Skip to main content

Dress Silhouettes and Shapes, What’s the Friggin’ Difference?

Searching by silhouette can quickly narrow your search for that perfect dress. But what’s what? Here’s a quick breakdown of dress silhouettes and shapes.

 

A-line

dress silhouettes
A classic A-line skirt flares from the waist. Click photo for dress details.

The A-line silhouette is named because its shape looks like a capital letter A. A-line silhouettes flatter the hips and create a slim waist, as fabric skims right over the widest part of the body. Short or long classic A-line shape looks great on anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fit-and-Flare

The fit-and-flare silhouette is fitted at the top and flares towards the floor. It can either be fitted through just the top of the hip, or the entire hip.  Sometimes called a modified A-line,  when the skirt flares in more of an A-line. Fit-and-flare silhouettes lengthen the torso. Fitting closer to the body than a classic A-line, the fit-and-flare works for any body type.

dress silhouettes
This is a modified A-line, fit-and-flare gown. Click photo for more details.
dress silhouettes
This fit-and-flare style gives you a shapely silhouette. Click photo for more details about this dress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dress silhouettes
The most curvaceous of all the silhouettes, the trumpet silhouette is a real statement maker. Click the photo more details on this dress

 

 

 

Trumpet

The trumpet skirt is often confused with other similar shapes. A trumpet skirt looks like a cross between a fit-and-flare silhouette and a mermaid. This unique shape is defined by its similarity to the bell of a horn. Fitted through the hips, it flares at mid-thigh, widening towards the bottom. This look creates curves the curves you never had, since this shape emphasizes the hips. If you are self conscious about this area, avoid a trumpet or mermaid silhouette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dress silhouettes
Sculpted ruffles make up the mermaid flare on this stunner. Click photo for more info on this gown

 

Mermaid

The mermaid silhouette is named for its shape which is most reminiscent of a mermaid’s tail. Fitted through the hips and thighs, a mermaid silhouette flares from just above the knee, or lower. Sometimes a mermaid silhouette can be a bit constricting to move in. Take small steps, and if this is a wedding dress, consider a second dress for dancing at the reception. Like the trumpet silhouette, a mermaid gown will draw attention to the midsection.

 

 

 

 

 

Ballgown

A ballgown silhouette can have a basque waistline that sits below the waist, like this gown, or be fitted at the natural waistline. Click photo for more details.

A ballgown silhouette can have a basque waistline that sits below the waist, like this gown, or be fitted at the natural waistline. Click photo for more details.

The ballgown silhouette creates the slimmest of waists because of the exaggerated fullness it places around the hip. Great for those with ample bottoms, everything will be hidden under billows of fabric.

This ballgown fits at the natural waistline. Click photo for more info.
This ballgown fits at the natural waistline. Click photo for more info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dress silhouettes
Keep slim fitting sheath silhouettes more loosely fitted. Click photo for more info on this style.

 

 

 

 

Column, Sheath, or Slim Silhouette 

Slim column dress silhouettes first came about in the nineteen twenties, defying the notion that women should be curvy, the straight, shapeless form was considered rebellious for the time. Worn loose, a column or sheath dress flatters all shapes. Slimmer cuts look especially lovely on thin frames. Don a sleeveless sheath dress just about anywhere. Full length and formal, or knee-length and casual. Add a blazer for work, switch it up to a shawl for evening. Sleek and chic.

 

Fitted

Fitted dresses made of slinky stretch material, always up the sexy factor. They also cling to every curve, lump, and bump. Ruching and shirring (small gathers and folds sewn into the fabric) are details that can make fitted dresses more flattering and easier to wear, camouflaging problem areas. High waisted pencil skirts are a great way for curvy girls to rock something fitted, creating va-va-voom curves while showing off the waistline.

dress silhouettes
Ruching adds texture and helps hide any flaws. Click photo for more info on this style.