Figure fixing gowns

For bridal body confidence, follow our experts’ lessons
in dressing for your day

Unveiling your wedding dress to the world is one of those magical moments most girls dream of. But for many brides-to-be, shopping for a gown that matches both their fashion fantasies and flatters their figure can be a daunting experience.

“Trying on wedding dresses is a fabulous adventure, but keep in mind that not every dress will meet your expectations,” advises Edinburgh-based bridal boutique owner, Rachel Scott. “Body envy is a common side-effect from brides-to-be who compare how a dress looks on them, in contrast to a model in a magazine,” she warns. “Weddings are stressful enough without adding a deprivation diet to your to-do list. So, instead of trying to change your body shape, choose a dress which changes your attitude to it,” Rachel says.

Experts agree clever accessories, intelligent fabrics and figure-fixing styles can go a long way to give your body confidence an instant upgrade – what’s more, it’s easy when you know how. “Instead of trying to hide your self-perceived flaws, distract attention away from them by focusing on your best bits,” recommends Rachel.

“Remember, a bride who feels beautiful, looks beautiful. Appreciate the fabulous figure you’ve got, instead of what you think you’ve not got.” Here’s how…

Avoid off-the-shoulder and strapless gowns
Fed up with flabby arms? You’re not alone according to Lynn Currie from Catherine Lynn Bridal in Glasgow. “Untoned upper arms are one of the top problem hotspots for British brides-to-be,” she says. “Steer clear of off-the-shoulder and strapless gowns and cover up with sleeves instead – but the right fabric is everything” she warns. “Silk-satin materials corset the body, but as sleeves, the fabric is more likely to dig in, looking strained and tight when you move. A soft chiffon, however, will flow over your shape and diffuse the appearance of those bingo wings effortlessly.” If you have your heart set on a sleeveless number then another insider tip is to divert attention away from your arms with strategically-placed accessories. “Absolutely no gloves, flashy bracelets or puffed sleeves,” advises Lynn. “These details draws the eye straight to the area you want to hide. A pleated or embellished neckline or a sparkly necklace ensure people focus on the right places.” (image: Ronald Joyce)

• Get the foundations right
Muffin tops are a common curse for women with a pear or apple-shape figure. But the good news is, with the right tailoring, you too can have Madonna’s abs (minus the sweat and starvation). “A well-designed wedding dress hides a multitude of sins and can create the illusion of the figure you’ve always wanted,” promises Patricia Ware, owner of Ayrshire Bridal Centre. “Coat-style dresses are flattering and fashionable, cinching the waist and eliminating instant inches,” she explains. “If you prefer something more traditional then look at A-line designs which are fitted at the top and gently flare out, disguising any extra weight you carry around the tummy and hips.” And don’t underestimate the power of figure-fixing underwear either, advises Patricia. “Good dresses have reliable corsetry built-in which pulls you in. But for those stubborn lumps and bumps, you can’t beat a pair of control pants or tights for a streamline silhouette.”

• Keep it simple to cheat an hourglass figure
If you’re a traditional triangle then work with styles which strike a balance between your shoulder-to-waist ratio. “A dress which nips in at the waist and fills out over the hip cheats an hourglass figure and a more symmetrical shape,” says Karen Kelly, owner of Anne Priscilla Bridal boutique in Glasgow. “Keep it simple – halternecks, off-the-shoulder and puffed sleeves are an obvious no-no because they emphasise the upper body,” Karen warns. Instead, experts advise a strapless bodice with a shaped or straight neckline and figure-hugging cut which offsets the waist and downplays shoulders tastefully. “Some brides have a tendency to slouch to soften the width of their shoulders, but great posture is essential to help your gown hang properly,” Karen says. “The right dress should bring your shape into proportion so you can look, and feel body confident.” (image: Ronald Joyce)

• Disguise problem lumps and bumps
According to a recent survey, nine out of 10 women suffer with cellulite. Sound familiar? If you’re paranoid about orange-peel then think ahead when you shop around. “Silk-satin materials tend to contour the body and have a shiny finish which highlights every lump and bump – even cellulite,” explains Elizabeth Robson from Freckles Bridal Couture. “To soften this, look out for dresses with a lining built-in to the skirt so the gown’s material doesn’t sit directly next to the skin,” she recommends, “Or choose silks with a matte finish which is much more forgiving to problem zones.” If your upper arms are also a victim of orange peel then be a master of disguise with an on-trend bolero, says Elizabeth. “I recommend buying a size bigger so there’s movement between the fabric and your skin,” Elizabeth says. “If that’s too-much, then a simple wrap will do the same job but shows-off more of the décolletage and neckline.”
• Make the most of your feminine assets
Get clever with design cheats which creates curves in all the right places suggests wedding dress designer, Charlotte Balbier. “Empire line gowns are tailor-made for brides with a small chest as the empire line starts just below the bust line, giving the illusion of a fuller bust area. If you’re not a fan of the style then a strapless gown has the same effect and shows-off your arms, diverting attention away from the bust,” she explains. These days, most designer gowns feature built-in cups and boning which provide instant shape and padding. Likewise, gel cups give your silhouette a natural-looking curve and feel comfortable to wear. “Gowns with attention-to-detail over the bust area like pleating, beading or over-sized bows and corsages are a smart idea to add volume and character to your dress.” (image: Bonny Bridal)

• Get back to basics when choosing a dress
Think you’ve got back fat? Don’t be too harsh – you might be surprised what a properly fitted bra can do to minimise (and in some cases) eliminate those annoying ‘bra rolls’. Bria Lavery from Maida Veil in Peebles advises: “Start with setting the right foundations. A bra which is too loose or too tight tends to ride up or dig into flesh which causes false rolls of back fat,” she explains. “Body-swerve this with a professionally fitted bra which feels both snug and secure but not uncomfortably tight.” Dress-wise, Bria suggests a v-backed number which shows-off the most slender area of the back and hides any spare tyres lurking around the ribs. “Make sure the cut isn’t lower than your bra strap as women typically carry most fat on their lower torso,” she says.

• Say no to fussy detail on the bodice
“A key consideration for every bride with a large bust has to be the neckline which must complement both the base silhouette and your figure,” explains designer Madeline Isaac-James. “Gowns with a scoop or sweetheart neckline (with straps) allow the bride to show a little décolletage whilst providing ample coverage, whereas a bodice which is cut straight across the bust tends to emphasise a full chest,” she says. “Avoid dresses with fussy detail on the bodice as this can disproportionately accentuate the size of the bust,” Madeline suggests. “A princess-line gown accentuates the bride’s waist, drawing the eye away from the bust whilst skimming the hips to create a lovely line.” (image: Opulence by Natalie M)

• Fifties-inspired gowns can be very flattering
“The main feature women with a boyish figure need to fake is a waist,” says Edinburgh-based wedding boutique owner, Rachel Scott. “Most brides rely on a fishtail shape to create instant curves, but retro cuts create the same effect and are more flattering to their natural shape,” she adds. “Take Grace Kelly’s classic fifties style as inspiration – a shapely fitted bodice and slender body teamed with a full-circle A-line skirt. Bring the two together with a simple cumberbund or sash bow which elegantly draws in the waist and won’t look like you’re forcing your figure into the wrong shape of dress,” she explains. If you keep the neckline high at the front, you can afford to go for something more revealing elsewhere such as a plunging v-neck at the back to show-off your feminine side.
• Look like you’ve dropped a size
“Pear-shaped women usually have dainty shoulders, a neat bust and a trim waist – so accentuate those postitive features,” says bespoke dress designer, Lorna Forbes from Exclusively Yours. “An empire-line dress with a seam below the bust has a similar effect, and falls gracefully over your widest area.” Likewise, a well-fitted princess line can also flatter your figure fast. “The eye is naturally drawn up and down, as opposed to side to side because of the techniques used to create this style. In a matt finish or slightly textured pure silk, you really can look like you’ve dropped a dress size – without having to diet,” reassures Lorna.

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