Dress Styles to Suit The Varied Shapes of Real Women

What Style?
Much of the pressure on the bride to look her best on her wedding day stems from the fact that she knows that everyone’s eyes will remain focused on her from the start of the ceremony until the very end of reception.

La Belle Echappée

There are so many different styles of wedding dresses that it really does get confusing as to what gown you should choose. First and foremost choose a style that you will be comfortable in as you will be standing, sitting, dancing and partying in it for many hours.

Take into consideration the location and the style of the wedding that you choose.  Is it going to be a grand affair in a large church, a relaxed beach wedding, a simple ceremony in a park or funky themed wedding? The location and “feel” for your wedding will most likely impact on the style of your dress. Do not be restricted by these things though, if you want a pretty fairytale wedding dress and you are going to be married in a registry office, do it!  It is your day to dress up or down but do take into consideration what look your fiancé will love as you walk down the aisle.

I have outlined below the basic wedding dress shapes and how each style will flatter certain body shapes and what styles you should avoid. Keep in mind this is a guide only and you should be open minded and try on the different styles before you dismiss any of them just to be sure.

  • Princess or A-Line: The A-Line skirt of the princess dress creates the illusion of a perfect hourglass figure. The bodice is shaped like a “V” with a princess bodice and an A-Line skirt that flares gently from waist down. A-line gowns are recommended for the most body types. It doesn’t matter if you have wide hips or slim hips; the shape of the A-Line skirt provides you a lovely hourglass silhouette.
  • Ball Gown: Another dress shape fit for royalty, the ball gown has a fitted bodice with a poufy skirt usually made from layers and layers of tulle supported by a hoop under the skirt. Ball gown type dresses are recommended for women with a fuller figure, pear shaped, and thin. This style is not usually flattering for petites and small busts.
  • Sheath: A slimming dress shape, the sheath lightly skims the bride’s figure, creating a lovely, fitted look. Sheath style gown are recommended for thin figured or petit framed women. They may also be considered for some women with an hour glass figure. This style is not recommended for women who are thick or short waisted, full figured, or have a pear shaped body type.
  • Mermaid: The mermaid dress shape has a form-fitting bodice with a sheath-like skirt that clings up to the knees, where the skirt then flares gently to create a mermaid silhouette. Mermaid style gowns are recommended for slim and hourglass women with a figure that they want to show off. This style is not recommended for women who are petite, thick or pear shaped.
  • Empire: The empire-style wedding dress has a high waistline, usually directly under the bust, with a flowing but not necessarily form-fitting skirt that falls gracefully from the bodice. Empire waist gowns are recommended for women who are petite as it adds the illusion of height. Also for small busts and slim build. This style is not recommended for very tall women or women with wide hips.
  • Neckline. The neckline is the most noticeable part of the dress in your wedding photos; the right neckline can create a truly stunning wedding gown.
  • Off-The-Shoulder: As the name implies, this neckline sits off or below the shoulders, showcasing a woman’s collarbone and shoulders, while sleeves cover part of the upper arm. This neckline flatters almost all figures.
  • Portrait: The Portrait neckline is similar to an off-the-shoulder style but additional fabric covers the shoulders. The portrait neckline is characterized by a wide, soft scoop from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other.
  • Sweetheart: Shaped like the top half of a heart, the sweetheart neckline has the ability to accentuate the bust and makes it a great option for fuller-chested women. Some sweetheart necklines are deep and sculpted, while others have a gentle dip at the centre for a contemporary look.
  • Sabrina/Bateau: This shape is cut straight across, following the curve of the collarbone to almost the tip of the shoulders, showing less of the chest. This neckline can be paired with sleeves or a sleeveless style.
  • Halter: The halter wraps around the back of the neck, creating deep armholes. The halter is often paired with a backless style, creating a very sexy look.
  • Scoop: The classic scoop is a U-shaped neckline, and flatters almost all body types. For a sexier look, it can be cut low. The scoop will often continue on the back of the dress.
  • Jewel or T-Shirt: Similar to an actual T-shirt, the jewel neckline is round and sits at the base of the throat. This neckline creates a bustier look.
  • V-Neck: This neckline dips in the front into a V-shape. Since it de-emphasizes the bustline, this neckline is good for B or C cups.

Once you have decided on your ideal shape it is wise to go and try on some dresses in the bridal shops. Don’t dismiss a shape until you try it on, the above is a guide only. It is your day and you really don’t have to stick to any hard and fast rules. Select something comfortable, flattering and be as outrageous or as conservative as you please, it is your wedding day, no-one else’s!

Most of all, remember- this is your wedding day and your wedding dress. Wear whatever makes you comfortable and makes you feel fabulous and feels like you.

With many thanks to our contributor:
Marie Kennedy
The Ivory Rose Bridal Rooms
Passage West, Co Cork
Tel: 021 4859750
Email: marie@theivoryrose.ie

{Image by <a href="CC: Camille Richez}

Ciara Crossan

Ciara is the Founder and CEO of WeddingDates and has a particular love for quirky & unusual weddings! Considered a wedding venue expert, lucky for her she has visited hundreds of stunning wedding venues all over Ireland and the UK.

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