Your wedding dress A-Z

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

The A‐Z guide to wedding dress terms to help you know your a‐line from your mermaid style gown.

A type of neckline which circles the natural neckline.
Juliet cap
A small hat which sits on the back of the head.
Keyhole yoke
A high-necked dress with cut-aways near the bust or throat.
A dress that incorporates elements of medieval costume. Could include Celtic embroidery or a floaty veil.
A neckline which lies just over the top of the bust with shoulders uncovered.
Opera gloves
Gloves which go up to the upper arm.
A flap of material at the waist of a dress that is attached to create the impression of an hourglass figure.
A high, small, brimless hat.
An off‐the‐shoulder neckline.
A princess line dress fits tightly at the top, then flares out gently from a seamless waist.
Used to describe a big, floaty, dreamy dress.
A style with regularly spaced gathers of material, usually on a skirt.
Dresses kept in bridal wear shops from which orders are taken.
A straight, body‐hugging dress with no waistline.
Very thin straps attached to bodice.
Short, round‐edged, non‐fastening jacket.
Jewelled headdress to which a veil can be attached.
A skirt made up of layers of varying lengths.
Sleeves which reach just below the elbow.
Dress which incorporates elements of Victorian costume. Often a more formal style. Could be based on a Victorian ballgown with a straight front and train, or could be more frilly.
Waltz veil
A veil which reaches the floor.
Wrist gloves
Gloves which go up to the wrist.
As you click through our fashion articles in your search for the perfect dress, you may sometimes wonder exactly what we’re talking about! Here’s a guide to bridalwear terminology to make sure you always know your Empire line from your fish‐tail…


So‐called because this dress shape looks like the letter A. Basically, an A line dress hugs the body at the shoulders and then flares gently outwards.
Extra material on a skirt that falls a bit like a kitchen apron and has the effect of making the skirt look fuller.
Ballgown/full skirt
A wide skirt that flares out from a narrow waist, and reaches at least to the ankles. A ballgown dress often comes with a fitted bodice.
A wide skirt that reaches just above the ankles.
Ballet veil
A veil that reaches the ankles.
A neckline with a high collar giving a choker‐like effect.
A long, tight‐fitting bodice that finishes with a V shape at the front of the dress. Also a type of corset.
Upper part of a dress.
Bias cut
Material cut at a 45‐degree angle across the length and width of the fabric, to very flattering effect.
Material gathered at the back of the skirt to make the bottom look shapelier.
Cap sleeves
Small, tight sleeves, slightly wider at the top, which only just cover the shoulder.
A dress with a timeless quality and clean lines.
A long, straight dress.
Used to describe a dress with clean, straight, uncluttered lines.
A corset‐style bodice is strapless, fitted, boned and often laced or snap‐fastened like a corset.
A low‐cut neckline.
Loose, soft material attached to a garment, usually a skirt.
Dropped waist
This type of dress has a waistline with a seam that falls a few inches below the natural waist.
Elbow gloves
Gloves that go up to the elbow.
Empire line
Dress with a high waistline and a seam just under the bust.
Fish tail
A figure‐hugging dress where the skirt fits tightly to the knee before flaring out at the bottom.
A skirt with a ruffle at the bottom, or with lots of layers.
A traditional part of the bride’s underwear, a bride’s garter belt is a prettily‐decorated piece of elastic which goes on the top of the stocking.
Gauntlet glove
A long glove which goes down to the wrist but doesn’t cover the hand.
Historical design
A design which incorporates elements of dresses from different periods, eg 1920s, Edwardian, 50s, medieval. Can resemble period costume. Perfect for themed weddings.

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