Fitting Your Body Type

December 12, 2013

We’re all different (thank goodness!) and it’s important to find a dress style that flatters your body. Emphasize the positive aspects and minimize you less-than-ideal areas that we all have. Select the best description(s) for your body below, and we’ll point you in a suitable direction. These are suggestions, and are NOT set in stone. The bottom line: try on many different styles – you’ll know the right one when you see it.

PETITE / SHORT: Sheath, A-line, or Mermaid are all flattering styles on a petite figure. To add height, combine a short sleeve or sleeveless dress with long gloves. Also consider a dress with a high neckline and empire waist to elongate your figure. Big ball gowns and veils that are longer than the floor can overwhelm a petite frame.

FULL FIGURED: Ball gown or A-line styles are especially flattering on fuller figures. The fitted waist and full skirt of a ball gown emphasizes your beautiful curves, and hides any figure “issues” below the waist. An A-Line silhouette will flatter practically any figure. Consider a neckline with beading and other details to help draw the eye upward, and balance your silhouette.

LARGE BUST: The following necklines work well with a large bust: keyhole, high, v-neck or illusion yoke. You may also want to consider finding a gown style that allows you to wear a bra with straps, for the best support. It’s all about proportion and balance, so consider a dress with beading, lace and other details around the hemline and the bottom half of the dress, versus the bodice.

FULL HIPS: A-line, ball gown, flared skirt, or cinched waist styles are all very flattering to this body type. A broader neckline such as off-the-shoulder, Portrait, Bateau or Sabrina can help balance your overall silhouette nicely.

SMALL BUST: While many styles can be flattering, consider styles that include extra details – layering, beadwork, ruching, lacework, etc – around the bust line for fullness and balance. Have cups sewn into your gown’s bodice so you can eliminate the need for a bra – one less thing to worry about!

HOURGLASS: This “curves-in-all-the-right-places” body looks great in simple, classic styles such as sheaths, mermaid, or a fitted princess gown. Consider a v-neck, off-the-shoulder or scoop neck – these necklines provide nice balance and proportion to an hourglass shape.

INVERTED TRIANGLE: Full skirts or full trains are a great way to balance out your overall silhouette, when you’re fuller on top and through the shoulders. Also consider dresses with bustles, bows, and other adornments on the bottom half of the gown.

TRIANGLE/PEAR SHAPED: Consider full sleeve treatments, padded or pouf sleeve to balance out your fuller bottom half. Also consider a textured bodice with heavy beading, and flattering neckline that will draw focus upward.

TALL: A drop-waisted dress with a lower neckline or any off-the-shoulder style looks great on taller figures. If you’re also slender, a sheath or mermaid style will really show off your slim frame. Sometimes when you’re thin, your shoulders and collar bone can look “bony” – and if so, you may want a dress style that covers those areas more. Something else to consider: pouf veils and up-do’s will add to your overall height.

THICK WAIST OR RECTANGLE-SHAPED: An Empire silhouette looks especially flattering on those body types that are fuller through the waist. Consider using strong detail on the upper or lower body, but not both, to give the illusion of curves.

Gown Silhouettes

A-LINE: The A-line silhouette has a fitted bodice, and the skirt flares out gently from the waistline to the hemline. This gown style gets its name from the “A” shape it creates: small at the top and larger at the bottom. Good for: Almost every figure.

BALL GOWN: The ball gown is the most traditional silhouette (think “Cinderella”) and features a fitted bodice and waistline with a very full skirt. Good for: Drawing attention to a small waist and hiding full hips.

EMPIRE: This silhouette features a high waistline that is right beneath the bust line leading into a slender skirt. Good for: Hiding a thick waist and adding length.

MERMAID: The Mermaid silhouette is a form-fitting style that accentuates curves and flares at or just below the knee. Good for: Tall & slender frames and adding length to a petite figure.

PRINCESS:  Similar to the A-line, the Princess silhouette includes a sculpted bodice and skirt that flares gently to the hemline, and it’s vertical lines mean basically no waistline. Good for: Elongating a short waist and petite figures.

SHEATH: The Sheath silhouette features straight lines that follow the curves of the body. Good for: Slimmer figures, both tall and petite.


BATEAU: This neckline curves downward slightly below the collarbone to the edge of the shoulders.

HALTER: This neckline has a collar that wraps around the neck, usually with a low-cut back.

ILLUSION YOKE: This neckline features a transparent fabric, lace or netting, that is fitted at the neckline and extends to the bust line.

JEWEL: Like a t-shirt, the Jewel neckline is a high, rounded neckline usually falling above the color bone.

OFF-THE-SHOULDER: As the name suggests, this neckline frames the face, neck and shoulders by falling just below the shoulders and across the bustling.

PORTRAIT: An off-the-shoulder style, this neckline folds around the shoulders, like a fitted and structured shawl.

QUEEN ANNE: This style has a heart-shaped neckline in the front combined with a collar-like back, similar to the style worn during the reign of Queen Anne in 18th Century England.

SABRINA: Similar to a bateau neckline, the Sabrina style begins two inches in from each shoulder and curves gently downward below the collarbone.

SCOOP: This neckline is low and rounded with a “U” shape.

SPAGHETTI STRAPS: This neckline has thin straps and can be straight across or shaped.

SQUARE/COURT: This neckline is low, like the scoop neckline, but with a squared shape.

STRAPLESS: This neckline has no straps and can be straight across or shaped.

SWEETHEART: This neckline dips to a heart shape at the bust line.

V-NECK: This neckline dips to a “V” in the center.

WEDDING BAND: This neckline features a band that circles the neck.

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