One of the most exciting and daunting things about being newly-engaged is the wedding dress search. It’s a bit overwhelming making a choice that you’ve probably thought about since you were 5 but enjoy it! A little preparation can go along way so we thought we’d give you some food for thought before you start looking at wedding dresses. Today’s post is about wedding dress shapes and styles – giving a basic overview of the main wedding dress styles and the pros and cons of each.
The 5 traditional styles of wedding dress are defined by the style of skirt, these are: Ballgown, A-Line, Empire, Fishtail and Sheath. They have other names you might be more familiar with, so we’ve tried to include them all. This beginner’s wedding dress guide is really just a way to help you start thinking about what you like and what will work best for you…
Left: Lela Rose Right: La Sposa
Ballgown or Princess Style
The Ballgown wedding dress is classic princess style, featuring a nipped in waist with a very large and voluminous skirt. The skirt usually features plenty of underskirts and tulle below to keep the shape, so can be quite heavy.
If you’re going to wear a ballgown make sure you have a great corset on top to help you support the dress, and also to give you a good bust (if you need any help, or control it if you don’t!). The ballgown is like the hourglass in overdrive so looking flat on top will make it look unbalanced.
Petite ladies should avoid ballgowns in general, as the skirts are so huge they will make you look smaller and can overwhelm you. Ballgowns are great for mid-height or taller brides who can carry all the volume in the skirt.
Left:Paloma Blanca Right: La Sposa
There’s a thin line between ballgowns and A- Line dresses, it’s really about how big the skirt is. An A-Line skirt has a lot less volume than a ballgown but still gives that classic princess dress shape.
A-Line gowns are great for all body types, and give a classic hourglass shape. Like a ball gown a corset or some structure in the bodice is imperative.
Left: Marchesa Right: Luci Di Bella
Empire line dresses gather just under the bust and fall gently over the hips. These are perfect for ladies who don’t love their tums, bum or legs. They are very flattering and feminine. Recently empire dresses have been adding in more volume in the skirt adding to the camouflage effect. Ethereal, pretty and very elegant. But brides with really large busts should probably avoid empire lines dresses.
Left: Christian Lacroix Right: Olivia Couture
Sheath or Column
Sheath dresses are for the tall, slim and willowy, essentially because they’re the most unforgiving of all wedding dress styles. Usually made of clinging silk or satin. If you’re not a supermodel there are ways to cheat – great underwear to even out any bits you’re not comfortable with, and high shoes will add height and give you a great posture.
The other thing is that in the last couple of seasons more column wedding dresses are coming in stiffer more sculpted fabrics, or like the dress above from Christian Lacroix, an underskirt covered in a flowing overlay is a great camouflage.
Left: Rosa Clara, Right: Paloma Blanca
One style, lots of versions and even more names, fishtail or mermaid wedding gowns are a very feminine and sexy shape, clingy to all the curves with a big kick out of fabric at the hem, usually with a train to give a wider arc of fabric on the floor. The kick out can be sharp and voluminous or soft and sweeping. If you’ve a great bum – this could be the look for you! If going for a mermaid style dress make sure you get a great fit – nothing should sag or bulge.
There are, of course, also short dresses, but they’re such a diverse bunch we will do a specific post on them in a week or two.