The lovely Sama of The Utter Blog is back with her insider tips from the fitting room of one of London’s loveliest bridal boutiques, Blackburn Bridal Couture. Sama is an experienced bridal consultant and bride to be herself so she knows a thing or two about wedding dresses!
Today she’s offering invaluable tips and advice on Wedding Dress Shopping and trust us, it’s a must read.
Wedding Dress Shopping For Your Shape
Back in my pre-engagement days, when I used to buy wedding magazines on the sly like a big, dirty, wedding magazine-buying fraud, I’d always linger over the articles entitled ‘Body Shape Special!’ or ‘Buying The Dress Of Your Dreams For The Body Of Your Reality!’ (Ok, so I made that last one up, but you get the idea.) I was curious to know what shape I ‘should’ be choosing, and whether the kind of dress I imagined myself wearing fitted with what the experts thought would suit me.
Most of the time, I have to say, I found those articles very disappointing.
You see, style is entirely objective, and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my job as a bridal consultant, it’s that your personality and attitude have just as much say over what dress you choose as your body shape. Having said that, there are certain shapes, lines and illusion-creating tricks that I see working on a daily basis, so this isn’t so much a post on ‘rules’ or pigeon-holing, but more a collection of shape-related findings which should at least give you an idea of where to start when it comes to finding the dress for you.
If you’re a ‘classic pear’ you will likely spend the majority of your clothes-wearing days trying to hide or slim-down your bottom and hip area. For you, finding your perfect wedding dress is all about balance. You most likely have a good waist, so to pull focus on that area rather than the bit below, you want to create width across your shoulders to balance out your hips, accentuate your diddy waist, and create the illusion of an hour-glass.
Soft A-line skirts, capped sleeves, V-necks and a prominent waist detail are your friends. I would avoid slinky, bias-cut dresses that show off every lump and bump.
Mm-hmm. This is most definitely me. Although I have a reasonably balanced shape, I’m pretty busty with ‘solid’ (a polite way of saying ‘chunky’) arms and shoulders. When dress shopping for my own wedding, I hoped I was going to put on the Saskia by Jenny Packham and feel wonderful, but it just made me feel frumpy. With the A-line skirt hiding my lower half, the only part of my body I was showing off was my biggest bit. As a top heavy gal, I feel I look my slimmest when my whole shape – and particularly my hips – are on show.
Busty ladies, I recommend you stay away from high necklines and fuller skirts, and go for something a little more shape-showing; soft fishtails, dropped waists, open necklines and some sort of strap or capped sleeve all work well.
Kristene by Claire Pettibone
Eliza by Eliza Jane Howell
Straight Up and Down
The magazines call this a ‘boy shape’, or slightly less insulting, ‘athletic’. Either way, if you’re slim and trim but don’t have much curve, it’s all about creating the illusion of curves when it comes to finding your ideal wedding dress. For you, the classic fishtail will make the eye believe you go in at the waist, out over your hips and back in again to create that sexy, ‘womanly’ shape.
The ‘Devotion’ dress by Claire Pettibone is a fantastic curve enhancer as the fishtail has a strong kick whilst still being incredibly fluid, feminine and romantic, whilst the dainty straps create the right balance. Go for something too wide or capped on the shoulders and you will be making your straight shape more noticeable.
In contrast, you can rock a princess-cut, fuller skirt as it makes the most of your slender shoulders and bust and brings a bit of fun and femininity to the party
Devotion by Claire Pettibone
Amour by Sarah Seven
Well bully for you! Don’t you just go in and out in all the right places and look fantastic in nearly everything!? Envy is a bad, bad thing, Sama, rein it in…
No, but in all seriousness, you hourglass girlies are lucky enough to suit most dress shapes, but in my humble opinion don’t hide your fab figure away in an A-line or full skirt. Make the most of your shape and show it off in a soft fishtail or column silhouette. Your groom will thank you for it!
Hourglass figures can come in all shapes and sizes, so if you’re small and neat or if your boobs can hold themselves, go daring yet demure in something like the Aspen by Jenny Packham. However if you need something with a bit more ‘structure’, Gala by Cymbeline is a classic but softly sexy alternative.
Aspen by Jenny Packham
Voluptuous brides out there may be thinking that these more fluid, unstructured dresses won’t work for them, but this isn’t true at all. All the designers I’ve mentioned go up to at least a UK 18 or 20, and choosing the right dress for you depends entirely on where you carry your weight and, perhaps more importantly, how you carry yourself. It is wonderful what some good underwear and an air of confidence can do!
The dresses I’ve suggested for ‘Pear-shaped’ ladies can also work splendidly on curvier brides, and I haven’t even begun to mention empire line dresses which have a gorgeous, floaty, bohemian feel whilst hiding a multitude of sins. Such as these beautifully boho dresses by Watters and Claire Pettibone.
If you want a dress that transforms your shape then you will need to look for structure and corsetry – think Ian Stuart, Sassi Holford, Justin Alexander and Alfred Angelo – supported busts, nipped in waists and full, voluminous skirts either in tea length, 1950s styles or full on princess esque ball gown dresses.
The addition of cap sleeves (especially off the shoulder) can help to create that coveted, feminine, hourglass silhouette and provide a little extra coverage for brides who may not feel comfortable with too much arm on display – delicate lace sleeves a’la Kate Middleton, boleros and shrugs are also great cover up options.
Sincerity Plus wedding dress style 4560 with detachable tulle wrap
Plus sized lovelies should check out the fashion forward collections by Sincerity Bridal, the Sonsie collection by Veromia and Justin Alexander (whose designs go up to a UK size 32). Also have a read of this super informative post on wedding fashion for plus sized brides by Rock N Roll Bride.
Make The Most Of Your Best Bits
So that’s the five main body shapes covered in Part One of my little ‘Dressing For Your Shape’ mini-series. You may feel you’re not able to categorise yourself so easily but hopefully there will have been something there you can relate to. We all have our good bits and our bad bits, and finding the right dress for you is all about making the most of the body part you love (it could be anything from your bum to your collarbone) and taking the attention away from the bits you’re not so keen on.
Next time I’ll be delving even deeper, with hints and tips that focus on specific body parts and even recommendations for underwear and support.
Thanks so much Sama!
You can find more of Sama’s musings on all things wedding on her fabulous blog, The Utter Blog. And let’s wish her the very best of luck with all the final preparations for her own wedding in May! So freakin’ exciting – I can’t wait to see what dress she chooses!
So what style of dress are you going for on your big day? What parts of your body are you celebrating?!
Please do let us know if you have any wedding dress related questions or you’d like advice on a particular aspect of wedding dress shopping or style.
– See lots more Wedding Dresses in the Photo Gallery –