Body-con is short for “body conscious,” and refers to a style of dress that hugs the body from top to bottom, emphasizing a woman’s curves. body-con dresses are usually skintight and range in length from mini to midi.
Though Herve Leger popularized the body-con style in the 1990s with his “bandage” dress, iterations of the body-con have been around for decades. Stars like Marilyn Monroe wore figure hugging sheath dresses in the 1950s, and even though attitudes and clothing loosened up a bit in the 1960s and 1970s, look to Mad Men to see the silhouette on full display. The sexy body-con dress was a major hit of the 1980s, thanks to the slim fit designs of Azzedine Alaia.
A body-con dress can easily function as a cocktail or party dress. Its figure revealing cut is better suited to festive and social occasions, than say, the office. A mini body-con dress is perfect for a night out, and is a great vacation wardrobe staple (Hello, Vegas!). A longer body-con dress, with detail like a flounced hem, or lace overlay, is appropriate for weddings and semi-formal events.
The body-con dress pretty much speaks for itself, so it’s best not to over-accessorize, lest you detract from the body contouring that makes the body-con style unique. A body-con dress outfit definitely calls for a heel or wedge, a small evening bag, and statement jewelry. While you can find body-con dresses in sleeveless, short sleeved, and long sleeved styles, you’ll notice that dresses are usually monochromatic, perhaps playing with cutouts, texture or other embellishment.
With the variety of colors, lengths, and styles available, most women can find a body-con that works. Shapewear can help create smooth lines if you’re worried about being too exposed. And if you want something more tailored and slightly more forgiving, try a classic sheath dress instead.