Wedding dress skirt shapes

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

Cinderella or straight up ‐‐ what’s the best shape for you?


As the name suggests, A‐line dresses are typically A‐shaped, with vertical seams running from the waist or shoulders to the bottom of the skirt. The degree of flare in the skirt can vary from slight to extreme and the bodice is often fitted. This style suits most people, and is the most popular choice for wedding dresses.

A‐line and Column skirt shapes
A‐line column/ straight

Column/ straight skirt

The column design is for brides who want a modern, chic look. The slim profile closely follows the body’s curves and looks flattering on tall, slim or petite brides.

Mermaid and Fishtail skirt shapes
Mermaid Fishtail


Similar to the column, but even more figure‐hugging, the mermaid style flares out at the bottom. This type of skirt is quite often bias cut (ie cut on the diagonal) and suits the bride who wants to accentuate her curvaceous figure.


Appearing like a column or mermaid style from the front, the fishtail has an extra panel of fabric sewn into the back of the skirt which fans out like its namesake.


Choice of shape strongly influences the overall style and look of the bridal gown. Some skirt shapes such as the ball gown have a classical feel whilst shapes such as the column have a modern sexier appeal. Your decision on what skirt shape to have should not only depend on what you like or what the latest fashion is, but what looks good on you.

The following illustrations are a guideline to some of the main bridal gown skirt shapes and the body shapes they best suit ‐‐ and don’t suit so well. You may decide to reject all these styles and go for something totally off the wall. Remember it’s not just about the dress ‐‐ you also have your personality, an aura, vitality, your face, hair… a whole package to work with. If you’re happy about what you’re doing, nothing could look more stunning and beautiful than that.

Ball Gown and Empire Line skirt shapes
Ball gown/ full skirt Empire line

Ballgown/ full skirt

This is the ultimate “Cinderella shall go to the ball!” dress. Ballgowns are the most traditional style of skirt for the bride who is after a classic elegant look. The skirt’s appearance can vary depending on the fabric used and range from structured and heavy looking to soft and light. This style of skirt is often combined with a fitted bodice and natural or dropped waistline, suiting a wide range of figures especially those with curves. These dresses are usually worn with a hooked underskirt, which may have to be bought separately, to keep the skirts out and full.

Empire line

The empire line dress is for brides who don’t want a figure‐hugging gown. The skirt starts just below the bust and is not as full as the ball gown or has an A‐line shape. This style of dress suits a small‐busted, slim figure, but can also be a good choice for pregnant brides, as the lack of waist means there’s no constriction.

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