How to Know Which Wedding Dress Best Fits Your Silhouette, Shape and Size

By Donald Clifton

Looking for your wedding gown can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you’re new to the whole process. Making a decision will be much easier after you become familiar with the four silhouettes of wedding dresses and which silhouette will look the most flattering on your figure. Wearing the right silhouette for your body type can draw attention to your best features and can also minimize those features you’re wanting to minimize.

BALL GOWN: The ball gown has a form-fitting bodice with a full skirt. It is the “Cinderella” look. Ball gowns are considered to be what brides would call a traditional look of all bridal dress silhouettes.

Basque waist ball gown features a fitted bodice with an elongated V-shape beneath and at the front and center of the waistline. This style minimizes the width of the dress at the waist.

Natural waist ball gown has it’s waistline at the “natural waist – usually about half way between the ribcage and the at the narrowest part.

Asymmetrical waist ball gown features a a waistline that goes more at a diagonal at the waist from one side of the dress to the other side.

Dropped waist ball gown starts a few inches below the belly button. This style elongates the look of the torso and is very popular right now, with many choices of length of the drop of the waist itself.

SHEATH CUT: The sheath cut follows the conture of the body. Since the dress is so form fitting it will have a slit in the front, side or back to make easier to walk.

Trumpet style cuts are sheaths that are flared at the bottom so they don’t need a slit to walk.

A-LINE: A-Line or Princess cut gowns have an A-shape that is created by vertical seams running from the shoulders to a flared skirt. They are characterized by their narrow-at-the-top, then wider at the bottom shape. This style is designed to elongate the lines of the body, with the illusion of length. This style has no specifically designed waistline.. The silhouette can look good with many different designs elements – belts, bands and sashes, etc.

EMPIRE WAIST: The empire waist dress has a seam that starts just under the bustline that falls into a sheath. The skirt actually begins just above the natural waistline. This cut is especially flattering to brides who have tummy issues or may be expecting.

Here are some general suggestions to consider when trying on these silhouettes based on your {silhouette / shape|body type]. Since body silhouettes and sizes can vary a large amount tremendously these are only generalized recommendations. You may still want to try on various silhouettes to decide what fits you best and which style you feel the prettiest in. There is no-one-size-fits-all, so talk with your bridal consultant about what style and fit is best for you.

HOUR GLASS FIGURE – small waist with larger hips and a full bust. Best choice is the Princess cut with a scoop-neck or v-neck. Avoid an Empire waist which will hide your figure and look disproportional.

SHORT WAISTED AND PETITE – Again the Princess cut is best because it elongates the short waist and lengthens the appearance of the torso. Avoid a Sheath cut which will make you look shorter and “stubbier”your short waist more obvious.

LONG WAIST – Best would be a Basque waist ball gown which will give you the appearance of a shorter waistline. Avoid a Princess cut because it will make your waist look even longer than it is.

BOXY – undefined waistline – you tend to look more straight from your shoulders to your hips. An Empire waist gown will help to de-emphasize your waistline and make you look thinner. A diagonal ruched bodice will also help draw the eye across the body to combat the natural vertical body lines. Avoid a Princess cut or a Sheath which both draw too much attention to your middle.

PEAR SHAPPED – small bustline, average waist, larger hips. Choose a gown that emphasizes the top and puts less emphasis on the bottom. Actually, the style of the dress is less important than the neckline. Choosing a gown with an off-the-shoulder neckline or cap sleeves will flatter your shoulders and chest while drawing focus away from your hips. Avoid a Sheath style because it will be more unflattering, but remember the neckline is most important so avoid a V-neck which draws the eyes and focus down.

FULL FIGURE – A ball gown is full and will hide many figure problems. Choosing a style with a ruched or wrapped waist will also look better.

The four silhouettes (ball gown, empire, princess cut and sheath) all create varying visual effects on different body types. If you haven’t tried wedding dresses on before, ask your consultant to help. It’s your wedding and you are the one to make the final decision on which of the styles / silhouettes looks best on you.

Have an enjoyable experience deciding your bridal dress. Our staff is trained to help make sure you do just that.

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