Wedding Dresses: The Five Classic Silhouettes of Wedding Gowns

Wedding Gowns

The most memorable part of your wedding involves walking down the aisle in your perfect dress. Do you think all wedding dresses are the same? While that would make your selection easier, there are six different silhouettes, which have different looks on varying body shapes.

Before focusing on the particulars of your dress, don't miss the forest for the trees, as the old expression goes. The first part of selecting your wedding dress involves the squint test, where you stand back, squint your eyes, and look at the shape of the dress as a whole. Different shapes are ideal for different people, so don't stereotype yourself into wearing a particular model of dress.


The A-line shape of wedding dress is a free flowing, simple shape with a fitted waist, which works best on a trim figure. Thinking of an hourglass is helpful in picturing the design. Of course, we don't all have an hourglass figure.

Ball Gown

If you grew up as a young girl with the memory of Cinderella at the ball and want a princess fairy-tale look, this is the dress for you. Ball gowns have a variety of waist shapes from basque, which is heart shaped at the hips, to rounded or cone shaped. This dress will work well for a skinny to modest waist line, although those with a modest bust will have a problem filling out this dress.


With more of a Snow White look, the empire dress is free flowing, although the bodice is cropped, which will not work for women with large busts.


The sheath is a narrow gown that works well for a wide variety of body shapes, whether skinny or overweight, top heavy or a little lacking. This dress is free flowing from bodice to floor, with a loose cut.

Slip Dress

A very plain dress, although the slip works quite well for modest busts and skinny, willowy figures. There is no cut for the bodice, which flatters sagging breasts.


An unorthodox choice, the mermaid dress is rarely seen in America. The waist is fitted and the dress down to the knees is a close cut, with a 'tail' which frills outwards below the ankles.

No matter what shape you decide, don't reject a shape because of minor details. You are selecting the silhouette, not the dress. Once this process is accomplished, you will have a much easier time narrowing down your wedding dress selection.

author: Juliane Anders

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