How to Find the Best Wedding Dress For Your Body Type, No Matter Your Shape

What I'm about to say is either good news or bad news, depending on how you look at it: There's no secret formula to finding the best wedding dress for your body type. The easy truth is that you can treat your expedition like any well-oiled shopping trip, which means focusing on styling.

A big, fancy white gown can take on a life of its own, so stick to silhouettes — formfitting, draped, A-line, or empire — you know what flatters your frame. The dress you pick should highlight your best features, whether it be your arms, your curves, or your height. If you think of going into the bridal boutique with the same mindset you do when you hop into a department store to get an everyday dress, you'll not only feel more relaxed, but you'll also emerge with the dress you want. Sounds like a pretty good outcome, no?

Let's break this down with a few tips on where to start, in case you're still feeling a little frazzled:

IF YOU'RE PETITE...

Try: A body-skimming silhouette; skip the ball gown fare. Instead of hiding your petite frame, show it off in something that enhances you've got. And if you're feeling a bit non-traditionalist, you could even go the off-white jumpsuit route, which would draw into the long pant shape.

Oscar de la Renta Halter-Neck Floral-Embroidered Gown, Check It Out

IF YOU'RE PLUS-SIZED...

Try: An empire dress. There are a few things to be wary of where empire silhouettes are concerned. This shape should emphasize your figure, not take away from it; translation: don’t go for “too flowy.” Make sure the waist seam hits right under the bust and avoid any (and all) pleating on the skirt.

Faille Empire Waist Plus Size Wedding Dress, Check It Out

IF YOU HAVE A SMALLER BUST...

Try: Baring a little more skin in back. Have you seen the latest selection of backless dresses? Stun-ning. If you can pull off the no-bra look no problem, then this particular style is, at the very least, worth giving a chance.

Donna Karan Jersey Halter Gown, Check It Out

IF YOU'RE TALL...

Try: Don’t shroud your length in a big, frouffy dress — work your long frame in something cut closer to the body. A column dress, a silk bias-cut dress, or even a drape-front number would look great.

Nicholas Off-the-Shoulder Gown, Check It Out

IF YOU HAVE AN HOURGLASS FIGURE...

Try: Focus on waist-defining dresses and A-line skirts. Dresses that emphasize all of your assets in all the right places are exactly what you want. From slim, ruched gowns to sculptured strapless A-line dresses, you have a wide range to choose from.

Alexander McQueen Embellished Strapless Silk Gown, Check It Out

IF YOU'RE PEAR SHAPED...

Try: An A-line silhouette. The skirt will flare out from natural waistline, showing off the smallest part of your midsection. If you’re trying to draw attention to a slender upper body, steer clear of strapless gowns, which can make even the tiniest frames look more prominent. Instead, opt for spaghetti straps or a V-neck.

Amsale 'Erin' Lace Appliqué Organza Ballgown, Check It Out

IF YOU HAVE A LARGER BUST...

Try: A scooped neckline — something that will allude to your décolletage, but won’t reveal too much either. If you’re toying with the idea of wearing a strapless silhouette, stick to the sweetheart shape. A straight-across neckline will draw even more attention to a larger bust and give a more shelf-like appearance.

Tadashi Shoji Strapless Drop-Waist Feather Gown, Check It Out

IF YOU'RE LEAN AND STRAIGHT...

Try: Flared skirts (the trumpet and mermaid skirt will be your best friend) and daring necklines will add to the illusion of curves. Unless you're going for that "Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy in Narciso Rodriguez" look, you shouldn't err on the side of shapeless silk dresses.

Anne Barge Lace Mermaid Dress, Check It Out

IF YOU'RE APPLE-SHAPED...

Try: Look for a dress with a textured bodice — to draw attention to a cinched waist — and a gradual A-line skirt. The wider skirt will add contrast to the narrowed midsection.

Monique Lhuillier Strapless Rose-Print Silk Gazar Gown, Check It Out

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