Bridal Bible Gown Guide

Get the Low Down on the Lingo

We’re no dressmakers here at Bridal Bible (we’re lucky enough to work with these amazing people, but we’re mere mortals ourselves!) and our focus is squarely on style, so we won’t even try to get all technical on the dress structure front. But, when you go in search of your wedding dress, you’ll hear a lot of weird words - these are dressmaking terms that may confuse you – they definitely confused us! The most frequently used terms relate to the wedding dress silhouette. So, we want to give you the skinny on the essential silhouette related lingo! Paper and pads at the ready girls!

The silhouette is basically the core shape of your dress. Almost every dress will have one of six silhouettes regardless of its style. We think the best (and the most fun) way to find out which silhouette you love is to try them all on and see which you feel most fabulous in!

Now, it’s important to know that you don’t have to know anything about silhouettes before you begin your dress search – your boutique owner or designer will know all of this already and will use his or her wonderful experience to help you and in our experience are all really lovely, knowledgeable and helpful. But for those of you who’d like to know, here’s the lowdown:

A-Line or Princess

A-line or Princess

This cut compliments just about every kind of figure. With a slight flare in the skirt that generally begins at the waist (but can also start higher up, near the shoulders), it hides problem areas below and gives the illusion of a slimmer waist. This cut can make any bride feel like a princess! (See Kate Middleton, Kate Bosworth & Amy Adams above).

Ball Gown

Ball Gown

With a fitted bodice and full skirt gracing the floor, the Ball Gown will make you feel like dancing! The ball-gown silhouette looks particularly good on women with small waists and is really flattering for the less-buxom bride (which includes Kate Moss ladies lets not forget!). The ball gown silhouette is basically a really full skirted A-line dress. (See SJP, Jennifer Hudson and Emma Watson above).


Very flattering on petite women or those with a smaller chest size, empire waists are waistlines that fall right below the bust, with the rest of the dress being straight or slightly flared. This cut accentuates the top, giving you the appearance of a larger bust, and the illusion of height. It’s also great for those of us lucky enough to have a medium to large bust. Lot’s of bohemian style dresses are empire line. (See Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Richie and Karen Koster above).


Mermaid or Trumpet

Beyonce, Diane Kruger and Dress G are good examples showing a narrow, body-hugging gown that flares dramatically at or below the knee like a mermaid’s tale. Good for showing off your curves, especially if you’re tall. Flaunt it ladies! Lots of Va-Va-Voom style dresses are mermaid shaped. (See Beyonce, Diane Kruger and Cameron Diaz above).


Be proud of your body, and flaunt it! The sheath cut hugs your body, highlighting your curves in usually a lighter fabric. This cut usually also features a detachable train, making it a great dress for the service and the reception. Great for hourglass figures. This shape is like an evening gown. Basically, the mermaid style without the flared bottom! (See Holly Willoughby, Megan Fox and Gweneth Paltrow above).



Like a long tank top. May be backless or bias-cut*, but usually without much ornamentation. Very elegant. Good for tall and slender figures. (See Rihanna, Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Kate Moss above).

Bias Cut

Bias Cut

And finally the elusive bias cut, the meaning of which not many know. The best way to describe this mysterious dress shape is as gowns cut on the ‘true bias’ which means they hug and cling to the hips and midriff and fall beautifully. Many times they seem like a second skin. So, not for the faint hearted, but if you do take the plunge we know you’ll rock it! (See Christina Hendricks, Eva Longoria and Diane Kruger above).

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