Wedding Dress Styles
Choosing your wedding dress can be a little daunting. There are so many different styles out there to choose from and even changing the fabric can change the whole look. Here is an overview of the common wedding dress styles. If you are unsure of what suits your figure, we recommend going to your local bridal store and trying on a few different ones to get a feel for what you are most comfortable in.
A classic shape, and flattering to practically every figure, the A-line is fitted around the body and wide at the hem, presenting a smooth flowing silhouette like the shape of a capital A.
Wedding Style: The A-line dress is appropriate for any type of wedding, from a quiet garden party, to a formal church ceremony.
Best For: Creating a slimming look, elongating pear shapes with larger hips and thighs, and structured A shapes it will help balance out large breasts.
Options: A-line wedding dresses can range in length, from above the knee to a full-length dress, which changes the overall look of the dress. It can also support all types of train length. In terms of fabrics, again the A-line is very versatile and can be constructed from many different types of fabric. If you prefer a natural look, soft fabrics like silk or charmeuse are good because they hang well. If you’d like a more structured look that holds the shape of the A better, firm fabrics like satin are best. The shape can also be supported by using layers of fabric beneath the outer skirt – like a petticoat.
An empire-line style wedding dress has a high waistline just under the bust and then flows down to the hem. Empire waistlines can be used for most dress lengths and the styles can vary depending on the type of material and whether you have it fitting down through the body or more material to create more of a free-flowing style.
Wedding Style: The empire style can work with any type of wedding. It is most popular for beach weddings.
Best For: Creating length and concealing body features such as short legs, pear shape. It is also ideal for pregnant brides as the volume of material leaves room for a growing tummy.
Funnily enough, empire dresses can suit both small and large breasted women. Embellishments such as bead work help create an illusion of a larger bust, or choose a more minimalist style with a square neckline to make your bust seem smaller.
Options: Sleeves or straps can change the style of the empire dress – for example butterfly sleeves for a 70s style dress, or puffed sleeves for a renaissance style. One shoulder straps are very popular at the moment, and can assist with a Grecian look when combined with gathered soft fabric that flows.
Mermaid style dresses are right on trend this year, with a very feminine appeal due to the close fit through the body, hips and thighs, then it flairs out to the floor, giving you a mermaid-like silhouette.
Wedding Style: Mermaid style dresses are great for any wedding – match your dress to your personality and it will be perfect.
Best For: slender curvy figures that are evenly proportioned. It accentuates curves and is a daring, sexy look which works for people who are very comfortable with their body and their curves, and wish to show it off.
Be warned that silky flowing style dresses show off every small bump so ensure you have chosen your underwear correctly.
Options: The mermaid style is always floor length and can have a sweep train to elongate height of the dress further. It also works with most necklines and sleeve lengths. A high neckline and sleeves creates a captivating look without being too risqué, or show off your figure with a low back or strapless cut.
The skirt of the dress is the defining feature of the mermaid style. Depending on where the flare starts from creates different looks, and can also make the dress more or less easy to manage. A higher flare leaves the bride with room to move (and importantly to go to the bathroom!) while lower flares can sometimes mean unzipping the dress when in the bathroom.
Different materials also give different styles to the mermaid dress – ruffles provide a Spanish style, or a smooth satin skirt provides a glamorous Hollywood style. The style of bodice ranges from constructed for more control, or silky and flowing over the curves.
The ball gown is the princess style dress for those brides who dream of a traditional wedding. It has a fitted bodice to the waist, fluffing out to a full skirt that is often supported by a hoop to keep the shape.
Wedding Style: The ball gown is most appropriate for large, traditional weddings where the dress will be consistent with the formality of the event.
Best For: Hourglass, slender or pear-shaped figures as the full skirt helps to accentuate the waist and hide the lower body. If you have a large bust, this style could help to create an hourglass look since it accentuates the size of the waist.
However, be careful with the choice of this style dress – the sheer volume of the dress can create an illusion of being larger than you really are, especially if you are short – height helps balance the volume of the skirt.
Options: The ball gown is always full-length but can support many different necklines and sleeve lengths to create different looks. Ball gowns can also handle any length train because the skirt has so much structure built into it to hold the shape. Go for cathedral length for a theatrical traditional wedding, or a more practical sweep train for a modern fun look.
You can find ball gowns in all sorts of fabric types. The fabric you choose depends on the look you want. A fancy bodice with intricate beading or lace work, paired with a simple skirt will create a classic look and draw attention to the upper body.Layers or chiffon or tulle on the skirt make the dress look light and fluffy. The skirt may require a petticoat to support its structure.
Sheath (or Column)
A sheath style dress (sometimes called a column style dress) is straight through the body to the hem. It is usually fitting and therefore shows off the shape of your body.
Wedding Style: The sheath is very versatile and depending on the fabric and cut of the dress can suit all manner of different wedding styles. In general it is an elegant dress and well suited to evening events.
Best For: Lean figures, of any height, and like the mermaid is better for those who are evenly proportioned. It helps elongate petite brides, however it does tend to show off any problem areas and accentuates the straightness of those without natural curves.
It also may cause a few practical issues with sitting and dancing unless the dress design has some material at the back to allow you to move more freely.
Options: The sheath style works well with different necklines, sleeves and lengths. It is more practical to have a shorter train with this style dress, anything longer than a sweep train can unbalance the sleek look of the column.
Lightweight fabrics like silk, charmeuse and chiffon create a modern slinky look. Heavier fabrics like traditional satin used with a structured bodice will give the dress a defined shape and more control.