Five Tips to Choosing the Right Wedding Dress Silhouette

One thing I always ask clients as a bespoke designer is how do you want to feel on your day?

From wanting to feel comfortable, to looking glamorous and cinched, or to feel light like a fairy in the wind, it’s often such an important part to narrowing down silhouettes for your dress journey.

What is a Wedding Dress Silhouette?

Your dress silhouette is essentially the shape that is created from your dress design, and I will go further into detail below so you can see how the silhouettes can showcase your personality, how it can suit themes and the venue you are getting married at. 

For this blog, I am going to focus on the main dress silhouettes out there.

The Different Wedding Dress Silhouettes

Ballgown

Oh the ballgown, one for the lovers of extravagance, feeling like royalty, and very much the belle of the ball. 

In modern designs, most ball gowns are created in tulle layers for a fluffy look or in silks. To create the structure a petticoat/hoop is normally used.

Flattering for most shapes as it cinches at the waist and then flares out.

moodboard showing ballgown wedding dress silhouettes

Mermaid/Trumpet

The sexy mermaid, as I like to call it, hugs those beautiful hips and bum and is the one for showing off those fabulous curves!

A-Line

A-line is one of my favourite silhouettes as it flatters all figures. It is shaped at the waist and then slowly starts to ease out at the hips, which can be extremely flattering. 

Circle skirts, which are very voluminous, are also similar to this silhouette but flare out straight from the hips.

Sheath

Another one of my favourites is the sheath or also called a column dress. The sheath silhouette skirt falls straight from the waist. 

The silhouette can flare out slightly from under the knee; however, this is a gentle and soft line, not at all like the dramatic swoosh of a mermaid style. 

A common favourite that can work beautifully with fabrics cut on the bias. 

Although normally seen on slender figures, it can still work with curves depending on your proportions. It’s a very relaxed feel, which I personally chose on my own wedding day.

Tea-Length

Quite often a casual and refined choice that stops below the knee but as you can see in the moodboard below the design can vary depending on your style. If you are looking for a ’50s silhouette look at having a circle skirt and petticoat.

Mini Dresses

The mini dress, which seems to be becoming a very popular choice these days, either for chic city weddings or having made as a second dress. You could look at strong shapes with bows, structured skirts, or high embellishment. It’s definitely a silhouette for someone who likes their legs and wants to show them off, very playful and fun!

5 Tips to choosing the Right Silhouette

1. Body Shape

We all come in different shapes and sizes, but that also means that not all silhouettes are going to suit us, and that’s okay!

For Oval body types, I would recommend ball gown and A-line silhouettes. Depending on your shoulder proportions we would normally look at ways of adding more volume to your lower half so that it is more balanced and your waist looks like the smallest part. Peplum skirts can also add that volume.

A woman wearing a bespoke coloured wedding dress holds a bouquet of
orange flowers in a manor house.
Credit – Sarah Brookes Photography

For Triangle body types, you could look at more A-line silhouettes and perhaps find a way of adding a bit more volume on top with pouffy sleeves for proportions.

A woman wearing a bespoke sheath wedding dress standing infant of a leafy arch and looks out behind her
Credit – Lou Rob

For Hourglass body types, most dress silhouettes are your friend with your proportions. However, if you are looking at sheath silhouettes, I would make sure to have some kind of waist belt in there to make the focus on the waist which is smallest part of your body compared to your bust and hips.

A woman wearing a bespoke vintage style wedding dress holds a bouquet of
orange flowers in a glasshouse.
Credit – Kate Haag

For Inverted triangle body types, ball gown and A-line silhouettes are recommended as you need that volume on the skirt part to create those proportions.

A woman wearing a bespoke wedding dress holds a bouquet of
autumnal flowers and looks out of the window to the scottish highlands.
Credit – Raini Rowell

For Rectangle body types (or athletic build as it’s also known), most silhouettes apart from mermaid could work. You could look at adding a bit of volume to both your top and lower to create those curves. However, you could also look at dresses that are more edgy and unconventional, such as my custom pleated dress I created below.

A woman wearing a bespoke pleated wedding dress in a gothic Manor House.
Credit – Sarah Brookes Photography

2. Venue and Theme

Another important thing to consider is your venue and if you have any themes.

Take a castle, for example, that lends itself to big ball gown dresses if you are looking for that extravagant feel.

Beach weddings would work wonderfully with softer silhouettes like A-line or sheath types.

City weddings would be fabulous for the short mini types or tea-length dresses.

3. Comfort and Movement

Unless you are opting for dress changes on your wedding day, you need to consider comfort and ease of movement in the chosen silhouette for wearing most of the day.

As a bespoke bridal designer, I understand the importance of finding a balance between style and comfort in wedding dress silhouettes. Here are some considerations on how to achieve this balance:

Consider the Fabric: The fabric of a wedding dress plays a crucial role in both style and comfort. A heavy and structured fabric like satins or taffeta may look stunning, but they can also be uncomfortable and restrict movement. On the other hand, a lightweight and flowy fabric like chiffon or lightweight silks may be more comfortable, but they may not provide the desired structure and shape.

Understand Your Body Type: Every bride has a unique body shape, and it’s essential to understand your body type when choosing a wedding dress silhouette. A-line and ball gown silhouettes are universally flattering and comfortable for most body types, while mermaid and sheath silhouettes may be more restrictive.

Consider the Venue and Season: The venue and season of your wedding can also influence the style and comfort of your wedding dress. For example, a beach wedding in the summer may call for a lightweight and breathable dress, while a winter wedding in a grand ballroom may require a more structured and warmer dress. It’s essential to consider these factors when choosing your dress silhouette.

Don’t Sacrifice Fit for Style: It’s crucial to find a dressthat fits you perfectly, regardless of the style. A well-fitted dress will not only be more comfortable but will also enhance your figure and hopefully, in turn, help your confidence. As a bespoke designer, I always recommend getting a dress custom-made to ensure the perfect fit and make sure you feel comfortable on the day.

4. Consider your budget

This may be obvious, but the more fabric that is involved in your dress, the higher the cost will be. So that may be one thing to consider: the impact of silhouette on the overall cost of the dress.

5. The Role of a Bespoke Bridal Designer

One of the wonderful things about a bespoke bridal designer is that they are there to guide you on suggesting silhouettes that would suit you. For example, if there is a silhouette you like but you are not sure it would work, then working with a bespoke designer who has the expertise to figure out what it is that you likeabout that silhouette and how that can be brought across in your dress design. The beauty of bespoke is that it is designed exactly to your body, your style, and uses the designer’s expertise to create something that is one of a kind for you.

Real Bride Examples

Take my real bride Kate as an example.

A woman wearing a bespoke wedding dress has a flower corsage.
Credit – Raini Rowell
A woman wearing a bespoke wedding dress holds a bouquet of
orange flowers walking down the stairs in a scottish highland hotel.
Credit – Raini Rowell
A woman wearing a bespoke wedding dress holds a bouquet of
orange flowers and waits for the groom.
Credit – Raini Rowell

Kate has an athletic body type with strong shoulders and was looking for something more feminine. So, we decided to look at fuller ball gown and A line skirt silhouettes with cinching at the waist and slight gathering at the waist to give that visual curves balance. Kate also did not want to show her chest but liked her back, so we made the back the feature, open back with a ruffle collar to add to further feminine details.

That’s the wonderful thing about bespoke – it is built up of all these things and playing around with shaping.

Choosing the right wedding dress silhouette is an important part of your dress journey. It not only showcases your personality and style but also affects your comfort and confidence on your special day.

As a bespoke bridal designer, I understand the importance of finding a balance between style and comfort. I encourage you to book a consultation with me to discuss your own silhouette options and create the perfect, one-of-a-kind dress for your wedding.

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