A classic question I get asked is “Rachel, you’re an expert in bridal styling, looking at my body shape, what dress shape should I wear for my wedding? You’ve seen so many brides over the years that you must be able to know exactly what dress shape is right for them as soon as they walk in the door?”
Me and my little Rachel Scott team are indeed experts in our field, with over 16 years’ experience in bridal styling (eek, 16 years already!?). We do indeed know all there is to know about dress design, styling and the latest bridal trends – we pride ourselves on offering the best bespoke dresses for our clients and yes, we have most definitely met a lot of brides in our time!…
Even with all of that wonderful knowledge we have, when you first walk through the door and I see you in person for the first time, we won’t immediately tell you what the ultimate perfect dress for you because the one crucial thing we are yet to learn anything about – is YOU!
You are an individual; a unique personality with a unique set of likes and dislikes, a unique set of personality traits and, most likely, with a unique set of hang ups somewhere along the line – whether they’re well known or completely hidden, whether physical ones or emotional ones. THESE are the factors that determine what is the right wedding dress for you.
Rest assured, I will use every ounce of my expertise and absolutely ensure you’re guaranteed to look amazing on your wedding day and I firmly believe that the only way to truly get you looking your best is to focus on you as a person. You’re SO much more than just a body shape!
My expert advice and guidance in helping you style your perfect wedding dress, comes from learning more about the type of person you are, understanding your personality better and then using that knowledge to inspire and support you through the endless bespoke options we have available. We’ll work together until we find exactly the right design styling for you and all the advice we give will be based on you. And you alone. By doing that, we WILL find a dress that makes you feel more confident than you could ever imagine.
Rip up the rule book or embrace every single piece of advice? It’s totally up to you!
There’s always a constant stream of articles, guides and lists online and in print showing brides which shape dress is the right one to wear based solely on which body shape you are.
By all means get fun inspiration from magazines and style guides, but remember they are just that, fun inspiration. You don’t have to follow the ‘rules’ religiously, only do what feels right for you. Take on board the advice that feels right for you, gloss over the bits that don’t feel quite right for you – or if the fancy takes you then tear up the rule book all together and make a gorgeous papier mache dress out of the pieces and paint it green…
Kim Kardashian Hips?
For example, if you’ve got the classic hourglass shape – fuller bust, pinched in waist and larger hips then is a tight fitting fishtail silhouette the greatest thing in the world or absolutely nightmare for you? Based on dress shape guides that I often see, for a someone with an hourglass shape, a fishtail shape dress would be one to avoid at all costs since it’ll emphasis your hips. I would agree that it will emphasise your hips but I don’t see Kim Kardashian or Jessica Rabbit being bothered by that? If you love your shape (and so you should) and most crucially, have the sassy personality to have a bit of a cheeky sexy swagger as you make your grand entrance then the fishtail shape is the ultimate in perfection for you. No other shape would be more perfect!… On the other hand, if having your hips emphasised and people’s eyes being drawn straight to your glorious derrière brings you out in a cold sweat then a fishtail shape dress is going to be a total disaster. Same body shape, same shape dress – two totally different outcomes.
Petite Bride / Big Personality?
Another classic ‘rule’ I often read, is for those petite brides. Apparently if you’re small in frame or height then a ballgown dress will drown you in fabric and therefore it’s an absolutely no no. I simply don’t believe that’s the case for every single petite bride. If you’re a petite bride, with a huge personality and have always dreamt of being a dramatic princess on your big day then why on earth shouldn’t you be allowed to do that? I’d say that a wonderfully indulgent ballgown shape would be perfectly suited to a bigger personality or someone who’s dreamt of their dreamy classic wedding since they were young – whether they are three foot tall or 7ft tall.
Flower Power Hippy?
If your personality embodies all things hippy and you’ve been a festival going lover throughout your life who has chosen to get married in a glorious field with garlands and guitar players then surely you base your wedding dress choice on those personality centred factors, not your height or body shape?
Are you shy or outgoing, prudish or racy, completely laid back or love proper formality – whatever your personality – one thing I’m sure we’d all agree on is that there is nothing better than seeing a woman looking confident, happy and at ease – it’s completely infectious and totally mesmerising. Your perfect outfit is the one that helps you achieve that, not by prioritising ‘suiting your body shape’, but by genuinely making you feel amazing inside your head first and foremost. I will always aim for that level of confidence building perfection for my clients; I accept nothing less and neither should you.
If you’re in a dress that you absolutely adore, people can see that, they can feel it – it’ll be written all over your face, it’ll be in the way you move and in the way you hold yourself. THAT is what is going to make you look amazing on your big day. If it’s obviously to your friends, family and loved ones and most importantly obvious to you, that you’re feeling confident, happy and loving every minute of your wedding day then THAT will make look spectacular, no matter what shape your body is and no matter what shape of dress you’re wearing.
Ask yourself if it feels right, do you feel good and do you feel relaxed when you wear it? Do your hang ups go out of the window when you put it on, (no matter how big those hang-ups are), do you feel like you could conquer the world in it (and look damn good while doing it!). Whatever the dress is – big or small, white, ivory or bright green, textured or plain, a pink jump suit with puffed sleeves or a slinky black satin slip and whatever your physical shape is – athletic, apple, triangle, tall, small, size 0 or size 30, just ask yourself – does it make you feel confident, does it make you feel good, do you feel like you? If you answer is 100% yes, Then THAT is your perfect dress.
Also remember not to worry if it’s not 100% quite yet, but whatever you do DON’T compromise! Even if all around you are gushing over how spectacular you look in a particular shape and all the rule books say it’s the ‘perfect’ shape for your body, if you’re not absolutely sure, don’t commit just yet. Either we adjust the style, the shape, the fabric, the colour in your bespoke dress, to make it absolutely right, or it could be you simply need to take a break to let yourself gather your thoughts over night and revisit on another day with fresh eyes. That’s the emotion of the decision and it’s important to pay attention to your gut instincts on this.
So here’s my tuppence worth for the style guide –
Apple Shape – Wear whatever you love, as long as it makes you feel confident and the very best version of yourself.
Athletic – Wear whatever you love, as long as it makes you feel confident and the very best version of yourself.
Triangle – Wear whatever you love, as long as it makes you feel confident and the very best version of yourself.
Petite – Wear whatever you love, as long as it makes you feel confident and the very best version of yourself.
Tall – Wear whatever you love, as long as it makes you feel confident and the very best version of yourself.
Now abandon that rule book and go have some fun!
- Words: Rachel Scott Couture