'Bridgerton' Style Has Led to an Empire Waist Dress Boom

Now, here's how to wear this universally flattering fashion trend.

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Bridgerton Empire Waist Dress Trend
Netflix

Like virtually everyone else with a Netflix login, I am obsessed with all things Bridgerton.Thankfully, after a year and some change of impatiently waiting for the series' second installment, season two of the period drama is finally available to binge. Admittedly, I'm still drooling over the Duke and Duchesses' steamy romance (and mourning Regé-Jean Page's exit from the show), but have already found myself lost in Kate Sharma's (Simone Ashley) own drama-filled storyline. It's also been pretty exciting to get another dose of the show's stunning outfits — especially all of the empire-waist dresses, which the women wear for their everyday engagements.

Empire Waist Dresses
Netflix

Fashion trends from the '90s and early '00s are back and booming, and popular pieces from the '50s, '60s, and '70s are also going through their own renaissance. But through their work on Bridgerton, renowned costume designers Ellen Mirojnick and Sophie Canale are making a compelling argument for why Regency-era styles should return, too. According to recent Pinterest data, there's even been a massive spike in searches for things like 'soft royal aesthetic' and 'formal puff-sleeve dress.'

Designers seem to be in agreement. Corset tops, lace detailing, and square necklines all made an appearance on recent runways, and I was especially excited to see that empire-waist dresses are already considered on-trend again for spring and fall 2022.

Empire Waist Trend
Prabal Gurung Spring 2022. Getty Images
Empire Waist Tre d
Coach Fall 2022. Getty Images

To top things off, empire waistlines — which are fitted around the bodice and fall loosely under your bust — are universally flattering. They accentuate tall frames and give the illusion of length to petite statures, while also being one of most comfortable, non-restrictive designs out there. The dresses are generally made with lightweight materials that can breathe and move in, making them perfect for warmer weather conditions. They're also super easy to style, so naturally, fashion influencers are all over the trend, putting their own personal touches on these pieces.

Here are a few ideas for how to style your own empire waist dress.

As a Casual Fit

Empire Waist Dresses
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Empire waist dresses are so elegant and beautiful, they almost feel too regal to wear casually. But, it can be done, and it can be done seamlessly. Surprisingly, it's as easy as adding a baseball cap and sneakers for daytime, says digital creator and fashion influencer Dede Raad. When you're ready to switch gears, ditch the cap and swap the sneakers for heels.

Be Strategic with Your Outerwear

Empire Waist Dresses
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If you're wearing an empire waist dress in the spring, chances are the weather forecast isn't entirely blue skies and sunshine. Until it gets warm, digital creator and fashion influencer, Tenicka Boyd recommends pairing shorter gowns with a cropped jacket and maxis with longer coats.

Make It Bohemian

Empire Waist Dress
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Granted, empire dresses are more regencycore than boho, but celebrity stylist, Mickey Freeman makes a compelling argument for why the gown can absolutely crossover into the free-spirited territory.

"Playful, bohemian printed empire waist dresses adorned with interesting appliqués and embroideries with more biomorphic lines will definitely make a statement," he tells InStyle, adding that a combination of an empire waist dress and heavily accessorized wrists will also look effortlessly cool for spring. "Layered bangles and bracelets really do a great job of augmenting the arm-lengthening effect empire waist dresses tend to have. Heavily accessorizing with bangles can give an island theme to an outfit that is spot on for the spring/summer season."

Add Boots

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Boots? For spring? Groundbreaking, and even more so when paired with an empire-waist dress.

"Women sporting statement boots with their empire waist dresses will be all the rage this spring/summer season," Freeman says, adding that styles will vary from western to combat boots. "I absolutely love their versatility and their ability to add an instant dramatic effect to almost every style, from evening gowns to babydoll dresses and mini/midi dresses."

Experiment with Leggings and Tights

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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An unexpected pairing? Maybe, considering oftentimes when you think 'empire-waist dress,' you probably envision a floor-length gown in which your legs are entirely hidden. But, Freeman says leggings and tights add a sophisticated element to this type of dress, especially when paired with black high-heeled sandals or black leather pumps.

For a more provocative and avant-garde look, "try fishnet or garter stockings with black leather ankle boots," suggests Freeman. A woman in this look is not only sexy but eccentric and chic as well."

Swap Hair Accessories For A Straw Hat

Empire Waist Dresses
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If you're headed on vacation, celebrity stylist Cindy Conroy says empire waist dresses are the perfect getaway look. To make them even more sun-approved, she recommends styling them with a wide-brimmed straw hat (but a printed bucket hat works, too).

"Creating cool-girl vibes, it sparks modern notes while bringing dual amounts of regency glamour," Conroy tells InStyle. "Gravitate towards hats with ribboned bands for extra style points."

Look for Cutout Details

Empire Waist Dresses
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Cutouts are sexy, dramatic, and they just so happen to be huge for 2022.

"Cutouts help to make an empire-waist dress feel modern and of the moment," says Stitch Fix stylist, Whitney Keeffe. "Find one in a neon color and complete the look with minimalist or structural accessories for an edgy vibe."

Don't have an empire waist dress in your closet? Not to worry — I've also rounded up a few picks you might want to add to your cart.

Dôen Sarria Dress

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Frankies BIkinis Leoni Silk Dress

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Selkie The Hans Christian French Puff Dress

Selke
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ASTR the Label Long Sleeve Satin Minidress

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Eloquii Printed Ombre Mini Dress

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Ciao Lucia Diana Dress Blush

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Zimmermann Rosa Floral Print Stripe Picnic Dress

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Ganni Sequinned Sleeveless Mini Dress

Empire Waist Dress
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Who What Wear Women's Bell Long Sleeve Dress

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Zelie for She So Fine Velvet Gown

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Hill House Home The Ellie Nap Dress

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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Zara Voluminous Midi Dress

Empire Waist Dress Trend
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