There’s a first time for everything, and buying a wedding gown is no exception. Whether you’ve been dreaming of a specific gown since you were twelve or you’ve just begun to look through the pages of our magazine, there are certain styles and silhouettes you should be knowledgeable of so that you can make the best decision about this once-in-a-lifetime purchase. Read on for the 411 on which gowns will provide the best fit to flatter your bridal figure.
For most women, when they hear the words ball gown a Cinderella look comes to mind. Well, that assumption is essentially correct. The classic ball gown is comprised of a form-fitting bodice that leads to a large, billowing skirt often made of tulle or satin. A ball gown is flattering for most shapes, but especially for pear-shaped brides because the full skirt hides a heavier bottom half while drawing the eye up to the bodice. Petite brides should shy away from a voluminous ball gown because the size and shape of the gown tends to swallow up a smaller-framed woman.
With a skirt that’s shaped like an “A” (fitted at the waist with a wider, more flared bottom) the A-line gown is the most common silhouette for today’s bride. This gown is as versatile as it is popular; depending on the embellishment and the fabric it’s created from, the A-line is as perfect for a super-casual backyard celebration as it is an upscale country club affair. It’s flattering for brides of all shapes and sizes, and nearly every designer features A-line gowns in their collections. Many also include two-piece A-line gowns in their designs, making proper fit from top to bottom a priority.
Sleek and sophisticated, a sheath gown either hugs the natural curves of the body or falls in a straight line from the shoulders to the hemline. It’s especially flattering on tall and thin brides (what isn’t?) but is surprisingly stunning on slim, petite brides because it adds length to shorter statures. If you have your heart set on a sheath, look for one created from a heavier material rather than a sheer fabric for fit that flatters. However if you have problem areas that you’d rather not reveal to your wedding guests, a sheath might not be your best bet.
Now that you’re more familiar with the basic gown silhouettes, you should consider the type of neckline you’ll feel most comfortable in. From classic to contemporary, read on for the facts to help you find a face-framing neckline.
This neckline speaks for itself. A strapless gown
is usually cut straight across above the bust line, and will sometimes feature a notch or v detail in the center. Strapless gowns are flattering on nearly everyone; however if you’re lacking in the cleavage category, you might want to look for something with straps for support.
The popular scoop neckline is shaped like a U and can be cut either high or low. Held up by straps, this neckline is equally flattering on all brides. It’s important to remember, though, that larger cup sizes should be careful of very low cut scoop necklines to reduce the appearance of the breasts spilling out over the top of the gown.
A square neckline is similar to a scoop neckline, except the neckline falls in a square shape instead of rounding downward. This style is perfect for those who need the support of straps, but don’t want to bare too much cleavage.
Very thin straps (much like spaghetti) anchor the bodice of a spaghetti strap gown. Many strapless gowns can be altered to include spaghetti straps, which makes this neckline a popular option for those who like the strapless look but crave the safety of straps. It’s a flattering neckline for most, however spaghetti straps may not provide enough support for the very well endowed.
Shaped like the top of a heart, this neckline is especially flattering on women with larger cup sizes because it provides a seductive glimpse of the décolletage, without looking too risqué. However, if your cup size is closer to an A than a C, you might want to consider a different style.
Sexy and modern, the halter neckline features straps that begin at the top of the bodice and wrap around the neck. If your arms and shoulders are one of your better features, this is the perfect neckline for you. If you’re broad shouldered, you should think about looking at other options.
Yep, you guessed it. The off-the-shoulder neckline sits off your shoulders, highlighting your fabulously sculpted collarbone. This style is great for brides who want the feel of a strapless, without baring too much skin. It’s also a great alternative if your house of worship frowns upon strapless gowns. And brides with more cleavage to manage will get the added support of the off-shoulder straps. But if you’re broad shouldered, consider checking out other avenues like square or scoop necklines.
Also called the Sabrina, this neckline follows your collarbone nearly straight across. It’s a great look for smaller busted brides, because it gives the appearance of a larger bosom. Broad-shouldered brides should move on because the bateau neckline will draw the eye up, therefore bringing more attention to the shoulders.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve got your chest covered. Congratulations! Now it’s time to head on down to the waistline of your gown. The waistline is one of the most important details to consider; the right one is flattering and the wrong one can be downright fattening. Here’s the skinny on which waistline is best for your body.
The very slimming Basque waist begins at the natural waist and dips to a slight V shape in the front. The shape elongates the torso, trimming the tummy and providing a sleek appearance. It looks especially stunning when paired with a sweetheart neckline, which makes it the perfect choice for fuller-figured and pear-shaped brides.
Falling lower across the hips, the dropped waist gown is a classic look for A-line and ball gowns. It adds curves to brides with thick waists, and is equally flattering to the ultra-thin. Most necklines look smashing with a dropped waist gown; just be sure you don’t have a long torso or the dropped waist might add too much length, making your legs appear short.
A natural waist gown falls right across the waist, and is a popular choice for brides of all shapes and sizes. If you have an hourglass figure, this is definitely the look for you because it accentuates your best attributes. If you tend to have a thicker waistline, you might want to look at a dropped or empire waist gown.
Now that the basics are before you in black and white, is your head spinning? Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed? Never fear, because the staff at the bridal salon is there to help you decipher the elements of the gown glossary. They’ll take an objective look at your figure, and help you choose a gown that will provide the most flattering fit. Keep in mind that they help women find gowns each and every day, and in many cases can recommend a gown that you might not have chosen on your own. But you have to do your part to make sure you’re getting an adequate representation of how each gown will look on your body. Besides brushing up on the basics, make sure you’re fully prepared for your day of shopping. Wear hose, a strapless bra, and shoes that have a similar heel to those you’ll wear on your special day. Then get out there and let the fun begin. With your knowledge of the basics and their expertise, we guarantee you’ll be able to find the perfect figure-flattering gown for your celebration.
The empire waist gown sports a tiny bodice and high waist that begins at the base of the bust line and falls to a slightly flared hemline. If you have a thicker waist, this is a very slimming gown for your silhouette because it softly skims your curves. If you have very full hips or a larger bust line, you should consider a different style.