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The Dress for your Body Type

We've consulted the experts and found the top six problem body areas for the average bride, and how to make the most of them. By Rachel Sandall

There is a moment that is exclusive to bridal shop dressing rooms, one of harsh and brutal realisation.  It's the moment you realise the mermaid gown with beaded spaghetti straps that caught your eye the second you saw it makes you look two stone heavier with wider hips and broader shoulders. You knew you had a curvy figure, but never imagined that you could be so categorically wrong about what would suit you.

The search for the perfect dress can be one of the most discouraging ventures of a bride-to-be’s life. There are so many of cuts, necklines, skirts, veils, straps and non-straps that will be stunning on the hanger but seem to transfigure into the dress of all your worst wedding nightmares when you put it on.

A wedding dress is perhaps the most important garment you will ever buy, you want it to be stunning, jaw-dropping, to give you confidence...and hide your love handles. Choosing the best dress for your body is one of the foundations to finding your wedding gown. But the truth is most women don’t really know if they are pear shape, full figured, hourglass or petite, they just know they don’t want all 100 guests knowing they are still carrying a couple extra pounds of holiday weight.

It's not about being ashamed of your body, but about making it the best it can be. Whether it’s your clear blue eyes, defined shoulders, skinny waist or the mole on your cheek, every woman has something to be proud of in her appearance. You just need to find the best way to showcase it! So in order to help you along in your quest to find the perfect dress, we have consulted the experts and found the top six problem body areas for the average woman, and how to make the most of them.

Love Handles

Most people have these lovely deposits of excess skin neatly placed over the hips. Even men have them!  It is the mission of the ‘love handle minded’ to find styles which do not cut into the fat, but either lay over or delicately under, the love handle. They are very common, and therefore easy to work around.  

A-line dresses are ideal for the hippy woman. A-line is defined as a ‘silhouette that is narrower at the top, flaring gently wider toward the bottom thereby resembling the letter A.’ Many modern wedding dresses fall into the A-line category, so finding the right cut shouldn’t be a problem.

maggie sottero abilene
Maggie Sottero Abilene-Rose.


For the woman who has nightmares about showing bare arms in front of hundreds of can be a depressing search to find gowns that manage to both hide her arms, and don’t make her feel 80 years old. The good news is bridal catwalks are full of dresses with elegant long sleeves which emanate romance and femininity, and still manage to cover arms and shoulders.

Lace makes the perfect sleeve; its delicate nature gives a soft touch while still completely covering. The trick is to balance your long sleeves by showing more, either in the neckline or back. You don’t need to get carried away but a small amount of skin elsewhere will balance the look.

pronovias auriga
Pronovias Auriga. View collection here

Large Bust

For the woman who has a large bust, it is her lifetime undertaking to find a way to tastefully show what the good Lord gave her. There are women who are envious of the well-endowed woman; so count your blessings and search for gowns that work with your assets.

Necklines are the busty girl’s best friend...or enemy. One of the most flattering necklines is the V-neck. Whether it’s a halter or straps off the shoulder, a tasteful V-neck is perfect.  Capped sleeves are on trend and a delicate touch for most dresses. Sweetheart neck lines can work wonders for a bust, giving a nice shape to the area, while keeping it sophisticated and elegant.

Avoid spaghetti straps, boat neck and (nearly all) empire waist dresses. It is also vital to have the right undergarments for your dress. You want something that supports and keeps things secure.

stephanie allin siena
Stephanie Allin Siena. View collection here

No bust

If you find you own more push up and water bras than classic underwire, you are probably in the flat chested camp. You spend your life finding clothes that give you the appearance of a bust, forever trying to create something...out of nothing.

Empire line dresses are ideal for you, because they give the illusion of a bust and the long lines give length to your look, highlighting your better features. You don’t have to go with the classic empire waist which goes out right under the bust; there are empire dresses that are very shapely gowns giving a nice highlight to your waist. You can wear low necklines without the worry of cleavage.  A key neckline for the small bust is the boat neck, which draws the eye to your nice long neck and shoulders.

jenny packham eden
Jenny Packham Eden


The mid section is one of the most common dislikes women have on their body. Finding a gown which conceals your tummy can be a difficult task.

The fabric and structure of the gown you choose is very important. Find a dress that has a structured silhouette, especially in the torso. Gowns with boning and dropped waists will be just the thing. For a softer look you can also go for light rouging around the mid section which camouflages anything you might want hidden.

A classic baby doll cut gown with light fabrics can be very flattering also. These airy gowns can be made even more romantic with delicate details like beads, feathers or a pleated skirt.

claire pettibone larissa
Claire Pettibone Larissa. View collection here


Not to be confused with love handles, women with large hips are not necessarily concerned with the fat on the hip, but more how wide the hips are.

A-line dresses which go down to just above the hips are your perfect gown. Corset and boning styles add structure and give you a curvy figure in all the right places, while hiding the wrong places. Stay away from clingy fabrics and anything which is hip hugging. A light roughing around the mid section brought together with a jewelled broach right above your hip will give a nice hour glass shape.

You can add accessories like a ribbon delicately tied around the small part of your waist, which will give you a curvy shape without showing your hips. If you have narrow hips, an empire waist will give you shape and adding beaded details just under your bust will give a nice

Vera Wang

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Have something to say about this article? Leave a comment!

  • The first dress is in Modern Fashions, Dundalk, Co. Louth.
    I tried it on, it's lovely but I want something a bit plainer.

    Submitted by Deborah on Sunday 13 May 2022

  • Hi guys,

    The stockists for Maggie Sottero can be found here: You will have to call ahead to them to enquire about the styles they have in at the moment.

    Karen x

    Submitted by Karen -WOL on Tuesday 1 May 2022

  • I'm also asking the same question about the 1st Maggie Dress

    Submitted by Gail Walsh on Monday 30 April 2022

  • Annoyingly while writing about various female body defects you have used size 4-6 models to illustrate the dress styles you are talking about. This gives absolutely no indication of how the effect you are writing about works in real life. Utterly useless stuff.

    Submitted by Ciara Kennedy on Thursday 22 March 2022

  • Does anywhere in Ireland stock the dress in the first picture its Maggie Sottero?

    Submitted by Grainne Carey on Saturday 18 February 2022

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