Bridal Gown Terminology: Hemlines & Shapes

Shopping for a wedding dress can be pretty daunting at times, especially when it seems like the bridal consultants are speaking another language. What I called a “princess” or “poofy” dress for a long time, turns out is actually appropriately called a “ballgown”. Even though in casual conversation I still refer to it as a “poofy” dress (shhh!). Going to a dress appointment can be a lot easier if you learn all the insider terminology ahead of time. My next few blogs will get you started on some key bridal gown terms so you can describe your dream gown perfectly at your next-or first-dress appointment. Be sure to check back for other bridal dress terminology. Up first are hemlines and shapes.


1. Asymmetrical: This hemline is shorter in the front and longer in the back. This dress shows a little bit of legs while still allowing you to have a traditional look (if you want).

2. Ballerina: A full skirt hemline that ends just above the ankle.
3. Floor OR Floor-length: This hemline reaches the ground. It is considered a formal length hemline.

4. Mini: This hemline stops above the knee. Traditionally, a miniskirt reached mid-thigh or a maximum of four inches above the rear.

5. Street: This hemline ends just below the knees.

6. Tea: This hemline falls between the mid and lower calf.


1. A-Line: A-line dresses are shaped like the letter A, thus their name. These are smaller at the waistline and angle outward to a fuller hem.

2. Ball Gown: A dramatic, wide, full skirt. This is considered the most formal shape.

3. Drop Waist: This dress has a waistline that falls at mid hip or lower.

4. Empire: This waistline falls just under the bust and connects to a flowing skirt.

5. Fit and Flare: This style is fitted through the bodice with a skirt that flares away from the body just past the hips. 
6. Mermaid: This dress is fitted through the bodice, waist, and hips then flares out from the knees. 

7. Sheath: This is a straight, form fitting silhouette. It is also known as a column.

8. Trumpet: This shape is fitted through the upper body and flares out from mid-thigh.
9. Tulip: This is a short skirt made of overlapping, draped fabric which resembles a closed tulip.
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