Style Guide: Flattering Your Bridal Body Shape


If you are a woman in the 21st century, you know your body shape.

After hours of staring at your figure in a full-length mirror and — when worse comes to worst — taking online quiz after online quiz, you know whether you are an apple or pear, whether you are petite or long-legged, and whether you are curvy or as straight as a stick. Now that you are about to be a bride, you can finally put that knowledge of your body shape to good use.

Your wedding dress is likely the most expensive article of clothing you will ever own, so you should take care to purchase a gown that makes you look absolutely stunning.

Unfortunately, not all styles suit all body shapes, and if you mix and match, you might end up looking less-than-dazzling on your big day. This guide will walk you through the best styles for different body types, so you can be the best-looking bride you can be.


Your wedding dress is likely the most expensive article of clothing you will ever own.

If You Are an Apple…
Then you want to slim your waistline as much as possible. You should look for a dress that has eye-catching elements on the bodice, like ruching or lace, and a gradual flare in the skirt. A deep V-neck will also help make your waist look slimmer by directing the eye to the vertical axis rather than the horizontal. You should stay away from trumpet styles, which do the exact opposite.

If You Are a Pear…
Then you want to bring balance to your upper and lower halves. An A-line skirt can hide your gams while highlighting your narrow midsection, especially if you choose sturdier fabrics like duchesse satin and taffeta. In fact, the less fabric you can have up top, the better, because that will further emphasize your upper body and bring balance to your entire frame.


If You Are Petite…
Then you want to avoid looking like your dress is wearing you. Small frames are easily overcome by too much fabric or embellishment, which means the simpler, the better. You should avoid dresses with dropped waists or tea-length hems, which will make your legs seen especially stunted. Otherwise, you can choose almost any silhouette, as long as fabric is minimal, and detailing is small and limited to the bodice. Then, you’ll seem taller and slimmer than normal.

If You Are Tall…
Then you want to emphasize your natural proportions. You have what most women dream of, and you should find a dress that showcases your height and length. Fortunately, wedding dresses are designed for you, so you will almost certainly look good in anything you find. Still, most tall women prefer simple silhouettes — without ruffles or rosettes — to avoid looking cutesy or gauche. As long as you don’t look like you’ve borrowed a shorter woman’s dress, you’ll look stunning.

If You Are Plus-Sized…
Then you want to find a dress with structure. You should rely on your dress to give your body support and shape — but that isn’t to say you should cover up all your goods. Plus-size wedding dresses should have supportive straps and fit snugly under the bust, but showing some cleavage is a good way to draw that sought-after vertical line. Dresses that are too flowy tend to look like maternity-wear on larger women; the billowing fabric adds pounds you probably don’t want. Still, if you love the romance of airier fabrics, you can add a thin layer on top of a gown with a stiff base.

If You Are Busty…
Then you want to keep everything in place. There is a time and place to spill out of your dress, and it’s your wedding night — long after your guests have gone home. It is appropriate to show some décolletage, especially if you are proud of your ample bosom, but you must be certain your girls are secure at all times. A simple scooped neckline or a small sweetheart are ideal, helping to reveal your gifts without giving them all away. You should avoid shiny or ruched fabrics, especially up top, which will add volume where you don’t want or need it.

If You Are Straight-Lined…
Then you want to engineer curves. The best dresses for this are polar opposites: sheath dresses and ballroom gowns. Sheaths, especially those cut on a bias, will emphasize the areas where the lines hit your sides — usually your bust and your hips. Meanwhile, ballroom silhouettes hide your lack of hips and cinch your waist, camouflaging your body in fabric.

Ultimately, you should wear what makes you feel drop-dead gorgeous. Body shape guides like this one aren’t meant to give you insecurities; they’re tools to direct you to figure-flattering styles. If your dream dress isn’t ideal for your body shape, then to hell with the entire idea of body shapes. What is most important is your joy and comfort on your wedding day, and if you are radiantly happy in a dress, no one will come close to noticing that you’re a plus-sized pear, not a busty apple. Instead, they’ll see a beautiful, blushing bride who has just made the most important decision of her life — and that’s what matters.



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