Wedding Dress 101

Wedding Dress 101

Wedding dresses come in a dizzying amount of options.  Here is a glossary of wedding dress terms to help you find the style that's perfect for you!




A-line: fitted at the bodice and flows out to the ground, with an unbroken line (resembling the outline of an uppercase A).


Ballgownfitted at the bodice and has a waistline that leads to a full skirt


Mermaidfits closely to the body from the chest to the knee, then flares out to the hem


Sheathfits very closely to the contours of the body. Has a straight skirt with no waist


Trumpetfits closely to the body until the midhip and then widens gradually to the hem. (resembling the mouth of a trumpet).  Often confused with mermaid, but trumpet flairs from mid-hip, whereas mermaid flairs below the knee




Square: has a straight horizontal bodice that meets with straps in a 90 degree angle


Scoop: U shaped neckline with varying depth


V-neck:  dips down in a V-shape


Sweetheartneckline is shaped like the top half of a heart

One Shoulder

One Shoulder: strap across one shoulder only


Off the Shoulder: sits below the shoulders and highlights the collar bone and shoulders


Sheer: semi sheer net or lace


Halter: has straps that wrap around the back of the neck

High Neck

High Neck: features high neck/t-shirt neckline

Queen Ann

Queen Ann: high rising collar at the back of neckline that sculpts low across the chest


Bateau: (boat neck): follows the curve of the collarbone to the very tip of  shoulders

Straight Across

Strapless straight across: straight across neckline with no curves and no straps

Slight Curve

Strapless slight curve: neckline curves slightly up or down with no straps

Strapless Sweetheart

Strapless sweetheart: neckline is shaped like the top half of a heart



Basque Waist: waistline features a low U or V shape

Dropped Waist

Dropped Waist: features a waist line below the natural waist at the mid hip


Empire: has a raised waistline that sits just below the bust, from which the rest of the dress flows down to the hem

Natural Waist

Natural Waist: waist line that hits at the natural waist (the indentation between the hips and the rib-cage)


Princess: A-line silhouette with vertical seams down the front


Sleeve Style

Sleeve Style

Dress Length

Dress Length


Sweep: (also called brush) is the shortest  trains -usually, the back hem is only a few inches lower than the front hem

Court: slightly longer than the brush, extending approximately 3 feet behind the waist

Chapel Length: generally 1 1/3 yards or 4 feet from the waistline

Cathedral Length Train: generally 2 1/2 yards or 7 1/2 feet from the waistline


A wedding dress can be made from either silk or polyester.  How the fiber is woven determines if the dress is:

Charmeuse: lightweight, semi-lustrous soft,  is satin-like to the touch

Chiffon: Delicate, sheer, and transparent, with a soft finish. Often layered because of its transparency

Crepe: Light, soft, and thin, with a crinkled surface

Duchesse Satin: A lightweight hybrid of silk or polyester and rayon woven into a satin finish

Dupioni: A finish similar to shantung, but with thicker, coarser fibers, and a slight sheen

Georgette: Sheer and lightweight fabric with a crepe surface

Mikado: A brand of blended fibers, usually heavier than 100-percent silk

Organza: Crisp and sheer like chiffon, with a stiffer texture similar, but more flowing than tulle

Satin: heavy and smooth with a high sheen on one side

Shantung: Similar to a raw silk, characterized by its rough/nubby texture

Taffeta: Crisp and smooth, with a slight rib

Tulle: Netting (just like ballerina tutus)



AlençonDelicate needlepoint lace with a distinct floral pattern outlined with corded detail.

Guipure: Heavy, large patterned decorative lace

Chantilly: The most romantic  type, this delicate lace has a sheer quality and features flowers ribbons.

Point D'Esprit: Lightweight lace with small dots woven into a scattered pattern. Often layered with over a dress for a whimsical feel.

Schiffli: This machine made lace is a type of embroidery. Also known as chemical lace.