The Best Bridal Gown for Your Body

Check out these style tips for your body type so that when you see the right dress, you'll just know it.
Bridal Gowns 101
When you're in the process of losing weight, your body shape may change in ways that surprise you. As a result, the dress styles and cut you always assumed flattered your shape might not be the best look for your new body. And styles you previously shied away from might look perfect on your new, slimmed-down shape.

Don't wait until your bridal salon appointment to become familiar with all the styles that are out there. Bridal designer Amy Michelson offers expert style advice for women of all shapes and sizes. The best advice of all, though, is to trust your instinct: If you feel absolutely beautiful in a particular gown, you'll know it's the one for you.

If you have a large bust:

Unearth your inner glamour girl by trying on a bias-cut sheath. On the hanger, this type of dress may appear too slim and clingy, but the soft fabric glides over the body and is often more flattering than a stiffer fabric in a more structured style.

  • Accentuate the positive by choosing a sweetheart, halter, or plunging V neckline. A dress with boning will give added support to create subtle décolletage. (If the gown style does not allow for a separate bra, have bra cups built in for support.)
  • Minimize a large chest by staying away from bateau and jewel necklines, which cut across the bust, or high-collar necklines that add bulk and width.
  • A large bust looks great in a fitted style that hugs your curves. A mermaid shape is particularly flattering when the skirt flares out just below the knee, balancing your top half and showing off a curvaceous figure.

If you want to cover your arms:

Try a strapless or sleeveless gown with a wrap, shrug, capelet, shawl, or bolero jacket over it. Planning a winter wedding? A white faux fur or marabou shrug is a glamorous way to cover up. At a warm weather affair, a sheer chiffon or organza wrap makes for a delicate, dreamy look.

  • Avoid flutter or puffed sleeves, which can make arms look bigger and draw attention to what you want to hide. Instead, opt for elbow length, three-quarter, or long sleeves.
  • Even with sleeves, you should still show a little skin. Look for a sheer stretch fabric, such as tulle or lace, to give a slimmer, sexier look than a solid fabric sleeve.

If you have an undefined waist:

Make a splash! A mermaid gown gives the illusion of curves accentuating the bust, whittling the waist and balancing out the hips with its flared trumpet skirt. Or look for a dress with a structured bodice to nip your body in at the waist.

  • A deep V-neckline in both the front and back visually narrows the waist.
  • The vertical flared seams of a princess gown provide fit and flare, giving shape to the waist.
  • A colored ribbon or sash can make your midsection appear more defined.
  • Diagonal draping across the bodice can also create the illusion of a slimmer waist and tummy.

If you have an overall fuller figure:

Look for smooth, lightweight fabrics such as organza, chiffon, charmeuse, duchesse satin, and taffeta (stay away from bulky laces, stiff brocades, and heavily embroidered satins, which add pounds). A slimming undergarment, such as a Spanx body shaper, can help smooth out bumps and lumps and help you look pounds thinner.

  • A well-proportioned full figure can look fantastic in a simple, sexy dress. Don't let your femininity be hidden by too much fabric; flaunt those curves!
  • A V-neck that accentuates the bust will draw the eye upward and a full A-line skirt will hide any below-the-waist imperfections.
  • A bias-cut gown skims and slims the body and creates a long, flowing line from head to toe.

If you have full hips:

Pay attention to details on the upper half of your body. Rich lace or embroidery in the bust and bodice will draw the eye up and away from your hips.

  • A strapless, A-line gown focuses attention on the bust and shoulders while disguising the lower body. Vertical princess seams enhance the slimming effect.
  • Off-the-shoulder straps create a wide horizontal line at the shoulder, balancing out the hips and making the waist look smaller.
  • A draped A-line skirt puts the spotlight on the waist and covers ample hips.
  • The classic ball gown camouflages all below-the-waist issues. Just be careful to avoid adding too much width to your overall silhouette.

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