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Our essential guide to wedding dress shapes
Are you a marvellous mermaid or a fabulous fit and flare? A beautiful ball gown or a terrific tea length? There’s a wealth of different wedding dress shapes and finding the right one can be a minefield, right? Well, not at WED2B. Our expert bridal consultants know everything there is to know about finding the perfect silhouette for you, whatever your shape, size or style.
When we asked our brides about the wedding dress shapes they preferred*, 47% said a flattering A-line was their favourite silhouette while 48% would go for an attractive illusion neckline. And Kate Middleton is still setting trends, even six years on, as 57% of our brides said they prefer wedding dresses with sleeves while a huge 71% would choose luxurious lace. Brides are being bolder with colour too, with 'blush' dresses the biggest wedding trend of the last few years. So, while 53% of brides asked would still choose an ivory dress, 12% are in totally in love with blush. We love it too, rose or blush undertones are brilliant for brightening the cheeks!
So what will you choose? Our expert bridal consultants have put together a quick and easy guide to get you started and help you tell your A-line from your empire line. Your dream dress search starts here…
If you’re not sure where to start with wedding dress shapes, then the universally flattering A-line is the one to try first. Fitted at the chest to highlight your narrowest point, this style flows out gradually into an ‘A’ shape. The balanced proportions work brilliantly to draw the eyes upwards and it also creates a beautiful nipped in waist, making it super flattering for all - especially for apple and rectangle body shapes. Look out for slim A-line dresses too, which fit a little closer to the body than a traditional A-line. Usually made with a lightweight fabric, such as chiffon or soft tulle, slim A-line shape make great destination wedding dresses.
The ball gown, also known as a ‘princess gown’, is the classic fairy tale silhouette. It's what many brides picture when they close their eyes and imagine their dream dress. It has a fitted bodice, which flares out at the waist into a full skirt with plenty of volume. This shape is ideal for most body types although it can sometimes overwhelm smaller frames. It looks particularly great on pear-shaped figures, since it hides the lower body and draws attention to the waist. For an even more princess-worthy look this style looks fabulous with a hooped underskirt!
A flattering and comfortable fit, an empire line wedding dress is perfect for brides who want something soft and romantic. The skirt extends from under the bust line, skims over the hips and tummy and creates a straight flow from bust to toes. It’s a great choice for pear-shaped figures as it helps to disguise the hips. It’s also a fabulous style for pregnant brides with plenty of room for a beautiful growing tummy!
Super flattering, a fit and flare wedding dress hugs the body and flares off just below the hips, accentuating the waist. Not to be confused with mermaid or trumpet shape, which generally flare out a little lower, this style is very easy to wear. It will give you that feminine, curvaceous silhouette and disguise any lumps and bumps without restricting your movement. Sophisticated enough for mature brides it also works well for petites, as it won’t shorten your frame like larger dresses or mermaid gowns might. It does emphasise the hips though, so pear-shaped figures might want to steer clear.
The terms ‘mermaid’, ‘fishtail’ and ‘trumpet’ are often used for similar wedding dress shapes that hug the body before delicately flaring out below the hips. It’s a dream shape for curvy brides and anyone who wants to create an hourglass silhouette.
Trumpet shapes are a good midway point between a fit and flare and a mermaid dress. The skirt gradually flares around mid-thigh and can resemble the shape of a trumpet’s bell - hence the name! The skirt is good for highlighting curves without drawing too much attention to your legs. It also isn’t as dramatic or restrictive as a mermaid. It’s a great style for hourglass and petite figures with small waists. It can accentuate the stomach and hips so pears and apples should wear this style with a coloured or sparkly belt to break up the waist area.
Fishtail or mermaid silhouettes are the most glamorous of all, and are closely fitted to the knee or below before flaring out dramatically. The clue is in the name – the skirt has the same outline as a fish’s tail! Thanks to the dramatic cut, this style highlights a curvy figure or add curves where there are none. It's also a high-fashion, sexy silhouette that's perfect for a bride who wants real wow-factor. However, the tight fit can restrict movement so it’s important to practice walking and sitting in your dress. Also choose your underwear carefully to avoid any lines!
Sheath or column wedding dresses create an understated silhouette and are often made from light and flowing fabrics. The narrow shape flows straight down from the neckline to the hem and is ideal for lean and petite frames. It’s also a good shape for hourglasses who want to show off their curves. It’s not so flattering for pears as this shape can accentuate extra inches.
The super sexy style and delicate material make this a great choice for a second dress with a totally different look. It’s also the perfect dress for a destination or beach wedding abroad because it’s cool, comfortable and lightweight. If you’re marrying overseas you’ll need to take your dress on the plane so a light option is good. Just ask in store about our specialist wedding dress storage boxes too.
A cropped hemline will show off luscious legs and is often nipped in at the waist to create great curves. Skirts that fall between the ankle and the knee are often called tea length and are ideal for all body types. If you’re feeling a bit more daring, mini skirts generally fall above the knee and are a little more revealing! If you’re having a summer wedding then shorter wedding dress shapes are perfect for looking fun, flirty and fabulous. And the best part? Your shoes will be on display all day long. So with our wedding dresses costing under £699* you can definitely justify splashing out on a really gorgeous pair!
Ready to start? Click here to find your perfect wedding dress shapes. Try on your favourites and get personal advice on your body shape from one of our expert bridal consultants at your nearest WED2B store. For more inspiration head over to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter
*Statistics based on brides answers from competition entries between July and September 2017
*Excludes Platinum Edition