quick guide to wedding dress shapes and silhouettes

When you grow up spending summer holidays running around a dress factory then end up working for 7 years at a costume store you soon get very familiar with dress styles, shapes and silhouettes but for many of you I suspect the most you think about when it comes to dresses are they long, short or somewhere in between.

So where do you begin when choosing your wedding dress? With so many different styles and shapes to choose from, it can be a daunting task for even the most decisive of brides-to-be.

My mission for today therefore is to get you more silhouette savvy. Whilst you may not have a clue what suits you it will help you immensely if you have a basic understanding of some of the terminology of a bridal boutique – sometimes it really can seem like a different language entirely!
Don’t worry about the details at this stage they come later, the initial step to finding your perfect wedding dress is to discover the right silhouette or shape for you.

So here they are; the five main shapes everyone is talking about:

Princess or Ballgown Imagine a classic princess and you have the dress. As you would imagine these are larger dresses with full skirts, more often than not nipped in at the waist.

A-Line Again, quite literally as you may imagine – these are dresses with skirts the shape of a A, narrow on the waist going out to the floor. The only confusion with these dresses is that they can be narrow or wide. Usually these dresses have panels and are smooth in appearance.

Column Another self-explanatory shape if you think of a pillar or column of a beautiful building; tall and sleek. The column dress is just that, a long narrow dress.

Fishtail or Mermaid We all have an image of a mermaid in our heads; picture her standing up and you will see the silhouette referred to with these names. Both the fishtail and the mermaid dresses create that nipped in look with a fitted bodice to the knee then a sudden flare or kick.

Trumpet or Fit and Flare sometimes even referred to as a high Mermaid The final shape is again as it says but where and from is the question! These dresses have beautiful fitted bodices but this time, only down to the lower hip where they then flare out. This is a subtler flare than that of the mermaid or fishtail.

loose silk coloumn style weddign dress Quick guide to wedding dress shapes always andri wedding design

So hopefully now when you book your first dress appointments and the assistant asks what styles you like you will be able to make some suggestions with conviction.

If you’re looking for a bit more adivce on wedding dress shopping then do take a look at this post where I’ve rounded up some of the best blog posts on the web to help.

As always, if you have any questions or thoughts on your wedding dress shopping I’d love to hear back from you.

Photography: Julia and You, Dominique Bader Photography, Siobhan H Photography

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