Master of the red carpet Tadashi Shoji, whose showstopping designs have dazzled on Christina Hendricks, Mindy Kaling, and Octavia Spencer (above, at the 2014 Emmy awards) shares his fit-flattering tips for nailing a party look.
1. Get into your coverage comfort zone.Prefer to leave a little more to the imagination? Say hello to cap sleeves. "Look for ones that have a slight flare to give an overall V-shape illusion," advises Shoji. Or, he says, opt for elbow length: It still appears youthful while directing the focus to a gorgeous cuff or artsy mani. In lieu of a plunging front, try a loose crew or boat neck. Just don't choose a super-high style—that's a one-way ticket to frumpytown. "You want to show even the tiniest bit of shoulder," he says.
2. Play with pattern.
For impact, ditch the safe solids and go with head-turning graphics. Shoji's pick? Wide-set vertical stripes. They draw the eye straight down to elongate your frame. A relaxed column silhouette puts you further into towering-glamazon territory. He suggests cheating even more height by pairing a floor-sweeping hem with platforms.
Polyester-nylon dress (above), $688 (14Q – 24Q); tadashishoji.com.RELATED: 50 Pieces of Chic Costume Jewelry Under $50
3. Accentuate—or create—a waist.
Highlight a sexy hourglass figure with a dress that nips in at the middle (even if it's just a tad), or have a tailor take one in. Make sure it's done from the side seams and not the back. "Otherwise," says Shoji, "the dress will bunch" and won't do your derrière any favors. Another easy design trick? Strategically placed diagonal seams, like the ones on the dress above, have a cinching effect and in a stretchy fabric will allow you to breathe.
Cotton-blend dress (above), $328 (1X – 3X); tadashishoji.com.