Want the fast answer? A bodycon dress is a dress that makes the wearer feel body-conscious, so you need body confidence to wear them confidently. (Sign up for the email list for more gems like this.)
Of course, if you walk into a shop and ask for a bodycon dress that isn’t the answer someone will give you. They’ll show you dresses made in a lightweight knit jersey material that emphasize every curve. So let’s dive a little deeper.
What is a bodycon dress?
Like I said, the term “bodycon” comes from “body-conscious” and “body confidence”. The idea being “bodycon” dresses are tight-fitting dresses that make the wearer feel body-conscious, so you need body confidence to wear them confidently.
This need for body confidence is part of the reason outfit recipes are so useful when it comes to bodycon dresses. A good outfit recipe gives you a solid foundation to get creative within. And even if you’re not feeling confident enough to be creative, you’ll still have a great outfit.
I tend to use the term “bodycon” fairly fluidly because (like personal style) everyone’s sense of “body-conscious” is unique. A dress that might require a TON of confidence for one client, might be no big deal to another. (Neither of these clients is “right” or “wrong”. They just have different requirements.)
That’s a big reason why in BODYCON! 35 Outfit Recipes for Bodycon Dresses. I tried to showcase a variety of bodycon dresses. It includes examples of dresses from second-skin bandage dresses to structured fitted dresses to slinky slip dresses and more.
What’s bodycon for you may not be bodycon for another client and vice versa.
The fast answer to “what is a bodycon dress?” is: dresses made in a lightweight knit jersey material that hug every curve.
But the relevant and nuanced personal answer to “what is a bodycon dress?”: a dress that requires you to have body confidence. And that means so much more than just one type of dress.
Where can you wear a bodycon dress?
I’m a firm believer that strict categories of clothing “appropriateness” have very limited generalizable use. I have seen bodycon dresses worn, pulled off, appropriate, and good-looking in practically every scenario.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to, or you have to try. You can have your own “I never wear a bodycon dress to…” guidelines for yourself.
That’s why I like to cover styling bodycon dresses for every occasion – from formal to casual and so many options in between.
I hope this helps shed light on what a bodycon dress is. If you haven’t already, take a minute to read How to style a bodycon dress when you’re concerned about your belly pooch. And if you’re ready for a plethora of style inspiration, pick up your copy of BODYCON! 35 Outfit Recipes for Bodycon Dresses here.
One last quick style tip!
And one last quick style tip! If you see a bodycon outfit (either in the book or in the wild) with a too-bodycon-for-you dress try adapting the outfit to your preferred level of bodycon and see how you feel. It might just be your new favorite look.