top of page

A Complete Guide to Gowns

By: Katy Hunt & Kimberly James Bridal

So you’ve set a date and you’ve booked your venue…that means only one thing: it’s time to choose your wedding gown! While we’ve already helped you explore some general things to keep in mind to prepare you for dress shopping in the Divas’ Dos & Don’ts of Dress Shopping, we thought it might be prudent and advantageous to provide a guide specifically on different wedding gown styles. This way, you can head into your bridal appointment fully prepared, and in-the-know about all things gown-related!

To assist us with this task, we called upon our amazing friends at Kimberly James Bridal, a Philadelphia bridal boutique offering a wide range of gowns in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere. We figured they would know best, and boy did they show out! We are delighted to share with you their guide to gowns below.


Learning about the different wedding gowns styles can seem overwhelming at first, so let's take a look at the four categories and what makes them unique. 

Photo credit: Elm & Vine Photo

Ball Gown

If you've always dreamt of looking like a fairytale princess on your wedding day, a ball gown is the style for you. This dramatic silhouette showcases a fitted bodice and a voluminous skirt that flares out from the waistline. This means fitted at the bust and waist, and not fitted in the hip area. Of all the styles’ skirts, the ballgown has the most volume — think Cinderella/Belle/Tiana! The ball gown style exudes elegance and grandeur, making it ideal for formal weddings or those held in grand venues. 

Photo Credit: Kendray Duttry


The A-line silhouette features a fitted bodice that gradually flares out from the waist, resembling the shape of an uppercase "A." Think of this silhouette as one step down in volume from the ballgown style. It is still fitted in bust and waist, and not fitted in the hip area, but with less skirt volume than a ballgown — think Princess Aurora! Within the A-Line category, a “soft A-line” is even less voluminous, and a “fuller A-Line” has a little more volume, but not quite to ballgown level. A-line dresses are perfect for brides who desire a romantic and timeless look. This style can suit any body type and offers a balanced and elegant appearance.

Photo credit: Cheryl Betances

Fit-and Flare (sometimes called Mermaid or Trumpet)

For brides who want to showcase their curves, the fit-and-flare silhouette is an excellent option. This style hugs the body from the chest through the hips, accentuating the waist, hips, and thighs, and then flares out at the bottom. Some fit-and-flares began their flare-out just below the fitted hip area, while some are fitted to the knee, and others are fitted even lower below the knee. This silhouette exudes sensuality and glamor.

Photo credit: Daria M. Photography


If you're looking for a sleek and minimalist style that hugs the body a bit less than the fit-and-flare styles, then the Sheath silhouette is perfect for you. This semi-form-fitting design is often compared to a column. Sheath dresses are versatile and can be adorned with intricate details or kept simple for a more understated look. This style is especially popular for beach or destination weddings.

It’s important to remember that there is not one or even two specific styles for your wedding location vibe. You can wear a ball gown to a beach or destination wedding if you want to! And if you want a sheath or fit-and-flare gown for your ballroom wedding, that is also a wonderful choice. 

Same goes for body type. There is no one style for your unique and beautiful body shape! We recommend trying on at least one or two gowns from each silhouette category to discover for yourself what shapes you feel most confident in. You do not need to have a style picked out before your appointment. If you already know…great! If you’re not sure…that’s entirely normal! Use your appointment to explore the myriad of options, and then narrow down to your silhouette preference as you learn more and more about what you like best. 

No matter where you are getting married and what gown style you end up choosing for your body, all that really matters at the end of the day is that you choose a gown that makes you feel like your best self. It’s your wedding, after all!


We literally couldn’t have said it better ourselves! A huge thank you to Kimberly James Bridal for sharing their insight and expertise with us all…they are truly the best in the business, and FYI, they’re taking appointments!

Photo Credit:

Elm & Vine Photo

Kendra Duttry

Cheryl Betances

Daria M. Photography


bottom of page