The most universally flattering shape is the A-line. It flares away from the hips, a typical problem area; it’s kind to the tummy; and it’s available in a wide array of styles.
The A-line is a particularly great choice on a pear shape, where the hips are wider than the bust. For more drama, a ball gown will have a similar effect. One the upper body, a full sleeve with a lot of volume around the upper arms can also help balance proportions.
If you’re top-heavy and narrower on the bottom, a mermaid or sheath can show off your line to great advantage, provided the top has enough support. Ballgowns play more of a camouflage game, balancing out the top with volume at the bottom. If you feel like your chest is taking over the picture, try a dropped waist to create more space on top; that’s also a good choice for the short-waisted. If you’re long waisted with short legs, you’ll want to do the opposite - raise the neckline - so an Empire waist is a good choice for you. If a protruding tummy is your sore spot, try an asymmetrical cut, basque waists, curved seaming, and corset bodices. A raised waistline (Empire waist) can also help you skirt the issue.
Simple styles are a good bet if you’ve got an athlete’s build; you’ll probably find that you have a hard time carrying off anything too flouncy. If you want to create curves, look for styles with draping or a V at the waist. Up top, off-the-shoulder necklines can increase the differential between bodice and waist, making the waist appear smaller.
If you’re a plus size, focus on your proportion an best features. Make sure that the style of the gown allows you to wear undergarments that provide support. Sheer tulle or lace overlays create movement and prevent too much attention from setting on any single body part.
No matter what your size and shape, don’t forget the back of your gown. That’s what all of your guests will be looking at while you’re standing at the alter, and it offers just as much opportunity for drama as the front. You can even accessorise a draped or plunging back with a long necklace or a brooch pinned to the small of the back.