The search for the perfect wedding dress can be a little epic. So many magazines to browse through, so many pictures to look at and so many styles to choose from.
And then you go to try on the actual dress! Colours, fabrics – it’s enough to drive you a little crazy. If you are lucky enough to be hunting out a gown (for a wedding or ball) then we have made it a little bit easier by defining the basic styles and the body types that they suit.
The Dress Breakdown
Dresses may all look quite different but you will find that with a little close examination they will fall into one of the following groups….
The Empire Line: Falling from under the bust, an empire line dress can have a full skirt (great for hiding hips and thighs) a tulip, bubble or puff shape (great for creating curve) or even a bit of an A-line shape (balancing). The top half itself can vary from dress to dress giving this one style a lot of variance.
The Ball Gown: Often called the fairy tale dress, a ball gown will have a shaped bodice sometimes with a lace up back or a corset type top with a full skirt. These may be in separates or together as a one piece. The skirt can fall on or below the hip line and is a great shape to create a sense of drama. The tight fitting bodice will balance out the full skirt making it a great choice for many body types.
The Tea Length: Not so much a dress shape as a length. While many girls will instantly think floor length when looking for a ball or wedding gown, shorter lengths are now just as popular. These are great for showing off legs that you love or the detail on footwear. A great choice for summer events or petite frames.
The A-Line / Princess: Shaped through the bodice until the hip line where the dress falls away to an A shaped line. The A-line is one of the most typical shapes and is very balancing. These dresses can be found in both full length and shorter gowns and are a great choice for pear shaped girls.
The Mermaid or Sheath: Fitted throughout the body a sheath is a simple, elegant and sexy shape. Typically best for narrow frames these dresses have a classic and timeless appeal.
If you don’t know what body shape you are, check out our Body Shape Guide here.
You are… an Hour Glass
Tall or short, hourglass girls’ bodies are defined more by their typically curvy frame. If you are an hourglass you’ll have a naturally thin waist with a medium to large bust and smaller shoulders. Small waists and curvy figures mean that often hourglass girls have more defined hips.
Tips to Remember: Being curvy isn’t a bad thing! If you are blessed with curves and love them then why not opt for a sheath gown that shows off your shape? Panelling, beading and silk inserts of lace can help distract from problem areas and draw the eye to your favourite assets. For those who would like to diminish the curves, choose a dress with a tight bodice or cinched waist and a full skirt like an A-line dress or ball gown.
The dress for you: Sheath, ball gown or A-line.
Pictured: A sweet heart neckline sheath gown with chiffon detailing and beading, Style B733 from Astra Bridal.
You are… Pear Shaped
With curve on the bottom half, pear shaped girls will often have a smaller bust paired with a slimmer torso and waist. On the bottom half, pear shaped girls tend to have shapely hips, butt and thighs and usually carry little weight on the back.
Tips to Remember: Your slim shoulders waist and torso means that dresses with intricate top halves such as detailing across the décolletage or shaping in the torso are great choices for you. Empire line and ball gown dresses skim over the hips and thighs whilst your trusty friend the A-line is a great choice for wedding attire. Another good option is to show off your back with a plunging back on a simple halter or ball gown dress.
The dress for you: Empire, A-line or ball gown.
Pictured: An A-line deep halter dress with low back, Style B529 from Astra Bridal.
You are… an Apple
Shapely slim legs and delicate shoulders are some of the key features of an apple shape. With a larger bust, wider torso and a full waist you have a curvy and feminine figure.
Tips to Remember: Most people opt for longer length gowns but with your killer legs a tea length gown may be a great option! Another thing to think about is a gown that is floor length but features a subtle slit. Empire line dresses tend to flatter apple figures a lot as they re-proportion the figure and draw the eye up towards the bust. A-line dresses again add balance while a dress that cinches heavily at the waist can help create a more hour glass figure.
The dress for you: Tea length, empire or A-line.
Pictured: A strapless A-line, which uses detailing and colour for slimming effect. The classic shape creates form where needed, Style B508 from Astra Bridal.
You are… Petite
Small with delicate body features and subtle curves, you tend to also be a little bit shorter than most. An average size bust and naturally toned body means that proportion is key.
Tips to Remember: A lot of your tips are around hemlines. If you feel swamped in a full length gown, play around with one of a shorter length. Don’t be afraid to play around with different hem shapes like asymmetrical, pillow or tulip shapes. A simple sheath dress can be very classic, or to elongate the frame a tailored empire or A-line dress can work wonders.
The dress for you: Tea length, empire or A-line.
Pictured: A very simple A-line lengthens the frame, while subtle detailing adds drama. Style B434 from Astra Bridal.
You are… Slim Athletic
Thin and tall, your straight and narrow frame may not have a lot of curve. Small around the bottom and the bust, your typically thin or toned frame can benefit from a little pomp and frill.
Tips to Remember: If you love your figure why not show it off in a sheath? A straight sheath or mermaid dress can add curves and enhance your figure all on its own. And with the addition of beading around the bust or ties at the waist it can create a feminine form. A ball gown with its full skirt will instantly fill out your frame while an empire line dress can help create shape on your top half.
The dress for you: Empire, sheath, ball gown.
Pictured: Loads of detailing, a very shaped bodice and a full skirt with lots of detail creates shape and curve throughout the body. Style M6374 from Astra Bridal.