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Wedding Dress Shopping Guide and Tips

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Wedding Dress Shopping - Finding the Perfect Fit

Wedding Dress Silhouette (Skirt Shape)

The "silhouette" refers to the shape of the dress. This is one of the key elements of a dress (along with the neckline) that will help determine the type of dress that best suits your style and is most flattering to the shape of your body.

  • A-Line
    The shape features a flared out skirt from the waist down to your feet, creating an "A" shape. The design consists of vertical seams running from the waist or shoulders down to the bottom of the skirt. This is generally one of the more popular shapes because it is flattering to most body types. Recommended for petite figures because it can make a shorter bride appear taller and for full figured brides hoping to de-emphasize their hips. The A-line, however, is not recommended for brides with thick waist as the hourglass shape will accentuate your waist.

    Recommended for: petite, full-figured, short waist Not recommended for: thick waist, hourglass

  • Basque Waist
    This style is characterized by a low waistline that is generally V or U-shaped, beginning several inches below the waist. This shape is great for taller brides who are looking to create an hourglass appearance with the low waistline. Petite brides may want to consider other shapes as this style may create a shorter appearance.

    Recommended for: taller brides, large hips, hourglass, pear shape figure Not recommended for: petite brides

  • Ball Gown
    The most traditional and formal of all shapes. This style of skirt is best suited for the bride in search of a classic and elegant look. The "ball gown" is characterized by a fitted bodice and a waistline that leads to a full skirt. This dress is a great choice for medium to taller brides and for those that wish to hide large hips. This shape is not recommended for petite brides as the full skirt can overwhelm or take away from the appearance of the bride.

    Recommended for: Thin figure, Full Figure, Med - Tall Heights, pear shaped figure Not recommended for: petite figure

  • Empire
    This style features a high waistline that stems from the bust and falls to a slender skirt. "An A-line" skirt is also popular with this style. The "empire" style is best suited for brides with small bust and slim figures. The shape can give the impression of increased height or for those with thicker waist, it can de-emphasize the area.

    Recommended for: Petite, thick waist Not recommended for: hourglass, Curvy figures, full figure, pear shaped figure

  • Mermaid
    This style contours to your body (similar to the sheath style), but flares out at the bottom. It has a distinctive diagonal cut on the skirt. For a bride wanting to accentuate her curvaceous figure, this dress is ideal.

    Recommended for: hourglass figure Not recommended for: full figure

  • Sheath
    This style is very form fitting, following the contours of your body very closely. A sheath dress features a straight skirt with no waist. Highly recommended for those brides with a tall, well proportioned (thin) figure.

    Recommended for: thin figure, petite figure Not recommended for: pear shaped figure, full figure

  • The Bodice

    The bodice is the fitted part of the dress that extends from the waist to the shoulders. Choose a bodice that compliments your body type.

    • Corset
      A form-fitting, strapless, or spaghetti-strap bodice with boning and lace-up or snap closures. Styled in the fashion of the ladies undergarment with the same name-think Titanic.
    • Empire
      A super-flattering bodice that ends just below the bust, this style looks great on pregnant brides and petite women alike. Very Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma and Shakespeare in Love.
    • Halter
      A sleeveless bodice with a high wrap neck. Sometimes backless; always sexy.
    • Midriff
      A bodice that fits snugly around the mid-cage. Great for accentuating tiny waists.
    • Asymmetrical (one-shoulder)
      An asymmetrical bodice with one exposed shoulder. Extremely fashionable, and therefore popular, in recent years.
    • Princess-line
      Super-slimming, this sleek bodice is characterized by two vertical seams that travel from bust to hem, giving the illusion of extra height.
    • Surplice
      Another fashion-forward style, the surplice bodice is created by the cross-wrapping of fabric in either the front or back to form a "v".
    • Tank
      A short, sleeveless top with wide armholes, this style has become the most sought after in the last few years. Looks great when paired with a sheer wrap.
    • Wedding Dress Necklines

      Choosing the right neckline is an important part of wedding dress shopping. The right neckline helps to frame your face, as well as accentuate your best features waist-up.

    • Bateau
      This wide neckline sweeps across collarbone to the edge of the shoulders.
      Good: Small chest
      Bad: large chest
    • Jewel
      A high neckline that is rounded at the base of the throat. The jewel style de-emphasizes the chest area (bust and collar bone) and is usually reserved for the more conservative bride.
      Good for: Small-chested woman (it will make you look bustier)
      Bad for: Large-chested women (it will make you look bustier, too)

    • Off-the-Shoulder
      This neckline sweeps across the chest and rests below the shoulders. This style highlights your shoulders and collarbone.
      Good for: Full-chested and pear-shaped women
      Bad for: Broad shoulders, fuller arms
    • Portrait
      Similar to an off-the-shoulder style but made with more fabric, the portrait neckline is characterized by a wide, soft scoop from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other.
      Good for: Fuller arms and prominent collarbones
      Bad for: Undefined collarbones
    • Scoop (Round)
      This classic U-shaped neckline is usually cut low and continues its rounded feature at the back of the dress. A very popular style that is great on most figure types.
    • Sweetheart
      This low neckline resembles the top half of a heart and incorporates a high back. This style is ideal for large chest women.
      Good for: large chest
      Bad for: small chest
    • V-Neck
      This neckline features a V-shaped front that is ideal for brides who have a medium chest and want to accentuate cleavage.
      Good for: medium size chest
      Bad for: small or large chest
    • Strapless
      Very popular style that features a straight or shaped line that sweeps across the chest. As the name indicates, the neckline is strapless. The bodice is usually boned to provide support and help maintain the dress' shape.
      Good for: Great shoulders and collarbones
      Bad for: The smaller-chested woman
    • Halter
      The halter features straps that wrap around the neck and generally features a low back. The design emphasizes the shoulders and is best worn with minimal or no bra.
      Good for: Broad shoulders
      Bad for: Narrow shoulders
    • Wedding Dress Lengths

      A floor length gown is traditional, but by far still the most popular. After all, how many times in life do we get to wear a long floor-length gown? Nevertheless, when thinking about the length of your dress, remember that floor-length may not be the most flattering for all body types.

    • Ankle-length
      We'll start you off with an easy one. The ankle-length gown is hemmed-you guessed it-right at the ankles. A nice semi-formal option that can be either full or form fitting.
    • Ballerina
      Again, like the name implies, the Ballerina features a full skirt (think tutu) that reaches just above the ankles. Very fun and flirty-great for an outdoor wedding.
    • Floor-length
      The hem on this gown just barely touches the floor on all sides. A wonderful formal look that works well on both straight and full styles.
    • Intermission
      This hem falls anywhere between the knee and the ankle. Perfect for a semi-formal or more casual affair-and we just love saying the name!
    • Hi-Lo
      A variation of the Intermission, the Hi-Lo features an Intermission hem on the front, and a floor length (or longer) hem in the back. A popular look for bridesmaids (and again, love that name thing!).
    • Knee-length
      Another great look for maids or a casual bride, this style of skirt ends just below the knee.
    • Miniskirt
      For the super sassy bride-a skirt that ends well above the knee.
    • Tea-length
      A gown hemmed to end at the shin. Ultra conservative, but with a modern twist.
    • Wedding Dress Lengths

      A floor length gown is traditional, but by far still the most popular. After all, how many times in life do we get to wear a long floor-length gown? Nevertheless, when thinking about the length of your dress, remember that floor-length may not be the most flattering for all body types.

      • Ankle-length
        We'll start you off with an easy one. The ankle-length gown is hemmed-you guessed it-right at the ankles. A nice semi-formal option that can be either full or form fitting.
      • Ballerina
        Again, like the name implies, the Ballerina features a full skirt (think tutu) that reaches just above the ankles. Very fun and flirty-great for an outdoor wedding.
      • Floor-length
        The hem on this gown just barely touches the floor on all sides. A wonderful formal look that works well on both straight and full styles.
      • Intermission
        This hem falls anywhere between the knee and the ankle. Perfect for a semi-formal or more casual affair-and we just love saying the name!
      • Hi-Lo
        A variation of the Intermission, the Hi-Lo features an Intermission hem on the front, and a floor length (or longer) hem in the back. A popular look for bridesmaids (and again, love that name thing!).
      • Knee-length
        Another great look for maids or a casual bride, this style of skirt ends just below the knee.
      • Miniskirt
        For the super sassy bride-a skirt that ends well above the knee.
      • Tea-length
        A gown hemmed to end at the shin. Ultra conservative, but with a modern twist.

      Wedding Dress Sleeves

      That's right, even the sleeves are a consideration when wedding dress shopping. After all, hundreds of photos will be taken of you from all different angles, why not be prepared?

    • T-Shirt Sleeves
      As the name indicates, these sleeves look like those on your favorite T-shirt-a good option for brides who want to cover their upper arms but don't want to go all the way (long sleeves). If you're self-conscious about baring your triceps/biceps, this option may be for you.
    • Cap Sleeves
      Shorter than a T-shirt sleeve, more rounded, and therefore, a little more baring. Best on women with fairly slender or well-toned upper arms.
    • Off-the-Shoulder Sleeves
      These sleeves cover the upper part of the arms while leaving the tops of the shoulders and decolletage exposed. This style flatters lots of women-big and small-busted brides alike. And the sleeves cover enough of the upper arm to make almost anyone comfortable.
    • Three-Quarter Sleeves
      Ending midway between the elbow and the wrist, this sleeve style has made a big comeback in the fashion world. It's an elegant look in bridal-cool, yet covered!
    • Spaghetti Straps
      Skinny, barely-there straps. This style is reserved for those who are genetically blessed, spend lots of time pumping iron, or just want to look sexy! If you're the least bit arm-shy, consider pairing this look with a wrap.
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