Bridesmaids' Dresses Glossary


A-line: a dress with a skirt that flares out towards the bottom, mimicking the appearance of the capital letter A. A-line dresses suit pear shaped women as the flare of the dress balances out the width of their hips.

Apple shape: apple shaped girls are usually big busted with small hips and a rounder tummy. Wrap style dresses that direct attention away from the stomach area are great for apple shaped bodies. If the bride isn’t 100% set on floor length dresses, knee length dresses look great on apple shaped bridesmaids as they usually have killer legs which are worth showing off.

Basque waistline: a dress with a U shaped or V shaped waistline which sits closer to the hips than the waist.
Boat neckline: a neckline which curves near the collarbone on a sleeveless dress which usually features quite thin straps at the tip of the shoulders.

Chiffon: a very delicate, transparent fabric which is often incorporated in the outer layers of a dress to add detail. Always check with the bride first about how much chiffon is appropriate for the bridesmaid dresses.

Dropped waistline: a waistline which sits towards the hips rather than the waist and is suited to women with an inverted triangle shaped body who want to draw attention away from their shoulders and towards their slim hips and legs.

Empire waistline: a dress which features a high waistline, just below the bust. An empire waistline suits almost all body types so may be the perfect choice for weddings where the brides wants her maids to dress uniformly.

Hourglass figure: hourglass shaped women have a large bust, small waist and large hips. Think Marilyn Monroe. If you are lucky enough to have an hourglass figure, show it off with a tight fitting yet classy dress but don’t be shocked if the other bridesmaids aren’t willing to wear exactly the same dress.

Inverted triangle shape: women with broad shoulders and narrow hips have an inverted triangle shaped figure. V neck dresses suit this figure because they draw attention away from the shoulders and towards the waist. A ruffled dress will also give the appearance of wider hips.

Maternity bridesmaid dress: most bridal stores stock lovely bridesmaid dresses for expectant mummies. Go dress shopping early to be sure to find something flattering which will match the colour and style of the other maids’ dresses.

Pear shape: pear shaped girls usually have a small bust, big hips, big thighs and a big butt that would make Sir-Mix-A-Lot proud. Wrap style dresses with an A-line suit pear shaped ladies. Capped sleeves will also give the appearance of wider shoulders and a V-neck helps to balance out the small bust.

Scoop neckline: a dress with a U shaped neckline. The scoop can be shallow for modest bridesmaids or deeper for bustier gals who want to show off their goods (within reason).

Sheath: a case to hide a dagger if you have a bridezilla on your hands or a closely fitted dress without a waistline. This type of dress is best suited to hourglass figures and petite frames.

Sheer: transparent material. Always check that your bridesmaids’ dresses won’t turn sheer with flash photography (or the camera won’t be the only thing flashing).

Silhouette: the outline or general shape of a dress, including the bodice and the skirt. Some examples of silhouettes include A-line, ball gown, mermaid and trumpet style dresses.

Tea length: a tea length dress is a dress with a hemline that is approximately midway between the knee and ankle. Tea length is just a fancy word for ¾ length, really.

Tulle: a netting-like fabric which is often featured as an outer layer on the bride’s dress. Bridesmaids, try not to go overboard with tulle dresses. You don’t want to look like ballerinas and you definitely don’t want to out-tulle the bride.