Wedding Dresses: A Glossary of Wedding Dress Terms

Below is a list of wedding dress terms that will help simplify your wedding planning shopping experience. By reviewing some of these wedding dress terms, you can convey your exact wishes to your designer or dress shop associate and find the perfect wedding dress.
As you browse through wedding dresses pictures keep these terms in mind.


  • Ballroom (Fitted) Bodice: Hugs your upper body and ends with a dropped or natural waist.
  • Basque Waistline: An elongated bodice that’s fitted through the waist and drops to a pointed “V” below the center of your waistline.
  • Dropped Waist: Your bodice is dropped several inches below your natural waistline to a slightly gathered seam line. Good for short-waisted figures.
  • Empire Waist: A shortened bodice with the waistline set just below your bustline.
  • Natural Waist: The bodice and skirt are joined by a seam at your natural waistline.
  • Princess Bodice: It hugs your upper body, descends to a seamless waist that flares slightly into the skirt.


  • Decolletage: A plunging neckline that reveals your cleavage, it’s often used in off-the-shoulder designs.
  • Jeweled: Rounded to follow your natural neckline.
  • Portrait: Frames your shoulders and face while accentuating the bustline. It’s often gathered at the center with a brooch or other ornamentation.
  • Sabrina: Crosses and covers your collarbone.
  • Scoop: As its name suggests, a low, curved neckline that’s cut deeply in the front, back or both.
  • Strapless: Displays your neck and shoulders, and is often worn with a jacket or shawl.
  • Sweetheart: An open neckline shaped like a heart that starts inside the shoulder line and descends to your cleavage.
  • Queen Anne: Rises high at the sides and back of your neck, then opens in front to a modified sweetheart.
  • Wedding Band: A stand-up neckline that completely circles your neck.
Wedding dresses pictures mean so much more knowing these terms.


  • Bouffant: A full skirt gathered at your waist and often worn over crinoline.
  • Ball Gown: A fully flared skirt that starts at your natural waistline.
  • Peplum: An overskirt you attach at your gown’s natural or dropped waistline.
  • Tea Length: Shorter than a full-length skirt, it ends several inches above your ankles.
  • Tiered: This features a series of layers or panels that fall in graduated lengths to the floor.


  • Bishop: Fuller at your lower forearm, then gathered into a wide cuff at your wrist.
  • Cap: A short fitted sleeve that covers the top of your arm.
  • Fitted: A sleeve without fullness. When it’s long, it often extends to a point at your hand.
  • Full Juliette: Gathered into your armline, it puffs slightly, then tapers downward, often to a cuff.
  • Gauntlet: A detachable wrist and arm cover that you wear instead of gloves.
  • Gibson: A less flamboyant version of the leg-of-mutton sleeve (see below).
  • Leg-of-Mutton: Fully puffed and rounded on your upper arm, it’s fitted at the forearm and descends to your wrist.
  • Melon: Extravagantly rounded sleeve that extends from shoulder to elbow.


  • Brush: It barely “brushes” the floor.
  • Sweep: It falls about half a foot onto the floor.
  • Chapel: It falls four feet from your waist to rest one foot to 12 inches on the floor.
  • Cathedral: It falls three yards from your waistline and rests 2 feet or more on the floor.
  • Royal: A very long train that requires pages to help you carry it.
  • Watteau: It’s attached at your shoulders instead of at the waistline.
Browse our dress gallery of inspiringwedding dresses pictures.