Wedding Dress SilhouetteWedding Dress TerminologyWedding Dresses 101

Wedding Dresses 101: A Guide to Choosing The Best Bridal Silhouette

Wedding Dresses 101: A Guide to Choosing The Best Bridal Silhouette


Chances are if you are searching for your wedding dress you have visited your local bridal boutique to try on gowns. While you are shopping and trying on, you might hear lots of terms you’ve never heard before. Something along the lines of, “This is a Trumpet Gown, with a basque waist and a Plunging-V neckline embellished with Alencon Lace.” If sentences like that leave you wondering, “Ummm…what was that? Something, something…Lace????” we are here to help.

We launched our Wedding Dresses 101 series just to keep you informed about all the bridal terminology. This handy guide will help you familiarize yourself with all the different dress silhouettes. And if you are thinking to yourself, “Okay great, but I don’t even know what a silhouette is.” It’s simple, in basic terms a dress silhouette is what you see as you take your first glance at a dress – the outline of the dress. Silhouettes dictate how gowns fit and flatter a body, so it will be super beneficial to know which shape will look best on you. That said, we think you should try any silhouette gown you are drawn too. After all, it’s your day and your dress. And, rules are meant to be broken! Visit your local bridal boutique to find your silhouette.


Alluring A-Line dresses are one of the most flattering gown silhouettes. This style is extremely popular since it looks great on just about anyone, no matter what their body type. And, it is by far the best choice for pear shapes since it accentuates the top half of the body while camouflaging the lower half. Since the cut is narrow at the top and widens towards the hem in a gradual manner it smooths out any awkward lines and curves of the body. So named because A-Line gowns look like the letter “A” with their fitted bodices and skirts that widen out from the waist in a line to the hem.

This A-Line gown flows softly from the waist:

Lace cascades down this A-Line gown by Venus Bridal with a slightly more structured skirt. This one is prettily accented with a deep V neckline and beaded waist.


Beautiful ballgowns are the most traditional of all bridal gown silhouettes. They are characterized by fitted bodices (and waistlines) that lead to voluminously full skirts. The flare of the skirt is achieved by layers upon layers of fabric. This classic and elegant look is very popular because it flatters most figures and is especially good at hiding large hips. But it is also good for brides with narrow hips, as it can give a curvier look. However, there is a risk of getting swallowed up in the volume of the dress if you are rather petite. For a large bust, the Ballgown style will help create an hourglass look. We love this one by Sincerity Bridal which will make you feel just like a Princess:

This lovely Ballgown (Style 11070 by Sweetheart) features an illusion V-neckline accented with lattice beaded lace. The tulle circular cut skirt with a chapel length train completes the look perfectly.

Column or Sheath

The Column (or Sheath) style has slim lines that mimic the shape of an actual column. Simple and elegant a Column Silhouette can run straight from the neckline to the hemline, or it can hug your curves closely. Either way, a Column gown does not hide any problem areas, like a bigger lower body. And, this fit tends to make pear-shapes look off-balanced. Although flattering for several body types, depending on the fabric chosen, the Column Silhouette looks best on brides with sleek figures. It’s also a great choice for petite brides as the long lean lines add height.

Esme Private Label designed this elegant column gown:


Empire silhouette dresses have fitted bodices that stop just below the bust, giving the appearance of a high waist. These gowns feature skirts that fall with a slight flare and loosely skim the body, or they can be a bit more fitted. Like the A-line, the Empire Waist style fits well on most body types. And, it’s especially flattering for those brides with a smaller bust since it draws attention to the neckline. This style is a good choice for those with thicker waists as it can sweep softly over curves. If you want to hide your hips, however, this look is not for you.

Fit and Flare or Trumpet

Perfect for showcasing your shape, Fit and Flare gowns present an especially enchanting silhouette. Fit and Flare bridal gowns are also known as Trumpet because their skirts subtly flare from the hip toward the hem in a trumpet shape. This silhouette is form-fitting through the torso and hips and then begins to widen around mid-thigh. Easier to wear than the similarly silhouetted Mermaid, this option is roomy enough around the legs to allow you to walk comfortably. This is a nice option for curvy brides who are looking for a formfitting dress. Athletically built brides might feel boxy in this cut.

High Low

The playful High Low cut features a full circle skirt with a length that varies from short in front to long in back. The style originated in Victorian era dresses, when the hem style was known as the “fishtail.” This silhouette is flattering to most shapes and highlights the legs.


Bridal jumpsuits are a chic one-piece option for brides who want to avoid a skirt altogether. This can look fantastic on almost any size and shape. And jumpsuits are comfortable to wear all the way through the ceremony to the reception.


Curvaceous and very form-fitting, this wedding dress style is typically for the very confident bride. Mermaid gowns hug the body all the way down to the knees, where the dress flares out. This cut shows off ALL of a bride’s curves and is terrific for brides with hourglass figures. If you don’t want something tight, the mermaid is not for you.


Midi Silhouettes refer to dresses with hemlines that hit at mid-calf – halfway between the knee and ankle. These sweet dresses are universally flattering.


A Romper is a cute little short jumpsuit. This flirty and fun silhouette works adorably for destination weddings. If you want to show off your pretty legs, this might be your look.


We recommend starting out by trying gowns especially suited to your body type. However, definitely try on other silhouettes as well. It’s your day and you might just find your dream dress in another cut. Visit your local bridal boutique today!