Walking into a bridal shop without doing your homework is kind of like going to the grocery store when you're hungry. You're most likely going to buy based on impulse (and a whole whirlwind of pre-wedding emotion), without considering whether or not a pricey wedding gown is the right cut for your body type.
Or maybe you fall on the other side of the coin and have learned the hard way — after hours and hours of fruitless dress shopping — that wedding dresses for petite women, tall women, curvy girls, athletic girls and most other specific body types can be hard to find.
"Overall, I feel dress selection should be about highlighting a bride's best features. Where I see things go wrong is when brides choose a style that doesn't flatter them, or doesn't compliment the style of ceremony or reception they are having," says Kimberly Morrill at Your Perfect Bridesmaid.
You can avoid wasting time and money on the wrong gown by consulting this wedding dress glossary, before you buy:
What it is: Flares out gently from the shoulder creating a subtle A shape.
Looks best on: Almost anyone.
Not so good on: Some A-lines have a very fitted top, which will not be comfortable for everyone — especially those with bigger busts.
Morrill says, "An A-line dress is great for enhancing small busts, and for slimming larger hips. It is flattering on everyone. Additionally, the dress is not so huge as to be uncomfortable or a burden on a warm day or at an outside wedding."
What it is: Fitted bodice with a full, bell-shaped, floor-length skirt. Usually reserved for more formal weddings.
Looks best on: Tall brides and brides who are heavier on bottom than on top.
Not so good on: Shorter brides can get overwhelmed by the full skirt. If you're a shorter bride and you have your heart set on a ball gown, make sure to get it altered to fit you.
Morrill says, "Ball gowns really show off a small waist. They are wonderful for formal weddings, but be sure the folks doing the alterations install a strong and sturdy bustle. I would avoid a ballgown that has extensive ribbing for a warm weather wedding as the heat can make everything swell and be uncomfortable."
What it is: Fitted bodice, full, bell-shaped skirt that hits mid calf — a less formal style.
Looks best on: Shorter women with stellar calves and women with broad shoulders. The full skirt will work to balance your upper and lower body for a proportional appearance.
Not so good on: If you have thick ankles or calves, avoid this style. Taller brides might also find this style to fit them awkwardly.
"Ballerina gowns are fantastic for gals with incredible legs," Morrill explains. "The dresses also make it easy and comfortable to spend your reception dancing the night away."
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