Special/Signature Issues » Bridal Style

Shopping 411: Wedding Gown Basics / Shape Up!

Relax; we're talking about the overall shape of your gown here. Referred to as a silhouette, there are four basic dress shapes, as follows:

Ball gown - Traditional cut with a fitted bodice that cascades into a full bell-shaped skirt at the waist; perfect for princesses. Pros: Adds curves, hides hips. Cons: Full skirt may overwhelm petite brides, disproportions hourglass figures.

Empire - Trademark period cut with a high, feminine waistline that starts right under the bust and falls into a slimmer skirt. Pros: Elongates lines of the body. Cons: Disproportions hourglass figures.

A-line/Princess - Most popular cut that, as its name implies, is narrow at the top, with skirt flaring out at the bottom. Pros: Flatters most figures. Cons: None!

Sheath - Modern slim cut that hugs the line of the body quite closely. Pros: Flatters tall and petite frames that are slender. Cons: Close cut reveals figure flaws.

By choosing a silhouette that flatters your figure, you're destined to look gorgeous in your gown. Other design elements that will embellish this are length, neckline, sleeves, fabric, detailing and accessories. Additional factors affecting your decision should include your wedding's style (formal, garden, destination, etc.), location, time and theme.

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