Finding Your Perfect
Gown Silhouette

There are four silhouettes for wedding gowns: Princess, Ball Gown, Empire, and Sheath. Your first step in selecting the perfect gown is to figure out which silhouette looks best on your body type.

Princess Gowns have vertically seamed panels, usually six or eight of them, and the panels are narrow through the torso and wide at the hem. This style flatters most body types, and is sometimes called "A-line". Because this style elongates the torso and streamlines the body, it will look good on you if:

  • you’re short; or
  • you’re curvy; or
  • you're large-busted and the neckline is scooped or V-shaped, because it will elongate the neck; or
  • you're short-waisted

This style is not recommended if:

  • your waist is larger than your bust

If the Princess Gown is the style for you, choose from our Eowyn, Elven, Celtic, Princess Accolade, Cotehardie, Medieval, Princess Tudor, or Orthodox gowns.


Ball Gowns have a fitted bodice and a very full skirt. A hoopskirt or crinoline is often worn with a ball gown. The waistline can be at your natural waist, a little lower, or dropped to the hip bones, and can be cut straight across or dropped in a V. This style will look good on you if:

  • you have an hourglass figure; or
  • you have a head-to-toe full figure;
  • or your bust is your largest measurement

This style is not recommended if:

  • you're short, because the wide skirt will make you look shorter; or
  • you have a small bust and large hips

If the Ball Gown is the style for you, choose from our Classic Accolade, Classic Tudor, Elizabethan, Scottish, Renaissance Faire, Baroque Fairy Tale, Romantic, Victorian, or 1940s gowns.


Empire Gowns have a high waist, usually right underneath the bust. The skirt can be gathered, flared, or straight, while the bodice can be gathered or snug. This style accentuates the bust while hiding the waist and hips. This style looks good if:

  • you're short; or
  • you're full-hipped; or
  • you're thick-waisted; or
  • you're small busted; or
  • you're pregnant

This style is not recommended if:

  • your figure is generous; or
  • your bust is your largest measurement

If the Empire Gown is the style for you, choose from our Goddess, Burgundian, Italian, Regency, or Edwardian gowns.


Sheath Gowns are simple, close-fitting dresses that are usually unstructured. Most come in soft, flowing fabrics like georgette and crepe. Sheath Gowns cut on the bias are form fitting. This style is your best bet if:

  • you're trim and want to show off your shape; or
  • you're petite

This style is not recommended if:

  • your lower body is larger than your upper body; or
  • you want to de-emphasize your curviness

If the Sheath Gown is the style for you, choose the Arwen or the 1920s gown.


Now that you've selected a silhouette, what about color?

When you think about the traditional color for wedding gowns you think white. Well, that's true now, but it's not nearly as old a tradition as you might assume. While some cultures and religions have always favored white gowns, the wedding gowns of western brides were not always white. In fact, until Queen Victoria married her cousin Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840, there was no particular color associated with wedding gowns. Queen Victoria married in a white gown, shown at right, and her choice has had more influence on wedding gown colors than any other. Because the Queen wore it, white was set as the rule for weddings and that has continued ever since.

In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance even the wealthy had few outfits and they were worn until their condition was beneath the owner's social station, at which time they were cast-off. Only the very wealthy and powerful could afford clothing made for specific occasions. The most popular colors for special occasion dresses were purple, crimson and royal blue. Brides, both rich and poor, simply wore the best dress they owned, and embellished it with whatever they had. For the rich it was jewels and fur, for the poor, flowers and ribbon. During the reign of Elizabeth I, white became a symbol of pure, young, maidenhood and some brides wore it, although white was still not thought of as a bridal color.

As late as 1907, the typical color for a Scottish bride was blue. It's thought that this custom inspired the "something blue" from the old rhyme.

Red, symbolic of joy, is used liberally by Chinese brides, especially for the veil and shoes. Red was also popular with early Celtic cultures because it represented fertility. Both red and yellow are traditionally worn by brides in Korea.

A Jewish bride traditionally wears white, as does a bride in Japan, although she will change her clothes several times during the reception, and only the first kimono is white.

Irish tradition holds that green is an unlucky color for brides, although green was frequently used by European brides in the 15th century. See the picture of Madame Arnolfi at right.

What does all this mean for you? It means you can wear whatever color you want. Just select a color you like which flatters your complexion. We've made wedding gowns in green, pink, blue, yellow, burgundy, red, black, silver, gold, ivory, purple, and yes, even white!


Queen Victoria's wedding gown, 1840


Jan Van Eyck's Arnolfi Wedding Portrait, 1434

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