Before: C cup and up? Forget spaghetti straps and plunging décolletage—they're not cut out for heavy lifting, and you have nowhere to hide the serious lingerie your body needs.
After: Here's a sinuous number, at right (ECI, $178) with wide straps and a not-too-deep neckline that can accommodate a proper bra—invisibly. Slightly stretchy jersey fabric helps hold things in; a beaded panel on the floaty skirt draws the focus downward, to slim calves. "I'm big breasted but have small hips and skinny legs," Jacqueline says. "This dress helps me look more balanced between top and bottom." Earrings, Ten Thousand Things. Shoes, Jean-Michel Cazabat.
Before: "My stomach is where all my fat is," Birgit says—a fact made painfully clear by the clingy material (at left). Other musts to avoid for untoned abs: eye-catching details (like a flurry of ruffles) right on the problem area and a tight belt just above it.
After: A soigné dotted-swiss dress (Lucy Sykes New York, $395)—in the world's best camouflage color—skims over the tummy and diverts the eye with a contrasting ribbon hip belt. With a crisp collar and front placket, her torso looks longer and trimmer. Birgit loves black-and-white—"It's classic, elegant, and timeless"—and could see this dress working day or night. Small hoop earrings, Pandora. Gold bangles and rings with multicolored stones, Temple St. Clair.
Before: "I'm originally from California, so I'm used to dresses," Dana says. "They're light and airy and a lot more comfortable than pants." But boxy sheaths make a straight-and-narrow figure seem chunky, and pale colors tend to add visual padding.
After: This clever dress (Stephen Burrows, $275) has strategically positioned geometric slices of black and lavender that "sculpt" Dana's body—dark panels downplay her rear and tummy; lighter ones define the waist and bust (see how they start wide at the hem and narrow at the top?). The drapey fabric hints at a shapelier profile without getting obvious. Bonus: Her arms and shoulders look better in narrower straps. Gold hoops, Coomi.
Before: A dropped waist can be flattering, but not if it hits at the broadest point on the hips. Thick straps and a square neckline also add width, and the huge, bright floral print makes Aminata look a wee bit upholstered.
After: Fabric that lies flat is always preferable to bunchy gathers. On a stretch wool bubble-skirt dress (Reiss, $325), stitched-down inverted pleats minimize hips, then flare out to mask thighs. A monochromatic scheme (the grosgrain belt is only slightly lighter than the base color) promotes an extended head-to-toe line. Gold hoops, Lisa Stewart. Shoes, Bottega Veneta.
Before: Sundresses are Lisa's summer uniform: "They're a way to feel feminine without trying too hard." But bagging the problem is no way to deal with a shortfall in the development department: Her body looks dumpy in a shapeless sack.
After: This vivid, strappy dress (J.Crew, $250) has an ingenious bodice (it cradles breasts, gently pressing them together) that delivers honest-to-goodness cleavage. "I'd never tried to pick clothing that accentuated my chest," Lisa says. "But this experience proved I can find things that make me seem a little bigger—and it feels good." Hoop earrings, Ippolita.
Before: Leah always found dresses "fun and flirty," she says. "Even when I was little, I refused to wear pants or shorts." The oversize print, however, overwhelms her, as does the long, droopy hemline.
After: Vertical stripes and front buttons on the crisp shirtdress (Tevrow + Chase, $395) add stature; the dropped waist and high-placed pockets work together to stretch out her torso. Her lower body seems sleeker, too, thanks to a skirt that doesn't "cut" her at midcalf. Heels (Valentino) are crucial for acquiring extra height and presence. Bangles, Kenneth Jay Lane.