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The Ultimate Wedding Gown Glossary

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  • Silhouettes: A-Line

    Silhouettes: A-Line

    This silhouette is slim on top, fitted through the waist, and it softly flares away from the body.

    Gown by Allure Romance.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Silhouettes: Ball Gown

    Silhouettes: Ball Gown

    This silhouette features a boned bodice and a full skirt supported by crinolines or petticoats.

    Gown by Isabelle Armstrong.

    Check out 20+ Light-as-Air Wedding Ball Gowns ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Silhouettes: Empire

    Silhouettes: Empire

    This high-waisted style is nipped in just below the bustline. An Empire silhouette is ideal for small-busted women or curvy figures.

    Gown by Anne Barge.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Silhouettes: Sheath

    Silhouettes: Sheath

    A sheath is a close-to-the-body shape that outlines every curve; it's very similar to the column but with less structure at times.

    Gown by Romona Keveza.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Silhouettes: Trumpet/Fit-and-Flare

    Silhouettes: Trumpet/Fit-and-Flare

    A trumpet or fit-and-flare is a fitted gown that flares out at the knee. It's similar to the mermaid silhouette, and perfect for brides who want to show off some curves. 

    Gown by Essense of Australia.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Silhouettes: Mermaid

    Silhouettes: Mermaid

    This shape tightly hugs the torso, then flares out from the knee or just below it. 

    Gown by Ines Di Santo.

    Check out 50 Mermaid Wedding Dresses That'll Make You Weak in the Knees ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: One-Shoulder

    Necklines: One-Shoulder

    A one-shoulder neckline is best for small-to-medium busted gals because they offer less support around the bust area. If you do need to wear something underneath, look for an undergarment with interchangeable straps.

    Gown by Nouvelle Amsale.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Strapless

    Necklines: Strapless

    Usually cut straight across, a strapless neckline flatters most figures, but can be more difficult for full-busted women to pull off without the right construction/shapewear. Look for a strapless, long-line bra.

    Gown by Reem Acra.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Bateau

    Necklines: Bateau

    A bateau elongates the neck. The shape gently follows the curve of the collarbone, almost to the tip of the shoulders — and it's cut straight across so less of the décolletage shows. It can be paired with sleeves or a sleeveless style.

    Gown by Casablanca Bridal.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Queen Anne

    Necklines: Queen Anne

    This sophisticated neckline refers to a higher collar in the back and a scoop or V-neck in the front.

    Gown by Reem Acra.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Jewel

    Necklines: Jewel

    The original round-neck that’s clean, classic and sets off jewelry well. Also known as crewneck.

    Gown by Madison James.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Halter

    Necklines: Halter

    The halter is the breezy relative of the V-neck, but the straps wrap around the back of the neck or have a high neck with deep armhole.

    Gown by Badgley Mischka Bride.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: High Neck

    Necklines: High Neck

    This ultra-elegant neckline is ideal for brides with broad shoulders or taller women.

    Gown by Legends by Romona Keveza.

    Check out More Wedding Gowns with Dramatic Necklines ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Scoop Neck

    Necklines: Scoop Neck

    A U-shaped, low circular neckline that opens up the neck and reveals a hint of cleavage.

    Gown by Monique Lhuillier.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Spaghetti Straps

    Necklines: Spaghetti Straps

    Thin straps that flatter slender frames and narrow shoulders.

    Gown by Blue by Enzoani.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Illusion

    Necklines: Illusion

    An illusion neckline consists of transparent fabric and embellishments covering a bride's décolletage.

    Gown by Rivini.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Square

    Necklines: Square

    Self-explanatory; the right angles help to draw the eye up.

    Gown by Dennis Basso at Kleinfeld.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: Sweetheart

    Necklines: Sweetheart

    This heart-shaped style follows the outline of the breasts; it helps to enhance/create the illusion of curves.

    Gown by Disney Fairytale Weddings by Alfred Angelo.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Necklines: V-Neck

    Necklines: V-Neck

    A V-neck streamlines and lengthens the torso, making it an excellent choice for petite or full-busted brides.

    Gown by Carolina Herrera.

    Plus, check out More Beautiful V-Neck Wedding Dresses ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Sleeves: Fitted

    Sleeves: Fitted

    Long, narrow and tight sleeves that can be full-length or three-quarter length.

    Gown by Alberta Ferretti.

    Plus, check out 40 Winter Wedding Gowns You'll Love ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Sleeves: Three-Quarter Length

    Sleeves: Three-Quarter Length

    Three quarter-length-sleeves end midway between the elbow and the wrist.

    Gown by Pronovias.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Sleeves: Flutter

    Sleeves: Flutter

    Flutter sleeves are soft, wearable and rather ethereal.

    Gown by Ellis Bridals.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Sleeves: Cap

    Sleeves: Cap

    Cap sleeves just cover the tops of shoulders; they broaden narrow figures and lengthen arms.

    Gown by Enzoani.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Sleeves: Off-the-Shoulder

    Sleeves: Off-the-Shoulder

    This type of sleeve offsets wide hips and showcases the collarbone and décolletage. While this style is super-flattering to medium- or full-busted women, off-the-shoulder sleeves will flatter almost all figures.

    Gown by Jasmine Couture.

    Plus, check out More Gorgeous Off-the-Shoulder Dresses ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Sleeves: Bell

    Sleeves: Bell

    Bell sleeves narrow at the armhole and taper out, with the widest point at the wrist.

    Gown by Claire Pettibone.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Sleeves: Dolman

    Sleeves: Dolman

    Functioning as an extension of the bodice, the dolman sleeve has a very large and wide armhole that reaches from the waist to a narrowed wrist.

    Gown by Inbal Dror.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Sleeves: Juliet

    Sleeves: Juliet

    A long sleeve featuring a puffed top that's fitted on the lower arm.

    Gown by Honor for Stone Fox Bride.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Waistlines: Dropped

    Waistlines: Dropped

    A drop-waist gown is great for short-waisted brides or those who want a 1920s-inspired look.

    Gown by Mark Zunino.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Waistlines: Basque

    Waistlines: Basque

    Dropped V-shaped, fitted waist with a flared skirt.

    Gown by Stella York.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Waistlines: Asymmetrical

    Waistlines: Asymmetrical

    An asymmetrical waist is an excellent slimming trick because it runs on the diagonal.

    Gown by Sophia Tolli.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Hems: Mini

    Hems: Mini

    A mini dress falls above the knee.

    Dress by Pronovias.

    Check out 25+ Short and Sweet Wedding Dresses ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Hems: Tea-Length

    Hems: Tea-Length

    A tea-length hem ends just a few inches above the ankle.

    Dress by Ivy & Aster.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Hems: High-Low

    Hems: High-Low

    Also called an intermission or an asymmetrical hem, it hits at mid-calf in front and is floor-length in back.

    Gown by Pnina Tornai.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Trains: Court

    Trains: Court

    A court train starts from the waist and trails only about a foot behind the bride.

    Gown by Jasmine Bridal.

    Note: Any wedding gown train can be bustled for comfort and dancing. The standard bustle is hooked, looped or buttoned to rest on top of the skirt, whereas the French bustle is looped under the skirt, creating a cleaner look.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Trains: Chapel

    Trains: Chapel

    A chapel train extends from the waist and trails three to four feet behind the bride. It's popular because of its combination of elegance and versatility.

    Gown by Kenneth Winston Femme.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Trains: Fishtail

    Trains: Fishtail

    A fishtail trails about a foot behind the wearer, but it flares out seamlessly from the knee. This train is most commonly associated with mermaid gowns but not exclusively.

    Gown by Isabelle Armstrong.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Trains: Watteau

    Trains: Watteau

    A panel of fabric that falls from below the shoulder blades to the floor. A Watteau train is usually made of sheer fabric like chiffon.

    Gown by Marchesa.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Trains: Cathedral

    Trains: Cathedral

    Long and formal, a cathedral train falls from the waist and typically trains about six to seven feet.

    Gown by Berta Bridal.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Chiffon

    Fabrics: Chiffon

    A sheer or transparent fabric that drapes nicely along the body.

    Gown by Martina Liana.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Dupioni Silk

    Fabrics: Dupioni Silk

    Dupioni is a less-expensive silk that’s textured, and it often has a naturally wavy pattern.

    Gown by Paloma Blanca.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Satin

    Fabrics: Satin

    Satin has a heavyweight sheen, and it's used for more structured styles. It's characterized by a quiet luster and usually made of silk, rayon or a blend of the two.

    Gown by Anna Maier ~ Ulla-Maija.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Silk Mikado

    Fabrics: Silk Mikado

    A brand of blended silk that's usually heavier than 100% silk.

    Gown by Oscar de la Renta.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Jersey

    Fabrics: Jersey

    A very fine, elastic knit fabric.

    Gown by Sincerity Bridal.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Organza

    Fabrics: Organza

    This semi-sheer, stiffer fabric is best used in structured styles like full skirts or overlays.

    Gown by Sophia Tolli.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Taffeta

    Fabrics: Taffeta

    Crisp, lustrous fabric with a trademark rustle, usually woven of silk or polyester. Taffeta can be draped or structured but it wrinkles easily.

    Gown by David Tutera for Mon Cheri.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabric: Tulle

    Fabric: Tulle

    This fabric is used most commonly as the skirt in ball gowns. Tulle consists of fine netting; the silk variety is softer than the polyester, both are rough against bare skin and pantyhose.

    Gown by Jim Hjelm.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Crepe

    Fabrics: Crepe

    This fabric has a pebbled texture, and it's thin and lightweight.

    Gown by THEIA.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Alençon Lace

    Fabrics: Alençon Lace

    This delicate needlepoint lace features solid motifs on sheer netting.

    Gown by Kenneth Winston.

    Plus, check out 40+ Mesmerizing Lace Wedding Gowns ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Chantilly Lace

    Fabrics: Chantilly Lace

    Chantilly lace consists of mesh with delicate botanical motifs, and it tends to have scalloped edges.

    Gown by Romona Keveza.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Guipure Lace

    Fabrics: Guipure Lace

    This heavy, sculptural lace features large patterns in needlepoint or bobbin.

    Gown by Robert Bullock Bride.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Brocade

    Fabrics: Brocade

    A heavy, woven fabric with a raised or sculpted design that's typically only worn during cool seasons.

    Gown by Sottero and Midgley.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Jacquard

    Fabrics: Jacquard

    A type of weave with an intricate variegated pattern (damask is an example of a jacquard-woven fabric).

    Gown by Oleg Cassini at David's Bridal.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Fabrics: Charmeuse

    Fabrics: Charmeuse

    Lightweight satin (think Jean Harlow 1930s-esque gowns), often used for bias-cut styles.

    Gown by Justin Alexander.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Details: Ruffles

    Details: Ruffles

    Keep ruffles below the hip to avoid adding volume; otherwise they can add curves.

    Gown by Lazaro.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Details: Tiers

    Details: Tiers

    Layers in various lengths that are placed on top of each other.

    Gown by Lovelle by Lazaro.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Details: Ruching

    Details: Ruching

    Ruching refers to clothing with large areas of fullness gathered in, to form a rippled effect.

    Gown by Allure Romance.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Details: Pleating

    Details: Pleating

    Pleating refers to folds that resemble the bellows of an accordion.

    Gown by Ellis Bridals.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Details: Slit

    Details: Slit

    A vertical opening at the front, side, or back of a garment (usually along the seam), which allows for freedom of movement.

    Gown by Alvina Valenta.

    Check out 40 Sexy New Wedding Dresses ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Embellishments: Bows

    Embellishments: Bows

    Bows can range from sweet, girlie styles to origami-inspired folds. Oversize ones can help accentuate a part of your figure.

    Gown by Badgley Mischka Bride.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Embellishments: Peplum

    Embellishments: Peplum

    A peplum is an overskirt that you attach at your gown’s natural or dropped waistline. It creates instant curves.

    Gown by Jenny Lee Bridal.

    Check out Fashion-Forward Peplum Gowns ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Embellishments: Sequins

    Embellishments: Sequins

    Sequins are small, shiny discs that are sewed onto the fabric of a wedding dress to add sparkle.

    Gown by Inbal Dror.

    Check out Sparkling Wedding Dresses That Rocked the Runway ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Embellishments: Crystals

    Embellishments: Crystals

    Crystals have a highly faceted appearance and give off lots of sparkle. They are usually larger than sequins.

    Gown by Maggie Sottero.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Embellishments: Bugle Beads

    Embellishments: Bugle Beads

    Long, tubular-shaped glass beads.

    Gown by Pnina Tornai.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Backs: Plunging

    Backs: Plunging

    Wedding dresses with low backs enhanced with decorative accents have become more popular in the past couple of years.

    Gown by Casablanca Bridal.

    Plus, check out Gowns That Are Even More Beautiful from the Back ►

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Backs: Illusion

    Backs: Illusion

    A sheer backline featuring lace appliqués, crystals or other adornments.

    Gown by Essense of Australia.

    Photo courtesy of designer

  • Backs: Keyhole

    Backs: Keyhole

    An oval or circular-shaped decorative opening.

    Gown by Kenneth Winston.

    Photo courtesy of designer

The Ultimate Wedding Gown Glossary

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