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Meghan Markle in Givenchy. Grace Kelly in Helen Rose. Jackie O. in Ann Lowe. These iconic wedding dresses, while each individually unique, all share one key characteristic: timelessness. Unless you have a penchant for taking bold risks with your wardrobe (if so, more power to you!), a classic bridal aesthetic helps ensure you'll love your dress before, during, and long after the wedding day.
Classic wedding dresses are designed to stand the test of time, meaning you'll never cringe when looking back at those wedding portraits. Tried-and-true wedding dress silhouettes deliver by maintaining a sense of structural harmony that never goes out of style. These designs typically shy away from anything considered too ornate or trendy, but rest assured, classic does not translate to boring. Rather, it simply means relying on immaculate tailoring, sleek necklines, rich textures, and restrained embellishments. The finished look is always luxurious in that it commands quite the presence, regardless of the era.
Read on to discover our 20 favorite gowns with an enduring aesthetic.
For a Backyard Wedding: Anna October Bustier Satin Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Material: Polyester, cotton | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 28 days
Nothing screams long, lazy days and summer romance quite like this dress. Pair with a loose bun and dewy makeup to complete the laid-back, summertime vibe.
Most Unexpected: Emilia Wickstead Bow-Appliqué Cloqué-Crepe Dress
Size Range: 2-12 | Material: Polyester, cotton, elastane | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 14 days
Remember what we said about classic wedding dresses not being boring? Here's proof: While an oversize bow typically lends itself to more trendy aesthetics, this impressive cape gown is an undeniable classic.
For the Minimalist Bride: Alex Perry Eliza Gown
Size Range: UK 4-16 | Material: Satin crepe | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
The weighty satin crepe of this striking gown hugs all your gorgeous curves in just the right way. Clean lines, slim straps, and a sharp neckline solidify the minimalist aesthetic.
Most Customizable: Fame & Partners Gathered Belted Gown
Size Range: 0-22 | Material: Satin twill | Delivery: 8-10 weeks | Return policy: Within 30 days
This belted gown is the stuff preppy dreams are made of. Options to choose your own back style, length, fabric, and color ensure those dreams come to life on your big day.
Most Understated: Galvan Hampshire Satin-Crepe Gown
Size Range: FR 34-44 | Material: Satin crepe | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
Simple elegance is always in fashion, and this square-neck design is as timeless as they come. We love the extra detailing in the boned bodice and chapel-length train for a more elevated silhouette.
Most Wearable: Alaïa Cotton-Gabardine Maxi Dress
Size Range: FR 36-44 | Material: Cotton | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
With a demure neckline, fitted bodice, and full skirt, this just might be the wedding dress you wear again and again. And did we mention it's 100 percent cotton?
Best Slip: Lela Rose The Foley Gown
Size Range: Made to measure | Material: Satin crepe | Delivery: Made to order | Return policy: Within 10 days
All hail the slinky slip dress! This otherwise simplistic silhouette comes to life with exquisite seaming, fuller skirt, sultry low back, and covered button detailing.
Best Off-the-Shoulder: Torrid Ivory Off Shoulder Lace & Sequin Dress
Size Range: 10-30 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 60 days
Romantic brides, rejoice! This off-the-shoulder lace gown with poetic pooling train was made with you in mind. The subtle sequins and beading will surely amplify that bridal glow.
Best Vintage-Inspired: Grace + Ivory Elle Lace Gown
Size Range: Made to measure | Material: Cotton, polyester | Delivery: 5-6 months | Return policy: Within 10 days for a partial refund
Delicate hand-beading, rich lace overlay, jeweled high neck, and dreamy scalloped train give this design quite the old-world presence. We love how the warm peachy underlay heightens the retro romantic appeal.
Best Modest Option: Roland Mouret Ella Gown
Size Range: UK 8-16 | Material: Wool, silk | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
This full-coverage sheath definitely has our attention with its intentional details and front slit to add fluidity. Keep in mind that wool silk is a heavier material best suited for cooler temperatures.
Best Allover Lace: Jenny Yoo Simone Gown
Size Range: 00-32 | Material: French lace | Delivery: 20 weeks | Return policy: Final sale
There's nothing like a bit of Chantilly lace to give you all the feels. This skimming fit-and-flare silhouette keeps things simple, so all eyes are on the pièce de résistance.
Best Strapless: Markarian Bernini Gown
Size Range: 0-14 | Material: Polyester | Delivery: 12-16 weeks | Return policy: Final sale
The classic wrap dress, with all its movement and flashes of leg, gets a unique twist courtesy of a strapless neckline. We especially love the soft jacquard print for added richness.
Most Pared-Back: Safiyaa Strapless Gown
Size Range: FR 34-46 | Material: Crepe | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
The timeless beauty of this strapless gown is in the absence of extra details. Nothing says exquisite quite like needing no additional embellishments to amplify your shine.
Best High-Low Hem: Halfpenny London Jackson Strapless Asymmetric Gown
Size Range: UK 0-16 | Material: Duchesse satin | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
With a traditional sweetheart neckline, satin finish, and full skirt, this is a high-low hemline with considerable staying power. Just look at how satisfyingly it graduates to the most perfect pooling in the back.
Most Iconic: David's Bridal Crepe Off-Shoulder Sheath Wedding Dress
Size Range: 0-34W | Material: Polyester | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within seven days
The gathered bodice and fold-over bust of this crepe sheath is as familiar as it is enduring. It's an iconic look. Note: Full size availability is divided between two dress listings.
Best Sleeves: Roksanda Garance Crepe Midi Dress
Size Range: UK 6-16 | Material: Crepe | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
These exaggerated sleeves certainly need no introduction, but we especially love the three-quarter length that makes this design more approachable. Plus, there's a stunning diamond-shaped back cutout that now lives in our minds rent-free.
For the Fashion-Forward Bride: Elliatt Kate Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Material: Polyester | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
This is how you incorporate fun accents into a timeless design: with intentional restraint. The textured panel of wispy feathers acts as a playful flourish, not a competing focal point.
Best One Shoulder: ML Monique Lhuillier Lionel One-Shoulder Dress
Size Range: 0-16 | Material: Polyester | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
This one-shoulder knockout is proof that asymmetry is no passing fad. Those crisp, clean lines, statuesque silhouette, and contemporary bow are as chic as can be.
Best Pockets: Jenny by Jenny Yoo Lawrence Gown
Size Range: 0-18 | Material: Polyester | Delivery: Standard shipping | Return policy: Within 30 days
That's right, we said pockets! This classic scoop neck, A-line gown got a major upgrade with the addition of concealed compartments to keep your phone or nonchalantly tuck your hands inside.
What to Look For in a Classic Wedding Dress
Classic wedding dresses are designed to never go out of style. Timeless silhouettes like streamlined sheaths and columns or romantic A-lines and ball gowns have proven their enduring appeal.
If you're a bride-to-be with traditional tastes, opt for crisp and structured silks or dresses in all-over lace. For brides with a more daring aesthetic, sexy slip dresses and slim, body-hugging designs are always a striking choice. Remember: The beauty is in the details—or lack thereof.
If you're looking for subtle or statement-making touches, consider eye-catching open backs, rich beading, or exquisite seaming that align with the look's more elegant vibe. If you think your decision might be steered by the latest trends, ask yourself if you'd still be happy to wear the dress in a few years or pass it down to future generations.
How do you style a classic wedding dress?
What are the most classic wedding dress necklines?
What are the most popular wedding dress shapes?
Ball gowns, mermaid styles, fit-and-flare dresses, and A-line silhouettes are among the most popular throughout history and today. A-line dresses tend to be the most universally flattering.
Why Trust Brides
Nicole Kliest is a freelance fashion and travel writer with over 11 years of experience reporting on the latest trends.