How To Choose The Wedding Dress That’s Right For You

Wedding gowns come in a wide range of different shapes and designs, and the one you choose to wear on your special day will need to reflect your personal taste and your personality.

The first time your husband-to-be will see your dress is when you enter the venue, and walk down the aisle to join him for the ceremony. And of course, he will always remember that first moment when he saw you in your beautiful wedding gown. So when you find the dress you love, be sure it’s the one you know your groom will love too.

Like most brides-to-be, you probably already have a picture in your mind of the dress you want to wear on your wedding day. And while this can be helpful, both for you and your sales assistant, it’s always good to keep an open mind and try on as many different styles as you can. Sometimes a dress can have little, or no hanger appeal, but can look amazing on a body, so unless you try it on, you could just miss the dress that is perfect for you.

Although at first glance it may look as though wedding dresses come in hundreds of different styles, actually most dresses fit into one of five basic shapes, and almost all wedding dresses are a variation of one of these styles, which are;

  • The A-line

  • The Empire Line

  • The Column

  • The Mermaid

  • The Ballgown

  • In this post I am going to look at each one of these styles individually, especially at how the silhouettes, necklines, dress lengths and different materials and embellishments are right for different body shapes.

A-LINE/PRINCESS

A-line or princess style dresses are flattering for almost every body shape, and for this reason a popular choice for many brides. This style features a bodice that is fitted into the waist and a skirt that flows out gently, usually to the ground, in the shape of the letter A. This classic style is often considered to be one of the most suitable styles for a traditional church ceremony, but it can look equally appropriate for a less formal occasion.

One of the things that makes the shape of the A-line dress so popular is it’s versatility. The fitted bodice with it’s horizontal seams gives the illusion of a small waist. And because the bodice and the skirt can be two separate items, two contrasting fabrics can be used. The A-line dress can be worn full length with the skirt flowing into a train for a formal wedding, or short for a less formal affair such as a beach wedding.

The princess cut style is simply a variation of the A-line dress. It still features the vertical lines running from top to bottom. This style is always popular as again it tends to give the illusion of a small waist, and thanks to its vertical panels, it can give the appearance of a more slender body.

The fabric you choose for an A-line dress will depend on the style of your wedding and the look you want to achieve. If, for instance you are planning a casual, intimate wedding, then you could choose a fabric such as a charmeuse silk. This type of fabric allows the dress to flow naturally, and at the same time will give you a very soft silhouette.

However, if your wedding is going to be more formal, a heavier material such as satin would be more appropriate as it would give a dress more structure. Texture can be added with ruche, and lace and can be used to create a fuller skirt.

The embellishments you add to an A-line dress can give you different looks. It’s possible to give a plain dress a more formal look by adding beads and lace. A bow worn at the hip, or a sash in a contrasting color can be added to make a simple A-line dress look very stylish.

The beauty of the A-line dress is that it suits practically every body shape and is a style can easily be adapted to make the most of your shape. It looks good with or without sleeves, and with a host of different necklines. It’s the perfect style for a shorter person as the vertical seams will add height. The gentle flow of the skirt is very forgiving on a rounded figure, plus an A-line or princess cut dress will always give the illusion of a narrow waist.

EMPIRE CUT

The main feature of the empire style is its high waistline. In fact it sits just below the bust line, with the skirt then softly falling away down to the hemline. The empire style dress is often considered to have a more formal look,

A wedding gown in the empire style is normally made from a lighter material. This means that a softer look with lots of movement is created. Often more than one fabric is used, and using combinations of satin and lace, or a silk chiffon is a good way to add interest to what is basically a simple design. The fact that sheer fabrics are used can give the empire line dress a floaty, almost Grecian look, making it a perfect choice for an outdoor or beach wedding.

The empire line can be worn by most body shapes, and it’s worth bearing in mind that it is probably the least figure hugging design. The empire line dress is in fact the master of disguise. For brides with an apple shape body, this is one of the best designs to create a sleek look. The high waist and long skirt flowing in a straight line over the hips can disguise any issues such as a thicker waist or tummy bump.

The short bodice, when boned and embellished with ornate beadwork, sequins and rhinestones, easily draws attention to the neckline and away from the lower body. This can give the illusion of a larger bust. It’s also possible to minimize the look of a larger bust by choosing a square neckline. And for a shorter, more petite bride, the long straight lines of the empire dress can add height.

COLUMN/SHEATH

The main feature of the column style wedding dress is its slim straight silhouette. And because it’s such a basic cut, it’s easy to give the column dress an individual look. There are a whole range of different necklines and sleeve lengths that can be used to change the look of the dress. A sweetheart neckline will create a romantic look, while a v- neck and short cap sleeves will give a more classic look.

The column style works well as a full length dress for a traditional more lavish wedding, but is just as flattering in a shorter length for a more casual occasion such as an afternoon wedding. In fact the simplicity of the style means it’s possible to give your dress character simply by the length you choose to wear it.

The column wedding dress is probably one of the most figure hugging style of all and it really suits a tall, willowy, almost boyish shape body. This style can take on different looks according to the fabrics used. Silk or soft crepe will give a relaxed romantic look. For this look the fabric is often cut on the bias, allowing it to flow close to the body. For a more dramatic look, a heavier fabric will be needed, such as damask.

The column dress is best worn by the bride with a more athletic figure. And while it suits a taller bride, it can also appear to give a petite bride extra height. But one thing the column style doesn’t do well is hide problem areas, or lumps and bumps on the body, as it clings and flows closely over the curves. It’s worth remembering that column dress will definitely hug your body, so if you plan to dance the night away, you could find this style of dress a bit restrictive.

THE BALL GOWN

This is the original romantic fairytale wedding dress. It’s often called the Cinderella dress, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the dress we imagine Cinderella wore to the ball. It’s made with a fitted bodice and a full skirt, and is best suited to a bride with a narrower waist. This can be a one piece dress or a separate bodice and skirt and is usually considered to be a good choice for a more formal wedding.

The ball gown can take on many looks as it’s a style that can handle a whole range and combination of different necklines and sleeve lengths, making it suitable for different occasions. If your ceremony calls for you to cover your shoulders and arms, then a dress with a high neckline and long sleeves will be a perfect choice. A strapless design, teamed with lace gloves, or a sweetheart neckline will give a romantic, yet elegant look to the ball gown.

Thanks to the many layers of the skirt, the ball gown is a style that can successfully take the weight of a train. This makes it a popular choice for traditional weddings. Many different fabrics can go to make up the finished ball gown. It’s silhouette is created by overlays of satin. The fitted bodice, with embellishments of intricate lace and beaded detail leads down to a voluminous skirt.

The fullness of the skirt is created by layering soft fabrics such as organza, or taffeta. Often a hooped petticoat or crinoline is used to give the skirt it’s fullness.

Although most body types can wear this style of dress, it is best suited to a more slender body. It’s also a perfect style for a bride with a  pear shaped body as the fitted bodice will show off a narrow waist, and the full skirt with it’s many layers will hide any lower body issues. The ball gown can also help to give brides with a larger bust an hourglass look thanks to the way it accentuates the waist.

There are a couple of body shapes that the ball gown doesn’t flatter. A more petite bride could feel swamped with all the layers of fabric, while a shorter bride may find she doesn’t have the height to to carry off such a full skirt. And a bride with a fuller figure could find that a ball gown will cause her to look larger and she could end up feeling overwhelmed by all the layers of material.

MERMAID STYLE

The mermaid style is similar to the column style. It starts out as a column style until it gets to the knee where it  flares out with a fuller skirt. It’s another style that closely flows over the curves of the body, so is best suited to a bride with a slim figure and a narrow waist.

The mermaid style looks stunning with almost any neckline and sleeve length, so it will look just as good with a high neckline and a longer sleeve as it will with a sweetheart neckline or spaghetti straps. If you want to show off your shoulders and wear a fantastic necklace, then you can choose a strapless neckline.

There are various skirt styles which can change the look of the mermaid style dress. The flare can start above the knee, at the knee, or even below the knee. All these options would give the dress a different look. It would also give a different look to the skirt and the flare. Some brides choose a dress that has a flare which flows out from the back of the skirt, while others prefer the flare to be all around the bottom of skirt.

The mermaid style wedding gown is made to hug the body, so it’s not for everyone. It’s best suited to a slimmer bride as it’s not a forgiving style and a dress made from a lighter material would be inclined to highlight any areas on the body which you would rather hide. You could also find the mermaid style a bit difficult to walk in, although a skirt that breaks above the knee will mean you won’t have to take baby steps.

The mermaid style wedding gown is perfect for the confident bride. It’s often thought to be the most elegant and dramatic of all the styles, and one most brides would love to wear. If you are wondering if you could pull it off, then don’t dismiss it until you’ve tried a few on. Even if you haven’t got a flawless body, and believe it or not, not many women have, you could be surprised at what the right undergarments and shapewear can do.

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