With so many beautiful choices, you need a smart strategy for dress shopping
By Nancy Mattia
When you have hundreds of wedding gowns to choose from, how can you find “the one”? By using your body type as a starting point but keeping an open mind.
“Girls who think they can’t wear something that’s fitted often can,” says Lisa Fuhrman, a bridal consultant and stylist at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York, and a cast member of Say Yes to the Dress.” “Often what a bride thinks she wants isn’t what she gets.”
We’ve outlined the most common body types and which dress silhouettes that will best flatter that figure. Pick the one that most closely matches yours, head to a store, and start shopping!
Your killer curves will get the most attention in a dress with asymmetrical ruching on the bottom.
“It’s flattering because ruching goes down and around and shows off a small waist,” says Fuhrman. “A corseted string style, which crisscrosses in the back, is also amazing for an hourglass figure.”
Avoid a column, which falls straight and covers up your curves.
If you’re small in stature, your best silhouette is one that elongates your body.
“With a short girl, you don’t want to cut her in half,” says Fuhrman. “You want one continuous line that creates the appearance of a longer leg.”
Silhouettes that work best for you include trumpet style, A-line sheaths, fit and flare, and princess cuts. Avoid a big ball gown, which overwhelm a small frame, as well as mermaid skirts if the pouf starts too low — it’ll look like you have no legs.
For a small-busted plus-size bride, a dress that cinches your waist will be most flattering, as would a soft A-line that flows rather than poufs out.
“Many big-busted plus sizes think they can’t wear strapless but if there’s a corset-stringed bodice — it crisscrosses in the back — It’ll sculpt the body and look great,” she says.
A dress with asymmetrical ruching is another way to visually slim the body. Stay away from clingy materials like charmeuse.
The number one guideline: Don’t hide your bust! “If you’re completely covered up to the neck, it will amplify your chest,” explains Fuhrman.
While a plunging neckline might be going too far, a more modest but still open V-or scoop neck or portrait neckline will flatter you the most.
“Avoid wide straps since they can look very matronly,” says Fuhrman. “Brides will come in and say they absolutely want straps. But then I have them try on strapless and it makes them look smaller.”
Try on dresses with a fitted bodice for needed support.
A small-busted bride can generally wear just about anything. “She can wear a halter, triangle, or a plunging V because she won’t go flying out of it like a busty bride would,” says Fuhrman.
Avoid dresses with a straight-across neckline, which creates a flatter look.
You’re smaller on top than on the bottom, so look for gowns with diagonal draping, which creates a slimming angle and minimizes your lower half.
An A-line, which flares out from the waist, is a universally flattering silhouette that’s good for you too.
“She can wear an unstructured sheath or flowing skirt of any fabrication,” says Fuhrman. “And she looks good in a bohemian style, halter, and a dress with an empire waist that falls and flows.”
Try on ball gowns with a natural waist and fitted bodice to create curves — and hips!