What Are the Different Wedding Dress Styles?

As you shop for your dream wedding dress, you’ll quickly discover a range of stunning options that vary greatly by silhouette and length. With so many different wedding dress styles to choose from, how do you even decide which ones to try on? Let’s start by checking out the different wedding dress silhouettes and lengths for some of the most popular wedding dress styles so you can focus right in on your favorites when you shop.

In this in-depth guide, we'll break down popular wedding dress styles by silhouette and length. More importantly, though, we'll give you some tips on how to choose the best wedding dress style for you, so you can gain peace of mind and cross one more task off your to-do list. Let's jump right in and start with the different wedding dress style silhouettes.

Wedding Dress Styles by Silhouette

There are three main types of wedding dress silhouette styles to explore: A-line, fit-and-flare, and sheath. Within each of these popular wedding dress styles, there are other popular silhouettes you may have heard of, such as ball gown, trumpet, mermaid, column, and slip bridal gowns. Let’s explore some of the differences between the most similar silhouettes.

What is the Difference Between an A-Line and a Ball Gown Wedding Dress?

When it comes to telling the difference between A-line and ball gown wedding dresses, it’s all about the poof! As you will soon see, ball gowns are simply a type of A-line wedding dress that happen to have the most dramatically poofed out skirts.

  • A-Line Wedding Dress: The A-line wedding dress silhouette gets its name from the shape it creates. Fitted to the waist and flaring from the hips, this wedding gown style visually makes a capital A. A-line gowns can be very voluminous, like a ball gown, or softly and loosely flowing for a more subtle effect. One of the major perks to this popular wedding dress style is that it is especially flattering on all body types. Think this is the best wedding dress style for you? Explore Avery Austin’s A-line wedding dresses to find your favorite design!
  • Ball Gown Wedding Dress: The ball gown wedding dress is what most people envision when they think about a bride on her big day. This voluminous style features a fitted bodice with a full skirt that flows out from the waist. If you're looking for a princess-worthy gown, this is the style for you. The best part about ball gown wedding dresses, much like all A-line styles, is that they can be worn by brides of all shapes and sizes from petite to plus. If a princess-inspired look is what you crave, check out Avery Austin’s ball gown wedding dresses.

What is the Difference Between a Fit-and-Flare, Trumpet, and Mermaid Wedding Gown?

The best way to tell the difference between a fit-and-flare, trumpet, and mermaid wedding gown is to look for where the skirt begins to flare out. Let’s start with the wedding dress style that flares out from the highest point among the three.

  • Fit-and-Flare Wedding Dress: The fit-and-flare wedding dress style is similar to the A-line, but with a bit more drama. This type of gown is also fitted through the bodice and waist, but unlike the A-line style, it flares out a bit lower at the hips. The best part about this silhouette is that it looks great on all types of brides, especially those who wish to put a little emphasis on their curvy hips.
  • Trumpet Wedding Dress: Hugging the curves down just a little bit farther than the classic fit-and-flare gown, the trumpet wedding dress silhouette doesn’t flare out until it meets the thigh. Typically, the flared part of the skirt flows rather loosely and gently down to the floor, but sometimes a more structured or ruffled flare is added for an extra dash of drama.
  • Mermaid Wedding Gown: The mermaid wedding dress silhouette is truly timeless. This fitted style will hug your every curve, not flaring out until it reaches the knee for the most dramatic effect as you walk down the aisle. If you want to show off your hips to the fullest, this is the wedding dress style for you!

For an even more in-depth look at some of the differences among these styles, be sure to check out Avery Austin’s blog on fit-and-flare wedding dresses vs. mermaid wedding dresses. Want to explore all of the beautiful possibilities for fit-and-flare, trumpet, and mermaid bridal gowns? Take a peek at Avery Austin’s mermaid wedding dress collection that also includes other fit-and-flare styles!

What is the Difference Between a Sheath, Column, and Slip Wedding Dress?

As both column and slip gowns are a type of sheath wedding dress, the three styles are very similar and often difficult to differentiate.

  • Sheath Wedding Dress: The sheath silhouette sometimes looks like it’s hugging your curves all the way to the floor. That’s because sheath wedding dresses flow straight down without any fancy flare, gently skimming your natural figure. The curvier you are, the more your figure is emphasized in this stunning style. This type of wedding dress looks great on all types of brides who love to flaunt their natural figure, but it's especially flattering on taller women.
  • Column Wedding Gown: Mostly flowing straight down just like the sheath style, the column wedding dress is a little different in that it can be tighter or looser at the waistline than the classic sheath gown. The skirt is sometimes narrower, which can put emphasis on curvy hips and long legs.
  • Slip Wedding Dress: Generally a little looser than the traditional sheath design, the slip wedding dress silhouette is most often simple in design and usually has spaghetti straps. The simplicity of this wedding dress style is reminiscent of its namesake, the slips typically worn as undergarments. Unlike lingerie, however, slip wedding dresses can be worn on their own for a sophisticated, sexy effect.

Wedding Dress Styles by Length

Brides often wonder just how long their wedding dresses should be. Do they have to be floor length? Are short wedding dresses okay to wear? Let’s clear all of this up right now: Your wedding dress length should be as long or short as you want it to be! Of course, you’ll want to make sure it’s not so long it’s a tripping hazard or so short it’s a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Other than that, it’s the bride’s choice! That said, let’s look at some of the wedding dress lengths you can choose from for your big day.

  • Knee-Length Wedding Dresses: The shortest option recommended (to avoid wardrobe mishaps) is the knee-length wedding dress style, which (as you may have guessed) ends right above or at the knees. Hands down, this is one of the easiest lengths for walking or dancing. And isn’t it just the sweetest style for a rustic outdoor theme or destination beach wedding? No need to worry about your dress hem or train getting grass stains or collecting sand with this wedding dress length!
  • Tea-Length Wedding Dresses: Flowing over the knees to the top of the calves, tea-length wedding dresses provide just a little bit more coverage than the knee-length wedding dress styles. With all the prim and proper appeal of a classic tea-party dress, it’s easy to picture this elegant wedding dress style at a spring garden venue or whimsical outdoor theme.
  • Ballerina-Length Wedding Dresses: Falling anywhere between mid-calves and ankles, ballerina-length wedding dresses provide a graceful, elegant air. Easily lending a beautiful boho vibe to your wedding dress style, just imagine pairing up this wedding gown length with delicate lace accents for the full effect.
  • Ankle-Length Wedding Dresses: Stopping at the ankles, this wedding dress length is perfect for the bride who wants a nice, long skirt but still wants to show off her new pair of bridal shoes! Ankle-length wedding dresses also provide all the elegance of a floor-length style but without the risk of stepping on your own hemline.
  • Floor-Length Wedding Dresses: By far the most formal option, floor-length wedding dresses should end about an inch or so above the floor. Giving only little sneak peeks at your footwear, this wedding dress length gives you the most coverage.
  • High-Low Wedding Dresses: A fun and sassy alternative to traditional wedding dress lengths, high-low wedding dresses are short in the front and long in the back. Just how short the front goes can usually range anywhere from knee- to ballerina-length, while the back of the dress could end at the floor or trail behind in a train.

What is the Most Popular Wedding Dress Style?

With so many different types of silhouettes, lengths, fabrics, and features creating an almost endless variety of wedding dress styles, it’s tough to pick just one design combination that’s considered THE most popular wedding dress style. The classic combination of floor-length and A-line is a timeless favorite among wedding dress styles because they are the most formal and flattering for all brides. Let’s take some of the guesswork out by checking out this collection of the most popular wedding dresses according to Avery Austin’s brides. You’ll see all of the favorite styles chosen by tried-and-true brides who have already chosen these gorgeous designs.

Which of the Different Types of Wedding Dresses is Best for Me?

Now that we've answered your question about the different types of wedding dress styles, it’s time to figure out which one is best for you. First and foremost, it’s truly up to you to decide! Only you can say which styles make you smile, which lengths are the most comfortable, or which wedding dresses make you light up with confidence when you put them on.

But maybe you’d like to learn a little bit more about your wedding dress style options. With all of the wedding dress silhouettes and lengths in mind, you might still be wondering about some other popular features of wedding dress styles. Here are a few other guides you might wish to explore before making your final decision on the best wedding dress style for you.

A Guide to Different Wedding Dress Necklines
A Guide to Wedding Dress Sleeve Types
A Guide to Wedding Dress Strap Styles
Wedding Dress Train Length Guide: Top 7 Styles

Still looking for advice on how to narrow all of those styles options down to ones that will work best for you, your wedding, and your budget? Be sure to check out this complete guide on what style wedding dress is best for your body type, wedding style, and budget. This article not only touches on the different wedding dress styles mentioned above, but also the different fabrics you can choose from, how to factor in train length, and more. And then…it’s time to shop for your favorite wedding dress styles that are sure to suit you best!