Maybe it’s the seasons changing, or maybe it’s because pregnancy brain is a real thing, but I have been in such a writing rut lately. I have over 50 topics to write about, yet I struggle to type a single word. To get some of my inspo back, I’m going back to the basics; back to where my heart sits in bridal… WEDDING GOWNS!
The idea of this website came about because the longer I worked as a consultant, the more I realized girls just “didn’t know” what they should know. Appointments can be challenging because a simple question like, “What kind of silhouette are you interested in?” can turn a girl’s world upside down. The more knowledge I can expose on simple topics like this, the more prepared a bride will be stepping into her appointments.
To simplify this post, I’ve broken down wedding gowns into four main silhouettes; Ball gowns, A-lines, Fit-to-flares, and Sheath. Each dress shape has pros and cons, and flatters certain body types more than others. Keep in mind though, no matter what “rules” or guidelines I may suggest, the only thing that REALLY matters is that you feel comfortable, confident, and beautiful in your wedding gown.
- Ball Gown
Let’s start with the biggest gown, the “princess gown”, the one most little girls dream of when they’re playing dress up at age 5. Just like it’s called, the ball gown is the gown similar to Cinderella’s as she headed to the ball. It’s the largest and fullest skirt of them all. Of course, what better example to show you, than my very own wedding gown 😉 I knew I’d always wanted to wear a ballgown for my own special day, and working as a consultant only confirmed that even more. I often tell my brides that are hesitant to the ball gown, “How many times in your life can you appropriately get away with wearing a dress like this?!” (Spoiler, once. On your wedding day.) The ball gown is great for almost any body type in my opinion. If you’re a petite framed girl, you may think this is too overwhelming for your figure, but in fact, I think the very OPPOSITE! Ball gowns are great for tiny girls because it shows off that waistline of yours, but also allows you to EXIST in the room, with a fuller bottom. If you’re a curvier girl, don’t worry, YES, you have a waistline too! Everyone has one… you just have to find the right cut to show it off. Nobody will lose you on your wedding day in a ball gown! And if you are scared of looking like a cupcake, remember that every cut and designer varies. Try on a few before totally ruling the entire style out. (Can you tell I’m biased HA!)
My Hayley Paige ballgown, London, was perfect in showing off my waistline, but also making me feel like a bride with the multiple layers of tulle!
Some of you may wonder what the difference is between a ball gown, and an A-line gown is, and to be honest, there isn’t a black & white clear answer. Sometimes it just depends on the type of fabric, the number of layers in the skirt, or where the waistline falls. I usually tell my girls that A-line gowns are perfect for the bride that is scared of anything “too poofy”, because the “capital-A” shaped skirt is just a bit smaller than a full ball gown. Usually the area near your hips falls a bit more relaxed, and overall there aren’t as many layers of skirt that you have to carry around. This type of gown is perfect for the girl that still wants to feel like a bride, but in a more subtle way. (You’ll see a difference in skirt drama from my dress above, to Katie’s below; especially in the close up, first photo of her.) A-lines are also flattering on most body types as well… still emphasizing the waist, and not focusing on hugging your hips and legs whatsoever. If you’re unsure what style to try on, ALWAYS try an A-line and work from there. If you need more drama, there’s options; and if it’s still too much fabric, there’s options!
Above, Katie is wearing the Caroline Castigliano wedding gown, Tertia. A classic A-line fit that doesn’t overwhelm her small frame, but still juuuust enough fullness at the bottom to let her twirl all day long. And just for fun, how could I NOT include that final picture?! (Can you believe her wedding actually took place right here in northern Ohio?!)
Fit-to-Flare, which you may also know as “mermaid” or trumpet” is another very popular style brides love! To make things clear though (and to be completely honest with you), STAY AWAY from any gown with the word “mermaid” in the style. Here’s why: The fitted part of your gown needs to flare just above the knees, so you can walk. A mermaid gown is technically when the flare starts below the knees. If you’re following what I’m saying, you’ll understand that any actual “mermaid” gown will leave you walking like a penguin, making it nearly impossible for your to spread your knees. **Reread what I just wrote if you’re confused LOL** Moving on…
The fit-to-flare style is exactly what it sounds like, where a gown is fitted to your body up top, showing off your figure in all ways (including that cute bum of yours, YOU’RE WELCOME FIANCE), and then flaring just above the knees to give you a little drama, and a whole lot of sass! This style is great for my girls that want to be a bit more flirty and show off what their momma gave them! With that being said, if you are petite with not much curve, I’m talking ZERO BOOTY, ZERO HIPS, etc… I don’t think this kind of style will do you any favors. My bride, Kelsey, has a petite frame, but had just enough bump in the back to give the dress what it needed. Doing a few squats will never hurt, ladies 😉 Long story short, you don’t want this dress to just HANG on you. It’s suppose to hug you in all of your right places. Like the other gowns mentioned above, don’t be afraid to just TRY. Every designer cuts differently, and you may surprise yourself once the gown is on your body.
Above, Kelsey is wearing a fit-to-flare BLISS by Monique Lhullier gown. Of course I had to feature the backside of her dress as well, because what girl doesn’t want to show off a little booty for her man 😉 FUN FACT: Kelsey was one of MY brides, and is now my Cleveland bestie!! Stay tuned for a feature on her wedding next month! <3
- Sheath AKA Straight
This straight down or “relaxed” look I would say is the hardest for girls to pull off. With a gown that doesn’t necessarily hug your hips, or have a built-in structured bottom half, the gown could possibly just fall “blah” on you, or “do nothing for your figure” as most would say. Now these gowns are gorgeous don’t get me wrong, but in my opinion, this is the one shape/style that is more so specific for a certain body type. For example, the model below is fitting perfectly into these shapes (not because it’s already hemmed and professionally fitted for the photoshoot), but because she is tall, lean, with more of a boy/athletic body. She isn’t super curvy up top or below, therefore the dress falls romantically on her. Does this make sense? For my taller girls, my more muscular/lean girls, TRY THIS STYLE OUT!
BONUS material for ya… I also wanted to briefly include “types of necklines.” This is another common topic when chatting with brides. In today’s trends; most girls aren’t wanting a strapless gown, therefore they can opt for other options such as; Off shoulder, spaghetti strap, V-neck, etc. Some quick notes about a few different styles of neckline:
The Classic Strapless (Straight or Sweetheart)- Scared of strapless because you’ll be yanking up the top every five minutes? The trick is a GOOD FIT! I promise you that if your dress is altered correctly at your waist, your bust isn’t going anywhere!
Spaghetti Straps (or any kind of strap for that matter!)- Keep in mind straps are really just for looks. Refer back to the previous bullet point… it’s all about the fit in the waistline!!
Off shoulder- Beware if you are are a big partier! Although the off-the-shoulder look is romantic, you’ll be limited on raising your arms in the air. If you’re stuck on the idea though, maybe ask if you can make the straps detachable, allowing you to reeeaaally dance later in the evening.
High neck- Limit your jewelry! Next topic.
Plunging neck- Let me start off and say that I LOVE a good deep V/plunging neck-line. Unfortunately though, I don’t believe every girl can pull it off well. Finally, something us small chested girls can flaunt! Yep, if you’re bigger busted, this may not be the style for you. If you fall on the smaller side though (like me), take advantage and show a little skin… in a classy way of course.
One of my favorite things about bridal gowns are that there are ENDLESS options and ENDLESS possibilities with customizations. Obviously I didn’t hit on every single silhouette and neckline, but hopefully just covering the basics can help you when it’s time to head into your first appointment. Like I tell my brides everyday, “Try everything on! You won’t know what you look good in until it’s on your body!” Whether it’s a Cinderella ball gown or a flirty fit-to-flare, what matters is that YOU feel beautiful <3