Empire-Waist Dress: Your Style Guide

The empire-waist dress is defined by its waistline, which is present directly beneath the bust.

The empire silhouette, empire line, empire waist, or just empire is a style in clothing that the dress tends to have a fitted bodice that ends just below the bust.

This gives the dress a high-waisted appearance and a skirt that gathers is long and loosely fitted.

However, it skims the body rather than being supported by voluminous petticoats.

This dress also known as a frock or gown is a garment that consists of a skirt with an attached bodice that gives the effect of a one-piece garment.

This style dates back to the 18th century, the term ’empire silhouette’ arose over a century later in early 20th century Britain.

During this time, the world empire refers to the period of the First French Empire, Napolenon’s first empress Joséphine de Beauharnais was influential in making this style famous around Europe.

Keep on reading to learn more about an empire-waist dress.

Empire Wasit Dress

An empire waist dress is a dress that has a fitted bodice.

It drapes out under the bustline, rather than at the natural waistline.

The effect of this shape is slimming and lengthening, the cinch at the bustline creates a high, thin waist.

And a long line of billowy fabric from the bust to hem than if you were to cinch the dress at your lower or natural waistline.

As these dresses tend to elongate your frame, they are especially great if you are a petite woman.

empire waist dress 1

Or a plus-size woman who wants to redirect attention from the waist or hips to the bust.

Moreover, empire waist dresses tend to be extraordinary and versatile.

The necklines of this silhouette tend to vary from v-neck to turtleneck to halter tops.

On the other hand, the sleeves can range from long sleeves to short sleeves to sleeveless.

While the hem length can range from above the knee length, or babydoll or minidress to floor length.

History of Empire Waist

The silhouette of the empire waist begin its rise in late eighteenth-century Europe, during the Neoclassical era when Greek and Roman culture became popular in the public eye.

Women began wearing flowy outfits often front and center in Greco-Roman art.

This featured thin ribbons that cinch just below the bust line of long, drapey dresses.

Just after these dresses came into fashion, Napoleon Bonaparte established Frech’s rule over much of Europe.

Moreover, his first empress, Joséphine de Beauharnais popularized the silhouette.


This became popular as an ’empire style waist’.

As the dress became more widespread, embellishments like ruffles, sequins, floral prints, pleats, or ruch details chiffon, shawls, and cover-ups became common.

Since the nineteenth century, empire waists have come in and out of fashion.

They have been becoming popular since the 1960s.

Now empire waist dresses are a popular silhouette that you can find as wedding dresses.

However, you can still find this design in everyday dresses as well.

What makes A-line and Empire dress different?

Though A-line dresses and empire-waist dresses are popular dress styles, they have a number of differences.

Let’s discuss them as follows:

Waistline Emphasis: Both A-line dresses and empire waist dresses tend to make you look thinner.

However, they do it differently.

A-line dresses tend to draw attention to your natural waistline which is often the slimmer part of your torso with a fitted bodice.

On the other hand, an empire waist dress tends to draw attention to a line above your waistline, just below your bust.

It will look visually slimmer in comparison to the width of your bust.

Moreover, an empire waist dress is flattering on women with thicker waists.

This is because the empire waist does not rely on a thin waist to give it its shape.

The Lengthening Effect: An empire-waist dress tends to cinch over your natural waist.

Thus creating a long line of fabric from the waist to the hem.

This hemline tends to create a lengthening effect which makes you look taller and slimmer.

Moreover, this lengthening effect is why the empire waist silhouette pairs best with a maxi dress.

The line from your bust to the floor helps to elongate your frame.

On the other hand, a line dress tends to cinch at your natural waistline, so that it can elongate your frame like an empire waist dress.

The Drape: A-line dresses or flare dresses are all about the frame.

A-line dresses tend to cinch at your waist, and tend to tents out around your body.

Thus, creating the look of a capital letter A.

On the other hand, an empire waist dress does not flare out around your body.

They drape straight down your bust line that elongates your frame.

Styles you can Try Today

Read on as we outline some stunning empire waist dress you can get for different occasions ranging from proms, weddings, and meetings, to just any official or casual gathering:

Long Empire Wsit Evening Dress with Short Flutter Sleeve: This one has a v-neckline, a stunning evening dress that features flutter sleeves with a subtle high-low hemline.

Moreover, it appears beautiful for cocktails, prom, wedding, graduations, or any formal outing.

Sleeveless High Collar long Aline Dress: You can find this style in a sequin upper empire waist that will flatter your figure.

You can wear this style to wedding, prom, or cocktail party.

Moreover, it has a high neckline and lace bust which tends to look good in an evening affair.

Pleated Chiffon Empire Wasit Dress: This wedding dress inspiration features an empire waist and delicate lace cap sleeves.

empire waist dress 2

This simple, and modest, yet flattering style comes with a flowing a-line chiffon skirt.

Sleevelss V-neck Semi-formal Chiffon Maxi: With a plain empire waist chiffon, it makes you as a bridesmaid perfect for a wedding reception.

Moreove, if features a deep v-neck with unpadded undergarments and lining, a combination you cannot resist.

Off-Shoulder Ruffle Sleeves Dress: This stunning empire waist dress features an off-shoulder and flutter sleeves with a belt design.

It is accompanied by wide shoulder straps and is ideal for evening party, prom, graduations, or any formal affairs.

Tips to Consider

Some tips for wearing the empire waist style are:

Avoid Gahered material or Billowy Fabrics: The first thing to keep in mind when looking for flattering empire waist is to avoid billowing fabrics and gathering.

An gathering or pleats under the waistline can add an appearance of extrapounds in your tummy area.

And billowy fabrics will completely hide your shape.

Instead, make sure to look for more figure-hugging design.

Though you do not neet to find dress that completely fit throughout your body, find one with fabrics that skim your figure rather than float away from it.

Try an A-line or Sheath Dress: If you are intending to wear an empire waist dress, the best cuts to look out for are A-line or a sheath style.

Either cut tends to highlight your narrow points and also highlights your curves rather than hide them completely.

Moreover, a maxi dress looks great with empire-wasit.

However, make sure to find the ones that skims your lower body.

It is important to note that you should avoid babydoll styles as they are cut to hang away from your body.

This will make your body look shapeless, no matter your body type.


Avoid Voluminious Bottoms: When you are wearing empire waist, try to avoid bottoms that tends to add volume, like wide-leg trousers, or A-line skirts.

While the style of skirt tends to look flattering as part of an empire dress.

As separates, these two styles do not pair well.

Instead, go ahead for slim styles like skinny or straight pants.

These will offset more voluminiuos upper body and create balanced proportions.

Deep Neckline: Deep scoop, sweetheart, and v-necklines tend to look flattering when you pair them with an empire waist dress.

Moreover, these styles will help add length to your natural neckline thus making your body appear longer and sliimer.

In case you are a busty woman, these styles can look great.

However, they can also put your bust front and center.

While you can look great in a v-neck style dress, add a lacy camisole or other undergarments for a more conservative look if you like.

Final Thoughts

An empire waist dress also famous as an empire line dress is a style of dress that come with a bodice.

This tends to end just below the bust with a sash or band on the smallest part of your body, that then flowes into a long, flowy skirt.

When you choose this style, it starts from a higher point on the dress than other styles.

Due to this, the empire style sports a long narrow skirts that makes make your body appear longer.

As they band under the bust, they are great for rectangular body shape,.

This will help to draw attention to the curves from the bust to the waist and give curves where there are none.

Moreover, these dresses help to highlight the area of your bust and near your natural waist.

This will make you appear visually slimmer, in comparison to other styles that emphasizes the width o your bust and thee narrowness of the waist.

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