Style Guide for Different Body Shapes

Not every gown flatters every body shape, as you would know from every-day clothing. There are some styles and colors that look better on you than others.

Knowing your body shape will help select a gown that fits, flatters your body, and balancing the groom's physique. This guide will help you decide which body shape you have, and which is the best style for you.

hour glass body shape

1. Hour Glass Shape

Bust and hip measurements will be equal or nearly equal. Waist measurement will be twenty cms to thirty cms smaller than the bust and hips.

Slim Hour glass figures can wear almost anything.

Fuller figured hour glass figures are best with structured waists and firmer material, but can also choose a variety of tops and skirts.

pear shaped

2. Pear Shaped

Small upper body, usually with small shoulders and bust. Small waist, but the hips and bottom two or more sizes bigger than the top; waist 20 cm to 30 cm smaller than the bust measurement; hips 15 cm plus bigger than the bust.

Pear-shaped women look stunning in the traditional skirt and fitted bodice. In fact, this style, if chosen correctly can completely obscure the lower body so as to make the bride look very slim. For girls who prefer straighter styles, an off-the-shoulder, or very wide V neck can help balance out the body shape. Empire lines also sometimes work wonders.

triangle shaped

3. Triangle Shaped

Often referred to as a sporty body or boyish body. (Most female Olympic swimmers have this body shape). This bride has very broad shoulders; may or may not have a big bust; has very little curve to the hips and has a smallish waist.

Dresses that have wider straps and / or V-necks help slim the upper body (Halter necks sometimes work) and skirts that are slimmer over the hips but fuller at the bottom helps balance the shoulders. Straight-across strapless styles are probably best avoided.

rectangle shaped

4. Rectangle Shaped

Sometimes also called an apple shape. This bride may have broad shoulders; may have large or small bust; but probably doesn’t have too much of a curve at the waist; bust and hip measurements probably about the same and waist 0 cm to 15 cm smaller than the bust measurement.

This is perhaps the trickiest body shape to dress. However, a good dress-maker with the proper construction and boning through the waist, can quite often create curves, and V-necks and flared skirts can add to the illusion of more curves. Straight-across strapless styles should be avoided as this just emphasizes the “blockiness” of the upper body. V-necks and sweetheart styles are usually the most flattering for this body type.

big busted shape

5. Big Busted

Although probably self conscious of your chest, don’t have the neckline too high as this gives an illusion of an even bigger unshapely bust. Ideally, the neckline at the centre front should be equidistant to the point of the bust as the under-bust line is to the point of the bust. (See illustrations below).

In fact, if the neckline is slightly lower it can make you look even smaller busted. Some flat pleats at an angle over the bust or seams can also create the illusion of a smaller bust. (Something cut into 3’s or 5’s looks smaller than the original whole).

small busted shaped

6. Small Busted

Thankfully these days there is all kinds of help for the small busted girl—plenty of pads to put into dresses and “chicken-fillet” thingies to wear against the skin.

Ruching, frills, and pleats over the bust, in fact any texturing seems to add volume to the bust, so look for these things in your gown.

soft waist body

7. Soft Waist

Shaping of the waist can be achieved with professional corsetry inside a gown. Look for internal boning and structure when purchasing your gown. You can literally lose inches off your waist with the right construction.

small shoulders

8. Small Shoulders

Widely-placed straps cap sleeves and off-the-shoulder bodices give the illusion of wider shoulders.

Don’t wear a dress that has too a skirt unless you are also pair-shaped.

broad shoulders

9. Broad Shoulders

Thick straps break up the expanse of the shoulder.

Fuller hems also help balance out the shoulders.

V-necks also help slim down the upper body.

back fat

10. Back Fat

Most styles of gowns should fit very snuggly at the waist, but just skim the body around the bust (strapless gowns, especially!)

If you are worried about back fat overhanging your dress, choose a style with arm holes, and be sure not to have the chest area made too tight.

short legs

11. Short Legs

I have short legs, so this one is close to home for me. High heels are a wonderful invention, but even if you can’t wear kiler heels, just make sure the proportions of the dress are right.

Empire-line gowns are wonderful—if your body shape allows—if not keep the hip line no lower than 1/3 (one third) down the dress, making the legs look like 2/3 (two thirds)