bride trying on wedding dress

Wedding Dress Style Guide: Types, Trends, Ideas

Feb 14, 2020
By Wedding Spot

Searching for the perfect wedding dress for your big day? Our wedding dress style guide will help you learn more about the latest wedding dress trends, as well as how to choose a wedding dress style that most flatters your shape. But first, let’s cover some basics. 

Explore our wedding dress style guide for everything you need to know:

What are the different types of wedding dresses?

Wedding dress and fashion experts generally agree that there are 7 main types. Choose 2-3 of these that you absolutely love and think will look great on you. When you go shopping, limit yourself to only trying on these types of gowns. It’ll help you stay focused and quickly narrow down your options. 

  1. Straight. No curves or flares. Best for shapely, toned figures. 

  2. Empire. High-waisted. Best for women on the shorter side. 

  3. A-Line. Form fitting bodice combined with a skirt that creates an A shape. Universally flattering. 

  4. Modified A-Line. Has less of a flare at the bottom than its A-Line sister. Best for those with toned stomachs. 

  5. Trumpet. Creates a medium-sized flare between the thigh or knee. Best for balancing out or showing off figures. 

  6. Mermaid. An exaggerated flare bottom with a slim fit on the thighs and legs. Best for tall women whose frames can handle the drama. 

  7. Ball gown. A full skirt option. Universally flattering (as long as the amount of tulle doesn’t overwhelm your frame). 

Go from wedding dress to wedding venue!

Get Started Free

How do I choose a wedding dress for my body type?

Once you know what shape your body is (here’s a handy calculator), you can easily choose a dress that highlights your favorite features and downplays the others. Or, keep things simple and choose one thing about your body you love the most, then find a dress that accentuates it. At the end of the day, it’s all about what makes you feel the most beautiful. So use your shape as a guideline, but don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot wear for your wedding! 

Wedding dress styles and trends for 2020

  1. Whimsical tulle - Layered, curled, cascading, or flower-printed, this popular wedding dress component will get a facelift in the coming year. Expect to see plenty of unique and experimental styles across all brands. 

  2. Exaggerated shoulders - The ‘80s are still going strong in fashion trends which means plenty of shoulder pads and puffed sleeves for brides this year. 

  3. Barely there sheaths - Thin or see-through fabrics make a daring appearance on bridal runways this season with brides dawning strategically placed slips for these shimmery, bejeweled, and layered styles. It’s a trend that will be limited to warmer months and wedding locations for obvious reasons. 

  4. Bridal pants - This inclusive and universally figure-flattering dress alternative comes in many styles with plenty of modern embellishments available. Pair it with a jacket or go full-on jumpsuit. 

  5. Royals inspired formal gowns - Why let The Duchess have all the fun when you can transform into royalty with these full ball gown style dresses? Dramatic, understated, and demure, the classic design of these wedding dresses is a foolproof choice. 

Wedding dress styles for a big bust

  1. Off the shoulder - A great alternative to revealing Deep Vs, the off the shoulder look is flattering, form-fitting, and modest all at the same time. 

  2. Full sleeve - Think tulle and see-through lace for this portion of the dress, followed by a mermaid or ball gown style. 

  3. Corset - The extra structure helps give you support and brings additional attention to your beautiful waist as well. 

Wedding dress styles for petites

  1. Empire waist - Brides with small frames can give the illusion of height with an empire waist, regardless of what other details the dress may use as well. 

  2. A-Line - Opt for A-Line silhouettes over full ball gowns. The goal is to complement, not overwhelm, your shape. 

  3. Trumpet or flared skirt  - If you prefer not to go with a sheath dress but want a little extra something at the bottom, try this slightly exaggerated lower half. It’ll highlight your curves and add additional femininity to the look. 

Wedding dress styles for broad shoulders

  1. Hourglass silhouette - The overall shape of your dress can be used to balance out your shoulders. Look for something that brings out your waist and hips. As a bonus, you can even search for dresses with an embellishment at these two points to draw the eye here rather than up top. 

  2. Halter or wide straps - Wider straps will cover part of your shoulder area and offer additional support at the same time. Thin straps draw too much attention and make your shoulders appear bigger than they actually are. 

  3. Full or ¾ sleeves - Sleeves in any type of fabric look elegant and create a solid line from your shoulder point down your arm, guiding the eye away from the width of your shoulders themselves. 

Wedding dress styles for beach weddings

  1. Short or high-low hems - Not only is this more comfortable in warm weather, it’s a bit more relaxed and looks appropriate in this natural setting. 

  2. Airy structures - Let the ocean breeze capture the fabric and magically move it for an ethereal, otherworldly vibe. 

  3. Lightweight, single-layer fabrics  - It will keep you cool and look elegantly understated. Go for tulle, sheath dresses or lightweight lace designs with delicate embellishments. 

Use this wedding dress style guide and get started!

Next up, grab some of these inspiration images from the best celebrity wedding dresses ever and learn more about wedding dress alterations so you know what to keep an eye out for when you start shopping. 

Featured Blog

Follow Us


Wedding Spot

Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.