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Wedding dress style guide

Before I got married, I had no idea how complex the world of wedding dresses could be, and getting to know the names of different styles and fabrics required learning a whole new vocabulary!

Whilst some brides will instantly know their Empire from their A–Line, and their Taffeta from their Tulle, others (like me!) may need a few pointers. Hopefully the following guide will help whether you are looking to buy or sell your wedding dress.

Wedding Dress Style


– This style of dress is usually fitted at the bust and waist, before flaring out from the hips and down to the hem. Just like the shape of a capital “A”.

Full Skirted/Princess Dress

–This is a traditional “fairytale” style of dress, with a fitted bodice flowing into a very full skirt.


– This dress has a slim style, and follows the contours of the body closely without the flaring seen in the A line or the Full skirted dresses described above. The skirts are usually fairly slim, but not figure hugging.


– This style has a high waistline, the skirt typically begins just under the bust and loosely falls to the floor, lightly skimming the body.


– Although subtly different from each other, Mermaid and Fishtail dresses share the same figure hugging style, accentuating hourglass figures. Where the Mermaid simply flares out at the bottom, a Fishtail dress has an extra panel of fabric at the back, creating the “fishtail” shape


– These dresses have a hem which falls midway between the knee and the ankle – perfect for a vintage look.

Cocktail Length (Bridesmaid Dress)

– This is a shorter style of dress, with the hemline falling just above the knee.



– This neckline dips in the centre to resemble the top of a heart.


– The middle of the neckline dips down, however this is much shallower than that of the sweetheart described above.


– There is no dipping in this neckline at all, just a classic strapless shape.


– A neckline that dips down to create a “V” shape


– The straps here wrap around the back of the neck, but the neckline shape itself can vary.


– A high necked style, with the fabric usually following the line of the collarbone.

One Shoulder

– As the name suggests, this style features a strap just going over one shoulder, creating an asymmetrical look.


– This is a classic U shaped neckline


– A scooped neckline with squared edges



– This is one of the most common fabric used for wedding dresses, it has a glossy appearance and can come in a variety of thicknesses.


– A light flowing material, soft to the touch and perfect for simple gowns


– A type of fine mesh netting, commonly used in combination with other fabrics as an overlay.


– A crisp, lightweight fabric with a slight shine and surface texture. It’s often used in flowing skirts to create a lot of volume without too much weight.


– Think Kate Middleton’s dress! Lace is a lightweight fabric, patterned either by machine or by hand, with open holes to create intricate designs.


– A sheer, lightweight fabric with a matte finish, perfect for floaty dresses. Georgette has a crinkled finish, and is slightly heaver than Chiffon.


– A light, soft and thin silk fabric with a gauzy texture and a crinkled surface.


– A light fabric with a very fine weave. Like Chiffon, it has a floaty effect, but without the same movement. Organza is also shinier giving a very subtle sparkle.