Site logo

Wedding dress style guide

Before I got married, I had no idea how complex the world of wedding dresses could be, and getting to know the names of different styles and fabrics required learning a whole new vocabulary!

Whilst some brides will instantly know their Empire from their A–Line, and their Taffeta from their Tulle, others (like me!) may need a few pointers. Hopefully the following guide will help whether you are looking to buy or sell your wedding dress.

Wedding Dress Style


– This style of dress is usually fitted at the bust and waist, before flaring out from the hips and down to the hem. Just like the shape of a capital “A”.

Full Skirted/Princess Dress

–This is a traditional “fairytale” style of dress, with a fitted bodice flowing into a very full skirt.


– This dress has a slim style, and follows the contours of the body closely without the flaring seen in the A line or the Full skirted dresses described above. The skirts are usually fairly slim, but not figure hugging.


– This style has a high waistline, the skirt typically begins just under the bust and loosely falls to the floor, lightly skimming the body.


– Although subtly different from each other, Mermaid and Fishtail dresses share the same figure hugging style, accentuating hourglass figures. Where the Mermaid simply flares out at the bottom, a Fishtail dress has an extra panel of fabric at the back, creating the “fishtail” shape


– These dresses have a hem which falls midway between the knee and the ankle – perfect for a vintage look.

Cocktail Length (Bridesmaid Dress)

– This is a shorter style of dress, with the hemline falling just above the knee.



– This neckline dips in the centre to resemble the top of a heart.


– The middle of the neckline dips down, however this is much shallower than that of the sweetheart described above.


– There is no dipping in this neckline at all, just a classic strapless shape.


– A neckline that dips down to create a “V” shape


– The straps here wrap around the back of the neck, but the neckline shape itself can vary.


– A high necked style, with the fabric usually following the line of the collarbone.

One Shoulder

– As the name suggests, this style features a strap just going over one shoulder, creating an asymmetrical look.


– This is a classic U shaped neckline


– A scooped neckline with squared edges



– This is one of the most common fabric used for wedding dresses, it has a glossy appearance and can come in a variety of thicknesses.


– A light flowing material, soft to the touch and perfect for simple gowns


– A type of fine mesh netting, commonly used in combination with other fabrics as an overlay.


– A crisp, lightweight fabric with a slight shine and surface texture. It’s often used in flowing skirts to create a lot of volume without too much weight.


– Think Kate Middleton’s dress! Lace is a lightweight fabric, patterned either by machine or by hand, with open holes to create intricate designs.


– A sheer, lightweight fabric with a matte finish, perfect for floaty dresses. Georgette has a crinkled finish, and is slightly heaver than Chiffon.


– A light, soft and thin silk fabric with a gauzy texture and a crinkled surface.


– A light fabric with a very fine weave. Like Chiffon, it has a floaty effect, but without the same movement. Organza is also shinier giving a very subtle sparkle.

Buying and Selling your Wedding Dress

Are you a bride-to-be looking to buy your perfect wedding dress? Sign up for a free buyer’s account to save your favourite dresses and securely chat with sellers. 

For sellers, look at our great options to sell your wedding dress, helping you make the most of your dress with a listing on Bride2Bride.