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Taking Shape in your Bridal Gown

With as many different bridal gowns out there as there are brides, it can be overwhelming to start the search for your perfect dress. Without exception, that search begins with you and understanding your body type - what you want to accentuate as well as what you’d prefer to conceal – to ensure you look as magnificent as you feel on your wedding day.

With that in mind, most brides-to-be usually have a fixed idea about what length of dress they prefer:

  • Mini length:   Think micro-skirt – a confident and casual choice for the bride with legs to die for!
  • Knee length:  You’ll still want to have a great set of pins for this length but we’re getting a little more elegant.
  • Tea length:    Approximately shin length with an air of mid-century modernity and sophistication.
  • Floor length:  By far the most popular length for both traditional and ultra-modern weddings.

Once you have a length in mind, you can turn your attention to the shape. The silhouette of your dress is the most discerning feature that will help you whittle down your choice:

Ball gown

This silhouette is what fairytale weddings are made of – a fitted bodice to the waist with a full skirt. Without a doubt, this is the grandest and most traditional shape, popular for formal weddings. It’s the kind of dress you’re not likely to wear again (nor likely to have worn before). Ball gowns suit most body types but are especially great for pear-shaped figures (narrow shoulders compared to broader hips) as the fullness of the skirt accentuates a smaller wait whilst concealing the lower body. It can also balance a larger bust into a more hourglass shape. Petite brides may wish to avoid this style however, as the fullness of the skirt can overwhelm a smaller frame.  

Straight | Sheath | Column

As the name suggests, this silhouette is narrow and flows straight from the neckline to the hem like a column. It can be both formal or casual depending on the variations. The shape of this dress comes from the figure beneath it, which generally means that it is better worn by lean frames and more rectangular body types. Petite brides may find this style elongating. If you have curves and are confident showing them off, this may also be the dress for you but be warned: sheath dresses tend to hug the body so it will showcase all you curves – the good, the bad, and the ugly! Pear-shaped figures are best advised to avoid these dresses.

 Natalie - La White


This magical silhouette is a friend to all! It derives its name from the shape it creates with fluid line from bust to hem with an uninterrupted line like the continual line of an “A”. It is sometimes referred to as a Princess Line dress. It is simple, classic and versatile. This one silhouette can slim a rounder figure; hide a fuller lower body; elongate a shorter stature; and even give the illusion of curves to a narrow physique. Fitting the bodice and hips before gradually flaring to the hem is a popular modification to an A-Line gown.


Like the instrument it is named for, the Trumpet silhouette flares gradually from a form-fitted body, usually from the mid-thigh. Of course, this point can vary which places the Trumpet somewhere between and Modified A-Line and Mermaid (see below). This design is great for showcasing the smaller waistline of hourglass figures, petite statures and more rectangular shapes. Apple-shaped figures (broader shoulder and bust with smaller hips) should avoid this cut, as should pear-shapes not wishing to accentuate their stomach and hip areas.



It takes two things to get away with a Mermaid silhouette – curves and confidence! This is a bold shape that hugs to body from the bust all the way to the knees where it dramatically flares out like a mermaid’s tail. It is ideal for hourglass figures and perhaps best avoided by apple-shapes but with this silhouette, the thing that matters more than body type is attitude – if you feel voluptuous, sexy and sassy in your own skin, this could be the perfect choice for you.

Once you have chosen a basic silhouette, the variations are endless –sleeves, waistlines, necklines, fabrications, colour and so on – but at least you’ll be well on your way to being able sort what you do and don’t want from the seemingly endless selection of bridal gowns.

For more detailed and personal advice on what silhouette would best suit you, give us a call on (02) 9808 5535 or email us at info@emeraldbridal.com.au to make an obligation-free appointment.