Best Wedding Gown Shapes for Your Figure (Buying Guide w/ Photos)

Which wedding gown style or shape (silhouette) is for your figure? That’s what you’ll find out in this article. Because women’s bodies come in different shapes, bridal gown designers specifically cut and sew different wedding dresses to suit particular body shapes. That’s why you’ll notice that some wedding gowns look similar in shape (a.k.a silhouettes), irrespective of the sleeves or necklines. Not having this knowledge of the different wedding dress shapes (and the one made for your figure) will make you spend hours and days trying on every wedding gown in the shops before finding the ones that look good on your figure.  For brides abroad, most wedding shop attendants are trained to know the perfect wedding gown silhouette/ styles that fit different women shapes, and so they make it easier and faster for brides to find their ‘it dress’ when shopping. But here in Nigeria, not many wedding gown shop attendants have this knowledge, and that’s why it’s important for the bride herself to know. Hence, the need for this article. Read on.

choosing wedding gown for your body shape

Image Credit: @jideodukoya /Instagram

When trying to help you, the first question that salespersons at any wedding dress shop you walk into will ask you is either ‘what type of wedding gown are you looking for’? or ‘what exactly are you looking for?’ What if you could just walk into any bridal shop and confidently tell them the shapes of wedding gowns you want – so that shop salespersons can focus on bringing you only the more-likely-to-fit dresses to try on. That should save you (and them) time and stress.

Do you know which wedding gown shape or style that suits your type of body shape? You’ll find out in this post. There are so many different wedding dress silhouettes or shapes in the market, but not all of them will look good on your own body shape.  For every bride, there are one or more styles of wedding dress designed with her type of perfect in mind.  In short, there’s a wedding dress style or cut and shape made just for your body shape, as you’ll soon discover here.  In this post, I can help you figure out the wedding gown shape/ silhouette that will flatter your figure – with pictures of what they look like. Read on to find out.

How Women’s Body Types and Shapes Are Categorized for Dress Sizing Labels

For the most part of this article, the words ‘shape’ and ‘body type’ are mentioned. So, it only makes sense to explain what I mean when I used each term. Both terms are generally used in fashion circles, and sometimes on outfit labels to help a buyer know the dress size and proportions.

  • Body Type Categories: Every woman’s body has a type that falls in these categories – petite, medium, curvy.
  • Women’s Body Shape Categories: Women’s body shapes are categorized as pear-shaped, apple, slim or straight.
    • pear-shaped figure (i.e. slim upper body and full lower body, with small busts and tiny waists)

Long women’s dresses, especially bodycon or fitted gowns are designed with specific body shapes in mind. Wedding gowns are traditionally long and fitted to an extent (loosely or tight) and so a buyer or bride, in this case, needs to know the body shape a dress they’re considering is made for, in order to know if it would look good on her own body.

How to Choose the Wedding Gowns that Suits Your Body Type

1. Ball Gowns: Type of Body Shape it is For & Who Should Avoid it

Also known as the ‘Cinderella dress’, the ball gown style of wedding dress looks good on many body shapes, but best for brides who are generally slender or for brides who are slimmer on top (i.e. pear shape with a slim waist and generally on the bodice area).

Who Should Wear Ball Wedding Gowns: If you have a straight-line shape and little or no hips, the full skirt of a ball gown will perfectly hide your lack of hips and generally enhance your figure.  Ball gowns also suit curvy women – if you have curvy hips or big backside but don’t want to highlight it, a ball gown can help you hide your curves and keep them away from being the attention.  Ball gowns are not fitted below the waist and so are great for hiding fat hips or fat thighs if you don’t want to show them; so, if you don’t want a wedding gown that is fitted from below the waist (i.e. around the hips), the ball gown is a good option for you.

RELATED: Different Types of Wedding Gown Sleeves and the Right One For You

AVOID IF: The ball gown style is not suitable for women who are bigger on top, because the fullness of the skirt part of the ball gown can make you appear bigger (than you actually are).  Ball gowns are not suitable for some short or (smallish) petite women because a very full-skirt ball gown can make it seem like the dress swallowed her and make the bride appear shorter.  You want to look perfect in your wedding dress, and not looking like the dress is wearing you.

STYLING TIP: If you’re short or petite and like a ball gown for your wedding, go for one with a not-very-full skirt part, like the one this bride wore.  In short, if you have a small body-frame, avoid ball gown wedding dress styles, because it could overwhelm (or swallow) your entire frame, making it look like the dress is wearing you. You want a dress that will flatter your body, and there are other silhouette styles to try – every woman’s figure has a wedding gown shape and style designed to perfectly suit her.

Appropriate for What Type of Wedding? Ball gowns are most suitable for formal weddings, big, society weddings or over-the-top owambe style weddings.  That is not to say that (if you like) you can’t wear the ball gown or any type of wedding gown if you’re planning a small or low-key wedding – hey, it’s your wedding and we’ve seen many brides not follow the rules.

2. Princess-Cut or A-Line Wedding Gowns: Who Should Wear it & Who Should Avoid it

Also known as the Princess cut dress, the A-Line style of wedding gown looks good on all body types (petite, average, big) and shapes.  The cut of the A-Line silhouette will make you appear slimmer and taller, and also look like you are more curvy at the hips – therefore, A-line gowns look good on smallish (petite) or slim brides.

The A-line cut also hides big tummy or big hips or large backside, making those from-waist-to-hips body areas appear smaller than they actually are.  Therefore if you have a roundish body or if you’re bigger below and want to look slimmer, choosing an A-line wedding gown will enable you to achieve that.  Since this silhouette hides a big lower body, curvy brides who desire to hide their curves or make it appear smaller will find the A-line cut flattering on their figure.

RELATED: 17 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips to Avoid Mistakes & Save Money

Suitable for What Type of Wedding? A-line style of wedding gowns are suitable for every type of wedding ceremony, whether a simple low-key wedding or a small wedding or a big, society wedding or a luxurious owambe style wedding.   However, A-line cut wedding dresses are most appropriate for formal weddings.

3. Sheath/ Column Wedding Dress Style: Best Body Shape for & Who Should Avoid it

Also known as column wedding gowns, sheath wedding dresses look good on any type of body shape but they look best on I-shaped slim women with slender figures. If you have a straight-line shape with no visible curves, wearing a sheath style wedding gown will create an illusion of curves where you have none (thanks to the curving part of the style).

WHO IS IT FOR? Sheath or Column wedding gowns look good on petite (smallish/ slender) brides who have small frames. That’s because the narrow/ straight-cut of the sheath silhouette wedding dress will make them appear taller than they actually are.  If you have an hourglass figure (curvy) and want to show off your shape, a sheath wedding dress will also work for you – because it hugs onto the outlines of the body and highlights every curve.

AVOID IF: Sheath or column wedding gown styles do not look good on full-figured (plus size) brides.  Also, women who have a pear-shaped figure (i.e. slim upper body and full lower body, with small busts and tiny waists) should avoid this style of wedding gowns, because it could make your already-big lower body appear bigger it actually is.


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About Stella Anokam

Stella is the founder and Editor of this blog (NaijaGlamWedding). Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Submit your photos to be featured - it's FREE, because we love everything weddings, bridal showers, engagement shoots.

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