What defines a dream wedding dress? For most brides, the simple answer is a design that makes them both look and feel amazing! So, when it comes to the wedding dress search, the initial appearance of a gown is only part of the quest. It’s the trying-on that’s going to seal the deal as whether it’s the one. The dress needs to work with not only your personal style, but your body shape too.
Questions around what wedding dress styles will best suit what figures are amongst the most frequently asked by our brides. You want to know how to shop for your body type, what silhouettes will compliment your figure, how to enhance your favourite features and disguise any body hang-ups.
And so, in this post, ladies, we’re going to be answering those very questions by looking at what styles of wedding gowns are best suited to different body types. Furthermore, we’re sharing some of our top #PearlsGirls wedding dress shopping tips that will help smooth the pathway to finding that dream design, ticking boxes for both comfort and confidence!
We’re talking about bridal gown shapes, structure, fabrics, necklines and more, but first, a few initial points to note in those wedding planning journals.
It’s our primary aim to empower all women to rock their body shapes as they are and I say with total confidence that we can help you find a dress that flatters and enhances your figure. However, if you wish to lose weight prior to your wedding, then hold off dress shopping until you’re closer to your target. Talking from experience, you won’t know exactly how your body will change or where the weight will come off and so it could be tricky picking the right silhouette if continuing to drop dress sizes.
That said, it’s also essential to bear in mind that you’re shopping for shape and not a particular size. In the world of bridal fashion, sizes vary a lot, and so sample dresses in boutiques will very rarely fit anyone perfectly. It’s about finding the right gown style for your shape and then working with a professional seamstress to ensure the perfect fit.
Ok, so we’re going to look at the main body types here, providing guidance and top design picks of dresses that will work well with each. You can also take bits from the different sections to build an outline for your individual body type. So perhaps you’re petite, athletic with a small bust.
Once you’ve narrowed down the shapes that will work best for you, the foundations are in place. You can then build on this via other design elements, such as fabric, detailing, and colour, to help bring together your desired big day look.
For tall ladies, it’s a question of if you’re looking to embrace that height or would prefer to minimise it, say if your partner is on the shorter side. For those happy to stand tall, beautiful sheath and column dresses can be incredibly flattering, drawing the eye line vertically. Meanwhile, if you’re wanting to visually reduce your height, it’s best to break the body up by opting for a gown with a statement neckline, a sash or belt or a fit-and-flare, A-line or ballgown shape that draws attention to the waist. Long-legged brides might also want to consider a dress with a leg split to show off those killer pins!
My top pick: Imperial Topaz by Dando London
The perfect shape wedding dress for short or petite framed brides tend to be on the simpler side, so nothing too bulky or voluminous that will cause overwhelm. For brides wanting to accentuate their curves, mermaid, trumpet and A-lines that skim over the body will all work well. If you’re looking to create the illusion of height, low necklines will help elongate the neck, while vertically running patterns and detailing will help ‘stretch’ out the body. Sheath and column dresses with vertical seams will have a similar effect. As a short bride, you won’t want to feel overpowered by your dress, so opt for light, flowing and fuss-free fabrics rather than heavily layered designs.
My top pick: Love Affair by Dando London
Pear / Triangle Brides
For pear and triangle-shaped brides, the ideal bridal gown will be one that helps balance out your proportions. So, in this case, you’re going to want to draw attention to your top half, perhaps through a bold neckline or intricate detailing, cinch in at the waist and flow out over the hips. In which case, ballgowns and A-lines can work well for pear body types. The trick, however, is not to go too heavy material-wise on the bottom half, so keep to soft, light fabrics with dreamy movement.
My top pick: Cloud by Rachel Rose
Athletic / Rectangle Brides
You brides with athletic figures will generally be looking to create the illusion of curves in your choice of wedding dress. As such, A-lines, mermaid and fit-and-flare style designs are generally the most favoured options. On the top half, look to create interest with detailing, be it embroidery, lace or embellishment, cinch in at the waist with a belt or sash, and look to soften the neck area - so avoid strapless and consider halter necklines instead. On the bottom half, if you have features you want to show off, like a great bum, go for figure-hugging dresses that will grip in the right places. Meanwhile, if you would prefer a more classic or princess look, designs with tiered skirts are great for enhancing your silhouette.
My top pick: Style 6916 by Stella York
Possibly the most-wanted figure of the decade, thanks to the likes of Kimmy K, the hourglass figure is usually defined by having hips and shoulders of similar width, a fuller bust and smaller waistline. Therefore dress shopping as an hourglass-shaped bride is all about balance...and no doubt showing off those curves! So, a corsetted ballgown will offer excellent structure and accentuate your slender waist, while a mermaid gown will flatter in all the right places - bum, boobs and waist! I’d say to avoid column and sheath dresses that could camouflage rather than compliment such assets. Neckline-wise, a sweetheart will frame your bust beautifully.
My top pick: Chloe by Rachel Rose
Inverted Triangle Bride
As an inverted triangle-shaped bride, you will have broad shoulders with a narrower waist and slim hips. The aim for you is to soften the shoulder and chest area with delicate fabric, such as tulle or lace, and look to balance out your smaller bottom half by adding some volume and shape. As such, fuller-skirted ballgowns and A-lines are flattering for inverted triangle body types, and fit-and-flare tea-length dresses can also work well. Vertical detailing will help to draw the gaze up and down, rather than side to side, and so v-necklines are generally a top choice too.
My top pick: Galatea by Willowby Waters
Small-chested brides tend to go one of two ways - you will either want to enhance your bust area or embrace your more modest chest by seizing the opportunity to wear a dress design that doesn’t require a bra. For those in camp A, it’s a case of looking for gowns that have visual interest on the bodice, such as embellishment, embroidery, ruching, pleating to draw the eye. Meanwhile, camp B brides can look to silk bias-cut gowns that skim over the body or backless or deep plunging necklines with no solid structure. Small busted brides also have the option of having bra cups sewn into a gown if you’re looking to boost the chest area or feel uncomfortable with zero support.
My top pick: Snow by Rachel Rose
The best type of wedding dress for full-busted brides is going to be one with excellent structure. So we’re talking gowns with great corsetry that will be both supportive and comfortable. It’s best to avoid high-necklines and instead look to off-the-shoulder or wide strap designs with sweetheart or v-necklines. Structured fabrics will be your friend over floaty materials, and backless gowns are likely to be out if wearing a bra. Mermaid gowns are a gorgeous option if keen to highlight your curves, but otherwise, classic ballgown and A-line shapes will help balance out your top and bottom half.
My top pick: Style 3369w by Allure Bridals
#PearlsGirls Wedding Dress Shopping For Body Type Tips:
Prior Research - Before booking any bridal boutique appointments, look at wedding dress shapes online and in magazines to see what you’re most drawn to. In particular, real wedding features are great for seeing what similar shape brides to you have chosen.
Wardrobe Raid - Looking at the clothes in your everyday wardrobe will remind you what shapes, necklines and materials work best for your body type.
Stylist Knowledge - When attending bridal boutiques, trust the team. We’re experts in our field and have dressed numerous brides of varying figures and know what works well for different shapes.
Remain Open-Minded - Be prepared to try on various shaped dresses to help narrow down your likes and dislikes; you might just be surprised at what you fall in love with!
Move Around - You won’t be static on your wedding day, so when trying on gowns, remember to move! Walk, sit, kneel...dance! You don’t want to be restricted.
Above All - To go back to our original point, a dream dress needs to both LOOK and FEEL fabulous, and so it must be comfortable, make you feel confident and increase the excitement for your big day to come!