Your Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Styles and Silhouettes

"You'll fall hard for the dress - but will you fall for long or short? Here are the terms to know for identifying the silhouette and hemlines that make your heart race."

Art by Tanya Leigh

The one thing that really makes a bride-to-be really feel like she's a princess is saying yes to the dress! Anything you wear - whether it's long or short, pricey or a steal - should reflect your personality to make you look and feel your best. Just remember to stay true to your style and you'll be the definition of a beautiful bride! 

Your Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Styles and Silhouettes
Art by Tanya Leigh

Martha Stewart Weddings: Ideas and InspirationMartha's newest book - and on sale now - provides a great game plan for your shopping trip of a lifetime! To avoid being completely overwhelmed by the endless possibilities, you should spend some time thinking about the style, silhouette and hemline you want. Brides come in all shapes and sizes - and luckily, so do wedding gowns. Using Martha Stewart Weddings: 'Learn the Lingo'  we have compiled definitions and examples of different hemlines and silhouettes for the bride-to-be. "You'll fall hard for the dress - but will you fall for long or short? Here are the terms to know for identifying the silhouette and hemlines that make your heart race." Meet your potential match below:

Martha Stewart Weddings: TBD
Art by Tanya Leigh

Silhouette: Halter

"This term refers the neckline of a gown which loops around the neck and exposes the shoulders. Along with one-shoulder silhouettes, this style is especially lovely on brides with long torsos."

Hemline: Cathedral

"Drops seven feet from the waist."

Martha Stewart Weddings: TBD
Art by Tanya Leigh

Silhouette: Mermaid

"This silhouette (also known as the fit-and-flare or trumpet) hugs the torso but jets out into a fuller skirt somewhere below the knees. The gown should fit snugly in the hips and thighs while allowing enough room to sit, so go ahead and have a seat during your fittings."

Hemline: Semicathedral

"Extends five to six feet from the waist."

Martha Stewart Weddings: TBD
Art by Tanya Leigh

Silhouette: Sheath

"Popularized in the 1950s by Marilyn Monroe, the slim, close-fitting shape encases the body like the sheath of a sword (hence the name). Its profile is sculpted with darts, tucks, and seams, making it a nice choice for women who are larger on the top than on the bottom."

Hemline: Floor Length

"Touches the floor."

Martha Stewart Weddings: TBD
Art by Tanya Leigh

Silhouette: A-Line

"The classic '50s cut flatteringly cinches the smallest part of your natural waist before flaring out gradually to camouflage hips and balance wide shoulders. It's a great way to wear a full skirt without the drama of a ball gown, which is, for want of a better word, poufier right from the waist."

Hemline: Mini

"Hits above the knees."

You'll always remember what you wore on your wedding day, so choose something you feel amazing in. You'll make a spectacular entrance - and a lasting memory."

–Kate Berry, Creative Director, Martha Stewart Weddings

Martha Stewart Weddings: TBD
Art by Tanya Leigh

Silhouette: Bateau

"Modest but so chic, a bateau neckline spans across the collarbone from shoulder to shoulder. Also called a boatneck, it gets its name from the French word for boat, because it was traditionally seen on sailors' blouses and sweaters. Audrey Hepburn, most notably in the film Sabrina (which is yet another name for the retro style), was also a fan of this neckline, which makes shoulders look wider and waists smaller. A bateau neckline best compliments pear-shaped and smaller-busted brides."

Hemline: Knee Length

"Grazes the knees."

Martha Stewart Weddings: TBD
Art by Tanya Leigh

Silhouette: V-Neck

"What's not to love about this neckline, which shows off a pretty decolletage and draws the eye right to the smallest part of the torse? It looks great on all but the slimmest brides and is adored by fuller-figured women because of its waist-whittling effect."

Hemline: Midcalf

"Ends just below the knee."

Martha Stewart Weddings: TBD
Art by Tanya Leigh

Silhouette: Empire

"Napoleon's wife Josephine introduced the high-waisted dress after the French Revolution, and it's still popular today. The cropped bodice compliments smaller-breasted women and the raised waist creates a long line, making it ideal for petite brides. As for the skirt, anything goes: It can be perfectly straight, slightly flared, or as wide as an A-line." [Illustrated here with a straighter-styled skirt.]

Hemline: Tea Length

"Skims the shins."

Martha Stewart Weddings: TBD
Art by Tanya Leigh

Silhouette: Ball Gown

"Introduced by Queen Victoria, reimagined by Dior in the 1950s, and a longtime favorite or traditionally inclined princess brides, this shape features a full skirt and a fitted waist. It's excellent for hiding problem areas in the hips and thighs - and for making a grand entrance."

Hemline: Chapel

"Stretches four feet from the waist."

Be sure to check out Martha Stewart Weddings: Ideas and Inspiration - on sale now - for all of your Martha Stewart-worthy wedding planning needs! 

Fashion, beauty and lifestyle editor at Livingly. Miami Hurricane obsessed, forever Miami Heat loyal, Food Network junkie. You can reach me anytime at alison.higgins@livingly.com.
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