On the hunt for the perfect wedding gown? The quest for that dream dress is no small feat – besides the wedding budget and dress code, choosing the actual gown requires planning and close attention to the tiniest details. Before you begin your search (and to help make dress shopping a tad less stressful), zero in on your best options by knowing the most figure-flattering silhouette for your body type. From knockout mermaid-cut dresses to the classic A-line, we dish out the eight most common dress styles for all frames...

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Photo: Zuhair Murad Fall/Winter 2016

Ball Gown

With its full, bell-shaped skirt offset by a fitted bodice that cinches at the waist, the traditional ball gown is the silhouette of choice for brides dreaming of a princess-worthy look and a dramatic entrance.

Best for: Most body types, including those with wider hips and fuller figures, as it disguises problems in the hips and thighs.
Avoid if: You’re a bride of petite stature, as the voluminous silhouette of the skirt may overwhelm your frame. Pear-shaped brides should also approach with caution, as the multiple layers of fabric may add unflattering width.

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Photo: Ryan Scott Photography

A-Line

The universally-flattering A-Line dress has a fitted and narrow bodice, and extends out along the body in the shape of an “A" without the dramatic poofiness of a ballgown.

Best for: All body types. The fitted bodice of the A-line gown highlights a small waist while its full skirt camouflages wider hips and bottoms. It also elongates the torso, making this a dream silhouette for petite frames.

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Photo: Brandon Aquino

Mermaid

Add a little va-va-voom to your wedding look with the subtly sexy mermaid silhouette. It hugs the body at the top and flares out close to the knee.

Best for: Slender frames, hourglass figures and brides wishing to show off their gym-honed bodies. For boyish and waifish figures, this curve-creating silhouette is a godsend with its emphasis on the waist and hips, giving the illusion of an hourglass figure.
Avoid if: You don't want to emphasise a fuller figure, as this silhouette hides absolutely nothing. Also stay clear if you'd like more freedom to dance (or gorge on that feast you shelled out so much for) as the clingy silhouette will restrict your movements.

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Photo: Jana Williams Photography

Trumpet

Similar to the mermaid silhouette is the trumpet – the only difference between the two is that the trumpet flares out mid-thigh.

Best for: Body types with smaller waists, such as hourglass figures and petites. It elongates the form and makes the torso appear longer and leaner.
Avoid if: You have a pear or apple-shaped body, as this silhouette draws attention to the stomach and hip area.

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Photo: David's Bridal

Sheath

A silhouette that hugs and follows the line of the body, the sheath is a popular choice for brides with a charming, antiquated style.

Best for: Brides-to-be who have lean figures or are petite, as it will elongate tinier frames.
Avoid if: You have a pear-shaped figure, as it can add extra inches to the lower half of the body. It’s a rather unforgiving silhouette, so steer clear of this if you’re looking to conceal problem areas.

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Photo: Rebecca Yale Photography

Empire

This silhouette has a high-waisted seam just below the bustline, and either flares out into an A-Line or a sheath. It does not cling to the body; rather, it gently cascades down the form, creating a gorgeous Grecian-goddess look while assuring maximum comfort for the wearer.

Best for: It’s ideal for most body types but is especially flattering for petite brides, as it will give the illusion of longer legs.
Avoid if: You have an hour glass figure, as it will hide your curves or worse, make you look disproportionate.

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Photo: Brighton Belle

Tea Length

Modern brides, keep it short and sweet with a fifties-inspired tea-length dress, which typically falls between the ankle and knee. 

Best for: Most body types and those who wish to flaunt their legs.
Avoid if: You have a petite figure, as it will shorten your frame.

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Photo: Watters

The Mini

The mini wedding dress is an increasingly popular choice for modern brides throwing casual dos and daytime weddings. Note that the hemline isn't necessarily 'mini', but falls anywhere above the knee.

Best for: Most body types, particularly brides-to-be looking to flaunt their shapely pins.

 

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