How to Choose Your Stunning Wedding Dress for Your Body Type
- Bridal Basics • Last updated April 23, 2018
You want to look and feel your best on your big day, but finding the perfect dress can be overwhelming. There are many wedding gowns available with a seemingly endless combination of colors, fabrics, details and styles. Doing some research before dress shopping can make it a more manageable and enjoyable process. The right dress for you will hide the parts of your body that you do not like while accentuating the areas you love. This will give you added confidence to make your wedding day even more special.
We will break down different body types and basic dress silhouettes that will flatter each figure.
An hourglass shape is naturally curvy and characterized as shoulders and hips that are the same width with a well-defined waist. Almost every dress looks great on this frame, but there are tips to finding the ideal fit.
Goals of the dress: Many women with hourglass figures use their wedding gown to show off their voluptuous curves. If you prefer not to flaunt your curves, look for a dress that will minimize your full hips. No matter what you choose, the right gown should show off your trim waist.
Styles to try: Mermaid and trumpet silhouettes that fit at the hips and then flare at mid-thigh or knee will hug your body and flatter your curves in all the ways you expect. Another style well suited for curvy brides is a dropped waist gown that elongates the torso with a flare at mid-hip. Simple sheath dresses cling to your curves and have a slimming effect. Add jewels, designs or sashes to your midsection to emphasize your narrow waist. If you are looking to minimize your hips, try an A-line or ball gown with a full skirt and fitted waist.
A busty shape means that you have a large bust, narrow hips, and a waist that is not well-defined. This is similar to an apple-shaped figure.
Goals of the dress: A wedding dress that flatters your busty figure will balance your broad upper body with your narrow hips by defining your waist. It should draw attention to your face and provide ample support and structure. It all starts with finding the best neckline for your style.
Styles to try: A dress with a scooped or square neckline will highlight your face without being too revealing. A sweetheart neckline will also work well for your shape, just make sure that the bodice features enough boning to support you without straps. An off the shoulder dress with a subtle V neck will shift the focus off your chest and onto the silhouette of your body. Wearing a dress with a full skirt will help to balance your top and draw attention away from your curves. For busty brides, quality support is key. Dresses with detailed straps will flatter your upper body and add additional interest near your face.
A pear-shaped figure means that you have a smaller upper body paired with a curvier bottom half. This can include larger hips, stomach, thighs and/or bottom. A smaller upper body does not always mean having a small bust, though this is usually the case.
Goals of this dress: Women with this body type want to draw the eyes upward and away from their lower body. To achieve this, you will want to create balance between your body and the dress.
Styles to try: A ball gown or A-line silhouette will create balance with a skirt that flares out from the natural waist. It will highlight the most narrow part of your midsection and float away from your hips and thighs. Accent your skirt by choosing the right waistline, specifically sitting at your thinnest point. If you have a narrow waistline, a natural or basque waistline will show it off. If you prefer the flare to start above your natural waist, choose an empire waistline to slim this area. A dropped-waist or strapless ball gown will emphasis your top half by covering your bottom half. One shoulder, asymmetrical, strapless and halter necklines will help to showcase your slender upper body.
An apple-shaped figure is characterized by a broad shoulders and a larger chest. This may also include a larger midsection, but not always. This body shape may be seen as “top heavy” as you have a wide torso which well-proportions your shoulders and bust.
Goals of the dress: The perfect wedding dress for this body type will highlight your smallest areas while creating long lines down the middle of your body. It will create balance between your body and wedding dress to highlight your physical features.
Styles to try: A-line dresses with a high waistline, such as an empire or natural waistline will elongate your silhouette. Choose a skirt that floats away from your body to create the illusion of a curverier lower half. To add to the illusion of a smaller top, a dress with a simple, fitted bodice will create a corset-like effect. A deep V neckline will also draw the eyes toward the vertical without adding extra width.
If you have a rectangular-shape, your hips and shoulders are about the same width with little waist definition. This is sometimes called an athletic figure. It is possible to have a larger bust with a rectangular shape.
Goals of the dress: The goal of the dress is to define your waistline. Look for a dress that will create curves where you do not naturally have them. A neckline with a lot of texture will draw the eyes upward. A difference between the top and bottom of your dress will draw eyes upward or downward, which capitalizes on your slenderness and will make you appear to have curves.
Styles to try: Dresses with a full or flowy skirt, like a ball gown or ballerina silhouette, will cinch your natural waist and create the illusion of having curves underneath. Empire and basque waistline gowns will also create shape by giving your waist a nipped-in effect. Adding a belt will define your waistline and create curves in a mermaid, trumpet or A-line silhouette.
Plus-sized figures are considered any shape that wears size 14 or larger. Though these are seen as larger than “standard” brides, you still want to find a dress that highlights your best assets and makes you feel confident.
Goals of the dress: Complement your shape with a dress that fits well and slims the body. A corseted dress can redefine your silhouette. Avoid dresses that are too loose or flowy as they make you appear heavier.
Styles to try: A floor-length empire dress will flatter your shape. Dresses that feature a lace illusion neckline will cover a large bust and create a slimming effect when paired with a thick waistband. A sheath dress with high neckline and slight train combine to help you look long and lean. Choose fabrics that provide structure, such as satin.
Petite brides are those shorter than five foot three inches tall. Being a short bride can be tough as you do not want your dress to overwhelm you. Adding details near the neckline will draw attention upward to create height. Avoid ball gowns with voluminous fabric that will make you seem shorter.
Goals of the dress: The best dress for your small frame will have an unbroken line that elongates you and makes you appear taller.
Styles to try: A simple sheath or A-line dress will create the illusion of height and keep the eye moving. Dresses with a sweetheart, V neck or halter neckline will lengthen your body. Lace, silk and organza skirts will flow nicely and continue to draw the attention to the vertical. A mermaid or trumpet skirt with a high waist band will use the continuous line to stretch your stature.
If you are five foot ten inches or taller you are considered a tall bride. You can find a dress that minimizes your height by avoiding high necklines that will draw the eye upwards.
Goals for the dress: While a statuesque bride can pull off most any styles, a silhouette that breaks up your dress will help to minimize your height.
Styles to try: Adding a belt to a ballerina, mermaid or trumpet skirt will define your waist and break up the flow of the dress. An illusion neckline will also help to bring down the appearance of your upper body. Ball gowns with a fitted bodice and full, bell-shaped skirt will flatter tall brides. Empire waists that drop straight down below the bust are flattering on many body types, including tall brides. For tall, slim brides, dropped waist gowns look great as they create the illusion of hips.