Wedding Gown Style Guide

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Your wedding gown is a distinctive garment that will sanctify the present, honor the past, and celebrate the future. As a bride, you want your dress to represent you and to express your sense of taste, style and tradition. Immerse yourself in the most exciting purchase of your life and your perfect dress will be meticulously chosen. Almost every bridal gown available today is made in one of five basic silhouettes -- ball gown, A-line, empire, sheath and mermaid -- and each of these shapes has strong advantages and disadvantages, depending on your particular figure. To simplify your shopping, the first thing you need to do is determine which styles are most flattering to you.

Ball Gown

Ball gown is the most romantic of all bridal silhouettes. It features a small waist (natural or dropped) and a voluminous skirt with petticoats. Most flattering to women of at least average height with hourglass or full figures, this style's skirt will overwhelm a petite or a particularly buxom bride. Depending on the fabric, the skirt can appear weightless or heavy.

A-line/Princess

This enduring style's name comes from the triangle (or "A" shape) between the narrow bodice and outer edges of the wide, smooth skirt. Suitable for a variety of fabrics, the A-line is versatile: It may or may not have a seam at the waist, which may be higher or lower than the natural waistline; and the close-fitting bodice may be strapless or have any type of neckline. Flatters most body shapes including petites and full figures, bad for almost no one.

Empire

The cropped bodice of the Empire style flatters the small-breasted and thick-waisted woman; the raised waist creates a long line, ideal for a petite bride. The skirt may be straight, slightly flared, or even as wide as an A-line.

Sheath

If you are comfortable with showing off your curves, consider the slyly constructed sheath, popularized in the 1950s by Marilyn Monroe. This body-hugging profile is artfully sculpted with darts, tucks, and seams. The effect will differ depending on the weight and drape of the fabric. A great choice for a tall, slim-hipped woman, the sheath is equally becoming to a petite, slender bride. Avoid this style if you have wide hips but narrow shoulders.

Mermaid

A body-hugging shape silhouette with skirt flares out either at the knee or just below it. Flatters the tall and hourglass figures, not recommend for the pear shape.
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