What Is a Bodycon Dress?

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Bodycon is making a tremendous comeback even after reaching its peak in the 1990s. The iconic silhouette of bodycon dresses is a crowd favorite, from Hollywood celebrities to social media influencers. For this article, I’m going to discuss what a bodycon dress is, including its evolution, features, and types.

What Is a Bodycon Dress?

A bodycon dress is a form-fitting style of dress that emphasizes a woman’s curves. It mainly uses structured yet stretchable fabric to conform to your body shape. The moniker is historically a shorthand for “body conscious,” yet more modern and progressive fashion is reclaiming the term to mean “body confident.”

Graphic image of two dresses that explains that a bodycon dress is a form-fitting dress that emphasizes your curves

Bodycon is a fashion trend that keeps on coming back because of an alluring element. Keep reading as you explore how the bodycon dress came to be and why its evolution resulted in various styles.

The History and Evolution of Bodycon Dresses

A bodycon dress is a tight-fitting dress that can accentuate your natural figure. While the bodycon you know today peaked in the 90s, it was heavily influenced by fashion styles throughout history.

  • The 1950s to 1970s: The wiggle dress was figure-flattering clothing for women during the pinup era of the 50s. It looks almost similar to current bodycon dresses with long sleeves. The 60s and 70s had slim dresses, which had a more relaxed fit than the wiggle dress.
  • The 1980s: Couturier Azzedine Alaïa created the bandage dress, which is a girdle-tight dress made from elastic strips of fabric. The dresses were like bandages pulling the curves together to achieve a more contoured look.
  • The 1990s: Budding designer Hervé Léger, who studied under Alaïa, designed what you now know as the bodycon. The difference is that his version molds to a person’s body.

Types of Bodycon Dresses

A bodycon dress is skin-tight clothing that has different styles. Each style can have a different effect on your outfit.

A cropped woman wearing a bodycon dress flaunting her well-defined body shape

Mini Bodycon

Mini bodycon dresses are among the most common styles. They often come in solid colors or glittery patterns. The dress can be strapless, have a ruffled one-shoulder neckline, or have a cut-out pattern since the skirt finishes above the knee.

Midi Bodycon

The mid-calf length of a midi dress makes it the ideal length for a tube bodycon with a sweetheart neckline. Another well-liked design is a V-neck bodycon with thin spaghetti straps and a low back.

Maxi Bodycon

A maxi bodycon is the perfect length, whether you want to wear something elegant or edgy. You can have a diva look using a classic white maxi bodycon with a high slit. Meanwhile, a leather bodycon with mesh sleeves can be your next party staple.

Features of Bodycon Dresses

Bodycon dresses are body-conforming garments. For some people, wearing a bodycon can initially feel unsettling, especially if you’re wearing a bodycon dress with a tummy, some styles can be pretty tight that you may need to hide your belly button in a bodycon dress.

Certain elements and features allow this dress to appear as if it’s plastered against the skin.

A woman wearing a black bodycon dress with her left hand on her hips and her right hand on her tummy
  • Stretchable Fabric: Stretchable yet thick and structured fabrics work best for a bodycon. Thicker materials keep the dress looking solid and avoid becoming see-through as you move. Elastic fabrics are necessary to ensure that the dress moves with you while also keeping you comfortable.
  • Neckline: You can find dresses with various necklines that suit your face shape and body figure. The most common include the scoop, sweetheart, straight across, one-shoulder, high-neck, and spaghetti strap.
  • Straps: Similar to other dress straps, a bodycon can either be strapless or have straps. This is why it’s crucial you choose the right bra for a bodycon to avoid nipple slips or if you need a bra support for large sagging breasts.

Keep in mind that it is important to wear the proper clothing underneath a bodycon dress. This includes:

  • Underwear: the best underwear for bodycon dresses is usually seamless, to prevent panty lines from showing. If you’re comfortable with it, many women opt for less coverage, like a G string.
  • Shapewear: perhaps the best way to feel comfortable is to wear the right shapewear under a bodycon dress. This smooths out your skin and leaves you feeling a lot more confident.

Related Questions

Are Bodycon Dresses Appropriate?

A bodycon is appropriate depending on where you will use it and how you will style it. For instance, wearing a bodycon in church gatherings or places with conservative dress codes isn’t ideal. Meanwhile, they are pretty easy to wear for most casual and everyday outfits.

How Can I Make a Bodycon Dress Look Flattering?

You can make a bodycon look flattering by wearing the right size and style for your body. You can style bodycon dresses down for a casual event, and add elegant accessories to wear a bodycon dress for formal events. Additionally, knowing that you are wearing this dress for yourself can help you feel more confident.

What Should I Wear Under a Bodycon?

You should wear a bra, underwear, or shapewear under a bodycon. As much as possible, opt for seamless underwear, strapless or high-quality adhesive bras, and reliable shapewear to diminish love handles.

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A bodycon dress hugs the body closely, making you feel like you are wearing a second skin. It comes in a variety of styles, lengths, hues, and patterns. Now that you know what a bodycon dress is, you can find one that suits your taste and style it fabulously.


Allena is the Founder and Editor of The Better Fit, a platform dedicated to empowering women with practical advice on bras and fitness, inspired by her own revelation of the widespread issue of incorrect bra sizing. Her expertise and tips have been recognized by major publications such as Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Insider, and NBC, making her a trusted voice in women's wellness and lifestyle.