For most, when asked to picture a wedding dress, the image that instantly springs to mind is a classic fairytale ballgown. And while this is a universal favourite that we’re sure will forever stand the test of time, there are numerous other styles of wedding dress to consider.
We, therefore, think it’s helpful to have a loose understanding of the different silhouettes available when starting your wedding dress search. Not only to assist you in narrowing down the options but also to know some of the lingo we bridal stylists might use during your boutique appointments.
Ultimately, the style of wedding dress you choose will likely come down to several factors, including your body shape, personal style and the type of wedding you’re planning. But during your first bridal boutique appointment, we’d always advise you to keep an open mind and try on a range of different shaped dresses.
You see, it’s not just about how the dress looks, but also how it makes you feel! You want to be comfortable and confident and for your gown to align with your overall bridal and big day vision. Furthermore, you need to be able to move in your dress to kneel at the altar, embrace your guests, and unleash your inner Beyonce on the dancefloor!
And so, to help you know your sheaths from your slips, here’s our quick guide to the main styles of wedding dresses.
Six Top Wedding Dress Styles
Let’s begin with that timeless classic that we all know and love…the ballgown! Its traditional shape emits full-on Disney princess vibes, with a structured bodice which finishes at the waist before giving way to a voluminous skirt.
It may be a wedding dress silhouette staple, but that doesn’t mean it’s restricted in terms of style as we see this bridal favourite reinvented by designers season after season.
Body shapes it suits: This wedding dress style is particularly popular with hour-glass shaped brides as it offers structure on the top half whilst accentuating the waistline. It can also work well for fuller busted brides as it balances their frame.
Brides who love it: Those searching for timeless elegance or romantic fairytale vibes will likely fall head-over-heels for the eternal beauty of a ballgown. Modern takes on this classic design mean that ballgowns also appeal to contemporary brides who crave a little drama, as well as sultry touches like high leg splits and deep necklines.
Our top Little Pearl Dress Pick: Astrid by Abella Bridal
The pretty people-pleaser equivalent of the bridal world, A-lines offer a wonderfully classic silhouette that wins the hearts of so many brides. Less dramatic than a ballgown but equally dreamy, this type of dress follows an ‘A’ shape (no surprises there!) in that it's fitted on top and then flares out gently at the waist.
Body shapes it suits: This super flattering style of wedding dress complements most figures, from small petite frames to curvy and pear-shaped figures. It’s also effective in adding shape to athletic frames and can help to balance out broad shoulders.
Brides who love it: Often projecting pretty, girl-next-door-vibes, A-lines are particularly popular with those looking to achieve a simple, elegant bridal look as well as those wanting to err on the side of tradition.
Top Little Pearl Dress Pick: 7216 by Stella York
A sheath wedding dress has a beautifully-streamlined silhouette and offers an understated way for brides to flaunt their figure. Such designs fit snug to the body and appear in plain, lightweight fabrics but may have added detail in lace, cut-out or illusion panels.
You may also hear of ‘column’ wedding dress designs, which are similar to the sheath silhouette but tend to be crafted in heavier, more structured fabrics, such as taffeta or organza.
Body shapes it suits: As a more slimline silhouette, this wedding dress style tends to appeal to those with sleek, slender figures as well as those with smaller chests due to its unstructured nature.
Brides who love it: Those who crave simplistic elegance are often drawn to sheath style wedding gowns. Like slip dresses, they’re also a popular choice with those getting hitched overseas as they won’t blow your baggage allowance!
Top Little Pearl Dress Pick: Sorvete by Willowby By Watters
Fit & Flare
Sexier than an A-line but not quite as dramatic as a mermaid wedding dress, a fit and flare design can tick boxes for both elegance and high glamour. As the name suggests, the style is fitted across the bust, waist and hips and then flares gently at the thighs for a romantic yet stylish look.
Body shapes it suits: A fit and flare is another excellent option for hourglass figures as the design grips in all the right places. It can also win over athletic or rectangle body shapes looking to create curves.
Brides who love it: Body-confident brides wanting real wow-factor from their dress will love how this type of design highlights their shape whilst making a stylish bridal statement.
Top Little Pearl Dress Pick: Calvin by WToo
If you’re looking for a minimalist wedding dress, then a slip is it! Crafted in light, free-flowing fabric, this style of gown glides over the body and descends straight to the floor. The fit is flawless as it almost appears to ‘hang’ perfectly on a bride’s frame for a pared-back effortless look.
Body shapes it suits: Brides with sleek, slender figures tend to be drawn to slip dress designs. They also tend to work better for smaller-busted brides due to their unstructured nature.
Brides who love it: Chic and simplistic, a slip dress massively appeals to stylish brides who take a ‘less is more’ approach to their sartorial choices. Given its lightweight fabric, it’s also perfect for overseas ‘I dos’ in hot climates.
Top Little Pearl Dress Pick: Pearl by Rachel Rose
Perhaps the most head-turning wedding dress style of them all…the mermaid gown! Its highly-impactful silhouette is fitted across the bust, tummy, hips, and waist before dramatically flaring out from the knee. The fabric of this type of gown varies from rich, structured Mikado to racy lace and dreamy tulle.
‘Trumpet’ wedding dresses are similar in shape but flare out more softly and from higher up the leg for a more understated bridal look.
Body shapes it suits: This is another design that accentuates curves so perfect for those who consider their best assets to be their boobs, booty, waistline…or all three!
Brides who love it: Those wanting to turn up the big day theatrics with a glamorous, sexy and head-turning look.
Top Little Pearl Dress Pick: Carmen by Abella Bridal
SIGN UP - Join our #PearlsGirls Club to be the first to hear about boutique news, exclusive offers and upcoming events. Simply scroll to the bottom of the page and submit your details via the form.