Our essential guide to wedding dress shapes
Are you look for a fabulous fishtail gown or a sassy short wedding dress? A beautiful ball gown or a sexy sheath? There’s a wealth of different wedding dress shapes and finding the right one can be a minefield, right? Well, not at WED2B. Our expert bridal consultants know everything about finding the perfect silhouette, whatever your shape, size or style!
Wedding dress shapes with wow factor
The shape is probably the most important element of a dress and by the shape, we mean the overall silhouette and outline of the skirt. By understanding silhouettes and how they compliment your body shape, you’ll be able to find the ideal dress to flatter your figure. Every brand has a slight variation in their silhouettes and at WED2B we classify our dresses into the following key wedding dress shapes…
So, what will you choose? To make things easier our expert bridal consultants have put together a simple guide to help you tell your A-line from your empire line. Your dream dress search starts here…
If you’re not sure where to start with wedding dress shapes, then the universally flattering A-line is the one to try first. Fitted at the chest to highlight your narrowest point, this style flows out gradually into an ‘A’ shape. The balanced proportions work brilliantly to draw the eyes upwards. It also creates a beautiful nipped in waist, making it super flattering for all, especially apple and rectangle body shapes.
The brides’ favourite
A-line is one of our most popular silhouettes, as you can see from some of our fabulous real brides’ stories. Katie and Nick married in Somerset, and Katie wore beautiful Phillipa with its luxurious Mikado skirt. When real bride Siobhan discovered our Enya dress she thought it was so beautiful that she picked it out twice in store! For Rachel's Easter wedding she chose our stunning Destin design, complete with all-important pockets. Finally, our A-line Serena dress was just perfect for Ellis and Bradley's big day in Essex.
Discover your perfect A-line…
We have hundreds of amazing A-line styles but, to inspire you, we’ve picked a few of our favourites. Ashlynn has a glamorous embellished bodice and a sweeping Satin skirt. For something more classic, take a look at elegant Dawson. Oslo, with its sweetheart bodice and pretty lace, is super romantic, while Clare is ideal if you’re looking something simple and chic. A-line is also the perfect silhouette to wear with an underskirt, for extra volume and bounce. Read more about why an underskirt is so important here.
Want more? Here’s an exclusive first look at some stunning new A-line dresses from our Anna Sorrano range, too.
Slim A-line wedding dress
Featured wedding dress, 'Sara' by Heidi Hudson
If a classic A-line is a little too big, then you also have the option of a slim A-line. This silhouette is the same as a traditional A-line but fits a little bit closer to the body, as you can see from Sara, our super soft boho style. Beautiful Tanya is another slim A-line with just the right amount of lovely lace, while Sussex is a lightweight halterneck style with a feminine bow. Slim A-line styles are usually made with a lightweight fabric, such as chiffon or soft tulle, which means they’re also ideal for beach or destination weddings, as you can see from this bride’s fabulous New York wedding. Don’t forget to wear an underskirt too! This slimmer style will still benefit from a little added volume.
The ball gown, also known as a ‘princess gown’, is the classic fairy tale silhouette. It's what many brides picture when they close their eyes and imagine their dream dress. A full-skirted gown is also known as a ‘full gather’ skirt and the volume is created using gathered layered fabric, often tulle. The full skirt combined with the structured bodice is brilliant at emphasising your natural waistline. This shape is also ideal for most body types, although it can sometimes overwhelm smaller frames. It looks particularly great on pear-shaped figures, as it hides the lower body and draws attention to the waist. The more volume the better with this style too, so try wearing it with a hooped underskirt.
Discover your perfect ball gown…
We’ve picked three favourites from our huge selection of ballgowns to inspire you. This super-soft satin ballgown will make you feel like royalty while Elise's waterfall skirt really has the wow factor. For something totally timeless with lashing of lace, Kate is hard to beat. Alternatively, real bride, Melanie chose our Camilla ball gown and wore it with a Nova belt to add even more emphasis to her waistline. WED2B bride Rachel matched her Tara dress with our Willa veil to create her dream princess look.
Super flattering, a fit and flare wedding dress hugs the body and flares off just below the hips, accentuating the waist. This style is also known as a dropped waist. Don't confuse it with a mermaid or fishtail wedding dress shapes though, as these generally flare out a little lower. A fit and flare design can also be easier to wear, as it’s less fitted and restrictive around the thighs. Plus, it will also give you a feminine, curvaceous silhouette. It works well for petites, as it won’t shorten your frame like larger dresses or mermaid gowns might. Pear-shaped figures might want to steer clear though, as it does emphasise the hips. Adding a dazzling bridal belt will really show off those curves and don’t forget the all-important underskirt!
Discover your perfect fit and flare…
Dynamic fit and flare wedding dress shapes offer movement and effortless cool, as you can see from our beautiful Jamie design. We also have pretty Mackenzie, finished with embroidered lace, and dramatic Dania in a soft oyster shade. Our real bride Claire looked amazing in blush-coloured Emmy for her traditional church wedding in Surrey.
The terms ‘mermaid’, ‘fishtail’ and ‘trumpet’ are often used for similar wedding dress shapes that hug the body tightly before flaring out below the knee. This is a dream shape for curvy brides and anyone who wants to create an hourglass silhouette.
Fishtail shapes are a good midway point between a fit and flare and a mermaid dress. The skirt gradually flares around mid-thigh and can resemble the shape of a trumpet’s bell! The skirt is good for highlighting curves without drawing too much attention to your legs. It also isn’t as dramatic or restrictive as a mermaid. It’s a great style for hourglass and petite figures with small waists. It can accentuate the stomach and hips, so pears and apples should wear this style with a sparkly belt to break up the waist area.
Go for glamour
Fishtail silhouettes are the most glamorous of all and are closely fitted to the knee or below before flaring out dramatically to the floor. The clue’s in the name – the skirt has the same outline as a fish’s tail! Thanks to the dramatic cut, this style highlights a curvy figure or adds curves where there are none. It's also a high-fashion, sexy silhouette that's perfect for a bride who wants real wow-factor. However, the tight fit can restrict movement so it’s important to practice walking and sitting in your dress. Wearing it with the right underskirt will also help. Make sure you choose your underwear carefully too, to avoid any lines.
Discover your perfect fit and flare…
These real brides knew how show-stopping fishtail wedding dress shapes can be. Yolanda chose Amore, a stunning fishtail design in shimmering Mikado fabric, for her wedding in Bulgaria. Rebecca wore Callista by Anna Sorrano. “It was just magical,” she says. “The scalloped lace hem was just so elegant and it had just the right amount of detail without being over the top or too plain.” Real bride Claire also wore Callista, paired with our sparkling Estella belt. And, if you’re also becoming a fishtail fanatic, then take a look at embroidered Winslet, stunning Rosette and contemporary Adora, as well as this gorgeous new mermaid wedding dress from Viva Bride.
Featured wedding dress 'Houston' from The Signature Collection
Sexy, elegant and effortless, sheath wedding dress shapes create an understated silhouette. This style is often made from light and flowing fabrics, such as crepe, chiffon or tulle. Some styles fit like a slip dress, closely tracing your body's outline. Others drape a little straighter, like a column. Both are a good choice for petite brides or those wary of being overwhelmed by lots of fabric, as the long, straight lines have a lengthening effect. It’s also a good shape for hourglass figures who want to show off their curves. Sheath gowns are often lightweight and understated too, so it can be an excellent choice for a less formal or beach celebration.
Discover your perfect sheath dress…
When it comes to our stunning sheath wedding dresses you really will be spoilt for choice. Charlotte was one of the first WED2B brides to wear our delightful Hemsworth dress with its exquisite lace detailing. DIY bride Elizabeth picked Hayden for her big day while Hannah went for Summer paired with our Bellatrix veil. Zara found Kennedy only four weeks before her wedding, just in the nick of time! If you love the way our beautiful brides wore their column wedding dress shapes, then take a look at Camden and Bali.
Featured wedding dress 'Lola' by Viva Bride
Finally, a cropped hemline will show off luscious legs and is often nipped in at the waist to create great curves. Skirts that fall between the ankle and the knee are called tea length and are ideal for all body types. If you’re feeling a bit more daring, mini skirts generally fall above the knee and are a little more revealing! If you’re having a summer wedding then shorter wedding dress shapes are perfect for looking fun, flirty and fabulous.
Discover your perfect short wedding dress…
Real bride Elizabeth fell in love with our vintage-style Alyssa dress as soon as she saw it, and it was perfect for her wedding in Italy. If you like shorter styles we think you’ll love fabulous Lola in soft tulle or elegant and stylish Audrey. Don’t forget that an underskirt is just as important for a shorter style, especially if you want to add some fun and bounce. Our 125 underskirt is perfect for the job. And the best part about having a shorter dress? Your shoes will be on display all day long, so you can justify splashing out on a really gorgeous pair!
Ready to start? Click here to find the perfect wedding dress shapes for you. Then try on your favourites and get personal advice on your body shape from one of our expert bridal consultants at your nearest WED2B store. For more inspiration head over to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter