Wedding Dress by Body Type

How to Choose Your Wedding Dress by Body Type: 6 Important Tips

If you’re reading this, most likely you have a wish list for your wedding gown and just can’t wait to try on every dress you can get your hands on. But how to choose the perfect gown for you is even more important. Wedding dresses aren’t like regular clothes, but your body shape and silhouette still count. The good news is, if you’re one of the Classic Fabulous Fruits—Apple Shape, Pear, Hourglass, even Rectangle, which has gained popularity as “The Banana” thanks to stars like Meryl Davis, the ice dancer—or a combination of shapes, wedding dresses are built to flatter.

And whether wedding dress shopping is at the top of your priority list, or put it off until 2 weeks before your wedding day, choosing a wedding gown is never an easy task. Though some girls know what they’re looking for and can purchase a gown in a snap, others struggle to find a dress that brings out their personal style, and that best flatters their figure.

Not to worry, though. We’ve made it easier for you to choose the perfect wedding dress for your body type. Read on!

Brides come in all different shapes, sizes, and preferences. Some are fairly certain that they know what’s best for them.

Others make multiple wedding dress appointments, try on dress after dress, but still never find the one that seems to please. Whatever type of bride you are, though, we want you to look good, but most of all, feel good on your big day.

One simple way to limit your dress options is to find the best silhouette to fit your shape. Specifically, you want to complement your assets and downplay whatever you’re not thrilled with. So to start, let’s figure out what body type you are:

Pear? Apple? Hourglass?

Next: Are you tall, slender, petite, well-endowed?

Not to worry if you don’t know the answers. Here’s our premiere guide to help you find your perfect silhouette:

  • Petite
Wedding Dress by Body Type

Most petite brides aim for a dress silhouette to give the illusion of being a few inches taller. If this is you, opt for a modified A-line gown with a waistline slightly above your natural waist, making the skirt of the gown longer than the bodice. A gentle fit and flare gown is another go-to option for your body type, especially if you can wear a shoe with a bit of a heel. Some bridal stylists recommend floaty, chiffon goddess-style wedding gowns with unbroken lines to elongate your frame. For some flair, try adding some beading or floral details to your dress!

You might want to avoid a noticeably dropped waist, as it will shorten your legs. A classic Cinderella ball gown can also have a shortening effect unless you’re comfortable in very tall heels. One stunning option is a short dress worn with pumps or sling backs. The short hem will show off your slim legs, the low vamp shoes will lengthen, and you can choose any skirt from full and fluffy to pencil-straight, just so long as the hem hits above mid-calf.

Tip: If you’re a petite bride who still craves a sweeping train, order a “cathedral length” veil. Keep the bulk of the veil sheer but add beautiful lace embellishments if you wish. The veil can be swept out in front of you for formal pictures and then be removed so you can move more freely at your reception.

Find inspiration for this in Witney Carson’s wedding video on YouTube. She’s only 5-foot-3 but look at that veil!

  • Pear Shaped
Wedding Dress by Body Type

If you’re a luscious Pear body type, you have wonderfully generous hips. Depending on your preference, you can either flaunt your curves in a mermaid or fit and flare gown and then choose any neckline, fabric, and hemline that you please.

Or if you want to downplay that area, look for an A-line gown with a slightly higher waistline. The flared skirt narrows your waist, flowing away from the hips and lower body. If you feel an A-line is a bit too much on the formal side, you can dress it down with a chiffon overlay or a more casual lace.

As for the neckline, you could opt for a strapless gown, but if you want to slenderize your upper body, go with a spaghetti strap or V-neckline. All that taken into consideration, a beautiful Pear such as yourself can glow in a dress with as much generous detail and texture as you want and your gown will still slenderize your silhouette.

  • Generous Bosom
Wedding Dress by Body Type

Most women, no matter their shape, tend to dress a bit more conservatively for their wedding. Some even go for styles that either minimize their bust or hide it completely. It’s all up to personal choice.

This body shape is sometimes called an Inverted Triangle, so if you want a little more coverage, a dress with a scoop neck may be perfect choice because it shows less cleavage but is still elegant. You might also prefer a gown in silk, satin or organza that are more constructed fabrics. Consider straps or sleeves for added support and to help highlight your shape in all the right places. You might also want to opt for a sweetheart neckline or a wide V-neckline, as straight necklines sometimes aren’t quite as flattering.

Also, keep in mind that you’ll want a fitted bodice with good interior structure for a beautifully polished look.

  • Plus Size
Wedding Dress by Body Type

Plus sized brides sometimes find their sample choices limited due to most bridal boutiques’ limited selection. However, you should still be able to find some basic silhouettes.

Consider an empire gown with a skirt that flows from just below the bust into a floor length A-line. This will give you height and a sleek line. Too much ruching can add bulk, but a small amount on the diagonal can be stunning. Be wary of under-the-bust vertical pleats or gathered fabric lines, and unless you love the unfettered goddess look, consider styles and fabrics with more construction.

One of the most beautiful looks is an empire waistline with an A-line skirt of any style (fluffy or sleek) and a bolero, sleeved jacket, or shrug. Remember, though, it’s entirely up to you whether you want a dress that’s loose and flowing or a more formal gown that’s sleek and constructed.

  • Tall
Wedding Dress by Body Type

If you’re a beautiful bride on the tall side, keep the dress silhouette simple to emphasize your shape. Look for a gown with a drop waist and a floor-sweeping hem to balance your legs and torso. Then, if you wish, go all out and add as long a train as you dare.

You might want to be careful of embellishments so as not to look too costumelike, but a dramatic cape sweeping from your shoulders can be breathtaking.

If you want long sleeves, make sure they’re hemmed past your wrists. Also, if you wish to highlight your throat and décolleté, choose either a sleeveless gown or one with spaghetti straps.

  • Hourglass
Wedding Dress by Body Type

Just about any silhouette looks beautiful on an Hourglass bride. With shoulders and hips in perfect balance, a sheath will show off your figure’s assets while still streamlining you from head to toe making you look tall and sleek. You can go all out and be a fairytale princess or an elegant, classy queen for a day with a full ball gown complete with a bell skirt and an embellished bodice.

However, for brides who want to really rock their curves, nothing beats a mermaid or trumpet gown. This body-hugging, waist-accentuating silhouette will be beautiful in all the right places.

The only caveat for Hourglass brides is to avoid an empire waist gown (it won’t show off your beautifully slim waist to best advantage). And if you prefer to draw less attention to your bust line, choose something other than a sweetheart neckline.

In the end, whatever your body style, remember that your preference rules. Don’t let family, friends, or even your fiancé override your heart. Not all brides believe they know what looks best for them, so start by trying on dresses of your personal choice. If you begin to feel your choices aren’t working, then do solicit opinions from professionals like your bridal retail consultant.

The most important factor when it comes to your wedding gown is your heart. Wear the dress that feels fabulous on your body and that makes you feel beautiful when you look in the mirror.

Our guidelines are just that: Guides. We’re only relating what has worked well for others with particular body types. But don’t take just our word for it. Get out there, do your own research, dive into the chase, and try on as many different dresses as you want. You never know—maybe you’ll find that The Perfect Wedding Dress for You wasn’t anything at all like you expected!

To see our DaVinci Style guide, click here:

For a very interesting study on combination body shapes, check this out:

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