Wedding Dress Styles – What You Need To Know
Designer wedding dresses come in all sorts of different cuts and silhouettes. From the classics to more contemporary looks, here are some of the styles you can expect to see, plus some tips on how to find the right wedding dress for your body shape.
Still struggling to narrow things down in your search for your bridal gown? Have a read of our guide to wedding dress shopping options. Or drop me a line and I’ll get back to you within 1 working day. Promise.
What are the different styles of wedding dress?
A-line wedding dresses
An A-line wedding dress does what it says on the tin, really. It’s designed in the shape of an A, angling straight out from the waist. You can have skinny As (a slimmer angle) or wide As (a wider angle), so the term A-line covers quite a broad range of different dresses.
Jesus Peiro’s dresses typically have a classic structured A-line which can be worn with a petticoat to maintain the more dramatic A shape.
Boho wedding dresses, on the other hand, will usually feature a softer A-line shape. Check out Rembo Styling if you’re all about the boho bridal look.
Dresses pictured: Jesus Peiro 904 + Rembo Honey Bear
Other options: Rembo Grace a Toi, Jesus Peiro 7023
Bias cut wedding dresses
Quick fashion lesson: when dress fabric is being made, you’ll have the two threads sitting at a right angle (known as the weave and the weft). Most clothes are cut on the straight on one of these two grains.
Bias cut is different: it’s when the cut is made diagonally across the two lines, giving it a natural stretch. This means a bias cut wedding dress will shape effortlessly to your body like a 1940s film star. The overall effect is more like a natural fishtail that moves with your body instead of fighting against it.
Charlie Brear is the queen of the bias cut, so make her your first stop if you’re all about the bias.
Dresses pictured: Charlie Brear Payton + Charlie Brear Haliton
Other options: Charlie Brear Torum, Charlie Brear Valise
Ball gown wedding dresses
Unlike A-line, a ball gown dress curves out from the waist with a huge amount of volume. And they’re a Jesus Peiro speciality.
For the full ball gown effect, you can add in specialised petticoats with up to 5-6 layers of tulle, along with a hoop to keep them away from your legs. All leaving you free to glide like Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
Dresses pictured: Jesus Peiro 933 + Jesus Peiro 8004
Wedding dresses with sleeves
Oh sleeves, we love you. Probably about 40% of our brides come in specifically looking for you.
The first thing to say is don’t worry if your dress doesn’t come with sleeves on the hanger. We have a wide range of sleeve additions so that we can usually adapt a dress with to suit your needs, or show you some options when trying on dresses at your appointment. We might even be able to order extra fabric from the designer so your sleeves match your dress completely.
Here are some of the most popular types of wedding dress sleeves, in order of length:
Capped sleeves are shaped to and just capping your shoulder.
Example: Galante by Rembo Styling.
Short sleeves sit anywhere between capped and the middle of your upper arm. They can be fitted (which may restrict movement) or butterfly for a more gathered and floaty finish.
Example: 7073 by Jesus Peiro.
¾ length sleeves cover from the shoulder to the elbow or just below. They can be tight, batwing (like a wide A-line for a sleeve), or with a split.
Example: Heloise by Rembo Styling for a tighter sleeve, or Pompeii by Eliza Jane Howell for a batwing sleeve.
Bracelet length sleeves come down to just above the wrist (often to expose or frame a bracelet). They’re usually made with lace to show off a scalloped edge.
Example: Elua by Charlie Brear.
Long sleeves are fuller in length, with or without a cuff. As with other sleeves, they can come in lots of different shapes, including fitted, leg of mutton (wide at the shoulder and thin from elbow to wrist) and blouson (a bigger, blousy sleeve that’s the same width all the way down, usually with an elasticated or cuffed wrist).
Example: 7029 by Jesus Peiro, or Emerald City by Rembo Styling.
Dresses pictured: Rembo Styling Heloise + Eliza Jane Howell Pompeii
Fishtail wedding dresses
Fishtail wedding dresses, also known as mermaids in the States, are the height of glamour. The fit is tight in from under your waist to mid-thigh, and then kicks out under the knee, like the tail of a mermaid or (less glamorously) a fish.
Always bear in mind that you still need to be able to move in a fishtail wedding dress, so it can’t be too tight to the knee. Otherwise you risk waddling down the aisle like a silky penguin…
Other options: St Patrick Lesoto, St Patrick Zoa
Fit and flare wedding dresses
Fit-and-flare dresses are a hybrid of the fishtail and A-line styles. They fit from the waist to just under the bottom, and then go out into a softer A-line from about the mid-thigh down. You might also see them called ‘mermaid and trumpet’, but that’s just silly.
Fit-and-flare gives you a more practical alternative for your general comfort on the day (and your dance-floor moves in the evening), without the drama of a full-on fishtail.
Other options: Charlie Brear Foustine
Column wedding dresses
The column shape fits tight over the hips, then drops straight down from the hip (like, erm, a column).
This is a classic look for Eliza Jane Howell, whose dresses often fall straight from hip to floor due to the satisfying weight of their beautiful beading.
Dresses pictured: Eliza Jane Howell Carlotta + Eliza Jane Howell Zenith
Empire wedding dresses
An empire dress is cut under the bust and then goes straight into the skirt. Most empire wedding dresses still curve down to hit the top of your waist so that they avoid looking like a smock.
This style can be a good choice if you have a tiny waist but are hip-conscious (even though you probably don’t need to be!).
Other options: Rembo Styling Sugar Plum Fairy, Jesus Peiro 8045, Charlie Brear Valise
Halter neck wedding dresses
Picture Marilyn Monroe’s classic white dress and you’ve got yourself a halter dress. The halter neckline shows off your shoulders and can be surprisingly flattering on the arms.
Jesus Peiro do some great structured high-collar halter-neck dresses, with either fit-and-flare or ball gown skirts.
Dresses pictured: Jesus Peiro 7019 + Jesus Peiro 8007
Other options: Jesus Peiro 6000
Strapless wedding dresses
A lot of people are put off after seeing ill-fitting strapless bridal dresses, but as long as they’re fitted properly on the waist you should feel fully supported.
The perfect strapless wedding dress needs to be tight around the bust, but not too tight (or you risk straying into overhang territory). You can also combine the strapless gown with a jacket or cape for coverage during the day – to then whip off come party time – or vice-versa for two looks for the price of one.
If you’re wanting to achieve the strapless look but aren’t willing to go the whole way, a spaghetti strap wedding dress could be a good option for you.
Other options: Jesus Peiro 6071
Low back wedding dresses
Like with strapless, this isn’t something you wear every day, so it’ll automatically feel like something special.
There are many different shapes of backless wedding dress, so here are some of the most popular low back looks:
Keyhole back – where your back is framed like a cut-out.
Deep V back – a straight V down from the straps, or a cowl or a scoop for a softer curve or drape effect.
Criss-cross back – gives more detail at the back of your dress, and can also add more support for a better fit around the front.
(Just bear in mind that the more open your back, the less structure and support you’ll have at the front.)
Dresses pictured: Rembo Styling Bubblicious + Charlie Brear Torum
V-neck wedding dresses
Yes, it’s a neck in the shape of a V. But in a wedding dress this can cover everything from a V-neck version of a boat-neck with a tiny V scoop in the centre (like Jesus Peiro’s 7007) all the way to a full plunge down to just above your navel (like Charlie Brear’s Nyika).
Deeper V-necks can be reduced by incorporating a panel – even if it’s just for the church – or combining a deep V-neck gown with a jacket or cape can make for an especially striking look.
Dresses pictured: Jesus Peiro 921 + Charlie Brear Nyika
Other options: Charlie Brear Ventoux, Jesus Peiro 7007
Whatever your style, we’ll help you find the perfect wedding dress for you.
See you at the shop?