Every bride wants to look beautiful on her big day, but not all of us are blessed with perfect bodies. The secret to feeling your best is to find a gown that flatters your figure and hides your flaws. Here’s a quick guide to get you started…
By Nicole Allen. Illustrations by White Lilly Bridal
About: This classic cut is narrow at the top and wider at the bottom, just like an uppercase ‘A’. It cinches the waist, skims the hips and balances the shoulders, making it universally flattering.
Best for: Pear shapes and brides who want to wear a full skirt, but without the drama or formality of a ball gown.
Avoid if: You want to stand out from the crowd – after all, it is the most popular style around.
About: Similar to the standard A-line, but with a closer fitting skirt that gently flares from the hips rather than from the waist.
Best for: Brides who want a floatier look and feel.
Avoid if: You have your heart set on a sleek, sexy style – the modern A-line
is soft and feminine.
About: A body-hugging silhouette that is fitted from chest to mid-thigh, then
gently flares to the ground like a trumpet.
Best for: Brides with curves, especially hourglass shapes.
Avoid if: Your torso is apple-shaped, as this style accentuates the stomach area and waist. It can also make hips appear wider.
About: This form-fitting style tightly hugs the body from chest to knee, before breaking into a fuller skirt.
Best for: Slender frames and hourglass body types who are happy to highlight their curves.
Avoid if: You carry most of your weight on the upper half of your body as this silhouette can be unforgiving on the tummy! It is typically tight too, so can restrict movement.
About: Often referred to as a ‘princess dress’, this fairy-tale favourite boasts a tight bodice, tiny waist and full, voluminous skirt.
Best for: Pear-shaped body types as the large skirt camouflages the hips and thighs. Boyish shapes benefit too as the full silhouette helps to create the illusion of curves.
Avoid if: You’re petite, as such a large skirt can overwhelm a small frame.
About: A flirtatious dress style with a shorter hemline that falls anywhere between the ankle and knee – most typically the mid-calf region.
Best for: Fun-loving brides who want to celebrate (read: dance!) without the restriction of a long skirt. Because bodices are typically fitted and skirts quite full, this style flatters all body types.
Avoid if: You have issues with your ankles or seldom wear long dresses and might later regret not taking the opportunity to do so.
About: A thigh-skimming number that is more often associated with cocktail parties, this short dress is a favourite among modern, city-dwelling brides.
Best for: Brides with slim figures and great legs.
Avoid if: You’re shy about showcasing your body – remember to sit gracefully at all times!
About: This narrow design – also known as a sheath – follows the natural line of the body and doesn’t flare. It usually stops at the ankle, but shorter hemlines are an option too (cue the mini or pencil skirt).
Best for: Boyish figures and petite brides as the slim silhouette adds length.
Avoid if: You’re pear-shaped – a straight-up-and-down cut will only emphasise your lower body and make you look unbalanced.
About: This versatile style has a raised waistline that begins just beneath the bust. It’s usually paired with wide-set straps or sleeves and a soft, flowing skirt.
Best for: All figure types, but especially brides who want to draw attention to their neckline. The empire cut can create the illusion of fuller breasts, especially if embellishment is added, or it can help to minimise a large bust. It’s also useful for those who want to conceal their mid-sections, and is an elegant option for pregnant brides.
Avoid if: You want a form-fitting, sexy dress.
About: Straight or scalloped, as the name implies, there is not a strap or sleeve in sight with this widely appealing neckline!
Good for: Straight-across necklines show off toned shoulders and collarbones, while sweetheart cuts show off the décolletage.
Bad for: Big arms and big busts that need lots of support. It’s also not ideal for flat-chested brides as there’s no hiding what isn’t there!
Halter (or high neck)
About: This sculpted style has straps that wrap around the back of the neck or a high neck with deep armholes.
Good for: Small to medium busts, long torsos and broad shoulders.
Bad for: Brides who aren’t comfortable showing off their upper arms.
About: This elegant style, also known as the boat neck, follows the tip of the collarbone to the curve of the shoulders.
Good for: Small-breasted brides.
Bad for: Busty brides, as the cut enhances the chest area.
About: A classic cut with sex appeal, the V-neck dips down between the
breasts and draws the eye to the centre of the waist. It also emphasises the neckline and décolletage.
Good for: All figure types. The smaller your chest, the lower the V can go.
Bad for: Large busts that require solid support.
About: A universally flattering U-shaped classic that can be cut high or low.
Good for: Almost everyone!
About: A bridal classic, this pretty scalloped cut creates a natural heart shape across the chest, emphasising the breasts and elongating the neckline.
Good for: Brides with an attention-worthy décolletage.
Bad for: Flat-chested bodies.
About: Red-hot right now, this gorgeous option covers the chest with
sheer net or lace. It’s particularly popular over a sweetheart bodice.
Good for: Brides who want to show just a hint of skin.
About: This contemporary option, also called an asymmetrical neckline, features a single strap across the left or right shoulder.
Good for: Brides with fantastic upper arms, collarbones and shoulders. It also benefits pear shapes by drawing attention away from the lower body.
Bad for: Broad shoulders and boxy or straight torsos.
Off the shoulder
About: This neckline sits below the shoulders and collarbone with a portion
of fabric covering the upper arms.
Good for: Almost all figure types, especially medium-chested and pear-shaped brides.
Bad for: Broad shoulders and fuller arms.