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In Fashion, what does a-Line Mean?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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In fashion, an A-line skirt or dress is cut with a fitted top and a flared bottom, creating a shape which resembles a capital letter “A.” The cut has gone in and out of fashion historically, with each season carrying at least a small assortment of garments cut in this style. It is also possible to sew these garments at home, using a sewing pattern and a textile of choice. A-line skirts, in particular, are relatively easy to sew, and are a good choice for a beginning sewing project. Most sewing stores carry an assortment of patterns for these garments, and for those disinclined to sew, a department store usually has a selection of clothing to choose from.

An A-line garment tends to flatter all figures, and is often used to create summery, flirty garments for women. Women with more bottom-heavy figures often use this style to smooth out the lines of their bodies. For this reason, many plus sized skirts and dresses are made with this cut, which can be quite complementary to larger figured women.

Almost any fabric can be used to make an A-line garment, although heavier fabrics will drape differently. Lightweight cotton, silk, and synthetics tend to be more floaty, and are suitable for warm weather. Slightly heavier fabrics can be appropriate for more formal environments, while heavy wool, satin, and tweed A-line garments are made for cooler weather and evening events. Dresses in this style often have an empire waist, located directly below the breasts, especially when they are designed for larger women.

Various accents can be used to ornament an A-line garment as well. Ribbons, sashes, buttons, and other decorations are not uncommon, especially on dresses. The designer may also integrate layers or add decorative hemlines. Lace, ribbons, and eyelets can be found adorning more ornate garments, while very simple versions are also available. The look is usually very feminine, whether it is plain or lavishly ornamented.

The A-line dress is often used for formal events, such as weddings and dances. More casual versions are also available for summer wear. A-line skirts are generally intended to sit high on the waist, so that they will start to flare out over the thighs, and are intended for casual wear or more informal offices. Wearers should be cautious of gusts, as the flared design will readily catch air and flip up, which is usually undesirable unless, of course, one is Marilyn Monroe.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a BeautyAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By cafe41 — On Jul 04, 2010

Sunny27- I totally agree. I always buy A-line cut dresses. They really make me feel pretty, and I love the way the dress flows.

Once you wear one of these dresses, it is hard to wear any other type of dress. Sometimes I will buy the same dress in several different colors because I love the cut so much. My wedding dress is definitely going to be an A-line cut.

By Sunny27 — On Jul 04, 2010

Great article, I totally agree that the A-line cut is best for full figured women. It really creates a silhouette that gives the illusion of a smaller waist and removes the emphasis on the hips, thus creating a slimming effect.

Most full figured women have difficulty finding the right dress, but the A-line is almost always the best choice, as long as the fabric is simple and not ornate.

Elaborate patterns and textures have the opposite effect as the A-line cut and make full figured women appear larger, so they should be avoided. The simpler the fabric the better it will look on a full figured woman.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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