best wedding dresses for your body figure

Beyond Body Shapes: Best Wedding Dresses For Your Figure

by Paula Varsalona

In the last article, I talked about how to pair different silhouettes with the five main body shapes in order to create an ideal fit for your wedding gown. Of course, these aren’t the only aspects of the body that will affect what dress will work best for you. So today, I’ll be discussing five additional body types. To review the different body types and silhouettes I’ll be discussing, make sure to read The Definitive Guide to Your Wedding Dress Body Type and my Guide to Silhouettes.

1) Petite

At 5’3’’ and under, a petite bride is usually quite small of statue. In dressing a petite figure, it’s important to remember that a slight frame is easily overwhelmed. Extremely full skirts can engulf a petite bride, making her look even smaller and almost child-sized. At the same time, a dropped waist can truncate the figure on a petite bride, making the legs look extremely short. Instead, take advantage of your smaller frame with a form fitting trumpet, mermaid, and sheath gown. An empire waistline is also a good choice, as the high-waisted bodice will both lengthen your figure, giving the illusion of height, while bringing the focus to the slim upper frame. For any gown, detailing should be kept chiefly to the bodice, bringing the attention to the bride’s face.

best wedding dresses for petite brides
Left: Casablanca Right: Cristiano Lucci

2) Plus-size

The key to dress shopping for a plus-size bride is to know your body shape. After all, being plus-sized only determines the numerical size of the dress, and nothing about the bride’s actual figure. In general, a fuller-figured bride can work a bolder gown like a princess ball gown or full a-line beautifully, though it will be better to look for a more structured fabric rather than something too light and flowing, as it will hold its shape better.

best wedding dresses for plus size brides
Left: Venus Women Right: Allure Bridals

3) Tall

The most important thing for a tall bride to check is whether her sleeves and gown are long enough. Taller brides can fall victim to buying a dress designed for a shorter bride, where the skirt or sleeves end awkwardly.

With a longer figure, a tall bride can wear a dropped waist gown and longer legs will bring out the full potential of a long, flowing skirt. Column dresses are not the most flattering shape on a slim, tall figure. Although, flared skirts, trumpets, or ball gowns will flatter the long, lean figure. The most important thing for a tall bride to remember is that her sleeves and gowns are made long enough. So be sure to work with a manufacturer who will give you that extra length

best wedding dresses for tall brides
Left: Casablanca Bridal Right: Justin Alexander

4) Small Bust

A bride looking to enhance her bust should look for bodices with intricate designs and embellishments, as any fabric manipulation on the bodice will draw attention to the chest and create the illusion of a more prominent bust. For a greater effect, don’t be afraid to ask to have a bust pad inserted in the bodice of the gown.

best wedding dresses for brides with small bust
Left: Sophia Tolli Right: Justin Alexander

5) Large Bust

A bride looking to de-emphasize her bust should, by contrast, avoid heavily detailed bodices. Any shiny or glittery details, pleating, or ruching are designed to add to the bust, especially. An open neckline, such as a scoop, V-neck, or U-neck works well for a busty bride. To keep the bodice from slipping, I advise brides with large busts to avoid going strapless. However, if a bride insists on going strapless, spaghetti straps or a halter are frequently used.

best wedding dresses for brides with a large bust
Left: Allure Couture Right: Blue by Enzoani

Now that we’ve finished with the fundamentals of dress shopping, next time I’ll start discussing different trends and traditions in bridal fashion, and how to style them to best suit you. Until then!



Paula's PhotoAbout the Author

Paula Varsalona, internationally recognized as one of the principal couture designers of bridal apparel, has been a leader in the fashion industry for over 40 years.  As the designer of and manufacturer of the Paula Varsalona Group, Ms. Varsalona offers unique and personalized fashion statements for every bride. Paula is an adjunct associate professor who teaches upper division fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC.