Every Wedding Dress Style, From A-Line to Trumpet

All the silhouettes you need to know.
by Maddy Sims
Wedding Dress Styles
MCV Photo;Courtesy of Alexandra Grecco;Courtesy of Pnina Tornai

As you begin your wedding dress search, learning terminology is a major help. Knowing the names of different looks and silhouettes will help you sort through all the different options out there (Sheath! A-line! Slip!). Being able to articulate your favorite wedding dress styles will also help your bridal consultant at your appointment. But if you don’t know the difference between a trumpet gown and a mermaid gown, not to worry. It’s a lot of information to learn, but we’re here to help. We’ve put together a definitive guide of all the wedding dress styles you need to know so you can head into your wedding dress shopping experience with confidence. We also tapped Hayley Paige, renowned wedding dress designer, to break down the all the different wedding dress styles. Once you find your preferred style, work with a bridal consultant at a bridal salon to find your perfect wedding dress. Read on to find out the name of your favorite wedding gown silhouette, length, and shape. 

A-Line

Lihi Hod A-line Wedding Dress
Photo Courtesy of Lihi Hod;Dress by Lihi Hod

A universally-loved wedding dress silhouette, this style is great for to-be-weds who want a fairytale moment without all the volume and drama. A-line gowns are fitted through your natural waist and then flare out softly to create an “A” shape (hence the name). "Embrace your effortless glamour in a silhouette that harmonizes a dreamy feel with a danceable functionality," Paige says. "What I love most about A-lines is that they are extremely wearable and adaptable for any occasion."

Ball Gown

Hayley Paige Wedding Ball Gown
Photo by MCV Photo;Dress by Hayley Paige

Embrace your inner princess with this stunning wedding dress style. Ball gowns are fitted through your natural waist or your hip and then flare out dramatically for a lovely hourglass effect that will make you feel like Cinderella at the royal ball. "If you’re looking for that 'extra-bit-of-extra,' ballgowns will bring the voluminous drama," Paige says. "There is something so flirty and fun about layers upon layers of tulle...the trick is finding one that still feels equal parts manageable and 'twirl-worthy.'"

Column

Alexandra Grecco Column Wedding Dress
Photo by Yudi Ela;Dress by Alexandra Grecco

The column silhouette is typically streamlined and fairly uninterrupted by drastic seamlines. "Not to be confused with a sheath that tends to fit a bit more effortlessly and is lighter in fabrication, the column look is more often seen with a natural waistline and made from fabrications that hold a bit of structure (think: taffeta, brocade, organza, corded lace)."

Empire

Jenny Packham Empire Wedding Dress
Photo Courtesy of Jenny Packham;Dress by Jenny Packham

Wedding dresses with an empire waist are perfect for those who love a flowy, boho dress. This silhouette is fitted through the bust and then flows away from the body all the way down. Another pro? The higher waistline elongates the body, which can make you appear taller. "Leaving most of the body shape undefined, I love that this silhouette leaves room for the imagination and keeps the focus on the décolletage and smiling face."

Fit-and-Flare

Pnina Tornai Fit-and-Flare Wedding Dress
Photo Courtesy of Pnina Tornai;Dress by Pnina Tornai

It’s no wonder why this is a popular wedding dress style (and has been over the years). To-be-weds who want to highlight their figure but also want to be comfortable throughout the night will love this stunning silhouette. "I like to call this a “nice hug and release” because the fit-and-flare is all about highlighting shape…and then some." The style hugs your bust, waist and hips, and then flares out ever-so-slightly for a pretty and romantic look. "Depending on the proportions of the seamline, this silhouette can be a nice balance for the bride who wants something form fitting and sexy, but also high voltage and glamorous."

High-Low

Hayley Paige High-Low Wedding Dress
Photo by MCV Photo;Dress by Hayley Paige

If you’re looking for a unique style (or you have a pair of shoes you’re dying to show off), consider a high-low dress. This cut has an asymmetrical hemline: it’s shorter in the front—generally hitting between your knees and your ankles—and is longer in the back. "This silhouette is charming and feels a wee-bit old-school couture," Paige says. "You're going to need a devastatingly fabulous pair of shoes because this look offers a sneaky-peek from the mid-calf down."

Jumpsuit

Viktor&Rolf Wedding Dress Jumpsuit
Photo by MARIJKE AERDEN;Jumpsuit by Viktor&Rolf

If a dress just doesn't feel right for you, consider a jumpsuit. "I love a great jumpsuit moment because it’s unassuming, unexpected, and always ready to disco." This style is a one-piece that has a top and connected long pants. It’s an alternative to a formal gown that will show off your flirty side. "Whether it’s a wide-legged pant or a pegged-cigarette-slimmer paired with a plunging neckline or a bustier corset, the jumpsuit is forever playful and ever so accessible."

Mermaid

Pnina Tornai Mermaid Wedding Dress
Photo Courtesy of Pnina Tornai;Dress by Pnina Tornai
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"For the magical mavens and bodacious bombshells, the mermaid never disappoints." To-be-weds going for a sultry look will love this curve-hugging wedding dress style. Mermaid-style gowns are fitted through the bust, waist and hips, and then dramatically flare out at the knee. The result is a stunning mermaid tail-effect that shows off your lovely figure.

Midi

Temperley London Midi Wedding Dress
Photo Courtesy of Temperley London;Dress by Temperley London

Don’t want to wear a traditional long gown? Rock a midi dress instead. This style hits between the knees and the ankles. "There is no specific measurement or seamlines, but the idea is to curate a length that compliments your proportion and height." The hem length is having a massive moment in bridal fashion, making it perfect for the fashion-forward nearlywed. Dress it up with a fun headpiece, some sparkly jewelry or a pretty veil for an on-trend wedding day look.

Mini

Lela Rose Mini Wedding Dress
Photo by LARA JADE;Dress by Lela Rose

Calling all daring to-be-weds. This wedding dress style hits anywhere above the knee, allowing you to show off your gorgeous legs and have total freedom on the dancefloor. "Anyone can appreciate a mini moment because it’s fresh, fun, and forever retro in a wedding setting," Paige says. "I also love to encourage it under a detachable skirt, as it doubles as a second look. I'm all about multiple looks on your wedding day; especially if you are a style chameleon or having a hard time deciding between two completely different looks."

Pantsuit

Justin Alexander Wedding Dress Pantsuit
Courtesy of Justin Alexander;Pantsuit by Justin Alexander

If you’re going for a formal look but don’t want to wear a gown, a pantsuit is the perfect option. It consists of full-length pants and a matching jacket (or top). Another reason we love this look? Pants are one of the biggest wedding dress trends we’re seeing for 2020.

Romper

Hayley Paige Wedding Dress Romper
Photo by MCV Photo;Romper by Hayley Paige

More of an adventurous to-be-wed? Choose a fun and unconventional wedding dress, like a romper. This style is a one-piece garment that has a top and attached shorts. Wear it for your reception or for your whole wedding—it’s your day, after all!

Sheath

THEIA Sheath Wedding Dress
Rodin Banica;Dress by THEIA

Not into voluminous skirts? Not a problem. The sheath style is a great way to show off your figure without any added drama. The slim silhouette hugs your body and falls straight to the floor. "Sparing the horizontal join lines, the sheath silhouette is geared to elongate one’s shape," Paige says. "It’s similar to a column shape, but typically consists of silky fabrics that delicately grace the contours of the body via chiffon, charmeuse, or lace."

Separates

Hayley Paige Separates Wedding Dress
Photo by MCV Photo;Dress by Hayley Paige

Want to shake up your wedding day look? Try out a two-piece look rather than a traditional gown. Separates involve any top and skirt paired together for one cohesive look. "This option offers the ultimate versatility and ideal amount of 'extra' because it can create the effect of two gowns in one."

Slip

Savannah Miller Slip Wedding Dress
Photo Courtesy of Savannah Miller;Dress by Savannah Miller

For the minimalist to-be-wed, the slip dress is a great option. They’re generally made of unstructured fabric (think satin or silk) and loosely graze your figure for a simple and pretty overall look. Pair the look with some flowers in your hair or a long, sheer veil for a gorgeous wedding day style.

Tea Length

Inbal Dror Tea Length Wedding Dress
Photo by ANTON OPARIN;Dress by Inbal Dror

While tea-length dresses can technically hit between your knee and your ankle, most fall right above the ankle. This style is great for to-be-weds going for a vintage or retro look, and it also allows you to show off your wedding day shoes. "I love the tea-length because it’s curated to your proportion and forever charming."

Trumpet

Monique Lhuillier Trumpet Wedding Dress
Photo by The Hons Photo;Dress by Monique Lhuillier

If the mermaid style is just a little too much volume for you, try a trumpet gown. It’s fitted through the bust, waist and hips, but then flares out with volume. The overall effect mimics the bell of a trumpet horn, highlighting your figure without being too dramatic.

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