Wedding Dress Glossary


A-line: Also known as a ‘princess silhouette’. The silhouette of a dress which looks like a capital letter A, slightly flaring out towards the bottom.

Apple shape: The body type which typically features a big bust and small hips. The tummy is usually a problem area for apple shaped gals. Apples usually have killer legs so apple shaped brides might like to consider wearing a tea length dress.

Asymmetrical: A dress which features layers of fabric, cut at varying lengths. The layers are usually shorter in the front – maybe as short as a mini – and longer in the back. An asymmetrical dress may also have a long train.

Basque waistline: This style of dress features a V-shaped waistline which starts a little lower than the natural waist and meets at the centre, extending just below the hips.

Bespoke: A custom-made dress tailored to the bride’s exact measurements.

Blouson: A dress featuring a waistband which causes the fabric above it – usually just under the bust – to slightly puff out and spill over in an elegant fashion.

Boat neckline: A dress which features a shallow scoop or curved neckline near the collarbone, much like the shape of the underside of a boat.

Bodice: The part of the dress which covers the bride’s torso.

Boning: The support rods, traditionally made of whale bone but now more likely to be steel, incorporated into the bodice of a dress, to support the weight of the skirt. Boning prevents the dress from drooping or slipping off altogether.

Capped Sleeve: A short sleeve which sits slightly over the edge of the shoulder but doesn’t cover the underside of the arm. Make sure to shave those armpits ladies because they will be exposed if you lift your arms while wearing capped sleeves!

Corset top: A dress which features a corset top has a figure hugging bodice, usually reinforced with steel boning and may be laced up or fastened with hooks, zips, and/or buttons.

Cowl Neck: A dress which features a relative high neckline where the loose-fitting fabric is turned over and draped just below the collarbone.

Chiffon: A delicate, gauze-like fabric which is often featured in the outer layers of ball gown skirts.

Duchesse Satin: A cheaper alternative to traditional satin. This fabric is made of blended silk and rayon and tends to be much lighter than regular satin.

Dropped Waistline: This style of dress features a low waistline which starts just below the hips. This style of waistline is found on both fitted bodices and looser flowing dresses.

Empire waistline: A dress which features a high waistline, just below the bust, and suits almost every body type.

Halter Neckline: This neckline style is most commonly worn at beach weddings or less formal weddings. A halter dress is sleeveless and is held up by straps which are tied or secured at the back of the neck, leaving the shoulders bare. The straps may be decoratively twisted at the front before being secured at the back.

Hoop Skirt: A dress which features a bell-shaped skirt, reinforced with boning to keep the dress’ shape.

Hourglass figure: The most enviable body type for women. Marilyn Monroe was lucky enough to be big busted and equally big hipped, with a teeny weeny waist in between, resembling an hourglass. Girl, if you have an hourglass figure, work it on your wedding day!

Inverted triangle shape: The body type most commonly recognised for its narrow hips and broad shoulders, thus resembling an upside-down triangle. A hooped ball gown often suits women with this body shape as it gives the appearance of wider hips and balances out the shoulders.

Jewel neckline: A high rounded neckline which usually sits at the base of the throat.

Mermaid Silhouette: A dress which is tightly fitted from the chest to the knees and then flares out dramatically, imitating a mermaid’s tail. Keep in mind that this dress style limits mobility so may not be suitable for an energetic first dance at the reception.

Mini: A dress which sits above the knee. This style of dress is best suited to informal weddings or can be ideal to change into at the reception if you are planning on dancing energetically.

Organza: A transparent, gauze-like fabric, much like chiffon. Organza is a little stiffer than chiffon so is often used as sleeves in a wedding dress as well as being incorporated into the skirt.

Pear shape: The most common of all body types. Pear shaped women typically have a small bust and wide hips. The thigh and bottom area can be problematic for pear shaped gals but they can draw attention away from this by showing off their tiny waist with an A-line dress.

Queen Anne: A dress style which the late queen herself made famous and has seen many a bride walk down the aisle. This dress features a high back with covered shoulders – usually full-length sleeves – and a V shaped neckline.

Satin: A luxurious fabric made of woven silk, renowned for its glossy sheen on one surface. Satin can make for a very elegant wedding gown bodice but perhaps should be reserved for autumn or winter weddings as it is quite a heavy fabric and can get a bit warm.

Scoop neckline: A dress which features a U shaped neckline, of varying depths (dependent upon the depth of the bride’s conservatism).

Sheath: A tightly fitted dress without any waistline. This dress style is best suited to petite gals or women with hourglass figures.

Silhouette: The outline that is made by a dress’ design. Some commonly chosen wedding dress silhouettes include A-line, ball gown, mermaid and trumpet style dresses. A wedding dressmaker can sketch a bodice and skirt silhouette to best flatter the bride’s figure.

Skirt: Usually a skirt is the bottom part of a two piece outfit worn by women. However, in reference to wedding dresses, the skirt is the lower part of the dress which starts at the waistline. Since each dress silhouette has a different waistline style, the skirt may begin just below the bust or may simply cover the legs.

Spaghetti Straps: A dress with very thin shoulder straps, resembling strings of pasta.

Strapless: A sleeveless dress which usually features a tightly-fitted bodice. The neckline may be cut straight across or may be cut decoratively into a V shape, heart shape or even asymmetrically.

Square Neckline: A square-shaped neckline with a straight cut which sits just below the collarbone, framing the décolletage. A square neckline is found on various dress styles and with almost any sleeve style.

Sweetheart neckline: A sweetheart neckline is most commonly found on strapless wedding gowns and features two arcs, over each breast, which meet in the middle to form a V shape. The combination of the two curves and the V cause this neckline to resemble the upper part of a heart, thus explaining its name, “sweetheart”.

Surplice: A decorative feature on some wedding dresses where fabric is crossed over or twisted at the front and/or back.

Tea length: A ¾ length dress where the hemline sits midway between the knee and ankle.

Train: The length of fabric that extends from the bride’s dress, trailing on the floor. The formality of the wedding will often determine the train length (and the number of bridesmaids or flower girls required to carry the train).

Trumpet Silhouette: A dress which is figure hugging from the chest to the mid-thigh where it gradually flares out, unlike the dramatic flare of a mermaid dress which begins at a much lower point on the legs.

Tulle: A netting-like fabric featuring wider holes than chiffon or organza. Tulle is commonly used in the outer layers of ball gown skirts and may also be used for making the veil.