Picking Your Dress

A Guide to Dress Shapes

When choosing your dream wedding dress it’s easy to get stuck on the details. You may love the beads, the embroidery flowers, the lace panels, but stop! Take a step back and look at the overall shape. Is the dress really the best shape for you? Does the skirt of the dress work with the bodice? Does it flatter your body shape? The overall shape of the dress can make a big difference to how you’ll look on your big day. Here’s a quick guide on the most common dress shapes so you can get an idea of what’s available and what is best for your body shape.

A-line

As the name suggests, the A-line dress shape flares out from the waist or hips into the shape of an A. It’s usually quite a structured style so it’s great in stiffer fabrics rather than floaty silks and chiffons. It’s also a great style for pear shaped bodies as it minimizes wide hips and bottoms.

Style tip: If you’re going for an A-line style choose the top half of the dress carefully: a plain-style top with an A-line skirt can make you look flat-chested. Also, if you’re short be careful of a floor length A-line skirt as it may make you look shorter.

 

Empire line

A soft, romantic dress shape, the empire line dress is either fitted or gathered under the bust and then unstructured and falls from the bust line. This is a great shape for every woman and really good for showing off cleavage – even if you don’t think you have any! If you have a larger bust, however, you might choose a minimizing bra underneath.

Style tip: Consider your accessories and hairstyle carefully: these can set the style of the dress and make it vintage, modern or traditional.

Bias cut/Asymmetrical

A bias cut/asymmetrical dress is made from fabric that is cut vertically across the weave of the fabric. This makes a dress or a skirt drape softly around the body, and gives the item of clothing a tapered look. This a really beautiful technique and works really well with satins and silks.

Style tip: If you’re curvy be careful with this style and wear great underwear. If you’re pear shaped this cut is often best avoided – although with a wedding dress it depends on the bodice and the particular dress.

 

Mermaid

Many people will say that the mermaid style wedding dress is just for really slim girls; well, we’re here to tell you that’s a load of rubbish! The mermaid style is one of the most elegant cuts and can be really flattering. Usually off the shoulder, the dress is fitted from the bust down to near the knees where is flares out like a fishtail. The key, if you re interested in the mermaid style is getting the neckline right and making sure that the curve on the waist and hips is just right.

Style tip: As always, great underwear and a really good bra are key for this style. Properly supported cleavage can do wonders for the mermaid shape dress.

The Ball Gown

This is your typical wedding dress shape – the stuff of fairytales! The dress has a fitted bodice, a natural waistline (it sits on your waist or a bit lower) and a full, floor-length skirt.

Style tip: The ball gown shape is great if you want to add curves and create a fuller bust.

 

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

– Dr. Seuss

Defining Your Body Shape

Are you confused about what wedding dress will suit your shape? Well, don’t worry because we’ve put together a quick guide of dress dos and don’ts to help you decide which body shape you have and which is the best dress style for you.

Big Bust

You: Your bust is the biggest part of your body

Do: Accentuate the positive with a really supportive and uplifting bra and a good bodice. You could also try a bodystocking that pulls in and lifts up your curves. Good necklines for you are anything that’s low-cut and off-the-shoulder – and make sure you balance your figure out with a full skirt.

Don’t: It’s a delicate balance but be careful to not show too much cleavage. And make sure you have a trial run in your gown so that you feel comfortable and secure moving about.

 

Broad Shoulders

You: Your shoulders are wider than your hips

Do: Expose your beautiful shoulders with a halter or go for drama in a gown with long sleeves worn off the shoulder. Select a dress with a narrow bodice and wide skirt that balances your shoulders and creates an hourglass shape.

Don’t: Try to hide your shoulders as sometimes this can result in them looking even wider, for example cap sleeves will make your shoulders look wider and thicker.

 

Pear Shaped

You: You have a small waist and wide hips and bottom

Do: There are lots of styles you can choose if you are a classic pear-shape a Basque waist or strapless ball gown will balance your shape. An off-the-shoulder neckline will make your top look in more proportion to your bottom.

Don’t: A column style dress can be unflattering and a plain, V-neck might not be attention grabbing enough.

 

Voluptuous

You: you’re wide and curvy all over

Do: Try dress with structured bodices because they are great at pulling you in and creating a balanced silhouette. Play with length too, you might find that a three-quarter or very long dress is perfect for you.

Don’t: Be careful with slinky, close fitted fabrics such as silk and bias or column dresses as they can add inches

 

 

Petite

You: You’re short and you have a small frame

Do: There are loads of styles for you – the key thing is to keep things simple and watch the length. Sometimes a floor-length gown can drown a petite frame. Strapless styles are good on small frames too.

Don’t: Beware of the meringue! You want to look like you’re wearing a dress rather than the dress wearing you. What’s more lots of elaborate embellishments will also look a bit OTT on a petite woman.

 

Tall

You: You’re at least 5ft 8

Do: Tall women look great in pretty much everything. But you can really be a showstopper in elegant off-the-shoulder styles and dresses with open necklines.

Don’t: Avoid gowns with high necks and long sleeves as they may detract from your curves. Be careful with headpieces and hairstyles too as they can make you look taller.

 

Very Slim

You: You are very slender and have a tiny frame

Do: A ball gown will look fabulous on you, accentuating your curves. Modern short styles also look great on you.

Don’t: Portrait, off-the-shoulder and halter necklines could make you look boyish, so avoid these styles. Be careful with the type of bodice too if you have a small bust as you want a style that will give you a bit of a cleavage.

Pregnant

You: Well, we think you’d know, but you’d have a big belly!

Do: It’s tough buying a gown while pregnant but there are lots of great options. The key thing to remember is that by the time your wedding day comes along you’ll be bigger than you are when you go for you dress fitting. Empire and A-line styles are really good for you but you can also get away with column dresses and slinky styles if you want to show off your bump.

Don’t: Obviously avoid anything that’s too constricting or uncomfortable, including tight bodices and ball gowns. But don’t feel you have to be boring or wear something that you don’t absolutely love, essentially don’t make a snap decision when buying your wedding dress.