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Bridal Glossary

He popped the question, you have the ring and you’ve decided the wedding date! Now it is time to start shopping for your wedding gown! It might seem daunting at first (since shopping for a wedding gown is a little different than shopping at the mall) but no worries!

We have compiled a bridal glossary of terms you are likely to hear during your shopping experience! Your bridal stylist is sure to ask you if you have any silhouettes that you like or necklines you prefer. These terms will help you communicate that to your stylist.


A-Line- slim on top, fitted through the waist and softly flares away from the body

Ballgown– fitted on top and through the waist, has a full skirt supported by crinolines or petticoats

Sheath- fits close to the body and outlines every curve with no crinoline underneath

Trumpet/Fit-and-Flare- fits close to the body and flares at the knee

Mermaid- hugs the torso tighter than a fit-and-flare and flares out at the knee or just below more dramatically in most cases


One shoulder- will have just one strap or sleeve

Strapless- this neckline can still vary in shape but will have much more structure and boning to keep its shape

Bateau- gently follows the curve of the collarbone, almost to the tip of the shoulder. In most cases is sheer with a sweetheart neckline underneath

Jewel- a round neckline that is clean and classic, also known as crewneck

Halter– similar to a V-neck but the straps wrap around the back of the neck or have a high neck with a deeper cut armhole

V-neck- comes to a v point on the chest, can be a deep v for more cleavage or a higher v for more modesty

High Neck- does come higher than the collarbone and can be sheer with detailing such as lace or beading or a solid fabric

Illusion- the sheer or transparent fabric with embellishment covering the chest

Scoop Neck- a U-shaped, low circular neckline that opens up the neck and reveals a hint of cleavage

Spaghetti Straps- thin straps that are paired with necklines like V-neck, sweetheart or scoop.

Square- a straight across cut neckline often shows a hint of cleavage


Fitted- long, narrow and tight sleeves that can be full length or three-quarter length

Three-quarter- a fitted sleeve that hits between your wrist and elbow

Flutter- a short sleeve most of the time made of tulle or illusion fabric than is pleated or layered to give movement

Cap- just covers the top of the shoulders

Off-the-Shoulder- a sleeve that drapes around the middle of the forearm and gives the illusion of a strapless bodice

Bell- a fitted sleeve that starts to taper near the elbow and becomes wider closer to the wrist

Juliet- a full length sleeve that has a puffed top and is fitted on the lower arm close to the wrist


Train- the long back portion of the wedding gown that trails behind the bride

Court- starts from the waist and trails only about a foot behind the bride

Chapel- starts form the waist and trails three or four feet behind the bride

Cathedral- starts from the waist and usually trains more than five to six behind the bride

Fishtail- most commonly associated with mermaid gowns, flares out from the knee and trials about a foot or so behind the bride.


Plunging- a low cut back that normally cuts lower than the mid back Illusion- a sheer backline featuring lace appliques or beading and most often is help together with buttons Keyhole- an oval or circular-shaped decorative opening that hooks together near the base of the neck

Bustle- the process of transitioning a wedding gown to function as if it has no train. Using buttons, hooks or ribbons to pin the train up on the back.

For a more in depth look at all kinds of bridal and wedding industry terms visit this site.

Now you definitely don’t have to memorize all of these terms before your bridal appointment but hopefully these will give you a head start on figuring out what you do and don’t like! Now lets get to shopping! If you live near southwest Missouri, the team of experts at Normans Bridal are here to help. Not only will our experienced consultants help you find a dress that’s beautiful and flattering, but they can also help you assemble an entire wedding look from the dress to jewelry and hair accessories. Stop by our downtown Springfield store when you’re ready to start shopping, and give us a call at 417-866-9800 if you have any questions. Be sure to visit our website to view our wide selection of wedding, bridesmaid and prom dresses. In addition, follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see the latest arrivals and events.

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