A Stylist’s Guide To Wedding Dresses For Your Body Type

“This will look fabulous on you!” said the maid of honour wielding a high neck halter gown to the buxom chested bride. “No. No, it won’t look fabulous on you” said my eye-rolling, tongue-biting inside voice. In my almost-twenty-year career as a stylist I’ve seen and heard the most well-intentioned, but misguided advice. Especially in bridal boutiques. 

Look, I’m not here to tell anyone what to wear, but there’s a formula that will work best for your body type, and high-neck halters on big boobs isn’t your best option.  So, if I may, allow me to give you some basic guidelines so you can play stylist like a pro.

The most common body-type is what’s called a compact X. Think Kim Kardashian. Hourglass, curvy, boobs and hips around the same proportion and a defined waistline.

The ground rules:

Play to your curves – fabrics that drape well and won’t add bulk will be key

Go for – ballgown and mermaid styles first, A-line, empire-waist and sheath dresses aren’t out of the question either (lucky curvy you)

Avoid – high necklines, a huge, fussy skirt that will overwhelm you if you’re on the petite side

Ballgown style, Bella Rosa

Mermaid style, Katie May

Curvy ladies can be a size 2 or a size 22, the same ground rules apply. Below is a ‘plus size’ which to me is cray-cray and should be re-named, ‘90% of The Population’ size. Don’t get me started…

Ballgown style, David’s Bridal

Next up, A shaped ladies. Think Beyoncé, or J. Lo. Hips are wider than the shoulders and you may, or may not have boobs.

The ground rules:

Keep the ‘visual weight’ up top. Embellishments, lace, neck details, all add visual weight

Skirts that skim the hips then fall to the ground will be your best bet

Go for – Ballgown, A-line and empire waist gowns

Avoid – mermaid styles (again, these are basic rules, so if I’ve smashed your wedding dress dreams to bits, by all means, go get that gown!).

Ballgown style, Lis Simon

Notice how this ballgown falls slimmer at the hips, unlike the very first ballgown.

A-line gown, Eva Lendel

Empire-waist gown, sorry guys, I can’t find a source on this one.

Let’s look at O shape body types next. The O shape tends to carry their weight around their waist, but quite often have a fabulous set of pins. Picture Jennifer Hudson pre-weight watchers.

The ground rules:

Look for dresses that will really define your waist

Ruching around the mid-section

Define the waist as much as possible with clever uses of embellishment or draping

One of my favourite designers for fitting this body type is Tadashi Shoji

Now, for the V shaped lovelies. Broad across the shoulders with proportionately narrower hips. Renee Zellweger comes to mind.

The ground rules:

Necklines that ‘cut’ the broadness of the shoulder line (see the halter neck below)

Add visual weight to the lower part of the dress

Avoid – spaghetti straps

David’s Bridal

Also from David’s Bridal.

And last on the list is the H shape, straight up and down with shoulders and hips in line with each other, smaller chest and not much definition in the waist. Picture Natalie Portman.

The ground rules:

Create the illusion of curves

You own the high-neck halter dress!

Cut-outs at the waistline will work really well

Avoid – flimsy fabrics that will hang sadly off your frame

Sarah Seven

Need more detail about how to dress your body type? Watch this series of fun videos I made with Smithery

X Shape (Curvey, hourglass)

V Shape (Shoulders are broader than hips)

O Shape (Less defined waist)

A Shape  (Wider hips than shoulders)

Now, go be a better stylist. Rachel xo

Written by: Rachel Matthews Burton, fashion stylist at Judy Inc. Please contact for bookings.

Featured Image: Charlotte Simpson


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