Carolina Bride

April 1, 2010

Dress vocabulary

A introduction to dress lengths, styles and trains.


Floor length: Hemline falls 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches off the floor

Ankle length: Somewhat shorter than floor length, falling around the ankles

Tea length: Hemline falls between the knees and the ankles

Ball gown: A fitted bodice and denoted waistline with a full skirt – the “traditional” bridal gown

A-line: A versatile, easy-fitting style with two vertical seams that begin at the shoulders and follow the A-shape to a flared skirt

Empire: A somewhat fitted, raised waist that falls just below the bustline, with a slim skirt

Sheath: A modern, form-fitting style, which often ends with a flare at the bottom

Mermaid: A very slim, figure-hugging dress that ends in a little fishtail skirt

Sweep: Extends 8 to 12 inches beyond the bottom of the skirt

Chapel: Extends 31 to 41 inches from the waist

Semi-cathedral: Extends 41 to 51 inches from the waist

Cathedral: Extends 61 to 71 inches from the waist

Extended cathedral/monarch: Extends 12 feet or more from the waist (Princess Di’s train was 25 feet!)

Note: Some trains are detachable. If your dress has a train that is not, you will need to bustle it so you can move around freely at the reception. Tiny hooks sewn into the back of the dress and the train allow you to pull the extension up and attach it to your dress.

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