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Magic mirror on the wall, what’s the best dress of them all?

Mystical assistance aside, everyone could use some help finding the perfect dress for a party, wedding or any special occasion. From length to fabric to color to comfort, the right outfit can be hard to find. These seven tips will help you choose the perfect frock every time.

Be body conscious

Everyone loves a bit of flattery — especially by a pretty dress. If you’re not sure which cuts suit you best, it might be time to get to know your own shape. WhoWhatWear breaks down which dress silhouettes flatter various body types. If you’re apple shaped (meaning you carry your weight in your midsection and have thin arms and legs), for example, a dress with a swing or empire cut works best. Curvy with a small waist? Try something belted or cinched.

Think outside the mall

Your pedometer might thank you, but spending hours walking the mall probably won’t help you find the perfect dress. Or worse, you may find something you love only to show up to the party dressed the same as another guest. If you’re looking for a slam-dunk, hit the net (pun intended). Opt for online boutiques that cater to your style and don’t operate from a brick-and-mortar store in your area, so you’ll have less chance of twinning.

Break the rules

When you’re wondering what to wear, you always call your mother (said no daughter, ever). Moms are full of useful wisdom, but it’s often not of the style variety. After all, she might be a bit old-fashioned (literally). Traditional rules about what to wear are made to be broken. In fact, InStyle recommends breaking many of the rules you’ve heard all your life, so wear white after Labor Day and sport flats with formal attire.

Vibe off the locale

Shakespeare said a rose by any other name still smells as sweet, but a dress in another geography might look a lot different. If you’re attending a charity gala in Manhattan, you’re going to choose a different dress than a similar occasion in Honolulu. If the local vibe is laid back and beachy, you can likely get away with something more casual than in a cosmopolitan city.

Ask for guidance

When choosing a dress, don't rely on telepathy to figure out what style to wear. Sure, there are lots of rules out there to guide your selection, but many occasions and events don’t fall neatly into a category like “day wedding” or “black tie gala.” If you’re not sure what’s appropriate for the occasion, don’t stress choosing between the knee-length silk and the cotton maxi. Ask the host or organizer what’s most appropriate. There’s no shame in covering your bases (or your shoulders, if the occasion warrants).

Move around

The Beatles sang, there’s "something in the way she moves.” The key is that "she moves." Regardless of the dress you're wearing, the ensemble will fall flat if you do. So, when you slip on a potential gown, don’t just try it on for size; try it on for swishing, strolling and sashaying as well. If you can’t move comfortably in a dress, leave it where it belongs — on the rack.

Choose the occasion

Do you believe in love at first sight? When you see the right dress in a shop window or the homepage of an online boutique, you just know. Like any love connection, ignoring that feeling could leave you wrapped in regret. So, the next time you find the perfect dress, marry — er — buy it. Chances are, the perfect occasion will come up. And if it doesn’t, arrange it yourself. If it’s tea-length and lacy, throw a garden party. Svelte and chic? Sounds like a ladies’ night out.

ModWhite has dresses so perfect for every occasion that even a magic mirror would approve.