Finding a dress to suit your shape

Buying a wedding gown is one of life’s big purchases,
so make sure you pick one that complements your body

Shopping for your wedding dress is one of the most exciting parts of the planning process, but it can also be a daunting as a whole new world of unfamiliar shapes, cuts and fabrics awaits you. So, where do you begin? Having an idea of what styles and shapes you like is a good starting point. Don’t go shopping with a closed mind as it’s all part of the fun trying on an ‘out there’ dress that you wouldn’t normally entertain. Who knows, it could end up being ‘the one’. Liz Wotton of Aliya Rose bridal boutique in Fife agrees: “When it comes to finding the right dress for you, the only way to do it is to try things on. And it’s as much about finding the right dress for your personality as for your body shape.”

A good bridal shop should listen to what you want, but will also be able to make other suggestions. They should also give you honest feedback, and shouldn’t be afraid to let you know if something doesn’t work. So, who better to ask for a little advice on the various shapes and styles of gown than some of Scotland’s top bridal shops?

• A classic cut that flatters the majority of shapes
“An A-line gown is the most flattering to all body shapes,” says Marina Garrity of Brides by Lady G in East Kilbride and Glasgow, so if you’re panicking about your pear shape or feel too petite for a statement ballgown, the A-line dress could be the answer to your prayers. “It’s one of the best cuts for streamlining silhouettes and helps brides look taller and slimmer,” continues Marina. It’s a classic for a reason; the skirt simply skims over the hip and thigh region – one which many brides-to-be would consider a ‘problem’ zone. (image left: Alfred Sung)

• A figure-hugging silhouette that suits hourglass curves
You’ll slink down the aisle in a bias-cut gown. “It’ll help balance out curves on a taller, curvier or pear-shaped bride,” says Caroline Castigliano, but you should remember that a gown cut this way will mould to the body and be very figure-hugging. “I think only a good hourglass figure can really pull this shape off,” says Marina at Brides by Lady G, “and it won’t flatter someone who is very thin, or hide lumps and bumps.”

• A bodice shape that’s supportive of curves
This design will help any bodice shape mould to the body, and stay there – making it very flattering and great for ceilidhs. “A lace-up back will create a couture fit straight on to skin, so there is no real need for restrictive underwear, as the bodice will provide support,” suggests Marina at Brides by Lady G Jan Lucas at Rubenesque Bridal agrees: “Lace-up backs – and the better fit which the design enables – is great for curvy brides, as it adds additional support to the bust.” (image right: Veromia)

• Complement a tall slim figure in this cut
“One of the best ways to show-off a tall, petite frame is to wear a column dress as the design is very straight and seamed on the waist” suggests Alison Kirk of Alison Kirk Bridal in Perth and Stirling. Curvier brides and those with a bigger bust should probably avoid this cut to avoid highlighting problem areas. As it closely follows the natural curves of the body, it can be unforgiving to larger ladies too, but if you’re willowy enough to pull it off, a column gown will lend you an enviably elegant catwalk look.

• Flaunt toned shoulders and a glowing decolletage
Show off those shoulders! “A halterneck dress is great for enhancing a smaller bust and petite shape,” says Liz Wotton of Aliya Rose bridal boutique, “Athletic shapes will also look fantastic.” And if you’re a bit paranoid about your upper arms, this neckline helps avoid an underarm ‘pouch’ from appearing and is much less restrictive than sleeves. (image left: Sassi Holford)

• Play the screen siren in a glamourous cut
Whether you’ve already got killer curves or want to create the illusion of them, this is the style for you, says Lynne Cook, owner of Border Brides in Hawick. “While the fishtail has never gone out of fashion, since the comeback of old Hollywood glamour, everyone’s talking about this dramatic dress shape again. It hugs the body and flutes out from just below the knee, accentuating your natural curves. It looks breathtaking if you’re proud to show-off an hourglass figure, and likewise can create a feminine shape for women who are slim in the hip.” 

• An elongating cut that’s good for shorter brides
Empire line suits the majority of shapes, but is an especially smart choice for petite brides as its genius cut lengthens the appearance of the body, says Carol Hutton owner of Charlotte Grace boutique in Doune. “Because it is fitted snugly under the bust, the fabric flows in a straight line, making the body look longer. Right now, it’s also popular to use hybrid materials such as a duchess satin neckline teamed with a matt fabric on the bottom half – a clever trick which softens the appearance of any lumps and bumps around hips.” (image right: Eternity)

• A look that princess brides will adore
Perfect for the fairytale princess look and with the right tailoring, a ballgown can suit the majority of shapes, explains Laura Boland owner of Bijoux Bridal Boutique in Hamilton. “Ideally, this is a great shape for taller women, but if you’re smaller, then you can nip the skirt in from the waist instead of the hip – like Grace Kelly once did – to make the body look longer. If you want the full princess look, but with less drama, tone down the accessories so the dress does the talking. Wear a veil on the back of the head instead of the front, or don a headband instead of a tiara.”

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