Choosing a Wedding Dress Shape
In a way wedding dresses are like any other items of clothing - some will suit you, some won't and the secret of looking good is to know which is which.
The relative infrequency of wearing formal gowns these days means that few of us, even if we are confident about our choices of every day clothes, are entirely sure about what sort of wedding dress will make us look our best.
These are the most commonly encountered shapes of wedding gown, with a quick run down of who should, and shouldn't, consider each. If you have not already figured out what body shape you are, look here first.
The distinguishing features of the ball gown style wedding gown are a fitted bodice, a defined waist and a full skirt.
It is probably the sort of wedding dress most little girls dream of wearing on their big day, but while it will make some of them look wonderful when the have grown up, it really is not for everyone.
Ball gowns work for:Thin and tall brides, triangle or rectangle figures, slight pear shaped figure, slim hourglass figures.
If you are tall and slim with a well balanced shape, a classic ball gown can work great. If your figure is less than perfect, try a less defined waist (as in the middle above) or a less full skirt with perhaps some ruching to soften the look (as in the image on the left above).
Ball gowns won't work for:Petite figure, pronounced pear-shaped figure or larger hourglasses.
While often recommended to disguise a pear shape, this is only true of the hips are just slightly wider than the shoulders, those with larger hips will find it disguises nothing but emphasises the hips instead. These are statement dresses and can overwhelm small brides.
|Less full than ball gowns, with a skirt that flares out from either a natural or a dropped waistline, usually with no seam at the waistline. |
This is a style that flatters almost all figures and works especially well for pear-shaped or fuller-figured brides. The fullness of the skirt can be varied quite a bit.
A-Line works for:
Petite or full-figured brides, short waists
The simple lines of an a-line dress can make a small bride look taller and a full figured brides one slimmer. It is also flattering for the pear-shaped, especially with a lower waistline.
A-Line won't work for:
Thick waists, hourglass figures.
If your waistline is large, the dress will end up looking straight - effectively losing the a-line that gives it it's name, and will emphasise your waist. While hourglass figures can wear a-line dresses, they will not be making the most of their curves if they do.
Empire Line Dresses
|Straighter than a-line and less figure hugging, in an empire line dress the skirt starts just below the bust, and falls softly from there. |
The style and shape of the seam above the skirt can vary quite a bit, as the examples above show.
Empire line works for:Petit figures, larger waist, small bust
Brides who don't want a figure-hugging dress should consider an empire line. It is good to conceal a larger waist. Tends to elongate the body, giving an appearance of being taller.
Empire line won't work for:Curvy, pear-shaped or full figures.
Tends not to work with a larger bust, and the line of the skirt emphasises larger hips.
Column or Sheath Dresses
|Column dresses have a slim outline, cut close to and following the natural curves of the body. Some have a waist seam but generally they are sheath dresses. |
They are often bias-cut (centre, right), which allows the fabric to flow around the body and can be very flattering - provided you are slim.
Column dresses work for:Slim, tall brides, rectangle and triangle body shapes
Column dresses have a very sleek modern look and can be stunning.
Column dresses won't work for:Curvy, pear-shaped or full figures. Short brides.
A column dress hides nothing - it follows the body contours, wherever they are! They can make a short slim bride seem insignificant, especially if the groom is tall.
|The top of these dresses can be like sheath dresses, but they flare out below the knee, putting more emphasis on the curves above. |
Fishtails tend to have most of the flaring to the back of the dress, with mermaid it is very evident in front too. They are invariably quite figure-hugging.
Mermaid dresses work for:Slim but curvy or hourglass figures
Very good on an hourglass figure, showing off the curves of the body to perfection.
Mermaid dresses won't work for:Pear-shaped or full figures
Curves need to be in proportion and a waist which is noticeably smaller than the hips or shoulders is essential for this style to work. Really emphasises the hips, so not a style for the pear-shaped bride.