Reuters
| April 22, 2014

Celebrities love showing off their svelte selves on the red carpet, so it’s no wonder one sizzling hot dress has been heating up Hollywood.

PHOTOS: For the ACM Awards 2014, Skin Was In

The body conscious dress -- or “body con” -- takes cue from the figure-hugging Herve Leger bandage dress which, as its name implies, feels like a second skin. Made to hug every single curve, it’s designed to proudly show off your shape–but not everyone has the confidence to pull off this super tight style.

“The body con dress, or by its full name body conscious dress, shouldn’t leave you feeling self-conscious about your body,” insists celebrity stylist Ali Levine. “Most women believe you have to have the perfect figure to rock this hot trend, but that is not particularly true. Choose the right undergarment to help smooth out your curves, such as Miraclesuit Shapewear or SPANX.  Certain prints of the dress can also make your body appear to have an hourglass shape.”

“Remember confidence is the best accessory and prints are your best friends,” adds Levine.

READ: 10 Ways to Make the Crop Top Work for Your Body

“The body con dress can be your best friend or worst nightmare,” says model and style expert Jaimie Hilfiger. “Some may think this dress is a quick and simple solution to achieving the perfect evening look while others beg to differ. It really all depends on how you wear it according to your body shape and size.”

Sure, you may want to squeeze in an extra session or two at the gym first to pull off this look without holding your breath, but there are some simple ways to still rock it, even if you don’t have a body of a supermodel (and really, how many of us do?).

Check out these dos and don’ts from the pros below:

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Show Off Your Best Feature

The body con dress doesn’t have to show off your body completely. Depending on the style and cut of the garment, it can be used to accentuate your best feature. “You need to choose which asset to showcase,” says Hilfiger. “For example, when wearing a tight figure-hugging dress, you may want to choose long sleeves or a high neckline to keep your cleavage under wraps for a classy look.”

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Go to the Dark Side

Feeling shy about stepping out in a figure-hugging dress? Stylists say this is one dress you should always have in black. Not only is this effortlessly chic hue always on trend, but it's downright sexy without trying too hard. Also, wearing all black creates a long, lean vertical line, creating the appearance of a slimmer figure. If tired of rocking the usual LBD, you can always opt for other darker shades, such as navy blue, for a similar appearance.

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Wear Two Trends in One

Contrary to popular belief, you can rock two fashion trends in one outfit. “Kylie Jenner did it well at a recent award show in a body-con crop top and matching pencil skirt,” says New York City-based celebrity stylist Sara Cooper. “This look worked so well because she kept it neutral, simple, and coordinating on top and bottom. Although this look is super sexy and show’s some skin, it’s still super chic and sophisticated, while being age appropriate.” If the crop top shows too much skin for your liking, skip it altogether. A knee-length pencil skirt is not only universally flattering, but it’s also a safer choice for those who aren’t quite ready to wear a full-on body con.

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Cinch the Waist

Who says you have to be a size zero to rock a body con with ease? A simple trick to look slimmer in this daring dress is finding one that features black or navy panel sides. This will create the illusion of a smaller waist. 

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Dare to Go Bare

While most stylists agree that shapewear is a must to hide unwanted bulges while wearing a body con, Hilfiger suggests going without for a comfy fit. “If you feel that you need SPANX when wearing this style, then do what makes you feel comfortable,” she states. “My personal thought is that a body con dress is one big form-fitting undergarment and no SPANX is needed. To me it just feels like extra baggage.” 

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Flaunt the Baby Bump

“One of my favorite ways I’ve seen celebrities rock this trend on the red carpet is–believe it or not–pregnant!” gushes Cooper. “(Actress) Olivia Wilde knocked it out of the park in her Gucci sequin body con gown. Despite the maxi hemline, high neckline, and long sleeves, this girl could not have looked more on-point at nearly 8 months pregnant.”

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Add a Layer

If this outfit makes you feel too self-conscious, don’t fret. You can easily add on a layer with an oversized jacket or loose-fitting cardigan to balance out the look. It’s also a simple way to stay warm, especially during the unpredictable spring season. A tailored blazer can also make this sexy look more polished and office-friendly.

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Minimize

The body con dress is a show stopper on its own, which means it's best to keep the accessories at a minimum. Skip the heavy-duty jewelry and focus on pieces meant to complement, not overpower, your outfit. “Keeping accessories and shoes neutral definitely helps keep the focus on the look, without pushing it over the top,” adds Cooper.

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Look for Thicker Fabrics

While the idea of wearing a tight-fitting garment made of thick fabric may not sound appealling, a more structured piece will better skim down your waist and shape over your hips, without creating extra bulges. 

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Stay Neutral

The body con is available in a variety of shades for all year long, but if you’re looking to easily transition from daytime to evening, look for neutral or darker colors, which can be reserved for nearly any occasion. It will also save you time on finding the right shoes, handbag, and accessories to better match or complement your look precisely.