Wedding Dresses
Andi WillisBride Online Columnist

Wedding Dress Silhouette Guide

Dress-related jargon can be confusing at the best of times. We’ve come up with some quick visuals to help you see what’s what in the world of wedding gowns.


A- Line


This is fitted throughout the bodice and flows in a consistent, straight line towards the hem. Named for resembline the uppercase letter 'A'.

Modified A- Line


Fitted closely to the bodice and towards the hips, before flaring out into an A- Line cut.

Ball Gown


Your typical 'fairytale wedding gown'. Fitted at the bodice before flaring out dramatically at either the waist or hips.

Basque Waist


A tight- fitting bodice that extends beyond the hips in the centre, forming either a 'V' or a 'U' shape.

Drop Waist


Here, the bodice is extended to just below the hips. The bodice can be either fitted or loose. Note: This cut also looks great with a variety of lengths- think 1920s chic.

Empire Waist


Here, the waistline is lifted several inches to just below the bust, drawing more attention to the chest.



Fitted tightly to your body from your chest to your knees, and then flares out, imitating a mermaid's tail.



A fairly form fitting cut that flows straight from the neckline to hem.



A simple, fairly loose- fitting dress that sits above the knee. This can either be somewhat structured, with darts on the front and back, or as unstructured as a simple t-shirt (with no techniques used to make it fit close to the body). The skirt is either cut straight, or into an A-line. 



This fits closely throughout the bodice and to the mid-thigh, before flaring out. The Trumpet sits about halfway between the Mermaid style and Modified A- Line.

Dress Lengths

(because sometimes, to be frank, it’s necessary to show off your pins.)




Any dress, of any style, that sits above the knee. Excellent if you want a separate dress to dance in at your reception.

Tea Length


This generally refers to any style that fits throughout the bodice and kicks out at the skirt (the A-Line or Ball Gown dresses, for instance), which is then cut off at the knee. Perfect if you want to bring a bit of retro- glam to your wedding.

Ballerina Length


Identical in every way to 'Tea Length' dresses, except that it ends high on your ankle. Similarly excellent for a classic retro look.

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