Finding the perfect vintage wedding dress for your body type

finding the perfect vintage wedding dress for your body type

Father of the Bride, 1950

There it is. Your dream dress. Your eyes see the stunning details and classic lines. Take a deep breath, you’ve found your wedding dress. While this moment is very rewarding, sometimes it takes a while for this encounter to unfold. Often times it can feel like the mission to get the perfect pair of jeans. Don’t despair – we’ve scanned the decades and found the most flattering looks for your shape. Before you know it, finding the perfect vintage wedding dress for your body type will be a breeze. In fact, with your favorite vintage shop owner by your side – it will exceed all your expectations!

Finding the perfect vintage wedding dress for your body type

Minimizing hips, waist, and thighs

If you want to minimize your hips, butt, and thighs consider the 1930s a-line or princess cut dress. This style looks good on everyone as it is tailored in the bodice, while flaring out at the waistline.

vintage wedding dress

1809, dancing dress, showing the empire waist

The empire dress will also camouflage the waistline. Debuting in the 1910s, this signature look places the dress’ waist right under the bust line, allowing the fabric to flow down from this point. The look became popular again, five decades later, re-emerging with a shorter hemline as the baby-doll dress.

If you want to minimize certain areas but maximize the drama, we recommend the ball gown. This style confidently accents your bust and waist, but will play down the hips and butt area. Popular in the 1950s, this style will have a fitted bodice and an enhanced skirt. Keep in mind with this type of dress, you’ll wear petticoats underneath to maximize the skirt’s proportions.

Shah Reza with Shahbanu Soraya

1951 dress by Christian Dior

The best dresses for average, hourglass, and full figured women

Dresses with a natural waistline work best for brides with an average figure. Typically you’ll find this type of dress in the 1930s. If you are full figured you will want to steer clear of the dropped waistlines that embodied the 1920s jazz age. This look elongates the waist, ending at the hips.

Ms Nancy Spry of Winton 1920

Image from the John Oxley Library

For our brides with an hourglass figure (or petite ladies) we recommend the sheath style, which was popular during the 1920s and 30s. A sheath dress is composed of fabric cut on the bias, so it will loyally cling to your curves.

How to dress your bust size

If you want coverage and support, seek out a high collar neckline. This style was naturally desirable during the restrictive Victorian era, but it had a resurgence during the 1950s. The later look was typically paired with a fitted, bolero jacket. A rounded neck will work best for most women and is found in the most vintage categories, from the 1910s all the way through the late 50s.

If you wish to accent your bust, there are several options within vintage dresses. The halter top looks stunning on medium-busted women. Found in the 1930s and 50s, it provides a dramatic canvas for a statement necklace. Similarly, the v-neck and strapless dresses draw attention to the bodice. V-necks remained popular through all the vintage eras, yet strapless gowns found their stride in 1950s. Brides would pair this dress style with a fitted jacket. The jacket was worn during the ceremony and removed for the reception, adding a fun outfit change to the mix.

vintage wedding dress

Off the shoulder, worn by Patricia Benoit, 1954

If you don’t want to worry about the logistics of a strapless dress, you can opt for the “off the shoulder” look which achieves the same effect. As we’ve seen there are many amazing and wonderful options for finding the perfect vintage wedding dress for your body type. The most important key to gown success is to have fun – when you smile and enjoy, you will be at your best and be able to clearly see your most flattering fit. We also encourage you to seek out vintage shop owners who specialize in wedding gowns. They will expertly guide you through the experience and make sure you have plenty of smiles from the first moment to the fitting!


Cause A Frockus would like to thank their tremendous resources: “Vintage Wedding: Simple Ideas for Creating a Romantic Vintage Wedding” by Daniela Turudich, “Style Me Vintage: An inspirational guide to styling the perfect vintage wedding” by Annabel Beeforth, and the people who post their images without restriction.

For our readers: What decade most flatters you and how do you feel when you’re wearing your finest ensembles?


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