The It Girl’s Guide to Wedding Dress Silhouettes
We talk plenty about wedding dresses, styles, trends and looks in general, but today we’re breaking down the basic dress silhouettes to make your shopping experience even easier. They do say it all starts with knowing what you like (or don’t like), and the dress silhouette is a great starting point to figuring that out. So what are the basics? Well, we spoke with Anna Walsh of Anna Bé Bridal Boutique and a&bé Bridal Shop to break it down and they classify them into four categories: A-line, sheath (or column), ball gown, and fit-and-flare (fitted).
The A-line Wedding Dress Silhouette
The most whimsical, this silhouette gets it’s name from the ‘A’ shape the skirt makes, similar to a triangle, Walsh explains. “An A-line wedding dress usually has a fitted bodice, but the skirt is less big than that of [the infamous] ball gown.” To achieve that look, you’ll notice less layers of fabric and a more flowy material, like crepe, chiffon, or tulle, she tells us.
It’s important to note that this is also the most popular silhouette that gives us tea-length dresses, those that end below the knees with a tight bodice, flare at the waist, and the overall A-line skirt shape.
Here, depending on the style, Walsh notes the vibe can veer toward minimalist aesthetic.
Designer: Dany Tabet
The Sheath Wedding Dress Silhouette
Also referred to as column dresses, the sheath dress silhouette doesn’t have a full skirt and is not fitted, as Walsh notes. “Brides can think of these gowns as ones that almost drape along the body. Sheath/column dresses fall loosely around the hip and legs.
“Common sheath and column fabrics include crepe and silk due to their luxurious hand and stunning ability to softly drape. . . . [They] tend to be very timeless in appeal, making them perfect for almost any wedding vision.”
Designer: Katherine Tash
The Ball Gown Wedding Dress Silhouette
This is your most regal style — fit for a princess. This has a fitted bodice and full skirt that extends from the wearer’s natural waist to the grown. As Walsh explains, to achieve that look, “bridal ball gowns usually have multiple layers of crinoline or tulle. For some ball gowns, the outer skirt layer will be made of heavier materials, such as satin or mikado.”
For ball gown dresses, as with all silhouettes, Walsh tells us the vibe really depends on the overall design, but these have a “more classic aesthetic.”
Designer: Monique Lhuillier
The Fit-and-Flare Wedding Dress Silhouette
A favorite among our squad, fit-and-flare wedding dresses (or fitted silhouettes) “hug every curve.” According to Walsh, “This silhouette is fitted in both the bodice and through the hip. Since brides need room in their legs for movement, this silhouette flares at the leg, thus is aptly named ‘fit-and-flare.’”
Interestingly, this silhouette comes in many shapes and sizes, giving us the mermaid gown and trumpet gown. These more specific styles are all dependent on where the flare occurs, Walsh explains. For the mermaid, she notes, it flares at or below the knee, while a trumpet flares at the thigh.
On a whole, the fitted or fit-and-flare dress silhouette “can range from glamorous to ultra-modern.”
Designer: Eva Lendel
Now, if you’re torn or like a mix-and-match variety, you’re in luck because these days wedding gowns and dress designers are fulfilling those fantasies with convertible elements like overskirts, detachable trains, and more. We’ve featured plenty of dresses and designers that offer such versatility when it comes to your wedding dress. Truly, like never before, the sky’s the limit! Just look no further than WONÁ Concept, Eva Lendel, and celebrity designer Galia Lahav.
Photos courtesy of Anna Walsh