5 Wedding Dress Silhouettes (and What You NEED to Know About Each)

What's the deal with wedding dress silhouettes and how does this really apply to you?!

Let’s be real: wedding dress silhouettes and shape terminology can be a little confusing. Godet, trumpet, appliqué, Chantilly lace, illusion…on and on the terminology goes. So here is a modern-day guide for the modern-day bride (sorry, we’re suckers for a cheesy rhyme) and all of the details you NEED to know about them; for example, how they feel and what might be best for you, whether you’re looking for something complementary for your body type, or something that looks and feels good on.

Whatever you do, we always recommend getting into a fitting room and being open minded by trying a variety of silhouettes and fabrics, to understand what best suits your style and your body. You might be pleasantly surprised to fall in love with a gown that you never pictured for your wedding day!

The Mermaid

To start off with one of our personal favorite wedding dress silhouettes, let’s talk: The Mermaid. This gorgeous, and classic Mermaid Silhouette is all about highlighting the curves. Figure-hugging through the torso and hips, and fanning out (generally) just above the knees. If you want to get technical, the “flared” portion of the skirt is usually a separate portion of material sewn on the circumference of the gown at the knees (as opposed to a trumpet or sheath gown, that uses one continuous material from waist to hemline). The flared “tail” or bottom portion of the skirt is layered with tulle or similar material for a dramatic flare.

  • WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS STYLE: 
    • Form fitting: it really highlights those curves
    • The godet at the knee allows for a bit more leg movement than a Trumpet gown
    • Looks amazing on many body types
  • WHY THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE FIT FOR YOU:
    • Mermaid gowns really highlight the curves (or lack thereof). Avoid this fit if that’s something you aim to conceal.
    • If comfort is your #1 priority, this figure-hugging silhouette might not give you the room to wiggle or dance
Our absolute favorite in-house designer for mermaid silhouettes is Galia Lahav. Check out some of our Galia Lahav gowns here.

The Ball Gown / Princess

We believe the terms “ball gown” and “princess” are mostly interchangeable. The classic ball gown usually hugs the bust and waist, and then dramatically flares out at the natural waist. Some designs feature a drop waist, which will mean the flare occurs lower than your natural waistline. 

Ball gowns usually feature several layers of tulle or similar materials for a dramatic volume.

  • WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS STYLE: 
    • It gives the appearance of a slim and delicate waistline
    • There are very few occasions where a full on ball gown is appropriate to wear. Your wedding is definitely the day that you get to be whatever level of “extra” that you want!
    • Amazing for brides who have a love-hate relationship with their curves (or lack thereof)
    • If you’ll be enduring cold weather during your festivities, the layers will help keep you warm 
  • WHY THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE FIT FOR YOU:
    • While ball gowns aren’t difficult to walk in, it can be difficult to navigate considering the layers. Think about the activities of your day, and assign a bridesmaid to help out if need be.
    • Ball gowns take up more room when packed. If you’re doing a destination wedding, look into how you will transport it.
    • If you’re enduring a warm-weathered wedding, wearing a ball gown after awhile may get quite warm
Our favorite in-house designer of the classic ball gown is Dany Tabet. Check out some of our Dany Tabet gowns here.

The Trumpet

One of our absolute favorite wedding dress silhouettes is the Trumpet. Think of the shape of a trumpet: a slender tube that slowly and gradually flares out into the horn. Unlike the mermaid silhouette, trumpet gown does not have an entirely separate piece sewn in at the knees. This hugs the figure a bit more and flares out in the back into the train.

  • WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS STYLE: 
    • It elongates the body
    • Highlights and accentuates the curves
    • They take up very little room when packed
    • Trumpet silhouette gowns are super lightweight. Perfect for outdoor and beach weddings, or if you simply don’t want the hassle of any “poof”
  • WHY THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE FIT FOR YOU:
    • Can be slightly more restricting than mermaid gowns in the thigh and knee area. Look for a slightly stretchy fabric if this is of concern.
    • Trumpet gowns, like mermaids, will often highlight all curves (even the ones you want to hide).

The A-line

If there was ever a “once size fits all” of the wedding dress silhouettes, this is it. The beloved A-line is a bit like a toned down version of a ball gown. Figure-hugging in the bust and waist, with a more slight and gradual transition into the skirt. Generally less layers of tulle or other material for a beautiful, medium-full skirt.

  • WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS STYLE: 
    • It really looks amazing on all body types
    • Slimming appearance on the waist
    • Often more lightweight than ball gowns
    • A-lines are often the easiest gowns to move in. You might still need a bridesmaid’s help to use the “little girl’s room”.
  • WHY THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE FIT FOR YOU:
    • Not as dramatic as a ball gown
    • Doesn’t slim the waist as much as a ball gown

The sheath / Column

While some like to separate these two, for the sake of simplicity, we think they’re one in the same. The sheath / column styles are quite figure hugging without the flare that the Trumpet and Mermaid silhouettes. It’s a sleek and elegant look that’s perfect for a red-carpet event feel.

  • WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS STYLE: 
    • It’s super lightweight and packs like a dream
    • Elongates the body
    • Sheath gowns are generally very easy to move in
    • Perfect for summer time or outdoor weddings and elopement
  • WHY THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE FIT FOR YOU:
    • Not as dramatic as a trumpet or mermaid
    • Can often conceal curves without any specific attention drawn to the hips or waist

 

Whatever you decide, talk to your local bridal stylist during your appointment and bring up any questions or concerns you have. Our stylists at MaidenWhite Bridal Shop in Las Vegas are always happy to educate and help brides find exactly what’s going to work best for every unique body type!