How to Choose the Best Wedding Dress for Your Body Type

Body type chart for wedding dress shopping

Finding the perfect wedding dress is a big moment in your bridal journey. Shopping for a gown that not only reflects your personal style but also flatters your figure can sometimes seem impossible. But by understanding the relationship between different body types and wedding dress silhouettes, choosing the perfect dress becomes a lot easier. 

As a custom wedding dress designer, I work with clients of all shapes and sizes to achieve their ideal wedding day look. It’s not uncommon for them to express some concern or unhappiness about their bodies, and many of them do some kind of body modification either through pre-ceremony dieting or even surgery. While it’s totally natural to want to look your best for your Big Day, my advice is always to focus on finding the gown that shows off your best features, while de-emphahsizing areas of insecurity.

Side view of Peyton posing in her custom lace bridal gown.
Peyton wearing her lace wedding gown posing in a window.

The most important aspect of your gown is that it fits perfectly, and allows you to move freely. You can’t look and feel your best if you are uncomfortable. So be honest with yourself and work with what you’ve got! There are many ways to create the perfect look, no matter what body type you have.

Understanding Body Types and Wedding Dress Silhouettes

Determining your body type is the first step in finding the perfect wedding dress.  Understanding your body shape helps you narrow down your options to the ones that best suit your figure.

Why Knowing Your Body Type is Essential in Choosing a Wedding Gown

To really benefit from this knowledge, I always advise my brides to approach wedding dress shopping with an open mind. Deciding which style is best for your body type will require trying on various gown silhouettes and noting which ones enhance your figure the most. It’s not just about finding a dress that fits — it’s about finding the one that makes you feel exceptional.

An expert bridal stylist or designer can offer invaluable advice and guide you towards silhouettes that work best, making sure you end up with a wedding dress that feels like it was made just for you.

Dream Wedding Dress Styles for Hourglass Figures

Brides with an hourglass figure are fortunate because many dress styles naturally complement balanced proportions. For these brides, silhouettes that emphasize the waist and hips are ideal.

Kyra posing in her mermaid wedding gown.
Yume posing for a bridal portrait in her custom wedding gown

The Ideal Silhouettes for Brides with Hourglass Body Types

Mermaid, trumpet, and fit-and-flare gowns excel in highlighting the symmetry of the hourglass shape. They accentuate the waist and show off the curves of the bust and hips. 

Beyond the silhouette, it’s important to consider the fabric and detailing of the gown. Materials like lace or silk hug your curves without restricting movement. Detailed accents like strategic ruching or beading can draw the eye to the waist, further enhancing your shape. 

Accessories and Details that Complement an Hourglass Figures

A well-placed belt or sash on the waist can highlight the narrowest part of the body, creating an even greater emphasis on your natural figure. For jewelry, consider pieces that match dress details for a cohesive look that draws the eye to your most appealing features.

The choice of veil and shoes also significantly contributes to the final bridal look. A long, flowing veil can add an element of drama to fit-and-flare or mermaid gowns, elongating the figure and enhancing the hourglass shape. Shoes with a bit of height are beneficial in elongating the legs, creating a balanced overall appearance.

Wedding Dresses that Flatter an Inverted Triangle Body Shape

Brides with an inverted triangle body shape have shoulders and a bust that are wider than the hips. You should look for dresses that create a sense of balance between the upper and lower half of the body.

Payton posing in her custom blue wedding dress
Payton posing for a bridal portrait in a blue tulle wedding gown

A-line gowns are particularly effective for this because they gently flare out from the waist, adding volume and symmetry to the lower body while drawing attention away from a broader upper body. 

Another strategy is to focus on necklines and sleeve designs that minimize the width of the shoulders and bust. V-neck and scoop necklines can create a more elongated look, drawing the eye vertically rather than horizontally. For brides looking to minimize the attention to their upper body, choosing gowns with cap sleeves or even a soft, flowing sleeve can add an element of grace while subtly balancing the broader shoulders with the rest of the body. 

The Best Silhouettes for Pear Body Types

Pear-shaped bodies are characterized by rounder lower body and a narrower upper body. You can look stunning in gowns that accentuate your waist and subtly disguise the wider hips and thighs.

Masha descending stairs in her custom bridal gown
Veronica posing in a short wedding dress

A classic strategy is to choose an A-line dress that cinches at the narrowest part of the waist and then gracefully flows out towards the ground. This not only highlights a slim waist but also smoothly covers the rounder parts of the lower body without adding bulk. Another excellent choice for pear-shaped brides is the ball gown, which similarly emphasizes the waist and then flares into a full, princess-style skirt, offering a magical, fairy-tale silhouette that is both flattering and dramatic.

Dresses with embellished bodices or intricate necklines can shift the focus upwards. Adding details like lace, beading, or a striking neckline divides attention equally across the body, creating a more balanced look. 

Maximizing Curve Appeal for Pear Shapes

Dresses that feature a structured bodice can help highlight the upper body, creating an appealing contrast with fuller hips and thighs. This approach draws the eye upward, balancing the pear shape’s proportions effectively. Off-the-shoulder or sweetheart necklines can also enhance this effect, adding an element of romance and femininity to the overall look.

Jenneh posing in her custom wedding dress
Masha posing in her custom bridal gown

Another consideration for pear-shaped brides is the fabric of the gown. Choosing softer, flowing fabrics for the skirt can gently skim over wider hips, creating a sleek and elongated figure. Conversely, stiffer fabrics can add unnecessary volume, so it’s best to steer clear of them. 

Styles to Avoid for Pear Body Types

Sheath dresses hug the body closely and can emphasize wideness in the hips and thighs, making them a less ideal choice. Similarly, mermaid or trumpet styles that fit snugly around the hips before flaring out can also highlight width in the lower half, rather than balancing the overall silhouette. Pear-shaped brides should focus on designs that draw the eye upwards and add gentle volume from the waist down, using soft, flowing fabrics and strategic detailing to enhance their natural figure.

How to Flatter Apple Shaped Body Types

Brides with an apple-shaped body are characterized by a round midsection and benefit from styles that create the illusion of a more defined waist. Empire waist gowns feature a raised waistline sitting just below the bust, are particularly flattering as they drape over the midsection and enhance the narrowest part of the waist. This style not only elongates your figure but also draws attention away from the waist and hips, shifting focus to the shoulders and neckline. Silhouettes like an A-line also work well for apple shapes, gently flaring out from just under the bust to create a more balanced figure.

Ellen wearing a colorful wedding dress with butterfly sleeves
Ellen's beautiful pink and white floral wedding dress

When it comes to fabric and embellishment choices, choosing a gown with ruching or draping around the midsection can effectively camouflage the waistline. Selecting a dress with a beautiful neckline or intricate detailing on the bodice can also draw the eye upward, further balancing the body’s proportions.

Highlighting the Best Features of Rectangle and Athletic Body Types

Athletic or rectangle body types have a straighter figure with fewer curves. These brides can benefit greatly from styles that create the illusion of shapeliness. A ball gown or an A-line skirt add volume and dimension to the lower body, providing a contrast to the natural straight lines of the athletic build. These silhouettes can ingeniously create a more defined waist and enhance your figure where it may be less pronounced.

Natalie wearing her custom wedding dress
Erin's wedding dress features a sweetheart neckline

For a softer, more feminine look, dresses with added texture and layers, such as ruffles or lace, can also introduce visual interest and a sense of volume to the overall shape. Features such as side cutouts or embellished side panels can draw attention to the waist, creating a more hourglass-like figure. Additionally, choosing a gown with a structured bodice or off-the-shoulder sleeves can add width to the shoulders, balancing your proportions.

Choosing the Perfect Gown for Petite and Busty Brides

Kiki dancing in her custom wedding gown
Petite bride Evelina posing for a portrait in a champagne colored wedding dress

Best Wedding Dress Silhouettes for Short Brides to Look Taller

A-line designs are particularly beneficial for short brides because they elongate the body. Choosing a high-waist design can further enhance the appearance of length,. Similarly, sheath dresses can create a sleek, continuous line that elongates your frame, making you appear taller. Vertical lines and V-necklines can also contribute to a more elongated look. 

Smaller brides should look for simpler designs that don’t overpower their frame. Excessive embellishments or overly voluminous skirts can make you look shorter. 

Wedding Dress Silhouettes for Busty Figures

For brides with a larger bust, selecting a wedding dress that offers structure and support while flattering the body’s natural shape is essential. A-line dresses are universally flattering and accommodate fuller hips and thighs without adding bulk. Empire waistlines emphasize the narrowest part of the body and gracefully flow over your lower half. These silhouettes provide a beautiful balance between structure and softness, making them an ideal choice for fuller-figured brides.

Caroline posing in her custom boho petite wedding dress
Kyra posing in a plunging v-neck wedding gown

Skirts and Fabrics That Enhance Petite and Fuller Body Types

For petite brides, a slim, flowing skirt in materials like chiffon or tulle can create an elegant, height-enhancing effect. Conversely, busty brides may benefit from fabrics with a bit more structure, like satin or mikado, which provide support and shape.

Embellishments and detailing should be scaled to the size of your body and placed precisely so that they enhance rather than overwhelm your figure.

Making the Most of Your Wedding Dress Shopping Experience

Before your book an appointment at a bridal boutique, do some research and have a clear idea of your preferred styles to save time and help your consultant understand your wedding vision. It’s also beneficial to wear appropriate undergarments and bring any accessories you plan to wear, so you can see how the dress will look on your Big Day. 

I always recommend my brides to be open to trying different silhouettes because dresses often look different on the body than on the hanger. You may be surprised to find that the best style for you is one that you didn’t expect.

Set a realistic budget before the appointment to guide your search and prevent disappointment. The experience should be enjoyable, so consider bringing a few close friends or family members whose opinions you value and trust. They can offer support and feedback, but remember, the final decision should be yours, based on what makes you feel the most beautiful and confident.

Yume posing in her custom wedding gown.
Yume posing for a bridal portrait in her lace wedding dress.

How to Communicate with Your Bridal Consultant for the Best Results

Effective communication with your bridal consultant is the key to finding your dream wedding dress. Be clear about your preferences, including styles you like and those you don’t. Sharing details about your wedding venue and theme can also help your consultant suggest gowns that complement your overall aesthetic. Don’t hesitate to express your true feelings about each dress you try on, as your feedback is critical for refining the search.

Remember, consultants are experts in their field and want to help you find your perfect wedding dress, so trust their advice and be open to their suggestions. A collaborative approach with clear communication can significantly enhance your shopping experience, leading you to the gown that truly expresses your bridal vision.

Have Your Dream Bridal Gown Custom Designed Specifically for Your Figure

As a custom bridal designer, I of course recommend that you have your gown custom made, especially if you are having difficulty finding a wedding dress off-the-rack that matches your vision. Having your bridal ensemble designed specifically for your body not only ensures the comfort of a perfect fit, but you’ll also have a fun and luxurious experience to begin your journey to becoming the bride you’ve always imagined.

Having your dress custom made is more affordable than you might think, and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind gown that expresses your unique personality. It’s the perfect way to celebrate your love story on your wedding day.