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July 2023

The Wedding Gown Guide – Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Gown Silhouettes and Necklines

Learn all you need to know about wedding gowns to help you pick the perfect one for your big day!

With all eyes on you on your wedding day, it is no wonder your wedding gown is the one detail that you want to nail for your big day. For most brides, the search for the perfect wedding gown is both an exciting and stressful experience. Not only do you need to carve out the time from your busy schedule and planning to search for your dream wedding gown amongst the sea of wedding gowns, you’ll also have to navigate through unfamiliar questions like “What dress silhouettes do you like?”, “Do you prefer tulle or organza?”, and “How long would you like your veil and train to be?” to help you find the wedding gown of your dreams.

Now, if you have no idea how to answer these questions, don’t worry; you’re not the only or first bride to feel this way. To help you prepare for the search of your dream wedding gown, we’ve put together a little two-part guide on everything you need to know about wedding gowns to help you pick the right dress with the perfect silhouette, neckline, fabric, train and veil. In this first part, we’ll be learning about the various gown silhouettes and necklines.

Wedding Gown Silhouettes

What are gown silhouettes, you may ask? Gown silhouettes refer to the overall shape and form of a dress. It determines how the dress fits and flares around the body, creating a specific look and style. Each gown silhouette has its own unique charm and caters to different body shapes and style preferences.

To help you shop for the perfect gown silhouette that complements your body shape and personal style, we’ve put together five common wedding gown silhouettes you need to know about.

1. Ball Gown

Sheena and Jing Wen’s Elegant Forest Wedding at Clifford Pier by Pixioo

An old classic that is still beloved by brides today, the ballgown silhouette is the epitome of regal elegance and timeless romance, and perfect for a formal ballroom wedding. With a fitted bodice and a full bell shaped skirt that flares out from the waistline, this silhouette is a dream come true for brides who are after that Disney princess wedding look.

Aside from being timeless, the ballgown is silhouette is extremely versatile, pairing well with any neckline or length of train or veil, and flatters most body types, especially those with a medium to tall build, wider hips and hour-glass figures. Pear-shaped brides or brides with a smaller stature should approach this shape with caution: while a bell-shaped skirt can hide a larger bottom half, it can also backfire as layers and layers of skirt can add width to your frame as well. For petite brides, the full skirt may overwhelm your small frame and make you seem rounder than you actually are.

2. A-Line

Anna and Angad’s Intimate Solemnisation at the Bandstand at the Singapore Botanic Gardens by GrizzyPix Photography

Another classic, the A-line silhouette is a subtler version of the ballgown silhouette, making it a crowd favourite amongst brides who are looking for something that shouts royalty without being too dramatic. The A-line silhouette boasts a fitted bodice, much like the ballgown silhouette, that gently flares out from the waist to resemble the shape of an uppercase “A”.

The graceful and elongated form of an A-line silhouette is timeless and flattering for body shapes of all types. It easily hides a heavier bottom for full-figured brides and creates the illusion of height by elongating the torso for petite brides or brides with a shorter upper torso.

3. Sheath

Mary and Rizam’s Blooming Garden Wedding at Villa Anugrah, Uluwatu by Lydia K Photography & Nice Print Photo

Sleek, sophisticated and modern, the sheath silhouette is for brides who are looking to show off their svelte figure without showing too much. The sheath silhouette is a form-fitting shape that gracefully skims the natural contours of your body from head to toe to create a streamlined and elongated look. Brides who are not comfortable with the idea of a body-conforming silhouette, or have to move or kneel a lot should consider other silhouettes.

Despite being a smaller silhouette than the ballgown or A-line, the sheath silhouette delivers a wow factor with its understated allure, modern elegance and contemporary sleekness.

4. Mermaid/Trumpet

Patricia and Martijn’s Island Luxe Wedding in Khayangan Estate, Bali by Terralogical

A form-fitting silhouette like the sheath, the mermaid or trumpet silhouettes are designed to accentuate and flaunt a bride’s curves, creating a captivating, figure-hugging silhouette. Closely similar, the difference between the mermaid and trumpet silhouettes lies in the position where the skirt flares out. The skirt flares out below the knee, close to the hem, for the mermaid silhouette while the trumpet shape sees the skirt flaring out from mid hip.

Both silhouettes hide nothing, so if you have a svelte figure you can’t wait to show off, then this is the silhouette for you. Even if you don’t, there’s no reason you can’t sport a mermaid or trumpet silhouette at your wedding! Since these silhouettes show off every curve of your body, you have to be comfortable in a tight-fitting, body-hugging dress.

5. Empire

The empire silhouette is identified by its high waistline that sits just below the bust, creating a flattering and elongated shape that gives off the illusion of elongated legs and a slimming effect. Brides who are a fan of the Regency era empire cut fashion or are fans of the highly popular Netflix series Bridgerton can attest to how romantic, feminine and utterly flattering the empire silhouette is for all body shapes.

The loose-fitting skirt sweeps over curves ever-so-romantically as it conceals flaws such as a thicker waist or a heavier bottom, while the iconic square neckline of the empire silhouette draws attention to the bust, making it extremely flattering for any bride.

Wedding Gown Necklines

Necklines refer to the style and shape of the neckline of a dress. It plays an important role in determining the overall look and feel of the gown. One of the most common neckline for wedding gowns is the sweetheart neckline, but there are seven other necklines that are commonly found on wedding gowns, each with a distinct charm to flatter different body types.

1. Sweetheart

Giselle and Sean’s Classic Wedding at W Singapore Sentosa Cove by Chris Ling International Photographers and Depth of Tales

The sweetheart neckline sports a gentle curved neckline that resembles the top half of a heart shape, hence the name. This flattering neckline accentuates the curves of the bust and décolletage, creating an alluring and feminine look that not only complements various gown silhouettes, but goes well with various body shapes.

Depending on how low you’d want the dip in the sweetheart neckline to be, this versatile neckline can be sweet and romantic with a subtle and modest dip, paired with the classic ballgown or A-line silhouette, or sensual and sultry with a more pronounced and dramatic dip, paired with a body-hugging mermaid or trumpet silhouette.

2. V-Neck

Derrick Ong Photography

As the name suggests, this neckline forms a V shape down the center of the chest. Depending on how modest or daring you’d want your wedding gown to be, the V-neck neckline can feature a subtle dip for a more feminine and timeless look, or a plunging dip for a sexy and bold look.

Regardless of how low your V-neck sits, this neckline is extremely versatile and flattering. It offers good coverage and accentuates the natural shape of the décolletage, creating the illusion of a fuller bust and a longer neck, making it a neckline that even conservative brides can wear on their wedding day.

3. Scoop/Square

Ame and Shaun’s Tropical Boho Wedding at W Singapore Sentosa Cove by Love Me Tender Films

The scoop and square necklines are almost identical, save for the shape of the curve they sport. The scoop neckline is characterised by a U-shaped curve that gently dips below the collarbone, while the square neckline forms a square shape across the chest, with straight lines extending from the shoulders to the center of the neckline.

Both the scoop and square necklines are classic and timeless styles that are utterly flattering for the upper body, beautifully framing the décolletage and collarbone. The scoop and square necklines can be all sweet or all spice, just like the V-neck and sweetheart necklines. A modest scoop bares just enough skin for a romantic and feminine look, while a deeper scoop would result in a more dramatic and revealing look.

4. Bateau

THEIA Bridal Spring 2024 Collection

Also known as a boat neckline, the bateau neckline bears similarities to the scoop neckline. This neckline extends horizontally across the collarbone, creating a wide and slightly curved neckline that reaches the edges of the shoulders, offering more coverage than the scoop or square necklines.

Timeless and sophisticated, this modest neckline is perfect for framing the face and drawing attention to the bride’s features, neck and collarbones. The bateau neckline is often paired with gowns featuring three-quarter or long sleeves due to its elegant and vintage vibe, so if you’re looking for a gown like that, this might be the neckline for you.

5. Halter

Ming Tong and Daryl’s Honest and Raw Wedding with Gold Accents and Sustainable Elements at Botanico at The Garage by Bottled Groove Photography

The halter neckline features a strap or straps that wrap around the back of the neck, leaving the shoulders and upper back exposed. Flattering and supportive, the halter neckline is for brides who want to flaunt their shoulders and collarbone while having the comfort and security of straps.

The halter neckline also creates an elongating effect and beautifully frames the face while drawing attention to the shoulders, and is suitable to pair with any wedding gown silhouette. Halter necklines are often paired with a V-neck neckline, and similarly, you get to decide how daring you want to go with the dip to achieve the wedding look you’ve been dreaming of.

6. Off-the-shoulder/Portrait

Kate and Tom’s Breathtaking Elopement in the Maldives and Raffles Singapore by Darren & Jade Photography

Another neckline that bares the shoulder, the off-the-shoulder neckline gracefully exposes the shoulders and collarbone while framing the upper chest, with sleeves or straps resting just below the shoulders. Extremely flattering for all body shapes, especially pear-shaped brides as it balances out their silhouette, the off-the-shoulder neckline exudes a sense of femininity and elegance no matter which wedding gown silhouette it pairs with.

A variation of the off-the-shoulder, the portrait neckline features a scoop from shoulder to shoulder, instead of straight across like its sister neckline.

7. High-collar/Jewel

Vanessa and Bryan’s Classic Wedding with White Florals and Green Foliage at Capella Singapore by Iluminen Singapore

There is no neckline that does elegant and regal like the high-collar neckline. With a collar that comes up high on your neck, this neckline is the epitome of refinement, grace and sophistication, exuding a timeless and classic appeal. Highly versatile, the high-collar neckline can be paired with any silhouette and flatter any body shape. You can even add a little twist to the classic neckline by adding a keyhole that reveals a little (or a lot, you decide!) skin for a peek-a-boo.

The jewel neckline is similar to a high-collar neckline. This neckline follows along the curve of your neck and sits on the top part of the collarbone, instead of sitting high on the neck like the high-collar neckline, offering an alternative to brides who want to cover up but find the high-collar a little too much.

8. Illusion

The illusion neckline is exactly what it is named after – a neckline that creates an illusion of bare or sheer fabric on the shoulders and décolletage while providing support and coverage. It’s a great option for brides who want to show a hint of skin or want to sport a low, revealing neckline without revealing too much.

The illusion effect is often achieved through the use of sheer or see-through fabric such as tulle, and is often adorned with intricate lace, embroidery or beading, adding a touch of sophistication and romance to a wedding gown, making it a favourite choice for many brides.

Stay tuned to the second part of our guide, where we’ll introduce you to everything you need to know about wedding gown trains and veils.


Feature image from Sheena and Jing Wen’s Elegant Forest Wedding at Clifford Pier by Pixioo

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The Wedding Gown Guide – Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Gown Silhouettes and Necklines