Like every dress, wedding gowns are cut and sewn to form specific shapes on the body (aka silhouette), which gives the dress its overall shape and style. There’s a specific wedding gown silhouette for every body shape, and knowing yours in advance will make shopping for your dream dress easier and faster.
Imagine this: You enter a bridal store and then asked ‘shich wedding gown style are you looking to buy? Mermaid style wedding gown, Trumpet style, ball gown style, empire waist or sheath style wedding gown?’ If you don’t know what any or all of those wedding gown styles/ silhouettes looks like, this post is for you.
The Basic Wedding Gown Shapes & Styles by their Names (w/ Photos)
There are a few basic wedding gown shapes or cuts and each one has a name – it’s highly recommended that every bride know them. Below is a detailed guide with descriptions and images of the different basic wedding gown styles/ silhouettes. After reading this post, you should be able to ask for any wedding gown by saying its name, and you should also get an idea of the best wedding gown style for your figure. Swipe or scroll down to continue.
The 6 Basic Wedding Gown Shapes or Silhouettes by Names
#1. A-Line Wedding Dress Style or Silhouette
STYLE NOTES: Dresses with A-line wedding gown silhouettes are basically shaped like the capital letter A on their skirt area. An A-line wedding gown is one that is fitted around the top (i.e. the bodice) and it gradually widens or flares out from the waist down to the hemline (or floor, for long ones). A-line wedding gowns can come in any type of sleeves and can also have any length of ‘train’, but the basic shape (or silhouette) of the dress is the capital letter ‘A’. Talking about who fitting, the A-line gown highlights the waistline and also makes the body appear curvy. This type of wedding dress (shape) silhouette looks good on any body shape.
- Don’t know what a wedding gown train is? Find out here => Wedding Gown Trains: Their Names and Styles
- SEE MORE: 17 Tips to Find the Right Wedding Gown Faster
#2. Ball Gown Wedding Dress Style or Silhouette
STYLE NOTES: Ball gown wedding dress silhouettes are basically very full and puffy, shaped like a ball in their skirt area. The ball gown wedding dress style is tightly fitted at the bodice and has a very full skirt area that starts from the waistline. The ball wedding gowns remind us of Cinderella’s dress (in the movie); it has a big and full skirt part and the waistline is very prominent, because it’s body-hugging on the top part, down to the waistline.
Ball gown wedding dresses are available in different styles of sleeves and necklines and also come in different train lengths. Therefore, you can find a ball wedding gown with a round neck, another with off-shoulder neck and so on. You can also find a ball gown with long sleeves and another with three-quarter sleeves. Also, some ball wedding gowns stop just at floor-length while some have longer trains that sweep the floor behind. Different ball gown styles will appeal to different brides.
- What’s the meaning of a bodice? Find out here => Wedding Gown Bodice: Types and the Right One for Your Figure
- SEE ALSO: Wedding Gown Sleeves: The Types & Best One for Your Figure
#3. Mermaid Wedding Gown Style
Mermaid shape wedding dresses are tight-fitting from the top down to the knees, where it starts to flare out downward to the floor, looking like a mermaid’ or fishtail (fish-tail is what some Nigerian tailors call mermaid style skirts). Mermaid style wedding gowns are designed in sorted sleeve styles and necklines, and also made in different train lengths, but their basic shape/ silhouette is the same.
Note that mermaid style wedding gowns look similar to trumpet (aka fit and flare) gowns, but it is slightly different. The flares of a trumpet or fit-n-flare wedding gown begin higher up than in mermaid gowns. I wrote a post on how to spot the differences, with picture illustrations, and the types of figures each one is best for. If you’re interested, you should definitely see that post.
- FIND OUT: Mermaid Wedding Gown Style vs Trumpet Style AND Ball Gown Style vs A-Line Wedding Gown: What the Difference?
#4. Trumpet Wedding Dress or Fit and Flare Wedding Gown Silhouette
The fit and flare wedding gown, also known as trumpet wedding gown silhouette, is tight-fitting from the top or bodice to the mid-thigh (below the hips), from where it flares outward to the hem of the dress. The shape of this wedding gown from the hip area resembles an upside-down trumpet (see images below). The trumpet or fit and flare wedding gown style is tight-fitted from the chest to the hips, and so shows the outlines and curvings of the bride’s body. Trumpet wedding dresses are available in different styles of sleeves and necklines and also come in different train lengths. Trumpet wedding gown may be a suitable style for you if you have a curvy figure and want to show off your hip curves.
The fit and flare style or wedding gown looks similar to the fishtail or mermaid wedding gown – they are both tight at the top/ body and have a flared skirt area. The difference is that the flares in the mermaid wedding gown flares start from below the knees.
Fit-n-flare wedding gowns are sexy and similar to the mermaid or fishtail wedding dress style, in the way they are fitted at the top and flares downward. The difference between the fit-n-flare wedding gown silhouette and the mermaid silhouette is where each one starts to flare: the flare on the fit-n-flare silhouette starts from the thigh area, WHILE the flare on mermaid silhouette starts from the knees, just like fish-tail.
#5. Column (Sheath) Silhouette: Wedding Gown Style
STYLE NOTES: The column silhouette, also known as sheath wedding gown silhouette, is a very simple style but elegant and sexy. This style of wedding dress resembles a slip dress, is tight-fitting and features a slim cut and I-shaped like a column, straight-down (from top to bottom). Sheath or column wedding gowns are usually made from soft fabrics which make sheath dresses to flow downwards. Sheath (or column) wedding gowns come in different styles of sleeves and necklines and also come in different train lengths. So, you can have sheath wedding gowns with no train or sheath wedding gown with a long trailing train. Also, you can see sleeveless sheath/ column wedding dresses and others with long sleeves. Likewise, you can find strapless sheath wedding gowns and some with t-shirt neck style. Every bride will have a different preference.
This is the style of wedding gown that Claire wore to get married to Akah Nnani. Hers had a removable waist cape that made it look like a princess-cut wedding gown, but when she removed the cape for their wedding reception party, it was fully a sheath style wedding gown. You can check out Akah and Claire’s wedding story to see her gorgeous dress.
Here is an easy way to recognize a sheath style wedding gown/ column dress: it is flowy-straight down from the neckline to the hem-line – does not have any flare or full skirt. Unlike other wedding gown silhouettes, in this style of the wedding gown, there are usually no horizontal cuts or joining that form the flares. That’s another way to quickly tell if a dress is sheath style – is there a cut/ join or flare at the skirt area?
The way the sheath wedding dress is cut makes it reveal all the outline, curves and contour of the body (including fat rolls and bumps). That’s because a sheath dress flows down smoothly like a slip dress. Column (Sheath) style wedding gowns do not have a flare at the skirt area – it is just long like a tube dress. Overall, this wedding gown style is not voluminous, as it has no flare at all.
- ALSO: Sheath Wedding Gown vs Mermaid Style: See The Difference
- 5 Things You Must Know Before Buying a Wedding Dress (to avoid expensive mistakes)
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Doesn’t she make a beautiful bride?! Congrats @greeneyesgoldsoul and @youngagbo on your recent nuptials! ❤️ . . . . Repost from @greeneyesgoldsoul – On 3.30.19, Ayodeji Newton Agbetola made me a WIFE. The highest title I’ve yet to hold. Please excuse me as I relive this day over and over in my head ☁️ Photo: @farranmanuel #blackbrides #blackbride #blackbride1998 #wedding #weddings #weddingphotography #weddinginspiration
MORE STYLING TIPS: A shapewear is a must of you to choose the sheath wedding dress. For more elegance, adding a bridal belt or sash to a column silhouette breaks it up to make the waistline more noticeable and gives an illusion of a more curvy figure at the hip area. Also, wearing a good shape-wear can help smoothen out your bumps and lumps, so that your sheath dress looks smooth.
#6. Empire Waist Wedding Dress Style
This characteristic of this wedding gown style is the high-waist that is right under the bust. Take a look at these images to observe where the waistline is.
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STYLE NOTES: Also known as ’empire line’ wedding gown, this is a high-waist wedding gown style, where the horizontal cut on the bodice area is right below the bust. In summary, the waist-cut of this style of wedding dress is positioned right under the bust. To identify if a dress is an empire gown, check whether the waistline’s horizontal cut is directly under the bust. Empire style gowns have a characteristic high waist that starts under the bust. The rest of the empire gown flows out fluidly from the bust area down to the hemline or floor. Empire waist wedding gowns come in different styles of sleeves and necklines and also come in different train lengths.
Who is it for? The high-waist characteristic of empire line wedding gowns makes this style perfect for hiding baby bump (pregnancy), and so they are well-loved by pregnant brides. That’s not to say that they don’t look good on non-pregnant brides. Empire waist wedding gown styles are also a popular choice with brides who are going for beach weddings, as the style is very simple and light-weight.
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SEE MORE WEDDING FASHION IDEAS:
- The Right Wedding Gown Train Length (7 Things to Consider When Choosing)
- Wedding Gown Sleeves Styles (Which is Right for You and Which to Avoid)
- Neckline Styles for Wedding Gowns (Which is Right for You and Which to Avoid)
- Latest Wedding Gown Styles in Nigerian
- Hottest Bridesmaid Dress Trends
- How to Make Your Chief Bridesmaid Dress Different & Stand Out (Pictures)
Conclusion: Choosing the Right Wedding Gown Shape (Silhouette)
The silhouette is the term used to describe the style, overall shape or cut of a wedding dress. When searching for the perfect wedding gown to buy, choosing the silhouette or dress shape is the best place to start from. Once you find the best wedding gown for your shape, you can then take your time to decide on what style of wedding gown train to go form, what neckline style of sleeves length or style.
The number of wedding gown shapes, styles, and designs at bridal shops can be overwhelming and confusing for many brides. You’ll have an easier, faster and stress-free shopping experience by getting familiar with the names and descriptions of popular wedding gown silhouettes (shapes and styles).
RECAP: There are 6 different types of wedding gown silhouettes/ styles, and they are: A-line, ball gown, empire waist style, column (or sheath), trumpet style (aka fit and flare) and mermaid silhouette style. When shopping for a wedding dress, the bridal shop assistant may ask you the name or description of the silhouettes you want to try on.
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HOW TO PICK A WEDDING DRESS FOR YOUR BODY TYPE. ——— When it comes to wedding dresses there are million and one styles and designs to chose from. From silhouettes, to necklines and fabric the options are endless. But the fact is not every wedding dress you love is suited for your body type. The female body type has been grouped into 5; 1. The Hourglass or Figure 8 ⏳ 2. The Pear 🍐 3. The Rectangle ◼️ 4. The Apple 🍎& 5. The Inverted Triangle 🔽. Which wedding dress fits each body type? – If you have an hour glass figure you can wear all types of wedding dresses from Ball gowns to Mermaid styles. – For rectangle shaped ladies all types of wedding dress styles look good on them except the Mermaid style. – Pear 🍐😍 shaped ladies will pull off Mermaid dresses 👗 perfectly 👌 – Apple shaped ladies would look great in A-Line and empire wedding dress styles. – While, ladies with an inverted triangle shape can rock all dress styles minus the Mermaid and Sheath style. Got any questions? Please share them in the comments section. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #weddingdresstypes #weddingdressideas #weddingdressstyles #weddingdressshop #weddingdressdesign #weddingdressng #sellyourweddingdress #usedweddingdresses #onlinebridalboutique #mermaidweddingdress #ballgownweddingdress #sheathweddingdress #empireweddingdress #nigeriantopweddings #weddingsonpoint #preownedweddingdressesinlagos #brideonabudget #brideonabudgetnigeria #africansweetheartweddings #africanluxuryweddings #weddingdressinspo #weddingdressgoals #weddingdressideas #next2newbridal #lagosbridalstore
Hopefully, you have now started thinking of the wedding dress by the names of the styles or cut. I also hope with the pictures of the different bridal gown styles, you can recognize wedding gown shape (silhouette) when you go shopping. I hope this post gives you an idea of the wedding dress cuts and styles to ask for when shopping, and also the styles that could look good on your figure.
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Now, tell me: which style of wedding gown styles is your favourite? If you’ve already bought your wedding dress, what style did you settle on? Comment down below to tell me – let’s get the discussion going.