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How to Find a Bridal Gown That Flatters Your Figure

by Michelle Powell-Smith

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. Looking your best will help you enjoy and savor every moment of your wedding ceremony and reception. With a variety of wedding gowns from clingy to voluminous, there's a dress to flatter every body -- but every dress won't flatter every body. Choosing a dress that enhances your figure, whether you're slender or curvy, will allow you to look back at your photos and smile.

Pretty Pears

Pear-shaped women carry weight below their waists, on the hips and thighs. Most pear-shaped women have relatively slender upper bodies, including arms, shoulders, busts and waists. Choose an A-line gown with details on the bust line, a strapless V-neck or spaghetti strap neckline for a figure-flattering fit. For a bride who wants to show off her shape, fitted gowns with ruching and diagonal draping slim the hips while emphasizing the rest of the body.

Heavenly Hourglasses

Hourglass figures, whether slim or plus size, often sport generous curves with clearly defined waists. Finding a wedding gown that flatters a classically curvaceous body can be more challenging than you would expect. Choose a dress that is structured, rather than soft, to provide additional support for your bust. Skip the empire waistlines that hide your small waist in favor of a dress that emphasizes your middle with ruching, a corset-style bodice or a belt. While structure matters, your balanced figure will be flattered by nearly any style gown, including a mermaid, sheath or ball gown.

Admirable Apple

Apple-shaped figures carry weight through their tummies, but typically have slender hips, long legs and shapely arms and shoulders. Choose an empire-style dress with a waistline under your bust at the slimmest part of your torso. Opt for a dress that draws the eye upward with additional detail on the bust. If you carry weight primarily in the lower part of your tummy or you have a very slender apple-shaped figure, you can also wear a structured A-line or ball gown with a corset top or even a sheath dress with a built-in corset.

Willowy Waifs

If you're quite slender, your gown doesn't need to accommodate curves, but you may hope it will create some. Skip the heavily structured gowns in favor of a silk sheath or bias-cut gown. A delicate and feminine gown, particularly cut on the bias, will create curves and emphasize the womanliness of your figure. For a more formal wedding, choose a sheath gown embellished with lace or beading. As an alternative to a less-structured sheath, consider a gown with a drop waist, fitted through the waist and hip. The fit and flare style of a drop waist gown will flatter your figure's slender hips.

Splendid Sizes

While general body shape will dictate which dress silhouette is most flattering, your height and overall size are additional considerations. If you're quite petite, scale your dress to fit your frame and choose a style with less volume and smaller details. Create the look of longer legs by selecting a dress with a high waistline. Tall brides should look for simple clean lines and a lower waistline. If you're tall, choose dresses with some drama, rather than youthful ruffles and bows. Plus-size brides should pick gowns that fit their body shape. They may want to keep in mind that a curvier body often comes with a larger bust and may require additional support. Some voluptuous brides may feel self conscious about their arms, but beautiful shrugs, cardigans, wraps and sleeved gowns can provide a bit of additional coverage.

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.

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