Fashion Friday – Wedding Gown Style Guide

Beyonce glowed in this ballgown style wedding dress by Baracci Beverly Hills in her Best Thing I Never Had video.

Let’s face it: Style terminology used in the wedding industry often leaves brides-to-be (even more) stressed and confused. Triple B to the rescue! Keep this lil’ cheat sheet handy the next time you or someone in your circle goes dress shopping.

First and foremost, the word silhouette refers to the overall cut of a gown. It’s the most vital element to focus on, because a gown’s shape is its foundation and generally sets the mood for the entire look. The fitted bodice and full bell-shaped skirt of the ball gown, for example, gives a princess-like presence. More form-fitting styles, like the A-line and sheath, offer a less traditional appeal. The A-line elongates the line of the body but is still a great option for the classic bride. The sheath ups the ante on wedding-dress sex appeal, creating a sleek yet modern option for the more daring bride.

The Ballgown

Ball Gown The most traditional of all shapes, the ballgown is typified by a fitted bodice and natural or dropped waistline that leads to a very full skirt. Pleats or gathers in the skirt are what make it a ballgown.GOOD FOR:skinny minnies (adds curves) and pear shapes (the skirt hides everything)

BAD FOR: the petite (the excess fabric can overwhelm tiny frames) and those with a lot on top (you might end up looking round)

The Sheath

Sheath A modern sexier take on the traditional wedding gown, the sheath closely follows the curves of the body.GOOD FOR: the tall and thin as well as the slim and petite (the lean shape adds length)BAD FOR: anyone who feels like they have something to hide

The A-line

A-Line As the name implies, an A-line cut is narrow at the top, cut close to the ribcage, and extends out along the body in the shape of a triangle (or ‘A’) in a smooth, elongated line. A popular skirt option, it looks beautiful on a variety of body types. The lines of the skirt are usually clean. The princess cut is exemplified by vertical seams going from the bust to the hem. Another take is the circle skirt, a very wide A-line with a full skirt.GOOD FOR: most body types

BAD FOR: almost no one

Here are some other styles that you’re likely to encounter in the search for your perfect wedding dress:

Bias Cut

This style is ideal for brides with petite frames. The narrow figure-hugging bodice dramatically flows out from the knee to provide a beautiful fish tail effect train.


This is the most traditional and one of the most glamorous styles. It designed to make the bride look extra special. The dress has a fitted bodice and a floating full skirt that brushes the floor.

Two piece straight

This style consists of a corseted bodice and separate skirt. It works well for those who are not necessarily in proportion.


This style flows from the fitted bodice to skirt without defining lines which makes it look great on nearly all shapes and sizes. It is particularly good for brides who may have shorter torsos, since it elegantly elongates the frame.

[Special thanks to Savile Row Wedding Boutique.]

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