Style & Trend
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 are 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 how to find the perfect silhouette, whatever your shape, size or style.
Let’s figure it out…
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 complement your body shape, you’ll be able to find the ideal dress to flatter your figure.
In our latest survey, we asked our brides about the wedding dress shapes they preferred. The most popular by far was the universally flattering A-line silhouette, with 45% of our brides choosing this shape. This was followed by ball gown and fit and flare silhouettes in second and third place. Plus, whatever silhouette you go for, 43% of you want it covered in beautifully detailed embroidered lace!
How to find ‘The One’
So, what will you choose? To make things easier we’ve put together a simple guide to help you tell your A-line from your empire line, with plenty of gorgeous examples to inspire you. Don’t forget, we’re also ready to help with personal, one-on-one advice at your local WED2B store. Your dream dress search starts here…
A-line wedding dresses
If you’re not sure where to start with wedding dress shapes, then the universally flattering A-line is the one to try first. It’s a timeless bridal silhouette that never goes out of style. Fitted at the chest to highlight your natural waist, this style flows out gradually into an ‘A’ shape, with plenty of freedom and movement at the hips. The balanced proportions work brilliantly to draw the eyes upwards. It also creates a beautiful nipped in waist, making it super flattering for all. What’s more, this style suits both lightweight, floaty gowns and ones with more structure and volume.
Florencia and Nataliya are both fabulous examples of a flattering A-line. Florencia has the dreamy lace we know our brides love and a fitted sweetheart bodice to show off your figure, before it flares out into an appliqué-covered skirt with plenty of swish. Nataliya combines this attractive shape with arm-enhancing, off-the-shoulder straps and a mix of matt lace and stunning glitter tulle. A horsehair hem also gives this A-line skirt movement and drama. Try it with our A-line Wunderskirt too, for even more volume.
Slim A-line wedding dresses
If you like the look of an A-line style, then chances are you’ll also love a slim A-line. It comes with all the great qualities of its sister silhouette but fits a little closer to the body. The skirt is less flared, making this a gorgeous style for a boho wedding or a sunny barefoot on the beach celebration. Emerson has a glorious tulle skirt that’s soft and lightweight but is just as flattering as a more flared A-line. Jorja also combines soft tulle and lace to create a flowing, lightweight skirt that looks absolutely ravishing.
Ball gown wedding dresses
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 skirt combined with a 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. The more volume the better with this style too, so try wearing it with a ball gown underskirt.
This style of dress often creates a real princess feel, as you can see from fairy tale Elowen, with its cascading sequin lace and breath-taking flowing skirt. Alternatively, it can also look totally contemporary, like glorious Micah, with its dramatic waterfall effect and modern V-neck bodice.
Sheath wedding dresses
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.
Eletta perfectly combines intricate lace with the simplicity of crepe. The figure-hugging skirt gently skims the hips, while the lace bodice and fabulous illusion back provide plenty of attractive detailing. Younes has a similar shaped skirt but with cascading floral lace appliqués to soften the look and a horsehair train for a little more movement. A floral illusion back completes the look.
Fit and flare wedding dresses
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 mermaid wedding dress shapes though, as these generally flare out a little lower. A fit and flare design can also be a touch easier to wear, as it’s less fitted around the thighs, but will still give you a feminine, curvaceous silhouette. It works well for petites too, as it won’t shorten your frame like larger dresses or mermaid gowns might. Adding a dazzling bridal belt will really show off those curves and don’t forget the all-important underskirt.
Henriette is great example of a classic fit and flare. Fitted over the waist and hips, it then flares out gently into a beautiful flowing train covered with exquisite lace. Meanwhile, Aretta is a stunningly modern take on this classic shape. With bold, contemporary lace and a plunging sweetheart bodice, it flares out in a delightful mix of tulle and Chantilly lace into a lightweight and magical fit and flare skirt.
Mermaid wedding dresses
Mermaid silhouettes (also known as fishtail wedding dresses) 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 mermaid’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.
Sebastiane combines a mermaid silhouette with an off-the-shoulder neckline and fabulous floral lace. Designed to make a real impact, the figure-hugging bodice and wow-factor lace and floral appliqués are guaranteed to do just that. Alternatively, for a different take on a mermaid silhouette, look no further than dramatic Domenica. Made from shimmering Mikado, the skirt shape is all about simple sleek lines paired with a catwalk-style bodice. Then there’s the stylish illusion back with just the lightest touch of lace.
Short wedding dresses
Finally, the classic short wedding dress is a popular choice for modern and vintage brides alike. This silhouette is fitted across the bust and waist before flowing out into a full voluminous skirt with a cropped hemline that’s great for showing off luscious legs. 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.
Ida is one of our most popular short wedding dresses, and with good reason. The bouncy skirt, three-quarter-length lace sleeves and cute sweetheart bodice are totally adorable. It’s a classic look that will never go out of style. Yvette is a modern take on the traditional tea length. Made from glossy Mikado, it pairs a flattering short silhouette with sleek, off-the-shoulder straps, a chic lace-up back and a smooth skirt that falls just below the knees.
So, we hope we’ve given you an overview of the different wedding dress shapes available and an idea of which styles might suit your figure best. Remember, our expert Bridal Consultants really do know their stuff. Drop into your nearest store, no appointment needed, and they can talk you though the different silhouettes, discuss what you want and what might suit your figure best, before helping you find plenty of gorgeous gowns to try on. Then, when you’ve found ‘The One’, they can also suggest underskirts, veils, hair accessories and more to create your perfect big day look. Enjoy!
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