Merriam-Webster defines silhouette as "the outline of an object seen, or as if seen, against the light." (Think of traditional profile portraits done in silhouette.)
This same concept can be applied to the definition of "silhouette," as it pertains to fashion terminology. Just as one might gather from the general definition of the word, a gown's silhouette refers to the basic outline created by the overall shape of the dress.
Wedding Dress SilhouettesThere are a few general wedding dress silhouette definitions which can be used to categorize the majority of wedding dresses.
Keep in mind, however, that fashion is art, so not every dress will necessarily land exactly within the "bounds" of one particular silhouette's definition.
Formal Wedding Dresses
Informal Wedding Dresses (in order of ascending length)
Formal Versus Informal Wedding DressesSome wedding dresses are considered formal styles, while other styles are considered informal wedding dresses. So what's the difference between formal wedding dresses and informal wedding dresses?
In days gone by, it all used to be so simple: if a dress was shorter than floor length, it was considered informal, and that was that. These days, however, some floor length dresses are considered informal; so how are we to differentiate formal versus informal wedding dresses now?
Trains! No, not the kind of train that runs along tracks, providing transportation for hobos; but wedding dress trains, the kind of train that extends a gown's skirt, trailing behind the bride, as she gracefully glides down the aisle to meet her
To make a long story short, bridal gowns are considered formal, when they feature a train longer than sweep length. Generally, the longer the train, the more formal the style. If a wedding dress has no train, or has a very short train that just barely sweeps the floor (hence sweep train), it is considered an informal wedding dress.
Finding the Perfect Wedding DressAs you search for the perfect wedding dress, it is often easiest to start by choosing one or two of your favorite silhouettes. By doing so, you can greatly narrow down what might otherwise seem like an overwhelming amount of choices; making the search for your wedding dress that much easier (not to mention, more fun!)
If you are looking at bridal gowns for the very first time, by all means, consider trying on at least one dress in every silhouette that interests you. By doing so, you can get a better feel for which silhouettes are the most flattering to your figure, so you can dress your best for your body shape.
Wedding Dress Silhouettes:
A beautiful example of the silhouette of an A-line wedding dress is Mori Lee 4704:
Mori Lee Bridal Gown 4704
Ball Gown Silhouette)
A great example of the silhouette of ball gown wedding dresses is Mori Lee 4705:
Mori Lee Bridal Gown 4705
Maggie Sottero Ireland is a great example of the silhouette of empire line dresses with a sheath skirt:
Maggie Sottero Ireland Bridal Gown
Casablanca B038 is a great example of the silhouette of empire line dresses with an A-line skirt:
Casablanca Bridal Gown B038
Fit and Flare Silhouette)
A great example of fit and flare wedding dresses is Maggie Sottero Brooke:
Maggie Sottero Bridal Gown Brooke
Allure 8717 is a great example of the silhouette of mermaid wedding dresses:
Allure Bridal Gown 8717
Mori Lee 6503 is a great example of the straight, form-fitting lines displayed in the silhouette of sheath wedding dresses:
Mori Lee Bridal Gown 6503
A great example of the silhouette of trumpet wedding gowns is Mori Lee 1057:
Mori Lee Bridal Gown 1057
Allure 951 is a fun and playful example of pretty cocktail length dresses for your wedding (they make great reception dresses, too!):
Allure Bridal Gown 951
Moonlight Bridal Gown T446 is a great example of knee length wedding dresses:
Moonlight Bridal Gown T446
Maggie Sottero Isadora Ann perfectly represents the style of tea length wedding dresses:
Maggie Sottero Isadora Ann Bridal Gown
High Low Silhouette)
Watters and Watters Uliana is simultaneously elegant and trendy - the perfect example of a high low dress for your wedding ceremony:
Watters and Watters Bridal Gown Uliana