draws attention to your neckline and collarbones rather than your shoulders.

A halter style dress works beautifully for a summer cocktail party or formal. Just be sure to find a halter that ties comfortably without squeezing your neck.


Off-the-Shoulder neckline

An off-the-shoulder neckline can beautifully accentuate your collarbone and draw attention upwards, away from your shoulders. Beware of true strapless styles, as these can make your shoulders appear wider.

Look for off-the-shoulder dresses with some sort of sleeve or strap that sits gracefully on the upper arms.

Sleeves & Shoulders to Minimize Broad Shoulders

The right sleeves and shoulder details can make a big impact. When trying on dresses, watch for these do’s and don’ts:

DO choose slim, tailored sleeves.

Fitted long, short, or cap sleeves help streamline broad shoulders. Avoid any sleeve with extreme volume, puffs, or shoulder pads.

DO look for diagonal shoulder details.

An asymmetrical one-shoulder neckline slims your silhouette. Simple horizontal straps can also minimize shoulders.

DON’T choose ultra-thin straps.

Spaghetti straps highlight broad shoulders rather than disguise them. Look for straps at least 1/2 inch thick.

DO add a cardigan or coverup.

A cropped cardigan, kimono, or bolero balances your shoulders in sleeveless styles. Choose lightweight fabrics that won’t add bulk.

Additional Tips for Dressing Broad Shoulders

Use these extra tips and tricks to enhance your inverted triangle frame when wearing dresses:

  • Elongate your look with heels. The extra height helps balance broad shoulders.
  • Cinch at the waist. Add a belt to define your natural waistline in A-line and loose silhouette dresses.
  • Try shoulder-slightly pads. Subtle pads, rather than large shoulder pads, can help make shoulders appear more proportional.
  • Add a statement necklace. Draw eyes downwards with long, bold necklaces. Chokers also minimize your shoulder width.
  • Wear your hair down. Long, draped hair softens the shoulders. Avoid super sleek hair pulled back tight.
  • Pick stunning earrings. Draw attention upward with eye-catching drop or chandelier earrings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *