A Girl's Glossary of Wedding Dress Terms

Dress Styles

It's hard to get just what you want when you don't know what to ask for.
It's hard to get just what you want when you don't know what to ask for.
©iStockphoto/Natalia Bratslavsky

The dress style you choose may be classic, trendy or have elements of both. Chances are, the basic construction will be similar to one of the styles below:

  • A-line -- A fitted bodice that has a modest flair in the skirt, A-line wedding-dress designs are among the most popular sold today. This is a universal classic that suits almost any body type.
  • Ball gown -- This is the fairytale princess dress style you remember from Lady Diana's wedding and Grace Kelly's ceremony a few decades before. It has a long, flowing skirt and a fitted bodice. It has lots of fullness, created with petticoats or hoops.
  • Blouson -- Blouson designs are, as the name implies, blousy. They're gathered at the waist or an inch or two below.
  • Drop waist -- Sporting either a loose or fitted bodice, drop-waist gowns add styling that accentuates the area just below the waistline or the waist itself.
  • Asymmetrical -- Dresses with features like one shoulder strap or layering that creates an uneven, spatial arrangement or silhouette.
  • Empire -- Distinguished by a high waist, hitting just below the bust. The empire styling elongates the body, minimizes pear-shaped figures and can conceal a disproportionately large or small bust.
  • Mermaid -- Also called a trumpet or fishtail design, the mermaid dress hugs the body and begins to flair, usually at the knee. The flare can be modest or exaggerated. This design accentuates a woman's figure and shows particularly well on tall, athletic women.
  • Mini -- A gown with a hemline that falls at or above the knee.
  • Princess -- Created from unbroken vertical panels, this style can take a classic A-line shape or have a more exaggerated flare. It's considered a slimming design that will suit most body types.
  • Sheath -- Unconstructed, long and slim, the sheath is body-hugging and doesn't have a fitted waist.