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Wedding dresses: silhouettes

Use our guide to find the ideal silhouette for your bridal gown.

You will need to take into account your body shape, your height, and the style and venue of the wedding when choosing the silhouette of your wedding dress.

This is the basic framework on which you can then choose necklines, trains, sleeves, etc. It is important to accentuate the positive, making the most of your body’s best features and disguising the areas that you do not love quite as much.

Check out our gallery of bridal wear designers for inspiration.

A-line_dress

An A-line wedding dress has a fitted bodice that gradually flares from the waist or hips into the shape of an A. This silhouette hugs the waist, creating a slimmer waistline and flattering the bust. A-line style wedding dresses are flattering for all women. If you have wide hips, an A-line wedding dress will skim over them; if you have narrow hips the cut of an A-line dress will give you more shape.

If you choose an A-line wedding dress, choose your top half carefully. A plain bodice above an A-line skirt is not flattering for brides with a small bust. It will be more flattering to add a little padding to balance the look. If you are short, be careful of a floor length A-line skirt as it could make you look shorter.  

ball_gown_wedding_dress

A ball gown wedding dress is traditionally a full-skirted gown reaching at least to the ankles. They are usually highly decorated and made of luxurious fabrics. Many ball gown dresses have strapless necklines, a fitted bodice, and a natural waistline. This is perhaps the most romantic style of wedding dress. The dress is often worn with a hooped petticoat underneath to give shape to the full skirts.

If you have slim hips and a full bust, the ball gown shape will balance the top and bottom perfectly, giving you a "Cinderella" look. You may prefer to avoid the ball gown style if you have a small bust, as it will make your bust look smaller. If you are petite, avoid the ball gown style as it may swamp you. If you have wide hips, you may prefer to avoid the ball gown style because it will over emphasize them.

Perhaps the most famous ball gown wedding dress ever was the gown worn by Lady Diana Spencer on her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981.  

column_dress

A column wedding dress is a slim-fitting dress with a straight, narrow shape, creating a stylish silhouette. As the name suggests, the basic shape is like a column, going straight up and down and nipped in at the waist to fit the body. This is a very versatile dress shape that can suit most body shapes with the right styling.

A column dress hugs the figure and looks great on tall, willowy women. You will look like you belong on the catwalk! The column style will also works well on a slim and petite figure. A column dress fits quite close to the body, so if you have fuller hips and a large tummy, this will tend to emphasize these features, so you may prefer to avoid it if you do not have a smooth outline.

This kind of dress can be teamed with a coat dress, cloak or wrap.  

 
empire_line_dress

An empire line dress has a high waist, gathered near or just under the bust with a long, loose skirt which skims the body. The outline is especially flattering to pear shapes wishing to disguise the stomach area or emphasize the bust. The shape of the dress gives the illusion of lengthening the body.

The empire line is a great shape for most women and shows off the cleavage. The long line makes tall brides look taller. The body of the dress falls from beneath the bust, which is great if you have a broad waist and a small bust. You may prefer to a avoid empire line dresses if you have a large bust because they will make it appear bigger. This style of dress is suitable for pregnant brides. 

fishtail_dress

A fishtail dress looks much like a mermaid dress from the front, but it has an extra panel at the back of the skirt fanning out to make a small train. Like the mermaid dress, it is perfect for curvaceous brides who want to emphasize their figures.

A fishtail dress is particularly suitable for slim, petite brides with shapely hips and bust.

mermaid_dress

A mermaid style dress is figure-hugging, contouring the body from the chest to the knee then flaring out at the bottom, giving an hourglass shape. This look is very sexy, highlighting the body’s curves. These dresses are usually off the shoulder and are fitted from the bust down to around the knees where the dress flares out. Make sure you wear the right underwear, with good bra that provides support to the bust to emphasize your figure in this sexy dress.

This dress is particularly suitable for slim, petite brides with shapely hips and bust.

 
princess_line_dress

A princess line gown looks great on brides of all shapes and sizes. It is cut in one continuous line from shoulder to floor, using darts and seams for shaping, skimming over the contours of the body and flattering the figure.

sheath_dress

A sheath dress has a modern, slimming shape that contours the body from top to bottom, highlighting the female form. The fabric is cut on the bias (diagonally), giving the dress its fluid line.

trumpet_dress_amy_kuschel

A trumpet dress has a slim fitting silhouette that "trumpets" or flares out at the hemline.

two_piece_dress

Two piece dresses, or separates, are ideal for brides whose figure is not in proportion and who wear one size at the top and a different size at the bottom. You want to consider a two piece dress with a corset bodice and separate skirt.

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