by Somer Flaherty
If you’re like many brides, you’ve been envisioning what your wedding will be like since you were a little girl. Not only will your gown be one of the most expensive purchases of the day, but you will always remember what you were wearing for your walk down the aisle. About 9 to 12 months before your wedding, you’ll want to start shopping for a dress, as most are custom-made and require months for extra fittings. Although your weight may fluctuate before the big day, your actual body type will stay the same. To get a dress that flatters your figure, you first need to determine what your body type is, and then you can choose a gown that enhances it. San Francisco wedding gown designer Amy Kuschel, who makes made-to-measure dresses in her luxe downtown studio, says, “It’s important that every bride try on a range of silhouettes when shopping for her gown.” Kuschel also reminds brides to take time to explore what flatters their unique figures.
If you have a large chest and hips but a thin waist, try a drop-waist dress to show off your hourglass figure, or a mermaid-style gown that hugs the body but flares below the knee to show off your curves. Kuschel also recommends a sheath silhouette gown. “[It] may not seem like an obvious choice for a curvy bride, but when properly constructed and fitted, it will skim her body, elongate her frame and highlight her best features.”
Thinner women will look gorgeous in a ball gown, as the bodice and waistline are fitted, but the fuller skirt adds the illusion of curves. A dress that is cut close to the hip and flares at the hem is also a good option.
For a heavier midsection and less defined hips, try an empire waist gown, as its high waistline will draw attention away from the midsection. Kuschel says an option for a full-figured bride is a V-neckline, as it accentuates the bustline while drawing the eye to the face.
Brides who are pear-shaped, small on the top and large on the bottom, should opt for a strapless dress, as it will draw the eye to the top half of the body.
Petite women should shy away from over-the-top elaborate dresses, as it’s best to keep it simple. “Petite brides can give the appearance of added length by selecting a gown with an empire waistline and a narrow skirt silhouette,” says Kuschel.
The most important tip is to always trust your instinct (and perhaps the advice of close friends). Be sure that you can see yourself walking down the aisle in that particular gown. If you can, you’ve found the dress. “Be optimistic and work with what you have,” says Kuschel.