A Bride’s Ultimate Guide to Finding a Flattering Waistline

This article is part of our Ultimate Wedding Dress Shopping Guide.

While there are so many factors to consider when wedding dress shopping, from silhouette to fabric and everything in between — one often forgotten detail is a wedding dress’ waistline! Where the skirt meets the bodice, known as the join line or waistline, is actually quite important.

If what you are looking for is the most flattering look, it is best to understand your body type and which type of waistline is ideal for your shape to best accentuate your curves. Keep reading to learn about the types of wedding dress waistlines and to see some gorgeous gowns to help inspire your dress shopping journey. 


Being aware of where your natural waist is and your general proportions can be helpful in choosing the best wedding dress waistline for your shape. The natural waist is above the belly button and below the rib cage, at the smallest part of your torso. To find it, bend to one side to find a natural crease and that’s the part of your waist you want to measure!  

You’ll want to wrap the measuring tape around your torso at that point. Remember, don’t wrap it too tightly! You’ll want to leave a little bit of room, keeping your thumb between the measuring tape and your skin, as it is better to purchase a gown that is a size too big than too small. Taking a gown in is easier than letting the seams out— and every gown will need alterations to fit flawlessly. Ultimately, you’ll want the bodice of your dress to be fitted but not so snug that you feel uncomfortable.  

True Crew Tip: Bridal sizing differs from street sizing, and sizing varies from designer to designer, so don’t feel discouraged if your gown isn’t ordered in the size you thought it would be.  


There are many types of wedding gown waistlines, but the most common ones are the basque, dropped waist, empire waist and natural waist. Each waistline has its own unique look and feel. Ultimately, it’s important to try on different dresses with different waistlines to see what you think looks best on you.  

Dropped Waist  

A dropped waist sits the lowest on the body out of all the wedding dress waistlines and may give off a vintage vibe, depending on the style of the gown. This silhouette is stunning on slender brides or those who don’t have a pronounced hourglass shape, as this silhouette emphasizes the hips to create more curves.  

A dropped waistline is also flattering on brides with shorter torsos and longer legs and helps balance their proportions. This waistline is often paired with A-line wedding dresses and fit-and-flare styles and may be seen on ballgowns, as well. 

Essense of Australia Style D3245 is a dropped waist wedding dress that features an extra-voluminous ballgown skirt with details such as double-box pleating to add a regal flair to this elegant style. The romantic off-the-shoulder neckline features a hidden elastic strap to allow movement as you dance the night away, keeping your style in place — while layers of encrusted beadwork add a special textural element to the overall design. Finally, the extra-long train completes this royal statement with seemingly endless luxury.  

Empire Waist  

An empire waistline sits the highest of all the waistlines, typically hitting just under the bust. This silhouette is beautiful on pear-shaped brides, as it is usually combined with an A-line or column skirt, which highlights the waist. This gives the illusion of a more hourglass figure while minimizing the hip area. Empire waist wedding dresses often have a bohemian, vintage or Grecian look. 

boho wedding dress - reece by All Who Wander

This relaxed sheath silhouette has a distinct empire waistline with an inverted V shape, a full skirt and a gorgeous train. A combination of delicate laces in exotic patterns and floral designs enwraps a Georgette fabric underlayer for a strong modern influence throughout this vintage-inspired lace wedding dress.  

These laces are then cut by hand and linearly placed throughout the gown, thoughtfully hiding seams and enhancing the curves by drawing the eye toward the center of the body to elongate the figure. A simple V-neckline with thin lace straps is simple and classic, while the banded lace trims follow around the back in a braid formation. 

Natural Waist  

Last but certainly not least, a natural waistline flatters all figures, making this silhouette the most popular. A natural waist wedding dress follows the natural shape of your body and highlights the narrowest part of the torso, creating curves and drawing in the eye. This waistline can be found on virtually all wedding dress silhouettes but is commonly seen paired with A-lines, fit-and-flare styles and ballgowns. This waistline is also stunning for the petite bride, as it elongates the legs. 

Martina Liana Style 1684 is a natural waist wedding dress for the romantic bride. This gown blends a touch of boho style with impeccable handcrafted detail for the ultimate couture appeal. The bodice’s floral lace appliques draw the eye to the hourglass waist of this soft A-line wedding dress.  

This dreamlike dress is constructed from many elements of the finest couture craftsmanship, like the dimensional floral embellishments, embroidered details and the distinct horsehair-trimmed hem that adds a whimsical rippling effect to the sweeping train. 

Now that you are equipped with the knowledge you need to find the most flattering wedding dress waistlines for you, it’s time to start searching! 

To find more wedding dress waistline inspiration, visit our wedding dress gallery, which is filled with silhouettes for every bride! For an in-person shopping experience, find a True Society store near you and book an appointment today. Gown availability varies per store. 

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