Guide to Body Shapes & Gown Styles

Wedding Dress shopping is exciting, both for you and for the friends and family you choose to bring with you! At the same time, though, it can be a little overwhelming. With so many silhouettes, materials, and beyond, there’s a huge variety of dresses out there, and you may not know where to begin! Knowing your general body type will help you understand what silhouette flatters you and help you decide how to accentuate the features you love (and hide the ones you don’t!).

Below is an introduction to the five main body types. Generally, you can figure out which one you most closely resemble.  Remember, these are just a guideline, and most people won’t fit perfectly into one category or another. So if you can’t figure out where you fall, or if you don’t agree with what people generally hide or accentuate, don’t fret! This guide is intended to help you get started in your search. In the end the final say belongs to you, and any dress that makes you feel beautiful is “the one”.



Hourglass Bodyshape
Mori Lee Mermaid
Mori Lee #2713
Mori Lee Blu Mermaid
Mori Lee Blu #5270

With an Hourglass figure’s balanced proportions and defined waist, it’s hard to go wrong in terms of picking a silhouette. Most dress shapes will pair well with an Hourglass figure, so it’s ultimately up to the bride to decide what she wants to show off.  If you are looking to show off the curves that you have, bust, waist, hips, then choose a Fit and Flare style. Trumpet or Mermaid, would also be great choices for you.  Ruching at the waist, or a fabulous beaded belt will emphasize your narrowest asset.  For brides who are less willing to show off certain areas of your Hourglass and would rather downplay those curves, for example, your hipline. If this is the case then choose a Ballgown or a gown with an A-line skirt. Or it may be something with a more modest neckline, like a scoop rather, then a deep sweetheart.

Try: A bride with an Hourglass figure should try a Mermaid or Trumpet silhouette. This silhouette will show off your sexy curves in all the right places.


2. Triangle/Pear-Shaped

Pear Shaped Bodyshape
Mori Lee Dropped Waist
Mori Lee #2677
Sophia Tolli Ballgown
Sophia Tolli #Y21663

When it comes to a Triangle/Pear figure, the focus in choosing a silhouette is finding a dress that will balance proportions by de-emphasizing or minimizing the hips.

Try: A Dropped Waist Ballgown or Strapless Ballgown will cover your bottom half and put emphasis on top and the structured bodice flatters the curve of the waist.  To de-emphasize the hip area, choose a gown where the skirt skims over your hips and thighs; like an A-line silhouette.  An empire waistline, with its high-waisted bodice, works well for a triangle bride with a petite upper frame.  Choose a gown with detail around the neckline as this will draw the attention to your upper body.  To balance your shape, consider a gown with wider straps or cap sleeves. 

Avoid: A bride seeking proportionality and balance may want to avoid the Trumpet, Mermaid and Sheath silhouettes and may accentuate the hipline.


3. Oval/ Apple Shaped

Apple Bodyshape
Mori Lee Plus Size
Mori Lee Julietta #3156
Mori Lee V-neck Ballgown
Mori Lee Julietta #3173

For the Oval/Apple, the main goal is to create or define the waistline for the illusion of an hourglass curve.

Try: An Empire Waist or A-line gown is perfect for this, especially when accessorised with a belt. Brides with oval figures also benefit from paying attention to the neckline of their dress. Asymmetrical ruching or pleating into the waistline with also create a slimmer illusion for a waistline.  A Dropped Waist that ends on the hip bone area is also a good option.  A V-neck, U-neck, Illusion Bateau neckline or a Sweetheart bodice with shoulder detailing is best for a bride with this figure.

Avoid: Avoid Trumpet silhouettes as these will accentuate the widest part of your body. Avoid straight across necklines as this won’t accentuate your bustline.  If you have broad shoulders avoid necklines that will make you look wider.


4. Rectangle/ Column

Rectangle Bodyshape
Mori Lee Blu Slim A-line
Mori Lee Blu #5361
Sincerity Modified A-line
Sincerity #3925

The goal when dressing a Rectangle/Column (also known as banana), is to create a waistline and to emphasize curves. Choose a wedding dress that will put focus on your upper body.

Try: Selecting a wedding dress where the skirt width is wider than that your shoulder width will also create an hourglass illusion.  Wearing a belt will also draw attention to your waistline. A Modified A-line, with a more subtle Fit and Flare effect, will also work well for a bride seeking a sweet, soft, and romantic look. Princess silhouettes fair beautifully with a rectangular figure, emphasizing the waist and hips while retaining the naturally lean shape of the body. Try pleating or ruching in the bodice to create curves and cinch your waistline.  Empire Waist and Ballgowns can also look fantastic. Scoop necks and sweetheart necklines are great options for a smaller bust. Cowls and beading will add detail to a bustline that may need a little attention

Avoid: Avoid halter and high necklines because this will make your shoulders look narrow and will not flatter your waist. Also avoid Sheath gowns because this style will not define your waist.


5. Inverted Triangle

Inverted Triangle Bodyshape
Mori Lee V-neck Ballgown
Mori Lee #2821
Sincerity Ballgown
Sincerity #3890

Brides with Inverted Triangle figures typically fall into two categories—those with broad shoulders, and those with large busts. Both features will lead to a relatively large bust measurement. I’ll go more into detail regarding how to style a large bust later on. Regardless of the reason for the inverted triangle shape, the focus becomes the inverse of that triangle—usually using a fuller skirt to balance the broader upper body.

Try: Both Ballgowns and fuller A-line skirts with layered satin and tulle work well. In terms of necklines for a fuller bust, try V-neck, U-shaped, strapless and halter necklines.

Avoid: Since Inverted Triangles have wide shoulders, its best to avoid necklines with wide set straps or sleeves, off-the-shoulder necklines, as these make your shoulders appear wider.