Photography: Harry Bates1 of 6
Ball GownIntroduced by Queen Victoria, reimagined by Dior in the 1950s, and never long out of fashion, this is the most romantic of all bridal silhouettes. It features a small waist (natural or dropped) and a voluminous skirt with petticoats. Most flattering to women of at least average height with hourglass or full figures, this style's skirt will overwhelm a petite or particularly buxom bride. Depending on the fabric, the skirt can appear weightless or heavy.
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A-LineThis enduring style's name comes from the triangle (or "A" shape) between the narrow bodice and outer edges of the wide, ungathered skirt. Suitable for a variety of fabrics, the A-line is versatile: It may or may not have a seam at the waist, which may be higher or lower than the natural waistline; and the close-fitting bodice may be strapless or have any type of neckline.
Photography: Harry Bates3 of 6
EmpireAfter the French Revolution, Napoleon's wife Josephine popularized this neoclassical dress with a very high waist; the sheer materials she chose caused a sensation. The cropped bodice of the Empire style flatters the small-breasted woman but not a more buxom bride; the raised waist creates a long line, ideal for a petite bride. The skirt may be straight, slightly flared, or even as wide as an A-line.
Photography: Harry Bates4 of 6
SheathIf you are comfortable with showing off your curves, consider the slyly constructed sheath, popularized in the 1950s by Marilyn Monroe. This body-hugging profile is artfully sculpted with darts, tucks, and seams. The effect will differ depending on the weight and drape of the fabric. A great choice for a tall, slim-hipped woman, the sheath is equally becoming to a petite, slender bride. Avoid this style if you have wide hips but narrow shoulders.
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TrumpetA trumpet dress hugs the body at the top and through the hips but jets out into a fuller skirt at the bottom. This style is also referred to as mermaid.
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ShortShort dresses have a hem that is above or just slightly below the knee, and they typically aren't found in any of the other categories.