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Wedding dress silhouettes

Few wardrobe decisions are scrutinized as much as a bride-to-be's choice of wedding gown. Finding the perfect gown that flatters the future bride's figure while stunning her guests and soon-to-be husband is a labor of love for many brides.

The Bridal Association of America estimates a bride-to-be will spend between $1,500 and $2,000 total on her gown, veil and accessories. Brides often spend months, if not years, shoping for the right gown. Finding the right gown means having an understanding of what silhouettes are available and what flatters certain body types. After all, you want to look like the best version of yourself when getting married. Here is a look of some of the common types of gown silhouettes and why choosing this shape might be right for you.


A ballgown dress is truly a classic style, evoking images of fairy tale princesses. With a fitted bodice and full skirt that flairs at the waist, this silhouette is usually good for all body types. Because the full skirt, typically poofed-up by crinoline and will hide the hips and thighs, women with a pear shape might gravitate toward this style. The ballgown style may not be ideal for petite women, as the skirt may overwhelm their figures.


Another silhouette very forgiving or appropriate for many body types is the A-line gown. A-line cut dresses should be the go-to style for anyone looking to minimize perceived flaws. The cut of the dress will fit to the waist and gradually fan out from the hips to form the outline of an uppercase "A." When in doubt, A-line gowns are classic and sensible and a favorite among brides.


Women who prefer something a little more form-fitting may select a trumpet silhouette. This dress is fitted through the body and then the gown flares out at mid-thigh level. Women with taught stomachs and hourglass figures can benefit from this style gown, but those who do not want anything tight in the hips and thighs will want to select something else.


A bit more fitted than the trumpet, this silhouette is close to the body from the chest down to the knee. The skirt then flares out slightly by the knee. Tall, thin women generally look best in this type of gown.

Modified A-line

A balance between a traditional A-line and a more fitted gown, the modified A-line does not flare out as much. But it does flare out enough from the waist to hide areas around the hips and thighs. This is another good choice for a wide array of figures.

Tea length

Brides who do not want a gown that reaches the floor can opt for a tea length dress, on which the skirt generally falls between the ankle and the knee.


Lean brides who want simplicity in their gowns can opt for a sheath silhouette. The narrow shape of the gown from the neckline to the hem will definitely accentuate the body shape. Therefore, women who are shy may want to select a different option. Petite women who may be overwhelmed by more fabric can usually wear a sheath gown with success.

Although a bride may have a wedding gown style in mind, it is a good idea to try on a number of different silhouettes to find the one that is most flattering. Bridal salon employees are usually well-versed in matching body type to a gown and can prove invaluable when selecting a dress.