Debutante Dress Skirt Types

Whether full or sleek and minimal the skirt of your wedding dress is where the drama’s at! Much of the gown's personality is all about the skirt and choosing the right skirt for you can make the difference between so-so and stunning.

Learn what you can do with your wedding dress skirt to make your gown stand out during wedding season. Here’s a guide for the most popular wedding skirt styles, details and hemlines.

skirt types 01

1. Flounce

A flounce is, broadly speaking, a wide ruffle around the hem of a wedding dress. Though flounces may be considered old fashioned, they can look very chic and modern with the right styling. Vintage wedding dresses may have only a single flounce, but layering multiple flounces at the bottom of the dress can look shabby-chic, Bohemian, or Oriental.

2. Overskirt

Many modern wedding gowns employ the overskirt technique, where the top layer reveals an underskirt of a contrasting texture. The exact configuration of an overskirt dress varies:


The overskirt falls in rounded sections, like flower petals, to reveal the underskirt near the hem

True Overskirt

The two halves of the overskirt do not actually meet at the waistline of the dress; the underskirt appears as an inverted V shape on the front of the dress

Bias Cut

The overskirt opens up along a diagonal or asymmetrical line near the waist

3. Draping

In a draped wedding dress skirt, a wide band of fabric lies across the waist and is gathered to a back or side seam. This can be the same fabric as the dress, a contrasting fabric, or even a separate color.

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4. Streamers or Tails

Tails are panels of the same or contrasting fabric, which trail behind the gown like a train. Streamers are longer than tails and sometimes thinner in width. They trail down the back of the gown.

Many brides choose to wear streamers or tails in place of a formal train. Tails and streamers can be attached in a variety of ways, but are panels of fabric that trail down the back of the dress. They may end just short of the hem or extend beyond the floor. Their length, as well as whether they’re made from the dress fabric or a contrasting fabric, decides how much they stand out.

5. Pleated

Wedding dress skirts can be either accordion pleated or box pleated.

Accordion pleats are numerous, closely-spaced pleats that all face the same direction. A flowing white accordion pleated dress can look very Grecian. Accordion pleated skirts are best with relatively plain bodices.

Box pleats are highly structured and pressed square pleats that are spaced further apart. As you look at a bride from the front, usually only two pleats are visible. Box pleats on the skirt add a touch of visual interest without competing with a busy or heavily embellished bodice.

6. Tiered

Tiered wedding dress skirts are made from various layers of identical fabric. This achieves a soft, feathery, almost floaty appearance. The tiers may run horizontally or diagonally, and the size of the tiers (wide or narrow) dramatically impacts their appearance. Tiered skirts look best with a relatively plain bodice that doesn’t compete for visual attention.

bustle, bubble, mermain, fanback skirts

7. Bustle

In the bustle, fabric is gathered at the back of the gown (near the bottom of the bride’s spine) and secured with a series of hooks and buttons. It is commonly a method for drawing up a long wedding dress train for the wedding reception.

8. Bubble

The bubble shaped skirt is wide at the knee and is tapered inward at the hem. The bottom hem has a puffy, rounded appearance. This shape of skirt, popular in above-the-knee prom dresses in the 1980s, is making a comeback. Both above-the-knee and floor-length varieties of bubble wedding dresses are gaining popularity.

9. Mermaid or Trumpet

The Mermaid shaped wedding dress skirt is a fitted skirt that suddenly flares out just below the knee of the bride.

For a little less skin-hugging and a slightly more modest wedding gown, try the Trumpet shape, which features a straight-line skirt that flares out at about knee level.

10. Fanback or Fishtail

Similar in shape to the mermaid and trumpet skirts, the fanback and fishtail skirts achieve their shapes by attaching a separate triangular piece of fabric to the back of the skirt. The fanback skirt is accordion pleated; the fishtail is not. This is a fabulous little detail that transforms the bride’s entire silhouette from behind.