As a bride-to-be, you’ve probably picked up bridal magazine or two… or ten. And you’ve probably also started swooning over (and even circling) your favorite gowns. What happens next is common amongst most brides… you get to the bridal salon, armed with photos of your favorite gowns. You try them on in excited anticipation. And then.. WAH WAH… they look completely different on you, even unflattering. And now you have no idea what to do. So today, we are going to share our tips on how to select a gown for your shape as opposed to your dreams.

I know, I know… some of you are going to say that your personality and attitude have just as much say over what dress you choose as your body shape. No doubt. But it would be remiss of us now to say that there are certain shapes, lines and illusion-creating tricks that work to help you look your best on your big day. This post is less about ‘rules’ for selecting a gown and more about sharing a collection of shape-related findings which should at least give you an idea of where to start when it comes to finding the wedding dress for you.

JLM Couture in West Hollywood

Baby’s Got Back

If you’re a ‘classic pear’ you will likely spend the majority of your clothes-wearing days trying to hide or slim-down your bottom and hip area. For you, finding the perfect wedding dress is all about balance. You most likely have a good waist, so to pull focus on that area rather than the bit below, you want to create width across your shoulders to balance out your hips, accentuate your waist, and create the illusion of an hour-glass.

Soft A-line skirts, capped sleeves, V-necks and a prominent waist detail are your friends. We suggest avoiding slinky, bias-cut dresses that show off all of your 2,000 parts.

Santina by Watters Brides

Well, Hello Dolly!

Mm-hmm. This is for my ladies who are top heavy. A-line dresses are not your friend, my friend. You’ll very likely feel frumpy instead of wonderful. With the A-line skirt hiding your lower half, the only part of your body showing off would be your top half. What you want to do to look your slimmest is find a gown that slims down your whole shape while also showing off your hips.

We recommend you stay away from high necklines and fuller skirts, and go for something a little more shape-showing; soft fishtails, dropped waists, open necklines and some sort of strap or capped sleeve all work well.

Wedding Gown Alba as seen on Amelia Sposa

No Curves

The magazines call this a ‘boy shape’, or slightly less insulting, ‘athletic’. Either way, if you’re slim and trim with little in the way of curves, it’s all about creating the illusion of curves when it comes to finding your ideal wedding dress. For you, the classic fishtail will make the eye believe you go in at the waist, out over your hips and back in again to create that sexy, ‘womanly’ shape.

The ‘Monarch’ gown, shown below, found at BHLDN is a fantastic curve enhancer as the fishtail has a strong kick whilst still being incredibly fluid, feminine and romantic, whilst the dainty straps create the right balance. If you go for something too wide or capped on the shoulders, you will be making your straight shape more noticeable.

In contrast, you can rock a princess-cut, fuller skirt, like the gown featured below from Monique Lhuilllier, as it makes the most of your slender shoulders and bust and brings a bit of fun and femininity to the party.

Monarch Wedding Gown as seen on BHLDN

Monique Lhuillier Gown as seen on Vogue

Hourglass

You lucky girl, you! Don’t you just have all the right curves in all the right places and look fantastic in nearly everything!? But we aren’t jealous. Nope not us. LOL

But in all seriousness, for those of you blessed ladies that are lucky enough to wear just about any dress shape and slay, don’t hide your fab figure away in an A-line or full skirt. Make the most of your shape and show it off in a soft fishtail or column silhouette. Your groom will thank you for it!

Hourglass figures can come in all shapes and sizes, so if you’re small and neat or if your boobs can hold themselves, go daring yet demure in something like the Bella by Galia Halav. However if you need something with a bit more ‘structure’, Perla D by Pnina Tornia is a classic but softly sexy alternative.

designed by Galia Halav

Voluptuous

For our voluptuous brides out there, you may be thinking that these more fluid, unstructured dresses won’t work for you, but this isn’t true at all. There are a number of designers out there, and more emerging that cater to plus size brides, and choosing the right dress for you depends entirely on where you carry your weight and, perhaps more importantly, how you carry yourself. It is wonderful what some good foundation undergarments and an air of confidence can do!

The dresses we’ve suggested for ‘Pear-shaped’ ladies can also work splendidly on curvier brides.

Catherine as designed by Wtoo

Pippin as designed by Wtoo

Bree as designed by Wtoo

Accentuate the Positive

We’ve given you five main body shapes. You may feel you’re not able to categorize yourself so easily but hopefully there will have been something there you can relate to. We all have our best traits and those we prefer to hide, and finding the right dress for you is all about making the most of the body part you love (it could be anything from your backside to your collarbone) and taking the attention away from the areas you’re not so keen on.

So what style of dress are you going for on your big day? What parts of your body are you celebrating?!

Please do let us know if you have any wedding dress related questions or you’d like advice on a particular aspect of wedding dress shopping or style.