Choosing the Perfect Wedding Dress for your Shape

Article By Katie Lyth, House of Oliver


If you’re anything like me, having a baby along with a great big shove from Mother Nature has changed your body shape in so many ways its hard to even remember what you looked like pre-baby. Even though you may be back to your pre baby weight (lucky you, if you are!) the likelihood is that your shape will have changed and so the clothes that once made you look fabulous now just don’t cut it! The same will apply to your wedding dress, and unfortunately white just isn’t the most forgiving colour. Get it wrong and it will show up all of those lumps and bumps you would much rather hide and make you look bigger than you actually are.

Don’t despair! Before you sign up for the latest crash diet take 5 minutes to read on. There is a style of dress for everyone and no matter what your shape is there are dos and don’ts to follow. Don’t worry, bridal staff are trained in telling you what will suit your shape but plenty of them will try and sell you one’s that don’t to get the commission. After all it is extremely tempting to buy the something you weren’t sure about when even the bridal staff are gushing at how beautiful you look.  So, brides to be read up on these basic guidelines and go into the task of finding your dress a bit savvier! After all there are plenty of dresses out there!


Empire GownEmpire Line Wedding Dress

The empire dress has a raised waistline that sits just below the bust and a long flowing skirt that skims the waist. Empire dresses are usually made from floatier, lighter fabrics giving a real romantic look and feel. Empire gowns help to give the illusion of length and will make you look taller. They especially help to emphasise the bust and will work on brides wishing to draw attention away from the stomach area. They also work well on ladies blessed with a bigger bust as the traditional square frame provides better coverage. The dress is ideal for pear shaped ladies as it is forgiving of the hips and legs and also works well with pregnant brides just for the amount of material around the stomach area.

A Line

The A line or ‘princess dress’ is a real classic. Named after the shape it creates, smaller on the top and bigger on bottom! It’s as simple as A Line Wedding Dressthat! A fitted bodice with a long flowing skirt, it can be a variety of lengths from above the knee to a long flowing train. They come in all sorts of fabrics from free flowing soft silks to heavier bulkier fabrics it’s a classic shape and probably the most popular of styles. The A line works well for almost every bride and should be a good starting point. The fitted bodice against the fuller skirt gives an instant hourglass figure. The fullness of the skirt can hide a rounder lower body (apple shapes) If your main goal is to look slimmer than you are, this style is for you. The eye unsurprisingly focuses on the length of the dress naturally making you look slimmer.

Ball GownBallgown wedding dress

The typical ‘fairy tale’ dress. A fitted bodice with a full skirt, it can be separates or one piece. They can come with big dramatic trains too for a real ‘wow’ factor. They come in a variety of fabrics but usually have layers and layers of taffeta or tulle underneath to create the shape. This style is especially flattering on slender figures but can also work for pear shapes too. The full skirt emphasizes the waist and creates an hourglass look. If you’re petite beware of this shape as it can overpower a smaller frame.

Column Dress

Column Wedding DressThe column dress also known as sheath flows straight from top to bottom and tends to hug the body showing off all of your curves. Column dresses are typically the most unforgiving style but don’t be put off it’s a timeless design and if you’ve got it flaunt it! This style tends to suit leaner, taller brides but can give the illusion of length if you are on the more petite side. There is not much room for hiding problem areas in this dress and they can be restrictive too so not much room for movement on the dance floor for later on. If you want a more constructed column dress, you may want to consider one that has pleats or gathering at the back which will allow you to move more freely.



Mermaid Mermaid wedding dress

This style is a very sexy modern look. This style is all about the curves and its silhouette contours the body from the chest to the knee and then flares out to the bottom. This dress comes in a variety of styles from halter, to strapless to flamenco. The possibilities are endless with this style.  The mermaid is best worn by brides confident in their own skin as all eyes will most definitely be on you in this style. It is especially flattering on slender figures and works for taller and more petite brides. However girls who love to rock their curves will wear this dress well. In the words of Gok Wan, it most definitely is “all about the confidence” with this one!



Sizing differs from store to store and between designers so it’s always a good idea to get measured properly and take your measurements with you to any appointments so that you can check them against the dresses. If you are planning to lose weight before your wedding be realistic and best to err on the side of caution. Dresses can easily be made one to two sizes smaller but it is near on impossible to make a wedding dress bigger. Also you really don’t want to be stressing about losing extra weight a few weeks before the wedding, there are plenty of other things to stress over in that time! Your wedding dress should be the least of your worries. Remember that alterations can take approx 4-6 weeks depending on where you get your dress so always book these in with plenty of notice and wear the same underwear and shoes you will wear on the big day to give your seamstress accurate measurements.

And there you go brides to be, the rules that us bridal boutiques use to pick out dresses we think will suit you. Ultimately choose a dress you feel comfortable in, flatters you in all the right places and fits properly, the worst thing to do is choose a dress that is too small and spend the whole time wishing the day away because your dress is too uncomfortable.

Choose a dress that you feel special in so that you can look and feel the beautiful bride that you are.

By Katie Lyth, House of Oliver


Brides to be….. Don’t want to spend thousands on the dress of your dreams?

House of Oliver sells designer gowns at up to 75% off RRP. We stock collections from Morilee, Amanda Wyatt, Ian Stuart and more. Email us at for a catalogue. Mention this article and receive 10% off.

Our dresses start from £50.

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