The sentiment that “all bodies are beautiful” is a universal truth, and with a changing landscape within the fashion industry, more and more brands are shifting towards an inclusive design model—especially when it comes to bridalwear. Take, for example, Justin Alexander's recent "Be You" bridal campaign, which was founded as a way to represent brides of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.
“Many designers are catching on and producing curvy collections, as they are realizing that the curvy community is oftentimes left behind. They are finally finding out that the average bride-to-be is no longer a size eight, but more a size 12 or even 14 on average,” notes LaTonya Turnage, founder and CEO of Elite Secrets Bridal and Elite Design House.
Many designers are catching on and producing curvy collections, as they are realizing that the curvy community is oftentimes left behind.
It's safe to say that a new wave of bridal fashion is here, with designers taking the necessary steps needed toward an inclusive dress model and signaling a long overdue transformation in the bridalwear space. Brands such as Christian Sirano, BHLDN, Madeline Gardner, Pronovias, and Wtoo by Watters (to name a few) have also committed to size inclusivity, offering a wider assortment of wedding dress sizes and styles.
However, it's important to remember that size inclusivity isn't one size fits all. According to Turnage, selling plus-size dresses is only the first step. To help make everyone feel their best, special attention should be focused on producing looks for the curves of a bride. “It’s important to search for the right fabrics that will enhance a curvy bride to ensure she’s looking her best,” Turnage notes. “Many times designers have made the mistake to offer their collections with a plus size range, but the dresses do not always [translate as it pertains to] a particular style of wedding dress.”
All things considered, for those in pursuit of the right dress, there has never been a better time to get married. The perfect gown is out there, no matter your shape, size, or physicality. And to help ease your search, there are a few key factors to consider when shopping for your ensemble. “With proper tailoring, any dress can fit any body,” notes editorial and personal stylist Allie Koehler. Beyond that, Koehler recommends thinking less about the shape of a gown, and instead, focusing on what you’d like to accentuate on your body. For example, if you'd like to accentuate your waist, opting for an A-line might be best for you.
Ahead, Turnage, Koehler, and Nadine Bejou, designer and founder of IDINA Bride, further weigh in on the best tips and practices for finding a gown that is tailor-made for your beautiful and unique body. Read on to learn more.
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for Brides Who Want to Accentuate Their Busts
“For brides who want to appear fuller around the bust, I recommend corset tops,” says Bejou. “A corseted gown not only creates a beautiful bodice shape, but outlines the bust.” If you love your larger bosom and are making a point to wear a dress that highlights that area, Bejou also suggests combining a corset with an off-the-shoulder look. She explains that it can be especially flattering as it “creates balance” and brings the gaze upward.
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for Brides Who Want to Highlight Their Curves
Bejou says she finds that her customers with curvy bodies “love a fitted silhouette but don’t want to highlight the midsection too much.” For those who fall into this category, she typically advises that they wear a ruched or corseted dress. “Corseted styles with boning do wonders, as they really snatch the waist and illustrate a beautiful silhouette for curvier shapes.”
Koehler adds that curvy brides should aim to shop size-inclusive designers, as they don't upcharge for dresses that fall above a certain size. “And find a tailor you trust with ample experience fitting gowns on curvy brides," she notes.
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for Brides Who Are Tall (and Love the Height)
We’ll let you in on a secret: “Wedding gowns, unlike most gowns or merchandise on the market, are made for tall women,” says Bejou. That said, Bejou recommends trying on gowns you wouldn’t normally gravitate towards. You might be surprised that you ultimately say "yes!" to the mermaid-style you originally skipped over. She also adds that sheath and column silhouettes that don’t cling to the body look especially elegant on taller frames.
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for Brides With Straight or Rectangular Body Shapes
“A-line gowns are perfect for brides who are more straight in shape,” says Bejou. “The A-line skirt highlights the waist and makes the bride appear more shaped, as the fuller skirt adds dimension. Turnage also notes that similar to curvy brides, those who have less defined curves should visit a salon with an experienced team. Shopping with an expert will not only enhance your experience, but it will also allow you to find a dress—with ease, we should note—that emphasizes the areas of your body you'd like to highlight. "We train our team on styling brides for all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. It amplifies the overall experience for the brides," she shares.
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for Brides With Broad Shoulders
Love your broad shoulders? “Don’t be afraid to highlight your toned areas. Your arms, shoulders, and physique can be shown off with delicate lace appliqués and beading,” shares Turnage. Koehler also suggests an empire waist or shift silhouette if you’d like to accentuate this body shape. What's more, if you’re looking for a balanced wedding day look, our experts agree that a plunging neckline is especially flattering.
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for Petite Brides Who Might Want More Height
If you want a little more height and heels just don’t cut it, Bejou has a solution: "Look for shapes that will help elongate your figure and create balance." She also suggests that you employ the "Rule of Thirds," focusing on a gown that has a clear separation between the bust, waist, and hip. Turnage's tip? "Stick to soft, light, and airy fabrics versus heavy beading, tulle, and lots of layers."
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for Short (But Not Petite) Brides
For brides who are short in height, but have a curvy frame, Bejo suggests “pulling styles that create a clear separation between your bust, waist, and hips"—specifically, pieces that are corseted. She continues by noting how A-line styles that are fitted and structured at the bodice, but feature a soft flowy skirt from the waist down, are ideal for this type of shape.