Wedding Gown Silhouette
The silhouette of a wedding gown refers to the body shape of the dress that will outline the shape of the bride. The bride should choose the style that best suits her body and is the most flattering for her shape.
This flattering silhouette is ideal for almost every bride, so it’s no surprise that this is the most popular shape. The shape features a flared out skirt from the waist down to your feet, creating an “A” shape. The A-line cut is narrow at the top, cut close to the ribcage, and extends out along the body in the shape of a triangle (or “A”) in a smooth, elongated line. Recommended for petite figures because it can make a shorter bride appear taller and for a full figured bride to de-emphasize the hips. The A-line, however, is not recommended for brides with thick waist as the hourglass shape will accentuate your waist. On a princess-style dress, vertical panels of fabric follow the natural contour of the body. This is slightly more dramatic than an A-line design, but equally flattering.
When brides think of the typical wedding gown style, the ball gown silhouette is often the first style that comes to mind. The ball gown is a classic shape with a fitted bodice and very full skirt that brushes the floor. This silhouette is the most traditional and formal of all shapes and is best suited for the bride in search of a classic and elegant look. Ballgown styles accentuate the feminine hourglass shape with a narrowly-fitted waistline and a full, flowing skirt. Waistlines may be V-shaped and slightly higher or lower on the hips. This dress is a great choice for medium to taller brides and for those that wish to hide large hips. This shape is not recommended for petite brides as the full skirt can overwhelm or take away from the appearance of the bride.
Aptly named, this silhouette features a slim fitted gown that moulds to the bride’s figure. The mermaid cut is characterized by a narrow, body-hugging bodice that flares dramatically, at or below the knee, and as such, it may be difficult for brides to kneel or sit in. This style contours to your body (similar to the sheath style), but flares out at the bottom. It has a distinctive diagonal cut on the skirt. For a bride wanting to accentuate her curvaceous figure, this dress is ideal but not recommended for brides with full figures or wide hips.
Empire designs are cut a bit like a maternity dress with a high waistline that starts just below the bust and derives its name from the style’s popularity during the Empire period in France. The skirt is usually slender and graceful and the style is particularly well-suited to small-busted girls, as they help to make more of less. The shape can give the impression of increased height or de-emphasize the hips for those with thicker waist. The “empire” style is best suited for brides with small bust and slim figures but not recommended for brides with hourglass, curvy, full or pear shapes.
Like the mermaid, the sheath features a form fitting, body hugging style, but without the trumpeting flair. A modern, glamorous take on the traditional wedding gown, the sheath is characterized by a slim profile that closely follows the curves of the body. Simple and elegant, sheath dresses follow natural curves from shoulder to hem. They often cling and many are strapless or backless. You need to have an athletic figure rather than a curvy body to get away with this style. This silhouette is highly recommended for those brides with a tall, well proportioned (thin) figure but not for full or pear shaped brides.
This silhouette is characterized by an elongated triangle forming just beneath the natural waistline generally V or U-shaped, beginning several inches below the waist. This shape is great for taller brides who are looking to create an hourglass appearance with the low waistline. Petite brides may want to consider other shapes as this style may create a shorter appearance. This style is recommended for taller brides, large hips, hourglass or pear shape figures.
Wedding Gown Neckline
The neckline of the wedding gown lets the bride show as much (or as little) of their upper body as they wish.
A boat neck comes to just below the collar bone and goes straight across the chest. This can be used with or without sleeves and looks best on women with small busts, but not broad shoulders. A relatively straight neckline, with the same depth in the front and back, opens from one inch of each shoulder. This neckline enhances the chest area so avoid if you are already well endowed.
Off the Shoulder (Contessa)
This style is an elegant look that flatters long, slender necks and well-defined collar bones. The off the shoulder is a flattering wedding gown neckline for most figures. Choose if you are well endowed and/or have a pear-shaped silhouette and avoid if you have broad shoulders or fuller arms. The contessa is an off-the-shoulder neckline that attaches to the sleeves to form a continuous line across the arms and chest.
The halter features straps that wrap around the neck and generally features a low back. The design emphasizes the shoulders and is best worn with minimal or no bra. This is a sleek, sexy and informal look that works well if you can get away without wearing a bra. Choose if you are tall and have broader shoulders and avoid if you have narrow shoulders or a very large chest.
This neckline, made of sheer fabric such as lace or chiffon, fits snugly against the neck with an ornately decorated band of satin, creating a choker effect. The back and front of the gown attach at the shoulder with narrow pieces of fabric. Young, fresh and sophisticated, but you need well-toned arms for this style. Quite a formal look, this is sexy without being over the top.
Similar to an off-the-shoulder style but made with more fabric, the portrait neckline is characterized by a wide, soft scoop from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other. These bodices are often chosen because of how well they frame the bride’s face. This neckline is good for fuller arms and prominent collarbones but bad for undefined collarbones.
This classic U-shaped neckline is usually cut low and continues its rounded feature at the back of the dress. Scoop necklines are softly rounded and slope up towards the collar bone. This is a more demure look than strapless, as long as it’s not cut too deeply and is a very popular style that is great on most figure types.
The square neckline is similar to the scoop neckline but more elegant and formal. This wedding gown neckline is shaped like a half square. Ideal for women who are well endowed as it cuts low without being too revealing, but is suitable and flattering for almost every body type. This style is used for modest display of cleavage.
Very popular style that features a straight or shaped line that sweeps across the chest. As the name indicates, the neckline is strapless. Your arms and shoulders are bare and rely on good underwear and boning to keep you covered. It may also have a crumb catcher, an extra panel of fabric that attaches to the top of the bodice and sticks out slightly from the body. This style works well to enhance beautiful shoulders and collarbones or a well endowed chest but avoid for smaller chests.
A popular shape, the sweetheart neckline dips down to a point in the cleavage. This is a romantic style that allows for a daring plunge, but more demure shoulder coverage. This low neckline resembles the top half of a heart and incorporates a high back. It is flattering to most shapes and a good style if you are well endowed or accentuating your cleavage.
This wedding gown neckline, as the name connotes, features a gown with a single strap or an asymmetric neckline. Choose this style to emphasize beautiful collarbones and avoid if you have broad shoulders.
The Queen Anne features a high collar at the back and sides of the neck, slowly curving down into a low, open heart shaped neckline. This wedding gown neckline is suitable for almost every body type. This neckline is used best to elongate the body and neckline and to discreetly display a little cleavage.
The jewel neckline is a high neckline that is rounded at the base of the throat. The jewel style de-emphasizes the chest area (bust and collar bone) and is usually reserved for the more conservative bride. This style is good for small-chested woman and bad for large-chested woman.
This V-shaped wedding gown neckline flatters many body types. The depth of the “V” depends on the design of the wedding gown. This style is ideal for brides who have a medium chest and want to accentuate cleavage. This neckline is used if chest size is “B” or “C” and great for full figured or hour glass shaped silhouettes, but avoid for small or well endowed chests.