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by Katie Duzan
Empire waist dresses have a waistline directly under the bust which creates a flowing appearance that is universally flattering. The cut of empire waist dresses is extremely forgiving and hides trouble spots while accentuating the positives of the female physique. An empire waist dress is extremely versatile, and the dress can go from casual to formal with a few simple changes.
Focus on shoes. Shoes define the empire waist dress. For a casual look, wear sandals. For workdays, wear flats or low heels. Pumps and high heels give the empire waist dress a sexy makeover for a date or night out. Make sure the shoes are also appropriate for the length of the dress. An empire waist maxi dress is very long and would look best with flats, while a shorter dress looks best with heels.
Find the right accessories. Long necklaces can be stunning with empire waist dresses. These necklaces should come down past the empire waistline. Dangly earrings and thick bracelets can also serve as great accents.
Go for coverage. Those who are shy about showing their legs can opt to wear leggings or tights under dresses with empire waists. To completely hide legs, look for an empire waist maxi dress or ankle-length dress. Avoid these styles, however, if you are petite, because they can overwhelm your frame.
Consider a belt. Belts worn correctly ensure that the empire waist doesn't make the stomach appear bigger. Wear the belt with a vintage empire waist dress at main seam of the dress -- right below the bust. Thinner belts suit smaller frames, while a larger belt is great for curvier women. Wear either a black belt or one similar in color to the dress, as bright colors will break up the dress and cause an overall shorter and wider appearance. A wide satin ribbon is a stylish belt alternative that creates interest.
Look up. To add warmth or to cover up a bit, a cropped cardigan offers stylish and flattering coverage. If the dress is cut in a V-neck, layer a tank or thin shirt underneath it to cover cleavage. For a funky look, layer a short- or long-sleeved T-shirt underneath the dress in a contrasting color. Only do this, however, if the dress is fashioned from lightweight cotton or knit fabric. Fancier dresses should be dressed up with scarves and shawls. A vintage empire waist dress also looks nice with a wrap pinned with a brooch.