Beginning your wedding dress hunt is one of the engagement highlights for many newly-engaged. It can also bring up a fair amount of dread and body image issues for girls who are not already 100% confident with their appearance – and even for those who are.
Let’s face it – fashion and media of the modern world never cease to present us with unrealistic and often unhealthy images of women, and unless you switch off your phone, TV, internet and don’t leave the house, it is pretty much a daily reminder of how we ought to look. Of course, lifestyle improvements are never bad idea, but the harassment of looking as perfect and fabulousness as the successful few, leaves the rest of us struggling to feel good enough about ourselves…
Inevitably, this leaves many Brides-to-be feeling insecure and inadequate – not a great feeling to have when you go looking for dresses, knowing that all eyes will be on you in a few months time.
So, if you don’t want to spend your engagement battling with weight loss issues and self-transformation pressure, there are ways to make your dress boost your body image instead, that doesn’t require a gym membership.
Here we present you with tricks to choose a dress which will bring out the best of your figure so you can have the confidence of a Oscar winner when you walk down the aisle. Because you deserve it, no matter what your shape and dress number is.
Choose the right wedding dress silhouette
Rule number one is to choose a wedding dress that works like magic to your shape and emphasize your best features . This you do by first finding the silhouette that complement your figure.
You may adore a certain gown in the magazine, but bear in mind that it might not make the best out of every Brides figure. Fitted and Sheath silhouettes can be unforgiving, so work with our guide and the bridal consultant to find you the most gorgeous dress shape – which also make you feel the most gorgeous. If you don’t feel happy in the dress – take it off immediately.
If you want the effect of a fitted gown, a great compromise is the drop waist and fit and flare silhouette, that will hug you down to the hip or just below, then flare in a smooth curve.
On the other hand, avoid choosing a dress that you feel like you can comfortably hide away in. You should never hide, especially not on your wedding day! Unnecessary bulk will even make it look like there is something there when it isn’t – and you don’t want to give the impression that you got more volume that you actually got.
No matter what your size is, the most flattering design is one that fits your body perfectly, with no folds, creases or tightness in the fabric. The right tailoring is essential, but first…..
Add slimming design tricks
Once you have established what dress shape your prefer, you can modify it with neckline, sleeves, fabric and details to make it truly the perfect dress for you. The dress should reflect your personal style, showcase your best parts, as well as subtly disguise or distract from problem areas, if applicable.
The corset bodice is a wonderful invention that can work like magic – it will give you a better posture, smooth the surface of your torso, and hold you in all the right areas. But if you are wearing a strapless corset bodice, make sure not to end up too tightly pulled in (you will have to pull it tight enough for it to stay up though!) or you risk the soft parts of your upper torso folding over. Visual back fat, (it can happen even to a skinny person) armpit folds and a pushed up and wobbly decolletage is not going to flatter anyone, even tough you managed to squeeze in 4 inches at your waist. If you feel like you are in the risk zone, avoid the strapless dress, opt for an illusion over lay, or some variation of straps.
Strapless wedding dresses have been extremely popular since the 90s, but Brides find it’s a hard look to pull off in reality. A strapless cut can make top-heavy women spill out, and tall, thin women look lanky.
A gorgeous sleeveless, Queen Anne or halter dress is far more forgiving, flattering and comfortable too. If you are dead set on the strapless, consider a sheer bolero with embellishments on top to distract form any overflowing areas.
Create a waist
The simplest way to shrink your torso, is to wear a dress that is wider in your shoulders and your hips, creating a downward line through your waist. A cap-sleeve, short sleeve, boat neck and off the shoulder design, with a a-line or ball gown silhouette will give you that effect. Then draw attention to the waist with a detail such as belt, embellishment or lace flower to make the most of the illusion.
If you want to make your waist seem smaller, choose a wedding dress that will make the chest and the hips seem wider than the waist. You can do this by adding cap sleeves, opting for a straight neckline, and an A-line or ball gown skirt. The most efficient for this purpose though, is an off-the shoulder sleeve, ideally with sweetheart neckline. Bear in mind that if you have wide arms and shoulders, you want to avoid the short sleeved dress and straight neckline, and rather choose a v-neck or halterneck design.
Avoid empire dresses unless your waist is actually bigger that your chest. The empire waist line is great if you don’t have a well defined waist, but other Brides might find that the empire line makes them look stockier and perhaps even pregnant, hiding away the beautiful curvature of the waist and hips.
Plus size Brides will however find that the empire dress hugs them in at the thinnest part of their torso, just above the natural waist, which will give the appearance of a slimmer waist.
Wear the right belt.
And instant slimming fix to make you skinnier is to draw attention to the part of your waist that is thinnest. BUT be aware: a very skinny belt can make your body look bigger. And if the belt is too wide, you risk ending up with the “bucket effect” especially if you have a big waist or a short torso. 1-3 inches is the sweet spot but this obviously also depends on your height and waist-shoulder-hips proportions. Where to place the belt is also a science – higher up if you want to shrink your torso, lower down if you want to seem taller, at the skinniest point if you want to create an hour glass shape.
A partial adornment on your belt can be larger than the sash, this will make the waist really small. Likewise, a strategically placed embellishment or lace detail can also give the same effect of shrinking the waist. What you don’t want, is bling and reflection all over the stomach.
Choose neckline according to bust and shoulders
V-neckline or sweetheart neckline will do draw the eye down to your waist from your bust. These designs are also good for slimming as the create a dividing line down the center of your torso. If you have a large bust, a Scoop neckline is the most flattering design for you. Straps + V-neck will draw the eye up and down the body as opposed to across = vertical lines that makes you tall and slender.
Lucky for you, the deep plunging V neck and sweet heart neck can be found in every Bridal salon as it is one of the hottest trend. However – hold back on showing a deep cleavage if you are blessed with a big bust. First of all, it will be pretty much impossible to find the right bra, secondly it will be uncomfortable for you,awkward for your family and all your guests! Avoid high necklines too – your optimum depth is just above your cleavage.
To minimize your torso, focus on the middle part of it – which also happens to be the most beautiful. Sweetheart, Scoop Neck, V-neck and Square Neck will showcase your decolletage and collarbones, which is the most alluring and feminine part of you. These necklines will give you a better curvature, which draws attention downwards to your waist.
When shopping to make your upper body skinnier, avoid any dress that creates horizontal lines. The off the shoulder, short sleeve and 3/4 sleeve may prove problematic, but you might find that with the right combination of neckline, a no-sleeve dress with a deep V-neckline will create a diagonal line from your shoulder down to you waist, detracting the eye to your slimmer parts.
Minimize detailing on your upper half, and rather boost the dress volume.
Hold back on volume and drama
Avoid lace dresses with big lace flowers, as big patterns can make you seem bigger. For the same reason, the lovely texture trend such as 3D flower can create the illusion of more volume = what you DON’T want.Although it is fair to say that if you are intending to distract away attention from a very large bust, added details and pattern can give a concealing effect.
Choose non-glossy wedding dress fabrics, which won’t reflect a lot of light from your body. For the same reason, hold back on all-over embellishments, and wear them on the bodice only, avoiding having them placed by areas you want to distract from as the bling will bring the attention there. Smooth and thin fabrics such as satin tends to cling. To look skinnier, choose soft but denser fabrics with more structure and less sheen.
If you want your torso to seem smaller, avoid any sculptural designs on the top half such as ruffles, frills and gathers from shoulder to bust. All of these details make your chest seem bigger. (This may however be and advantage if your aim is to create a tiny waist!)
A princess seam dress/ sheath dress has vertical seams from top to bottom of your body, creating a lengthening visual effect. The sewing pattern has no waist but is rather made with vertical panels. If the hem is slightly visible, the dress will have vertical panels that will give you a slimming effect.
For the same reason, a dress with light to moderate pleating in the skirt, will give you vertical lines in the fabric as it ruches.
A wrap dress with a deep neck line and a high-slit is flattering for all body types, and slimming as it creates a line through the center of your whole body. Your torso will seem smaller and your legs longer.
Working with vertical lines such as those creates with ruching and asymmetric draping are two other clever design tricks making the eye run vertically over your body, creating a slimming effect. Avoid designs with a lot of draping and ruching however, as bulk fabric will suggest that there is more body underneath that there actually is.
If you are short or stocky and want to appear taller and slenderer, choose a dress where the bodice and skirt is the same colour and material. The illusion of two separate garments has a tendency to cut you in half, making you seem shorter and more squarish. A consistent design will make the eye flow vertically without interruption.
Another elongating trick is to choose straps: having your dress starting from the shoulder as opposed to the bust will make your body longer.
A beautiful fit and flare silhouette with a soft and gradual expansion from below the hips, is going to be much more lengthening than a mermaid with a dramatic skirt from the knees. Choose a trumpet dress rather than one that is fitted with a wide pouf, which might give you the chopped off effect. Always opt for a smooth expansion if you want to seem taller and skinnier.
Choose the best sleeve for your arms and torso
To make your torso and arms seem skinnier, you should actually avoid long sleeved dresses. Rather opt for no sleeves with a thicker strap, a strap with just a tiny cap sleeve, or 3/4 sleeves that will give focus to the wrists and shoulders, slimming the arms and waist. It might seem counter intuitive, but solid white fabric on the arms, and holding your arms by your side, might make your torso appear bigger and the arms broader.
On the other hand, sleeves with bell sleeves flaring from the elbow will make the top of your arms look skinnier and draw attention down from a big torso.
If you really want long sleeves, choose a sheer material such as chantilly lace or embellished tulle, and go for a butterfly sleeve which will give you a dreamy and whimsical wedding look. A butterfly sleeve in a light fabric will disguise large upper arms.
Tip: Look for a dress that has everything else you wish for, but leave the straps and sleeves out of the equation when deciding. Why? Because most wedding dress designers / bridal salon will have a seamstress who can in most cases add on a strap and sleeve you want later on. This will give you a lot more options during your search.
3. Make sure the tailoring is 100%
If you feel squeezed in, you will look it too.
The bodice should not be too tight – this creates and emphasizes the appearance of fleshy rolls and will make you look uncomfortable. The dress should lightly hug your form without squeezing. – communicate with the person doing the alterations thoroughly and how the dress fits and feels when you are wearing it. If it is too tight, it might tear when your husband lifts you for the photos, if it is too loose, the sleeve might slide off in your first dance. A strapless gown can cause you to constantly have to pull the dress up – not an attractive look. If it is too tight, you’ll feel restricted to have as much fun as you should when letting loose on the dance floor.
Never, ever buy a dress too small because you are planning to lose weight. Your goal may be to shed pounds before your wedding day, but remember that it is always possible to take a dress in, and almost impossible to make it bigger. Fit now, adjust later. The last thing you want is to be unable to breather comfortably on your wedding day, or risk the dress splitting!
Lastly: Whilst following all our clever skinny dress hacks, make sure to always a dress which is uniquely “you” and that you love wearing. This is the most important thing! The guide we’ve provided is mostly for you to get a god starting point – trying on lots of dresses that don’t complement you can be discouraging and a waste of your time.
Find a dress that is comfortable, and suits your Bridal Vision. The distinctiveness of a dress will draw attention to the personality of the person wearing it, as opposed to the body it sits on. How you feel in the dress and move in it, is a source of happiness and confidence which you radiate through your smile. This will take the attention from any flaws and rather highlight your beautiful face and personality.