Be the belle of the Christmas ball

Looking for the perfect Christmas party dress can be a challenge so make it easier by opting for a style that suits you, says EMMA HARROWING

Trying on a dozen party dresses in a stuffy changing room and still not finding 'the one' can take the sparkle out of Christmas.

Do you stick to your little black dress, upgrade to this season's little red dress, or do you attempt to wear the latest trends of colour-blocking, sequins or the 60s mini?

It can get a little stressful out there in amongst the rails of bling. So what do you do?

How about picking an outfit that will make you look like the belle of the ball; an outfit so amazingly stylish that you feel like a celeb gracing the red carpet, cocktail in hand and dancing the night away?

It is easier than you think to ooze style. All you need to do is pick a party dress that suits your body shape and you will find the dress that you will wear forever.

And help is at hand. Most department stores in Norwich offer a free personal styling service so that a professional stylist can pick out the party outfits that suit you. It really is that easy.

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Alternatively you can make a start by finding a party dress that works a miracle in hiding the parts of your body you don't like such as your tummy or your upper arms and showcasing the bits that you do. Here's the Life Matters guide to finding that miracle dress.

If you have a big bust…

Scoop or V neck tops or dresses flatter a bigger bust. If you don't like your chest but you have a defined waist wear a waisted belt to draw the eye away from your cleavage. If your body shape is straight pick a dress with detail or pleating on the bottom to draw attention to your bottom half. Dress solution: Navy pleated dress, �22 from Matalan.

If you have a big tummy…

Emphasise your waist with a dress that is fitted at the top and then has ruching over the stomach area as this will skim over your tummy. Alternatively a dress with a large all-over print can disguise any lumps or bumps.

Dress solution: Emerald green silk chiffon evening dress, �139, designed by Norwich based Silk & Sawdust.

If you dislike your arms…

Many of us have bingo wings but sometimes the obvious solution of covering up with a shrug or cardigan can detract from the style and shape of the dress. Therefore pick a dress with chiffon sleeves so that you get the coverage without hiding your dress.

Dress solution: Teal chiffon sleeve dress, �110, Phase Eight. Phase Eight is available at Jarrold and John Lewis.

If you dislike your legs…

A maxi dress or jumpsuit is the ideal party outfit if you don't like your legs. Team with high heels and your legs will look longer and slimmer, or wear with knee high black leather boots for a take on this season's rock chick look.

Dress solution: Black gothic maxi dress, �85, Wallis and Outfit.

If you have large hips and/or bottom…

Draw attention away from your bottom half by choosing a dress with embellishment on the neckline and a plain skirt. This will draw the eye to your bust or neckline and away from the parts of your body you want to hide. Never opt for a dress that is too voluminous as this will make you look bigger.

Dress solution: Matangi ruffle dress, �70, River Island in Chapelfield.

If you are short…

Neat tailored dresses that fall just above the knee will look stunning on you as tunic and voluminous styles can swamp petite women. Wearing an all over block colour can make you appear taller especially if you match your tights and shoes to the colour of your dress.

Dress solution: Polka dot dress, �65, Poppy Valentine (Poppy Valentine can custom make a dress for you so that you can get a party dress that fits you perfectly).

If you are tall…

This season's alternative to the little black dress has been made for you! The tuxedo suit is quickly becoming the must-wear party outfit ever since Kelly Rowland donned a stylish black tux on The X Factor a few weeks ago.

Dress solution: White and black tuxedo suit – jacket �49 and trousers �38, M&Co.

If you have a straight body shape and you want to be curvy…

Create the illusion of curves by choosing straight shift dress or tunic shape style dress. Mimicking your body shape is the best way to look stylish at the Christmas party.

Dress solution: Nude beaded flapper dress, �225, Biba at House of Fraser in Chapelfield.

If you are curvy…

Look for a structured dress so that you do not add any more bulk to your curves. A dress with sturdy straps, a nipped in waist and a tulip shaped skirt will enhance your curves and flatter your figure. Body-con styles or dresses with a pencil skirt style bottom will look great if your top and bottom half of your body are in proportion.

Dress solution: Pink and black spotted jersey body-con dress, �95, Long Tall Sally on Bedford Street.

Take a look at all our top party dress pictures by clicking on the photo gallery at the top right of this page.