The #1 Piece That's Universally Slimming

When she’s not working with big names like Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Hudson, and Hilary Swank, celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger also divulges her fashion expertise in our Ask a Stylist column. From the best places to source vintage to the secret to finding your most flattering jeans, come back each week for a professional’s perspective.

In my experience, there are two things to keep in mind on your hunt for a flattering addition to your wardrobe: shape and material. With these factors under consideration, you can make any purchase the new most versatile new piece in your closet. But this rule rings especially true with one summer-perfect piece: a dress. Not sure where to start? Not to worry. Plenty of street style stars follow these dress commandments, so see below for examples.

Here are my two must-know tips for picking the most flattering dress for your wardrobe—plus several to shop, naturally.

The one silhouette that is universally flattering is the A-line. In fact, anything that nips in at the waist and flares out is instantly going to give you a feminine shape. Regardless of whether you’re bottom-heavy, boy-shaped, or petite, an A-line will accentuate the most amazing parts of your figure. The A-line is also a gorgeous silhouette for women who are expecting. I guess you call the A-line the universally “happy” silhouette.

Luckily, the perfect A-line dress is easy to find. Every company from Reformation to Prada makes lovely pieces in the shape. I particularly adore Elizabeth and James’s take. Also be sure to give Giambattista Valli a look—the label has a zillion gorgeous pieces in this silhouette. Other favorites of mine, like Shoshanna, DVF, and Marc Jacobs, make these season after season because of their timeless look. Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without Oscar de la Renta, which is king of making the perfect A-line dress.

To start, I avoid shiny fabrics at all cost. This includes fabrics like a satin, which wrinkles easily and shows any lumps or bumps. It’s a beautiful fabric on the hanger, but it’s just not forgiving when worn.

Instead, look for breezy, natural fabrics. Cotton, crêpe, linen, chiffon—these are all great picks. You want to select any fabric that holds volume or shape.

Shop the A-Line Dresses I love 

The wrap cut not only gives a dainty detail but also accentuates your waist that much more.

Break out of your comfort zone and add some red to your wardrobe.

Who doesn’t need a floral minidress during the summer?

This pattern makes me want to book a vacation stat.

This sleek and sophisticated dress is all about business in the front and playful in the back.

Submit a style question for Erlanger in the box below, and check back next Sunday to see if she answers your query!

Opening Image: Figtny