The Hot Zone
"I want a pause when I walk into a room," says singer-songwriter Maiysha Simpson, 30. "I think it's every woman's right to be a showstopper." Red puts everyone on the alert, and this silk taffeta strapless (eDressMe New York, $275), with its big bow, is fabulous for an eggnog party. (And since it isn't Christmas-specific, you can wear it all winter.) The bubble shape has a gift for hiding hips and thighs.
Earrings, Nine West. Shoes, Chanel.
The Expectant Body
"Pregnancy has taught me not to be afraid to go up a size," says 36-year-old fashion consultant Karen Duffy. "You don't necessarily have to wear maternity." The proof is in this poufy brocade dress (Calvin Klein, $169): The raised waist makes room for a belly, a strapless bodice shows off fuller breasts, and the metallic fabric suggests a shiny package waiting to be unwrapped.
Earrings, Nine West. Ring, Duffy's own. Wedding band, Munnu, The Gem Palace. Shoes, Manolo Blahnik.
"It makes me feel like dancing," says actress Alexandra Gutierrez, 31, flourishing her layers of motion-activated ruby silk (Amsale, $595). "The skirt is so flowy, and it fits perfectly." With her curvaceous "guitar" figure and shorter stature, Gutierrez stays away from anything tight or showy in the hips, lifting the focus to her waist, décolletage, and shoulders (the flattering details on this dress include goddess-style shirring and draping that molds rather than binds).
Honing the Waist
"Cute little bare dresses don't look good on me," says stylist agent and painter Angelika Schubert (can you believe she's 60?). This washed taffeta shirtwaist (Diane von Furstenberg, $425) has pockets to fill out narrow hips and balance a broader back; a tie belt creates a more pronounced waist. Roll-up sleeves make upper arms—a sensitive area—a nonissue. The mix of tailoring and shine takes her from office to party.
Earrings, Roxanne Assoulin for R. Dayan. Shoes, Cole Haan.
Small on Top
Bows on the shoulders and a deep-cut neckline make this magenta dress (Diane von Furstenberg, $465) a real find for someone with a slight upper body: More bareness and breadth above the waist offset what 28-year-old Stephanie Hodge, a fashion publicist, calls her fuller bum (any extra inches are lost in a swirl of flirty skirt). The color, pinker than standard holiday reds, also suits her: "I think brights warm up winter."
Shoes, Christian Louboutin.
Straight and Narrow
A huge floral splashed with metallic (Blumarine) is challenging to wear, but Latheisha Le-Gree, 27, a receptionist and aspiring fashion designer, pulls it off. The brilliant hues are fantastic with her coloring, and the fitted, high-waisted shape gives her rangy figure more va-va-voom: "I love the way it hugs my body," she says. Ruched elbow-length sleeves mean no worries if arms are not well toned.
Earrings, Nine West. Shoes, Giuseppe Zanotti Design.
Curvy All Over
"My waist is the smallest part of me," says Maiysha Simpson. "If any outfit neglects it, I look 20 pounds heavier." The belted metallic coatdress with poufy sleeves (Rickie Freeman for Teri Jon, $510) is timeless, ageless ("My mother or younger sister could wear it"), and provocative without being revealing ("It's as close as I'll get to being a Hitchcock blonde!"). It could even pass muster at the office.
Necklace, Jewelry Television. Shoes, Stuart Weitzman.
Will It Stay Up?
"Glamour has always been my personality," says Glori Illames, 37, a modeling agency administrator. "Even as a girl, I loved to dress up." She's usually drawn to sophisticated black, but this cream strapless (St. John) really scores: Stretchy knit cradles what she calls Spanish hips, while all that lovely exposed skin—and a band of pearl and jewel detail at the waist—diverts attention from the lower body.Earrings, Nine West. Shoes, Aldo.
Can you go strapless?