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The Shape of You: Knowing Your Wedding Gown Silhouettes

By Lisa Beth Miller

So, you are engaged and ready to shop for the perfect wedding gown. You arrive at your very first appointment at a bridal boutique, and the consultant suggests that you try on all six of the classic wedding gown silhouettes. I know…you are thinking “Ugh. I already know what I want! Look, I have a huge pile of pictures of my favorite dresses!”

Your best bet in this situation is to trust your bridal consultant! She knows exactly what she is talking about and will show you options that may not have occurred to you. Since most women do NOT try on formal wedding gowns throughout their lives, most do not actually know what gowns will work with their body type. As you look through your huge pile of pictures of gowns that appeal to you, try to keep in mind that the model wearing the gown in your beloved pictures is most likely almost six feet tall and around a size 2. Be sure to give yourself the chance to find a dress silhouette that is perfect for your own size and shape!

So, what are the six silhouettes that your consultant may show to you?

  1. A-Line: This style is slim on top, fitted through the waist, and softly flares away from the body. This style tends to be universally flattering, as it creates an illusion of a small waist!
  2. Ballerina: This is traditionally thought of as a length, rather than a silhouette, but it is a tea-length dress with a fitted bodice and a full, layered skirt. Since short wedding dresses have recently come into fashion, many boutiques do carry this option. This style has a fun, youthful vibe.
  3. Ball gown: The fullest, most formal style, a traditional ball gown features a boned and fitted bodice and a full skirt supported by layers of crinoline. The shape here is similar to A-line but is fuller and more structured. Extremely petite brides could be overwhelmed in this style.
  4. Empire: This style features a high waist that hits under the bustline. The look is elegant, youthful, and comfortable.
  5. Mermaid: This style hugs the torso, then flares out from the knee, or just below. This style works well for short-waisted brides.
  6. Sheath: This is a sophisticated, close to the body shape that outlines every curve.

Try to be open to trying these different silhouettes! Brides are quite often surprised to find out that a style they had not considered is actually the most flattering option!


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