Empire waists on Plus size dresses

A comment popped up on our survey that a customer thought our waistbands fit too high on our dresses. This is especially true for our plus sizes, and yes, our empire waists do fit high on purpose. Our regular dresses fit a little high on the waist also, but the Plus sizes are more so. We make our dresses with empire waists for a very good reason and so I’d like to explain why we do it.


If you really look at a plus size body, the majority of women have the the smallest part of their torso right under their bust. Now of course this isn’t true for everyone. If you’ve never had a baby your natural (real) waistline might still be smaller. But for most of us, this is the smallest part by measurement.  The smallest circumference is also the right at the top of your stomach where it extends the least. Yep…we’re talking about my least favorite body part here  …the tummy. If you stand naked in the mirror and look straight forward you may notice it’s the smallest width. Then if you stand looking at your side, again you’ll maybe notice that your tummy narrows right under your bustline. I find a higher waist to be the most slimming place for a plus size waistband.


So, the reason that we make the empire waists high is because it’s the most flattering. It also fits many body shapes as well as heights. So if you’re short like me (5’2″), it will fit and if you’re tall like many of our models, it will still fit. The other big advantage of a high waist is it gives you more fabric and more room across the tummy (especially on the full skirted styles). So if you’re like me and your tummy is not your favorite body part, the higher waist may be just the ticket for you.


Empire Waists - Waist Sizing Diagram
If you’ve ever had the impression that Cherry Velvet plus size dresses only fit women with perfect hourglass figures, you’d be wrong. Actually they are mainly designed with both apple shaped (bigger in the tummy) and pear shaped (bigger in the hips). While they are definitely also designed for women with boobs, we know not all plus size women have big boobs. Generally speaking if you have a pear figure and smaller boobs our dresses will still fit if you choose a dress with a full skirt and go down a size so that the bodice will also fit.


If you’ve read our blog posts before, you’ll know fit is hugely important to our brand and making dress that fit ‘you’ is of utmost importance. Don’t settle for mediocre fit…. you deserve a dress that fits well!


XOX Cherry Velvet


P.S. We’re excited to have added new sorting features to our on-line store to help you easily find your perfect fitting dress. Check it out and our new fall dresses here

Plus Size Proportions: Hourglass Shape

You’re most likely an Hourglass shape if:

  • Your hips and bust are about the same measurement
  • Your waist is well defined
  • You have a medium to large bust

My oh my, aren’t you a lucky lady!  The Hourglass shape is considered the most coveted of female body shapes and is also the least common. Only 8% of women have a true hourglass shape.  If you do have this shape, showing off your curves is easy with the right clothing.  No, this doesn’t mean squeezing into a restrictive corset (we’ll gladly leave this daily torture to the Victorians) — unless you’re looking to imitate one of those burlesque beauties!

First, start your wardrobe off right with one key element: a properly fitting bra. Just like a clear, even complexion is the perfect base for your daily makeup routine, a good bra is the foundation of your wardrobe—especially for Hourglass shapes who tend to have medium to large busts. Just say no to lumps and bumps!  Many specialty lingerie stores have trained staff to help you find the best fit; this is an indispensable service that will most likely improve how your tops look and fit your body.

Now that “the girls” are sitting pretty, don’t hide out in baggy or oversized clothes! Another must-have for hourglass shapes is a top with either a v-neck or scoop neckline. Both styles slim the neck and chest and will make you appear slimmer and taller. If you are showing cleavage and feel uncomfortable, you can wear a body-hugging cami underneath, giving you coverage without distracting from the lengthening effect of the neckline.


With an Hourglass figure, play off your curves by emphasizing your narrow waist. Wrap around styles easily show off this asset and are a no-brainer for a chic look you can dress up or down.

You can also add instant wow-factor to any outfit by wearing a great belt—this is an area where you can really have fun with current trends and show your personality without big investment. For your shape, wear a belt at the smallest part of your natural waistline to define your hourglass figure in looser tunics and cardigans, or to elongate the line of your legs in skirts and dresses or fitted styles.

My best advice? Love your body and celebrate your Hourglass figure by choosing clothing that shows off and compliments your curves. Need a little inspiration? Look to actress Scarlett Johanssen for current fashions and trends suited to hourglass figures, and celebrity chef Nigella Lawson for feminine confidence and strength through modern classics.

xox Cherry Velvet

Plus Size Proportions: Rectangle Shape

You’re most likely a Rectangle body shape if:

  • Your shoulders are as wide as your hips
  • Your waist is undefined and about as wide as your hips
  • You have a small bust
  • You have long legs and probably a flat bottom

Many women would kill to have a figure like yours because there is no particular area you’re trying to minimize.  Since your Rectangle body shape is already well-balanced, you can have a lot of fun shopping and be more adventurous with your choices.  The biggest challenge you probably have is creating a well defined waistline. 

When it comes to dressing your upper half, look for tops that emphasize your bust and narrow at your waist.  These details will help to achieve a curvy, uber-feminine look.  Wrap or surplice tops, and scooped or V necklines will give the appearance of a narrower waist, and will enhance your bust while lengthening your neck. These are great styles for you to keep in mind.

Don’t be afraid of tops with frills, draping and pleating. While some body shapes should avoid extra volume, these details at the bust and neckline are actually flattering for Rectangle shapes.  The extra detail will help frame and draw attention to your lovely face. Furthermore, it is recommended that you look for tops with an empire waist.  This will help to define your waist line while making your legs look super long.


Consider yourself blessed because you most likely have great legs!  Take advantage of the fact that you can pull off just about any style of pant.  Show off those gams girl!  It is recommended that you wear fitted pants that are straight or slightly flared at the bottom.  Pants with a flare will add curve to your hips.  If you have a flat bottom try pants with pockets (especially ones with flaps). However, make sure you avoid low rise jeans which will make your torso look too long.    

Skirts are another great investment for Rectangle shapes.  Consider taking a cue from the hit T.V. show Mad Men and try a full skirt with a wide, contour waistband.  When looking for a skirt pay attention to length.  You want something that is no longer than knee length.    

Finish off your new outfit with some great shoes!  Look to fellow Rectangles Kim Catrall, Marissa Jaret Winokur (Broadway Musical Hairspray), and Cameron Diaz for star-worthy ways to accentuate your shape; accessorizing elevates your outfit from flattering to head-turning. Most importantly, have fun with your look, and get creative with your curves!

xox Cherry Velvet


Plus Size Proportions: Pear Shape

You’re most likely a Pear shape if:

  • Your shoulders and waist are narrower than your hips
  • You have a smaller bust
  • Your waist is well defined
  • You have larger thighs & a full bottom

The shape that you have is very beautiful and I bet you’ve gotten plenty of appreciative stares.  Men have been forever hardwired to choose a mate based on her ability to bear offspring and dating further back than ancient Mesopotamia, curves symbolize fertility.  Follow in the footsteps of celebrities like Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Fluvia Lacerda who have popularized this feminine body shape and celebrate your curves!

PEARSbodyshape1 copy

The most important tip for dressing a Pear shape body is to focus on adding width to your shoulders and volume to your bust.  Now ladies, this doesn’t mean you should pull out the shoulder pads and padded bras!  Instead, look for tops with a few ruffles, or maybe a big collar, perhaps draping at the neck, or a top that gathers at the shoulder.  You’ll look great in bright bold tops!  These extra details will widen your shoulders and create a more balanced silhouette.  By creating more width at your shoulders and chest, you not only minimize and balance your hips but you also frame your lovely face.

For bottoms, you can balance wider hips with wide leg pants that flow away from the body.  A line skirts and boot cut pants are also your friend.  We recommend wearing something dark and simple if you go for a detailed top.  If you’re feeling bold, straight pants look great on you but make sure to avoid anything that has pleats or gathers at your waist or hip area.  Bubble skirts are not recommended for you.

Lastly, if you have a Pear shape, never underestimate the power of emphasizing your waist. Dresses or tops that wrap around your waist, empire waist lines, or pleated details on the back waist area of a garment will all look fabulous on you.

If you love your curves and want to emphasize them then by all means…show ‘em off! No matter what body type you’ve got make sure that the clothes properly fit your body’s measurements. Focus on achieving a proportionate body silhouette and leave plenty of room to highlight your best assets.

There you go ladies!  Now you have all the tips and tricks to creating the perfect wardrobe.  If you have any questions just comment below and get advice straight from the designer herself.

xox Cherry Velvet

Plus Size Proportions: A Four Part Series on Dressing for your Body Shape

No matter your size, your body shape is important to keep in mind when choosing clothing. Proportions are even more important for curvy women. Those who are a size 12 or greater will know that the number of stores carrying “plus sizes” is extremely limited. This is odd considering that more than half of Canadians are over a size 12 and 62% of Americans are over a size 14.

Our very own Diane Kennedy has made it her mission to cater to women of all shapes and sizes. This is why both of her clothing lines, Diane Kennedy & Cherry Velvet, carry regular and plus sizes. Diane has a great understanding of what it takes to dress a myriad of bodies to their best advantage. Diane recommends that every woman should take cues from their body shape when choosing clothing.


Apple, pear, hourglass, and rectangle; these are the most commonly referred to body types in the fashion industry. But of course you’re wondering: what does this mean for me? Well…we’ve done all the work and have compiled clothing tips and tricks for every curvy figure!

Click on your shape below to learn more…

APPLE           PEAR          RECTANGLE          HOURGLASS


xox Cherry Velvet

Plus Size Proportions: Apple Shape

You’re most likely an Apple shape if:

  • You have slim legs & a flat bottom
  • You have wide & defined shoulders
  • You have a prominent tummy  
  • Your waist is as wide or larger than your shoulders & hips

Celebrities Queen Latifah and Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy) are both confident Apple shapes that know how to dress to impress.  Basically, it comes down to a balancing act and when you’re an Apple shape that means balancing your top half with your bottom half.  The proportions of a garment and the way it fits your body are so much more important than following the latest trend or fitting into a certain size.  

1 - Apple Shape

Many Apples inherently possess something that all North American women covet: great gams! With your shape, a loose fitting tunic goes a long way in camouflaging the tummy. Try pairing a tunic with leggings or skinny jeans and a pair of funky heels or boots.  Drawing attention to your fabulous legs will draw eyes downward and visually balance your top half.

For tops and dresses, Apple shapes can minimize their torso with an empire waist.  Like the ancient Greeks from which this style was borrowed (and the French Empire for which it was named) this silhouette is classically flattering. In fact, we have Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Josephine, a trendsetter in her day, to thank for its revival.  She popularized the empire waist during the French revolution.  To try this style look for tops that will emphasize the narrowest part of your upper body (right under your bust).  Make sure there is enough fabric to drape loosely across your tummy.  Also keep your eye out for V-necks because they’ll elongate your torso as well.

As any fashionista knows, the jacket or coat you wear can make or break an outfit. Look for styles that hit below the waist or have a belt.  Also, make sure there is only a single row of buttons.  Double breasted styles will just add unwanted width through the torso.

Well there you have it!  Now you have all the knowledge to make a wardrobe as fabulous as you!  If you have questions, comment below.  We’re always happy to help!

xox Cherry Velvet