When you start looking for a wedding dress there are many factors to consider. When you sit down with a stylist, one of the first questions she will ask you is what silhouette you want. Obviously you don’t have to have made a decision on a specific silhouette but it helps to have an idea of your preference and what will give you the look you want.
If you do a google search to help you research silhouettes, you will likely find a whole host of info-graphics depicting what silhouette to wear or not to wear based off you body type. To be honest, those graphics are useless: very few people actually fall into those narrow categories and even fewer share the opinions of the people who designed the graphics.
So, rather than tell you what you should wear, I’m going to tell you what each silhouette does for your overall look and let you decide if its what you want.
Gown: Tara Keely pic: via Instagram
A true ballgown is fitted on top with a heavily flared skirt. The waist is fitted and can fall anywhere from the rib cage to the low hip.
- Defines the waist where the gown changes from fitted to voluminous.
- Mask the hip/lower stomach area – which is sometimes desirable if your hip area is larger than you would like.
- “Cuts” the bride in half – especially with a waistline near the ribs. By separating the bodice from the skirt a bride tends to look more proportional. If there is a great deal of poof, a shorter bride’s frame may become overwhelmed.
- A larger skirt helps to balance out a top-heavy frame. This works well if you have broad shoulders or a large bust.
Characterized by a fitted bodice and tapered skirt, A line is a nearly universally flattering silhouette. Waistlines are most often found at the rib cage (natural or empire).
- Softly flared skirt hides a larger hip area and the stomach
- Balances out a slightly top heavy frame without the drama of a ballgown
- Defines a waist where the bodice meets the skirt
- Easy angles of the dress give the body a well proportioned look
- Gives the illusion of height
- Easiest silhouette to move in
Column gowns are aptly named. Defined by a straight cut, similar to a column. They can be tightly fitted to the hip or can fall straight from the waist line. Waist lines are on the rib cage (empire or natural).
- Creates the illusion of height
- Non-dramatic silhouette
- Works well if you have an hourglass silhouette as it shows off a naturally proportional silhouette
- Softly defined waist
- Creates the illusion of a well proportioned body
Fit to Flare
Fitted down to the low hip or high thigh and breaks into a soft or dramatic flare. This silhouette is often confused with trumpet but Fit to Flares hit much higher on the leg and don’t restrict movement.
- Shows off the waist, hips and upper part of your butt
- Flares above- and therefore hides- the biggest part of the thigh
- Shows off a flat stomach or an hourglass figure
Trumpet gowns are named because the flare of the skirt is like the spout of a trumpet: soft and round. The flare should hit just above the knees on a true trumpet gown.
- Shows off the waist, hips, butt and thighs
- Depending on the fabric can be quite restricting
- Draws attention to the hips and stomach
- Not as dramatic as a mermaid
- Will make a large bust or broad shoulders look larger
Fitted through the entire length of the body until the knees or just below. It then flares quite dramatically, giving the illusion of a mermaid’s fins.
- Most restricting silhouette
- Makes a short frame seem even shorter
- Draws attention to every curve
- Makes a big bust or wide shoulders seem larger
In the most recent seasons, it has become increasingly difficult to find “true” mermaid silhouettes. The flares have been moving higher as most brides want to have free range of movement. The biggest difference has become the volume of flare on the skirt. Mermaids are considerably bigger.
That is the long and the short of it. The breakdown of all major bridal silhouettes. Any questions? Comments? Emotional outbursts?
If I can give you one piece of advice on top of all of this information: If you aren’t sure about a silhouette…. just try it on. More often than not, brides are happily surprised.
Until next time,