37 Tips to Choose the Best of Off the Shoulder Wedding Dress

off the shoulder wedding dress: You want to look absolutely breath-taking on your wedding day, so choosing the right wedding dress is key. Whether you are going for a traditional white gown or for an alternative style, you want a dress that suits you and showcases your beauty. Many women feel overwhelmed at the prospect of picking out a dress. With so many styles and widely varying prices, it can seem daunting to find that perfect dress for you. Like with many things for your wedding, choosing the right dress involves careful planning, consideration of your individual taste and limits, and patience while you look for that special dress that makes you shine.

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off the shoulder wedding dress

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1. Choose an A-line fit for a pear-shape or apple-shape.

One of the most important aspects of the dress is the fit. Before you go shopping, you should figure out what fit you are looking for. If you have a small bust and shapely thighs and hips, think about an A-line fit.

  • A-lines usually have a fitted bodice with a skirt that flares gently from the waist to form an “A” shape. They work for most body types and are a particularly good choice for pear shapes, or someone who does not want a tight fit on their lower body.
  • You can accentuate your waist further by picking a dress with a decorative element like a sash or beading around the waist of the dress.
  • Avoid a dress that is bunchy or overly embellished on the bottom half. This will make your hips and thighs look larger than they are.

off the shoulder wedding dress

2. Choose a supportive dress for a busty body type.

If you have a large bust, you will want a fit that is supportive on top. You should consider a dress with boning or with a built-in corset. This kind of fit will give you the shape you want and will prevent any mishaps on your wedding day!

  • Many busty women feel they can’t wear strapless dresses. You can still wear a strapless dress, but to make yourself feel more comfortable on the day, make sure it fits to a tee.
  • A square-neck dress is a great option for busty women because it shows off your assets without showing too much.

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3. Pick an empire dress for a plus-sized body type.

An empire dress is similar to an A-line dress, except that it cinches under the bust and flows out to make a floor-length A-line. This fit is very flattering on most body types, and is a good option if you don’t want to wear a tight-fitting dress.

  • Though empire dresses are flowy, don’t pick one that is too large or has a lot of excess fabric. You still want to accentuate your figure.

4. Pick a dress that creates verticality for petite body types.

Avoid any dresses that have any kind of horizontal detailing like beading or striping. Focus instead on finding a dress that has vertical elements like a plunging neckline, vertical paneling or vertical embellishments.

  • An empire fit can also flatter a petite body type by accentuating the bust and creating the appearance of long legs.

off the shoulder wedding dress

5. Choose a sheath or flared dress for long and lean body types.

If you are thin and tall, you may either want to highlight your statuesque physique, or you may want to choose a dress that creates curves. Depending on how you feel individually, pick either a sheath dress that follows the long straight form of your body, or a flared dress like a mermaid cut that creates curves and breaks up your body. 

  • A sheath dress isn’t necessarily tight, but it won’t conceal the shape of your body. If you feel especially self-conscious about a certain part of your body, consider a different fit.

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6. Remember that you know yourself best.

There are a lot of conventions about which dress looks best on which body type, and generally they are great places to start from. But you want to be careful that you don’t pick a fit you don’t like or are not comfortable with.

  • A great way to figure out what fit is best for you individually is to look at the dresses you already own. Although they are much less formal than your wedding dress will be, figure out what fit you generally wear and feel comfortable in.
  • Another way to find the best cut is to think about your favourite feature and find a way to flaunt it. For example, if you have toned arms, find a sleeveless dress so that you can show them off.
  • Accentuating a body part doesn’t necessarily mean exposing it. Be careful of showing too much leg or cleavage, as showing too much skin can make your dress look less formal.

7. Look at bridal magazines.

Bridal magazines are a great way to get a fuller sense of what kinds of dresses are on the market. Even though you may have an idea of what kind of fit you’re looking for, there are still many other factors to choosing the perfect dress.

off the shoulder wedding dress

8. Narrow down the characteristics of your ideal dress.

Apart from fit, there are also several other elements that are important to narrow down what style of dress you want. Picking out how you want your ideal dress to look mostly has to do with personal preference and style.

  • Think about the neckline of your dress. Do you prefer a high neck, a scoop neck, a V-neck, or another kind of neckline?
  • Consider whether you prefer the look of gauzy, flowy dresses or ones that are more fitted.
  • Think about the color of your ideal dress. Is it a traditional white dress or another color? If you like white dresses, think about whether you like pure white or a shade of off-white.
  • Think about what length you would like, and what would suit you.
  • Also consider what amount of detailing you want for your dress. While some brides like intricate beading and embellishments, some prefer unembellished gowns where the fabric and the cut make the statement.

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9. Use the Internet to individualize your research.

The Internet is another great resource to turn to. Not only are there thousands of great sites that have wedding dress picture galleries, but you can also search for your preference in dresses. Now that you have narrowed down the unique characteristics of your dress, do a Google search of these elements for inspiration.

  • You can Google phrases like “glittery wedding gown” or “V neck wedding dress” if you have a sense of what you want your dress to look like beyond its fit.

10. Make a collage of your favorite styles.

Take images that you have collected of your favourite wedding dresses and styles. You can print them out to make a physical collage, or you can make a Pinterest board so you can access the pictures from your computer.

  • Sometimes making a collage or board can make sense of what kind of dresses you like. You may not really know why you like a dress when you look at it individually, but if you put pictures together of different dresses you like, you may start to see similarities in style.

off the shoulder wedding dress

11. Consolidate your research.

Before you go shopping for dresses, you want to make sure that you have all your research with you. This can make the whole process of shopping easier, and it will help whoever is fitting you know what you want. Make sure to consolidate your research, whether it be pictures, collages or notes. 

  • You can even create a kind of “mission statement” from your research, something like “I am looking for an off-white floor-length empire dress.”

12. Consider your finances.

You have probably have some kind of wedding budget. Many experts advise to factor 8-10 percent of your budget for your attire. This should give you some idea of how much you have to work with. If you are not sure what the state of the wedding finances are, try to figure it out or ask your fiancée before shopping.

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13. Factor in dress adjustments.

Getting a wedding dress isn’t just about buying the dress from the store. You also may have to alter or adjust your dress. Make sure to give yourself enough flexibility to be able to afford this. Factoring in dress tailoring can take some of the pressure off of choosing a dress, because it can be hard to find a dress that fits exactly.

  • Many bridal shops have in-house tailors. If you want to estimate the cost of these adjustments, call a range of in-house tailors to get a rough estimate of how much an adjustment would be.
  • You can also call other tailors in your city and see how much wedding dress alterations usually cost.
  • Keep in mind that since you don’t know what kind of alterations you may need, you only will be receiving a general estimate.

off the shoulder wedding dress

14. Factor in accessories.

Don’t think of your wedding attire as only your dress. You will probably need to buy accessories like a veil, gloves, shoes and jewelry. Many brides will also wear corrective underwear and garter stockings specifically designed for wedding dresses. Do some quick research to find out prices for these items, and take them out of the budget. 

  • Don’t forget to budget hair and makeup either. They are factors that sometimes slip between the cracks when establishing a budget for your wedding look.

15. Run your dress budget by your fiancée.

It may not be romantic, but you should run your wedding dress budget by your fiancée before shopping. It would be a shame to buy a dress you love and have to return it because you and your fiancée aren’t on the same page.

  • If your fiancé is not involved in the cost of your wedding attire, you don’t have to consult him. However, if your parents or anyone else is involved in paying, you should talk with them before buying the dress.

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16. Go to sample sales to save money.

Sample sales are sales that sell last season’s gowns at huge discounts. These gowns are not less stylish than current styles, they are only on sale because the retailers need to get rid of their old stock. These sales can save you money and get you a stylish dress for your wedding.

off the shoulder wedding dress

17. Consider used dresses.

There are great used wedding dresses on the market that look like new. Since wedding dresses are often sold after the wedding, you can buy a gown that has only been worn once and looks like new. Used dresses can save you a significant amount of money.

  • Be sure to inspect the dress carefully for any stains or discolorations before purchasing.

18. Plan your shopping for the right time.

Try shopping for a wedding dress during winter and summer. A lot of major designers and retailers have sales these times of year, which could save you money.

  • If you can’t shop during this time, try to find sales going on that you can go to.

19. Consider a simple design.

Choose a classic or simple design for your wedding dress. Decorative elements like beading and embroidering raise the price of a gown. The simpler the dress, the less work-intensive it is to make and the cheaper the dress will be.

  • If you purchase a simple dress, you can use accessories to embellish your look.

off the shoulder wedding dress

20. Research bridal shops or boutiques in your area.

Use the Internet or word of mouth to find some places that you want to visit. Before booking an appointment, look on their website to get an idea of their general price range. This can help you to eliminate shops that may be outside your budget. 

  • There are some chain bridal shops, such as David’s Bridal, that have a very wide selection of dresses at low prices.
  • Boutique bridal shops are small, independently owned shops that generally have a smaller range of dresses at higher prices than bridal chains. However, the quality of these dresses are usually better, and they may offer styles that would be hard to find elsewhere.

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21. Start early.

You want to give yourself enough time to find the right dress. While there isn’t a set time when you must start looking, it may be wise to start about nine months before your wedding. You search will involve visiting several different stores and boutiques, and also possibly getting your dress altered. This is why starting far in advance can be helpful.

  • Starting early is also a good idea because will cut down your stress level. You will be glad to not have to stress about your dress when you are coordinating all the other factors of your wedding.

22. Set up appointments.

After you have found several shops you want to visit, call them to set up an appointment. Before making the appointment, tell them your budget and a rough idea of what kind of dress you are looking for. If they say that they have dresses that fit your preferences, go ahead and schedule an appointment.

off the shoulder wedding dress

23. Be prepared for the appointment.

Make sure to wear the same kind of undergarments and shoes that you plan to wear on your wedding day. The color of your underwear will show through and may distract from the color of your dress. Also make sure to take a little time on your appearance. This will help you be able to really envision how you will look on your wedding day.

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24. Bring along one or two trusted people.

You want a couple people to come with you to dress fittings, whether it be friends or family. Sometimes you can get overwhelmed, or fall in love with the style of a dress without realizing that it doesn’t fit you right. This is why having someone at your appointments is so valuable. 

  • Try not to invite too many people. Their conflicting opinions could be more confusing than helpful.

off the shoulder wedding dress

25. Let the salespeople know what you are looking for.

The stores may have already set aside some dresses for you if you told them what you were looking for when you called to make the appointment. Show them any pictures you’ve brought with you, and make sure that they know what your budget is. This can save you a lot of time when you are picking out dresses.

26. Be realistic about size.

Don’t consider dresses that are too small for you with the assumption you can lose weight before the wedding. Make sure that the dress you pick out is your size, and that it will be your size even if you gain a couple pounds before the wedding.

  • Keep in mind that wedding dress sizing is usually larger than the sizing of regular clothing. Even if you are size 6 in dresses normally, you may be a larger size in wedding dresses.

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27. Take pictures or videos.

If you find a dress that you love, take photos from several angles, including close-ups. Also consider taking a video of you turning in the dress and walking in it. This will help to jog your memory and to be able to compare the dresses to one another.

off the shoulder wedding dress

28. Go to several shops.

Even if you find a dress you absolutely love at the first store, make sure to go to several places. Your never know if you will find a better option after you see more dresses. If you are done shopping and you think you have found the dress for you, sleep on it for a couple days just to make absolutely sure it’s the one for you.

  • Do not go to more than two or three appointments per day. Wedding dress appointments usually last around one and a half hours, so you don’t want to make yourself too tired or overwhelmed.

29. Shop online for a wedding dress.

If you want to forgo the process of going to multiple stores, think about shopping online for a dress. You may find options that better suit your budget and personal style. Just like with dress fittings at dress stores, make sure to get the input of family or friends.

off the shoulder wedding dress

30. Visit a tailor if necessary.

You’ve found your dress, so most of your work is done! However, you may need to get the dress adjusted slightly to fit you. There are usually two fittings: one that is about six weeks before your wedding and accomplishes most of the adjusting, and one that is one to two weeks before your wedding to make absolutely sure that your dress fits you perfectly.

  • Many bridal outlets already have in-house tailors. This can be much more convenient that finding a tailor elsewhere. Finding a tailor elsewhere is less convenient, but it could save you money.

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31. Decide if you want a veil.

A wedding veil is a classic accompaniment to a wedding dress. You will want to buy a wedding veil after your wedding dress so that it matches the style of the dress.

  • Check to see if the shop that sold you your dress also sells veils that match. This is a quick solution to finding a veil.

32. Decide if you want a train.

A train is a piece of fabric you can attach to your wedding dress that trails behind you when you walk. There are many varieties of trains, the most popular being the Chapel, which extends about four feet (1.2 meters) from the waist, and the Cathedral, which extends about seven feet (2.1 meters) from the waist. Trains look best on more traditional styles of dresses, such as ball gown dresses.

  • There are some dresses that already have a sort of built-in train, with the back of the dress trailing along the floor.

off the shoulder wedding dress

33. Decide if you want a bustle for your train.

If you decide to get a train for your wedding dress, decide if you want to get a bustle. A bustle holds up your train so that after the ceremony, no one trips or steps on your train. Many bustles are series of inconspicuous hooks that hold up your train either around the waist area or on the inside of the dress.

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34. Assess whether you need a slip.

If you have a ballroom style wedding dress or want to add volume to your dress, consider getting a poofy slip to wear under your dress. Many bridal retailers sell slips, so you can see if you can find a slip at the shop you bought your wedding dress from.

35. Choose accessories that suit your dress.

Part of making your dress shine is to find accessories that suit your dress. If you are wearing a white dress, try to find shoes and accessories that are light-colored. Wearing dark shoes or jewelry can look mismatched with a white dress.

  • You also want your accessorize to match the formality of your dress. Many brides wear diamonds or other gems at their weddings because of the formality and elegance of the occasion.
  • Remember that less is more. Especially for an occasion like a wedding, you don’t want to bog down your outfit with accessories. This will take the attention away from your beautiful dress.

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36. Try on your wedding outfit.

After you have purchased your dress and accessories, try on your wedding outfit to make sure that everything is exactly as you want it. If you’re satisfied with how everything looks, store your wedding dress in a garment bag to protect the dress from any light exposure or staining that could happen before the big day.

off the shoulder wedding dress

37. More tips

  • If the dresses you like are out of your price range, consider renting a wedding dress. This can be a far more affordable way to get yourself a fantastic dress for your wedding day, especially since you probably will not wear the dress again.

  • Wedding dresses are typically sold by designer and style number, even for the less expensive types. Note which designers you like and the style numbers: this can help you find similar styles that may be more affordable than the exact dress you want.


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