A Guide to Every Wedding Dress Silhouette
Are you ready to shop for your wedding dress? This handy guide will help get you started.
There are few moments as exhilarating as your grand entrance as a bride. With all eyes on you, you'll want a wedding dress that will flatter you flawlessly and set the tone for the occasion, and there's a silhouette—a dreamy ball gown, perhaps, or a mini, or even a chic pantsuit?—to do just that. Here, you'll find fresh-from-the-runway takes on the most timeless styles. Believe us: When you find your perfect fit, you'll know it. And thanks to this comprehensive guide, you'll be able to name it, too.
Of course, by this point in your life, you likely know basic shapes that flatter your distinct body type. We're simply here to help you translate those instincts into actual ideas for your walk down the aisle. With this handy guide in your corner (or on your screen), you'll arrive at bridal salon armed with the terminology that'll help you (and your stylist!) decide on a look you absolutely love. And, since we've used brand-new styles from our favorite designers, you might just find the exact wedding dress you'll wear on the big day.
The best part about this silhouette break-down? You'll realize that so many wedding dress cuts work for all kinds of shapes and sizes. The only difficult part is choosing one that makes you feel like the very best version of yourself—like a bride. If you're ready to get that pre-wedding-dress-shopping research done and out of the way, click through. You just might discover a shape, detail, or label that inspires your eventual choice.
This charmingly retro silhouette is friendly to many—but especially more petite figures. This Viktor&Rolf Mariage beauty has a shortened bodice to complement a smaller bust and a high waist to elongate the legs. It also delivers an extra dose of glam via a 3-D plexiglass flower adornment.
Viktor&Rolf Mariage "Iced Flower Audrey" Wedding Dress, price available upon request, viktor-rolf.com
Not married to the idea of a big gown? Sleek separates can be effortlessly elegant—and every bit as bridal. Take this Lela Rose ensemble, for example. The off-the-shoulder top keeps it feminine, while the matching slim-fit pants give the look a contemporary feel, just right for a glittering rooftop celebration or stroll to city hall.
Lela Rose "The Aberdeen" Wedding Pantsuit in "Soft White," $2,490,
Indulge your playful impulses with an asymmetrical dress, like this Justin Alexander Signature tulle gown. The sweetheart neckline and long bodice call attention to your midsection, making the starburst beading a fitting finishing touch.
Justin Alexander "Style 99001" Wedding Dress, price available upon request, jasignature.com
It's no wonder this beloved cut (narrow bodice, wide skirt) is so popular—it looks stunning on all body types. This simple Martin Thornburg creation even has concealed pockets, so you can keep essentials—like lip gloss and a handkerchief for happy tears—at the ready.
Martin Thornburg "Symphony" Wedding Dress in "Style 118271," $1,181, moncheribridals.com
You know what they say: If you've got it, flaunt it. When you're ready to highlight those shapely legs, opt for a hemline that hits above the knee. This Elizabeth Fillmore mini-dress is just the thing for a daytime reception or your late-night dance party—and the sheer lace top adds edgy flair.
Elizabeth Fillmore "Tippy" Mini Wedding Dress, $2,200, markingramatelier.com
Never one to miss a chance to accentuate those curves? This shapely Monique Lhuillier gown hugs your torso for an extra-flattering fit, while removable sleeves let you instantly transform your look. Just remember: This style is snug, and even the belle of the ball needs to rest—so during the fitting, be sure you can comfortably take a seat.
Monique Lhuillier "Winston" Wedding Dress, $6,290, moniquelhuillier.com
Flash just a little leg with a flirty skirt, like this lace-and-tulle wedding dress. Pair it with a wrap sweater for a modern-ballerina vibe. And don't forget the one detail this length demands: show-off-worthy shoes.
Ivy & Aster "Darcy" Wedding Dress, $1,210, and "Demi" Wrap Sweater, $198, ivyandaster.com
You've always dreamed of being a princess—and now your opportunity has arrived. Need another reason to love this romantic style? It happens to be particularly forgiving: The fitted waist and full skirt on this Alex Perry bridal gown will flatter your curves. Bonus: A mesh cut-out in the bodice gives this traditional style a bit of modern edge.
Alex Perry "Riley" Wedding Dress, $11,780, modaoperandi.com
Feeling rebellious? Defy standard silhouettes, à la this wool-and-silk Danielle Frankel design. Inverting the shape of many traditional dresses, this style features generous sleeves and a body-lengthening slim skirt. If the ball gown is
a princess's look, then this style is worthy of a queen.
Danielle Frankel "Berthe" Wedding Dress, $6,990, markingramatelier.com
If you're traditional at heart but want a fresh take for your wedding look, this might be the cut for you. The varied hemline on this ivory and champagne Oleg Cassini satin number lets you show off those killer heels all night long, while beaded floral-lace appliqués add romance.
Oleg Cassini "CWG794" Wedding Dress, $757, davidsbridal.com
The clean lines on the sleek, body-skimming Liancarlo gown are ideal for the bride with a self-assured, no-fuss attitude—and a figure to match. It doesn't need much in the way of accessories, but pair it with bold, chunky earrings to make the ultimate statement.
Liancarlo "7809" Wedding Dress, $3,095, liancarlo.com
Art direction by Michael McCormick. Styling by Jessica King. Additional styling (jewelry) by Colleen Banks. Produced by Dawn Sinkowski. Hair by Linh Nguyen for Kate Ryan Inc., using Living Proof products. Makeup by William Murphy for Atelier Management, using Estée Lauder.