As a busy wedding dress shop in the bustling historic Reading Bridal District, we meet a lot of different brides every week. While these brides vary in their tastes, preferences, body shapes, and sizes; they almost always have one thing in common. They’re a little nervous, but they’re always SO EXCITED to be visiting one of the top bridal outlet stores for this special time in their lives.
For years, we’ve helped brides find the gowns they’ve dreamed of ever since they were a child to brides that have barely given it a second thought until their engagement. No matter what kind of bride you are, wedding dress shopping is a rite of passage. It’s an experience that can be so special, unique, and memorable - especially when it’s shared with loved ones in your life. We know - at first, it can also feel a little overwhelming, though!
Knowing the basics about wedding dresses can help you start your shopping journey at bridal dress shops on the right track, and maybe even help you narrow down your range of options. Like many of the shops you’ll see when you search “discount bridal stores near me,” and “wedding dresses stores near me,” we carry hundreds of different dresses, and our inventory is constantly changing, so knowing a little about what you’re drawn to can be really helpful.
In this post, we’ll provide 5 of the most popular wedding dress silhouettes and styles available in the bridal world today. We’ll go over some of the pros and cons of each, and cover some of the other basics like fabrics and embellishments. Don’t forget, your professional bridal stylist can answer almost any question that comes up while you’re at your appointment, so if you don’t remember every tidbit of information here, don’t worry!
Even if you’re well-versed in the wedding industry and have searched “bridal gown store near me,” “discount bridal shops near me” and “dress stores near me cheap,” devoted a Pinterest board to your favorite styles, or have even tried some gowns on already, reviewing these basics will leave you more confident and ready to try on some dresses!
We’ve listed some of the most common and broad style categories below to offer a brief overview of five of the basic silhouettes for wedding gowns. After reading through this and looking at the photos of each type, you can also collect photos of your own or save social media or Pinterest posts of dresses you are drawn to. That way, when you attend your appointments, or even when you set them up after searching “wedding dress shops near me,” provide them to your stylists so it can help them get a sense of what you’re wanting.
Just remember - although this might help guide you into understanding what styles, silhouettes, embellishments, and fabrics you like, it is extremely beneficial to go into your appointment keeping an open mind. Ever since you were young, you may have believed that you would wear a certain type or style of a gown, but when you try them on yourself, your idea of what you want may change!
Likewise, it’s a good idea to consider the weather and climate of the place and time of year you’re getting married. A dress with heavier or sturdier fabric like satin may be more comfortable for that Christmas-time wedding in the mountains rather than a thin crepe A-line. With that said, you can always accessorize with shawls, leather jackets, or more. Don’t feel like you need to have a lacy fitted gown if you’re getting married in a desert setting just because that’s what you see on Instagram - this is your day and your chance to show your personality!
At most Reading Bridal District bridal shops, the stylists are professionals, and sometimes, their seasoned senses can guide you into the dress of your dreams. Sometimes that dress doesn’t look anything like how you imagined, but it is the stylist’s job to ensure that you feel stunning nonetheless.
Fitted dresses are sexy, iconic, and perfect for brides who are comfortable in form-fitting, classy formalwear. These gowns hug your curves through your thigh and have a sleek silhouette, which pairs well with heels. Like the A-line gown (more about that one below!), the timeless allure and flattering simplicity of these gowns will never go out of style.
Because of their classic and versatile design, most of the stores you’ll see when you look up “wedding dress outlets near me” will have many different dresses in the fitted silhouette. We have been loving the lace trend that loosens up the sometimes-restrictive fit of these gowns. This is an especially useful thing to know if you plan on really getting after it on the dance floor after the ceremony!
Also good to know is that fitted dresses include styles such as mermaid and trumpet, (more about each of these below), which can be distinguished by the point at which they flare.
We mentioned lace, but fitted dresses are made with many other types of fabrics and embellishments as well. With backs that dip low, display a row of pearl buttons, boast illusion necklines, and offer possibilities for any kind of accessory that you can imagine, fitted dresses will always be at the top.
Whether you’re seeking to stick to a tight budget by searching for off the rack wedding dresses near Cincinnati or stumble upon brand-new designer gowns at 30-60% off, like we offer here at Blue Bridal, a favorite among brides is the A-line gown. And there’s no question why - it’s definitely the most universally-comfortable silhouette.
Like the letter “A,” these gowns are fitted at the top and to the waist, and then they flow out with breezy airness. Because of the shape of the A-line gown, your upper body will be highlighted, but you’ll have the freedom to move your lower body, whether that means arriving at your reception grooving to your favorite jam with your spouse or letting the breeze of a beach at sunset ruffle your gown.
A-line gowns are offered at local bridal shops and wedding dress outlets in many, many different varieties (you can find them at the numerous Reading Bridal District shops). Necklines that range from square, swooping, sweetheart, strapless, and more are all available in A-line dresses, and you can get sleeveless, capped sleeves, spaghetti straps, halter, off-the-shoulder, and long-sleeved gowns. You’ll be comfortable in an A-line dress if you’re planning a more casual wedding or elopement or if you’re holding a formal affair - these versatile dresses fit every occasion.
If you’ve ever seen Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” you can probably easily picture the namesake of this gown. This silhouette gets its name from the outline of the mythical mermaid creature that has a tail in place of legs. The gown hugs the bride from the top to around her knees and then dramatically flares out from there.
It’s exceedingly sexy and sophisticated, and is unique from the trumpet silhouette, which is similar (more about trumpet gowns below!) because of where the flare starts. As for most fitted dresses, when a bride wears a mermaid silhouette, the eye is drawn along the curvy line of the hips through the waist, accenting the feminine form with its flare near the knee.
Mermaid silhouette gowns at bridal shops can be simple and elegant or have more glitz and embellishment like beading, sequins, lace, or more. Mermaid gowns come with both long and short trains, and many seamstresses can assist with modifications to bustle them. No matter the fabric or detail, or whether it‘s from a discount bridal store or a place found when you searched “affordable wedding dress shops near me,” these dresses are show-stoppers.
Another fitted silhouette, but unique from the mermaid in that it flares mid-thigh like a trumpet is the Trumpet style gown. A bit less lengthening, the trumpet can toe the line between spunky and elegant, with ruffles, ruching, or even pleats on the flare.
Like most wedding gown silhouettes, the trumpet incorporates a tightly fitted bodice. This can be adorned with sparkles, lace, beadwork - there’s no limit to the creativity of designers and bridal outlets tend to carry a wide range of styles.
A tip for when you are preparing for your appointments, especially if you are interested in trying on tighter-fitting gowns like fitted, mermaid, and trumpet: wear comfortable, smooth undergarments that match your skin tone. When your stylist assists you with trying on your gowns, you’ll be less likely to notice or be distracted by lines or bumps.
Imagine yourself standing at the altar, saying “I do” to your love. Do you want to feel like royalty? If being a princess has always been a dream of yours, you may want to consider trying on a variety of ball gowns. This type of silhouette flares below the waist or hip, sometimes even puffing out a bit, and are typically fitted through the bodice.
The bride will display a shapely and feminine hourglass appearance. You will also be wearing the classic princess or fairy tale style, perfect for your dream wedding.
For ball gowns, the skirt can be made with layers of fabrics like tulle, crinolines, or flowing satin. The flattering shape of ball gowns can also minimize your waist, hips, butt and legs. As for the bodice, it is likely to be fitted and might feature lavish satin, intricate beadwork, or delicate lace.
No matter where you come across your ball gown (whether at a bridal warehouse, discount bridal, or at one of the many budget bridal shops out there) we hope it takes your breath away. Ball gowns look divine on a hanger, so be sure to have your photographer snag a photo of yours the morning-of!
Ball gowns are frequently worn at more formal or traditional weddings, but we are firm believers that on your wedding day, you should wear what makes you feel beautiful inside and out, no matter what type of wedding you plan to have.
Besides knowing the basics of wedding dress silhouettes, it can be useful to understand two of the most foundational wedding gown styles: Classic/clean and textured types. In short, clean styles are types that don’t have much embellishment on the bodice and train. They are very sleek, fashion-forward, modern, and sophisticated. They likely only have minimal adornment and come across as fairly stylish.
This style of gown, while perhaps more simple in appearance, is no less luxurious than more textured bridalwear. We can’t get enough of the satin and silk that are frequently used on clean gowns. Pantsuits and bridal jumpers frequently fit into this category - two more very popular styles that elongate the body and draw the eye upward. For modern or classic brides, clean looks are the go-to.
Another primary style for wedding dresses is the use of texture in gowns. Sometimes thought of as more rustic, gowns that are dripping with lace fit into this type and are crowd-pleasers. Additionally, beaded gowns, dresses with floral patterns or art deco gowns also give the appearance of texture, as opposed to the clean look described above.
Gowns with many layers of tulle or intricately detailed beadwork all over an A-line gown’s train achieves this gorgeous look, whereas the clean look is a little more modern and sleek. Textured gowns are also exceedingly elegant and flattering. They’re perfect for whimsical brides who might be comfortable with something a little different. We always encourage brides to try on multiple gowns, styles, and silhouettes to see what they love, what feels good, and what seems like a good fit for your big day.
As you can see, discounted wedding dresses are anything but simple! With so much variety in wedding dress silhouettes and styles, getting familiar with some of the foundational types you’ll see at wedding shops can be a perfect starting place. Should you shop for an intricate and lacy boho A-line, a luxurious silk pantsuit, or a charming princess-like ball gown?
Whatever silhouette or style you love the most, searching “wedding dress shops near me affordable” will very likely bring up a lot of options for cheap bridal shops where you can buy discount wedding dresses that won’t break your budget. The next step is to reach out to set up an appointment, at which you’ll get the chance to try on a number of different dresses! Before your discount bridal shop appointment at the Reading Bridal Distict, you may be asked to provide some inspiration, and that’s the time to share your Pinterest board or favorite photos of styles and silhouettes you especially like. Time to make the magic happen!