Free Advice: What are the different wedding dress design shapes?

Wedding dress design shapes explained

Embarking on the journey to find the perfect wedding dress is an exciting and pivotal moment for any bride-to-be. While envisioning that dream gown is part of the joy, understanding how different dress shapes complement your unique body type is key to achieving a stunning and flattering look on your special day. 


The myriad of wedding dress silhouettes can be overwhelming, but fear not – decoding the ideal style for your body shape is simpler than you think and it is one of the very first things that I do as a wedding dress designer.


As soon as you walk in the door I know exactly what styles will suit your body shape and how I can use fabric in different ways to help you look stunning from every angle.


So the first thing we have to do is identify your body shape;

Are you a classic hourglass?


A charming pear?


An elegant apple


or perhaps a statuesque rectangle? 


Each body shape comes with its unique features, and the key lies in enhancing your best assets while addressing any areas you might want to accentuate or minimise

.

  • For the timeless hourglass, characterised by well-balanced shoulders and hips with a defined waist, we would normally help you opt for silhouettes that showcase your curves. A mermaid or trumpet gown will accentuate your figure flawlessly. 

  • Pear-shaped beauties, with narrower shoulders and a fuller lower body, can embrace the grace of an A-line or ball gown to balance proportions.

  • Apple-shaped individuals, carrying weight around the midsection, can turn to empire waistlines or A-line dresses to create an elongated and slimming effect. 

  • Meanwhile, those with a rectangular silhouette, where the shoulders, waist, and hips share similar widths, can introduce curves with the help of A-line or ball gown styles.


Below I delve a bit deeper into each body shape, unveiling the magic behind the most suitable wedding dress shapes to ensure that when you walk down the aisle, you do so with confidence, radiance, and a gown that feels tailor-made for you. 


Let the journey to discovering your perfect wedding dress begin.

What are the different shapes of wedding dress you can have designed to suit your body?

Ball gown wedding dress

Classic and timeless, with a fitted bodice and a full, voluminous skirt. Ideal for formal and traditional weddings. It is such a timeless silhouette characterised by a fitted bodice and a voluminous, full skirt that extends into a dramatic train. This style is reminiscent of fairy-tale princess gowns and exudes a sense of grandeur and elegance. The fitted bodice accentuates the waist, while the full skirt adds drama, creating a regal and majestic look.

 

Key Features of a ball gown wedding dress

  • Fitted Bodice: The bodice is snugly fitted around the torso, often featuring intricate detailing such as lace, beading, or embroidery.
 
  • Full Skirt: The skirt is voluminous and extends into a sweeping train. It can be layered with tulle or other fabrics to achieve the desired fullness.
 
  • Dramatic Train: A characteristic of ball gowns is the presence of a stunning train, which can vary in length from chapel to cathedral.
 

Body Shapes that Suit a Ball Gown Wedding Dress:

  • Hourglass: The fitted bodice and full skirt of a ball gown emphasise the waist, complementing the balanced proportions of an hourglass figure.
 
  • Pear-Shaped: The full skirt helps balance the hips and adds a touch of drama, making it a flattering choice for pear-shaped bodies.
 
  • Petite: While it may seem counterintuitive, petites can also carry a ball gown well. The key is to ensure that the proportions are right, and the dress doesn’t overwhelm the frame.
 

Dress Styles that Complement a Ball Gown:

  • Strapless or Off-the-Shoulder: These necklines accentuate the shoulders and draw attention to the upper body.
 
  • Sweetheart Neckline: The sweetheart neckline, which forms a shape resembling the top of a heart, is a classic choice for ball gowns.
 
  • Long Sleeves: For a more modest and classic look, long sleeves can be incorporated into the design
A Line custom designed wedding dress

A-Line wedding dress

Flattering for many body types, with a fitted bodice that gradually flares out from the waist.Versatile and suits both formal and informal settings.A-Line Wedding Dress: Fitted at the bodice and gracefully flows out to the ground, creating the classic "A" shape silhouette.

Bohemian custom designed wedding dress

Bohemian / Flowy:

Loose, flowing fabrics with an effortless and bohemian vibe. Perfect for outdoor or destination weddings.

Illusion Neckline custom designed wedding dressced

Ilusion Neckline

Incorporates sheer fabric or lace on the neckline for a delicate and romantic look.Offers a blend of modesty and allure.

Vee Neck custom designed wedding dress

Ilusion Neckline

Incorporates sheer fabric or lace on the neckline for a delicate and romantic look.Offers a blend of modesty and allure.

  • Princess Wedding Dress: Showcases a snug bodice and an extravagant full skirt for a stunning, dramatic look. Princess Cut: Similar to A-line but with vertical panels that flow from the neckline to the hem.Creates a long, lean look and offers a contemporary twist.
 
  • Mermaid Wedding Dress: Contours closely to the body from bust to knee before elegantly flaring out to the hem.Fitted through the bodice and hips, then flares out at the knee or lower. Emphasises curves and creates a glamorous, dramatic look.
 
  • Sheath Wedding Dress: Falls straight from neckline to hem, offering a sleek and straightforward silhouette Straight and narrow, following the natural line of the body .Elegant and ideal for beach or casual weddings.
 
  • Empire Waist Wedding Dress: Features a raised waistline just below the bust, allowing the dress to flow down to the hem with grace and sophistication.Waistline is raised above the natural waist, with a flowing skirt.Flattering for all body types and gives a romantic, ethereal feel.
 
  • Tea-Length: Hem falls between the knee and the ankle.Retro and vintage-inspired, perfect for a fun and playful wedding.
 
  • High-Low: Features a shorter hem in the front and a longer hem in the back.Trendy and modern, suitable for casual and beach weddings.
 
  • Column: Straight and narrow, hugging the body’s natural curves. Simple and sophisticated, perfect for minimalist brides.
 
  • Fit and Flare: Fitted through the bodice and hips, then flares out mid-thigh. Offers a balance between the mermaid and A-line styles, providing both elegance and movement.
 
  • Two-Piece: Separates the top and bottom, often with a crop top or bodice and a separate skirt. Modern and trendy, allowing for mix-and-match options.
 
  • Off-the-Shoulder/Bardot Neckline: Features a neckline that sits below the shoulders, exposing the collarbone and shoulders. Romantic and feminine, adding a touch of vintage charm.
 
  • Cape or Capelet: Adds a dramatic and ethereal element to any dress, either as a detachable accessory or part of the gown. Ideal for a touch of glamour and coverage.
 

 

Getting a wedding dress designed in Sydney

In a world where wedding aisles are becoming more like conveyor belts, churning out brides in conveyor belt gowns, your heart will probably rebel. Surely you crave a dress that is as unique as your own fingerprint, a creation that carries your essence down the aisle?

 

It’s not just a gown; it’s the armour for your love story, the silk and satin banner under which you’ll walk into the next chapter of your life.

 

 

The pain of the ordinary is a tight clasp around the dreams of brides who yearn for something more, something that can’t be picked off a rack.

 

 

Feel the agitation, the inner turmoil when faced with racks upon racks of dresses that, while beautiful, whisper someone else’s name. The cookie-cutter shapes, the déjà vu designs, they brush against your skin but never touch your soul.

 

 

Where is the gown that speaks of your laughter, that dances with your spirit, that fits not just your curves but your quirks?

 

 

The frustration builds with every try-on, with every settling sigh in the face of compromise. The solution is a siren call to all brides who dare to dream—work with a wedding dress designer.

 

 

So imagine the thrill of discussing A-line silhouettes, fitted bodices that flare from the waist, gowns that suit not just a body type but your body type. Picture yourself consulting with a designer on the drama of a Princess Wedding Dress, the snug bodice, the extravagant full skirt, each vertical panel a testament to your regal bearing.

 

 

Think of the allure of a Mermaid Wedding Dress, sculpted to your form, flaring where you dictate, a celebration of your every curve. Envisage the simple elegance of a Sheath Wedding Dress, its sleek line a canvas for your personal story to be written in beads, lace, or the whisper of chiffon. Feel the soft embrace of an Empire Waist Wedding Dress, the fabric flowing down from just below the bust, a tribute to your own empire of love and partnership.

 

 

With a wedding dress designer, there are no limits, only possibilities.

 

 

A Ball Gown for the queen of the night, a Tea-Length for the sprite in daylight, a High-Low hem for the bride who walks the line between tradition and modernity. Your designer is your collaborator, your ally, your magician, pulling out from their hat not rabbits, but capes, capelets, illusion necklines, off-the-shoulder bodices—each detail a stitch in the tapestry of your “I do.”

 

 

The process is intimate, a courtship of ideas and inspirations. Your designer listens, sketches, and crafts. From the strapless wonders to the corseted marvels, from the boning that outlines strength to the lace overlay that speaks of delicate mornings spent in love’s embrace.

 

 

Sequins that catch the light of your smile, appliqués that mirror the complexity of your thoughts, ruching that tells of the roads travelled to get to this very moment.

 

 

The bodice of your gown could feature the intricate boning of a corset, hugging your form with the assurance of a lover’s embrace.

 

 

Sleeves or no sleeves? Cap for the whimsical, long for the elegant, bell for the bohemian, illusion for the mysterious.

 

The back design—shall it be an open declaration of boldness, a keyhole whisper of secrets, or an illusion back of dreams half-told?

 

 

The silhouette itself is a story—will it be the timeless ball gown, the fluid A-line, the daring mermaid, or the unassuming sheath?

 

 

Consider the skirt details—the train that follows you, picking up the memories you make along the way, the layers that speak of the depth of your emotions, the slit that hints at the adventures to come.

 

 

The fabric—will it be the regal Mikado, the ethereal tulle, or the sleek satin charmeuse?

 

 

Embellishments are the exclamation points of your gown—beading, sequins, pearls, the final flourishes of your heart’s desires.

 

 

A wedding dress designer ensures that the waistline of your gown—be it a natural waist, dropped for drama, basque for the bold, or empire for the dreamer—is exactly where you want it. The closure, a detail often overlooked, is a decision to be savoured—buttons for the classic, a zipper for the practical, corset lacing for the romantic.

 

 

And the colour, oh the colour—will you be the traditional bride in white, the modern maven in blush, the unconventional enchantress with blue accents? The choice is yours and yours alone.

 

 

The benefits?

They’re as clear as the sparkle in your eye. Your gown will be a one-off, never to be worn by another. The fit will be like a second skin, crafted for you, and only you. The quality is unsurpassed, the attention to detail relentless. The experience—collaborative, exhilarating, unforgettable.

 

 

So, choose the path less worn. Work with a wedding dress designer, and let the dress of your dreams be as limitless as your love story. Let it be a Catherine Colubriale creation, your once upon a time, your happily ever after, your everything in between.

In a world where wedding aisles are becoming more like conveyor belts, churning out brides in conveyor belt gowns, your heart will probably rebel. Surely you crave a dress that is as unique as your own fingerprint, a creation that carries your essence down the aisle?

 

It’s not just a gown; it’s the armour for your love story, the silk and satin banner under which you’ll walk into the next chapter of your life.

 

 

The pain of the ordinary is a tight clasp around the dreams of brides who yearn for something more, something that can’t be picked off a rack.

 

 

Feel the agitation, the inner turmoil when faced with racks upon racks of dresses that, while beautiful, whisper someone else’s name. The cookie-cutter shapes, the déjà vu designs, they brush against your skin but never touch your soul.

 

 

Where is the gown that speaks of your laughter, that dances with your spirit, that fits not just your curves but your quirks?

 

 

The frustration builds with every try-on, with every settling sigh in the face of compromise. The solution is a siren call to all brides who dare to dream—work with a wedding dress designer.

 

 

So imagine the thrill of discussing A-line silhouettes, fitted bodices that flare from the waist, gowns that suit not just a body type but your body type. Picture yourself consulting with a designer on the drama of a Princess Wedding Dress, the snug bodice, the extravagant full skirt, each vertical panel a testament to your regal bearing.

 

 

Think of the allure of a Mermaid Wedding Dress, sculpted to your form, flaring where you dictate, a celebration of your every curve. Envisage the simple elegance of a Sheath Wedding Dress, its sleek line a canvas for your personal story to be written in beads, lace, or the whisper of chiffon. Feel the soft embrace of an Empire Waist Wedding Dress, the fabric flowing down from just below the bust, a tribute to your own empire of love and partnership.

 

 

With a wedding dress designer, there are no limits, only possibilities.

 

 

A Ball Gown for the queen of the night, a Tea-Length for the sprite in daylight, a High-Low hem for the bride who walks the line between tradition and modernity. Your designer is your collaborator, your ally, your magician, pulling out from their hat not rabbits, but capes, capelets, illusion necklines, off-the-shoulder bodices—each detail a stitch in the tapestry of your “I do.”

 

 

The process is intimate, a courtship of ideas and inspirations. Your designer listens, sketches, and crafts. From the strapless wonders to the corseted marvels, from the boning that outlines strength to the lace overlay that speaks of delicate mornings spent in love’s embrace.

 

 

Sequins that catch the light of your smile, appliqués that mirror the complexity of your thoughts, ruching that tells of the roads travelled to get to this very moment.

 

 

The bodice of your gown could feature the intricate boning of a corset, hugging your form with the assurance of a lover’s embrace.

 

 

Sleeves or no sleeves? Cap for the whimsical, long for the elegant, bell for the bohemian, illusion for the mysterious.

 

The back design—shall it be an open declaration of boldness, a keyhole whisper of secrets, or an illusion back of dreams half-told?

 

 

The silhouette itself is a story—will it be the timeless ball gown, the fluid A-line, the daring mermaid, or the unassuming sheath?

 

 

Consider the skirt details—the train that follows you, picking up the memories you make along the way, the layers that speak of the depth of your emotions, the slit that hints at the adventures to come.

 

 

The fabric—will it be the regal Mikado, the ethereal tulle, or the sleek satin charmeuse?

 

 

Embellishments are the exclamation points of your gown—beading, sequins, pearls, the final flourishes of your heart’s desires.

 

 

A wedding dress designer ensures that the waistline of your gown—be it a natural waist, dropped for drama, basque for the bold, or empire for the dreamer—is exactly where you want it. The closure, a detail often overlooked, is a decision to be savoured—buttons for the classic, a zipper for the practical, corset lacing for the romantic.

 

 

And the colour, oh the colour—will you be the traditional bride in white, the modern maven in blush, the unconventional enchantress with blue accents? The choice is yours and yours alone.

 

 

The benefits?

They’re as clear as the sparkle in your eye. Your gown will be a one-off, never to be worn by another. The fit will be like a second skin, crafted for you, and only you. The quality is unsurpassed, the attention to detail relentless. The experience—collaborative, exhilarating, unforgettable.

 

 

So, choose the path less worn. Work with a wedding dress designer, and let the dress of your dreams be as limitless as your love story. Let it be a Catherine Colubriale creation, your once upon a time, your happily ever after, your everything in between.

A few common questions about getting a couture wedding dress designed in Sydney

  • A-Line wedding dress : Flattering for many body types, with a fitted bodice that gradually flares out from the waist.Versatile and suits both formal and informal settings.A-Line Wedding Dress: Fitted at the bodice and gracefully flows out to the ground, creating the classic “A” shape silhouette.
 
  • Princess Wedding Dress: Showcases a snug bodice and an extravagant full skirt for a stunning, dramatic look. Princess Cut: Similar to A-line but with vertical panels that flow from the neckline to the hem.Creates a long, lean look and offers a contemporary twist.
 
  • Mermaid Wedding Dress: Contours closely to the body from bust to knee before elegantly flaring out to the hem.Fitted through the bodice and hips, then flares out at the knee or lower. Emphasises curves and creates a glamorous, dramatic look.
 
  • Sheath Wedding Dress: Falls straight from neckline to hem, offering a sleek and straightforward silhouette Straight and narrow, following the natural line of the body .Elegant and ideal for beach or casual weddings.
 
  • Empire Waist Wedding Dress: Features a raised waistline just below the bust, allowing the dress to flow down to the hem with grace and sophistication.Waistline is raised above the natural waist, with a flowing skirt.Flattering for all body types and gives a romantic, ethereal feel.
 
  • Ball Gown: Classic and timeless, with a fitted bodice and a full, voluminous skirt.Ideal for formal and traditional weddings.
 
  • Tea-Length: Hem falls between the knee and the ankle.Retro and vintage-inspired, perfect for a fun and playful wedding.
 
  • High-Low: Features a shorter hem in the front and a longer hem in the back.Trendy and modern, suitable for casual and beach weddings.
 
  • Column: Straight and narrow, hugging the body’s natural curves. Simple and sophisticated, perfect for minimalist brides.
 
  • Fit and Flare: Fitted through the bodice and hips, then flares out mid-thigh. Offers a balance between the mermaid and A-line styles, providing both elegance and movement.
 
  • Two-Piece: Separates the top and bottom, often with a crop top or bodice and a separate skirt. Modern and trendy, allowing for mix-and-match options.
  • Off-the-Shoulder/Bardot Neckline: Features a neckline that sits below the shoulders, exposing the collarbone and shoulders. Romantic and feminine, adding a touch of vintage charm.
 
  • Cape or Capelet: Adds a dramatic and ethereal element to any dress, either as a detachable accessory or part of the gown. Ideal for a touch of glamour and coverage.
 
  • Bohemian/Flowy: Loose, flowing fabrics with an effortless and bohemian vibe. Perfect for outdoor or destination weddings.
 
  • llusion Neckline: Incorporates sheer fabric or lace on the neckline for a delicate and romantic look.Offers a blend of modesty and allure.

Learn more about wedding dress design

Catherine Colubriale
Catherine Colubriale

Australian wedding dress designer

About Catherine

Catherine is a courtier with over 30 years experience designing evening gowns, wedding dresses & bridal wear. Catherine has worked for global icons like Elizabeth Ardern & Mary Kay.

You can visit Catherine’s bridal shop in Paddington Sydney.

Wedding Dress Designer in Paddington

Book an obligation free consultation with Catherine