Wedding Dress Skirt Types: Shapes, Overlays, and Textures that Make All the Difference

For most LDS wedding dresses, the bodice, sleeves, and neckline get all of the delicate embellishments – but the skirt is a beautiful expanse of canvas to work with. Learn what you can do with your wedding dress skirt to make your gown stand out during wedding season.

skirt types for modest wedding dresses, modeled by's signature brides

(To see larger images of any skirt type, click on its named link)


A flounce is, broadly speaking, a wide ruffle around the hem of a wedding dress. Though flounces may be considered old fashioned, they can look very chic and modern with the right styling. Vintage wedding dresses may have only a single flounce, but layering multiple flounces at the bottom of the dress can look shabby-chic, Bohemian, or Oriental.


Many modern wedding gowns employ the overskirt technique, where the top layer reveals an underskirt of a contrasting texture (or color, if you’re a very bold bride.) The exact configuration of an overskirt dress varies:
Petal – the overskirt falls in rounded sections, like flower petals, to reveal the underskirt near the hem
True Overskirt – the two halves of the overskirt do not actually meet at the waistline of the dress; the underskirt appears as an inverted V shape on the front of the dress
Bias Cut – the overskirt opens up along a diagonal or asymmetrical line near the waist


In a draped wedding dress skirt, a wide band of fabric lies across the waist and is gathered to a back or side seam. This can be the same fabric as the dress, a contrasting fabric, or even a separate color. Many popular LDS wedding dresses feature draping combined with an overskirt on the bias (or diagonal) cut to expose an underskirt.

skirt types for modest wedding dresses, modeled by's signature bridesStreamers and Tails

Many brides choose to wear streamers or tails in place of a formal train on their LDS wedding gowns. Tails and streamers can be attached in a variety of ways, but are panels of fabric that trail down the back of the dress. They may end just short of the hem or extend beyond the floor. Their length, as well as whether they’re made from the dress fabric or a contrasting fabric, decides how much they stand out.


Wedding dress skirts can be either accordion pleated or box pleated. Accordion pleats are numerous, closely-spaced pleats that all face the same direction. A flowing white accordion pleated dress can look very Grecian. Accordion pleated skirts are best with relatively plain bodices.

Box pleats, however, are highly structured and pressed square pleats that are spaced further apart. As you look at a bride from the front, usually only two pleats are visible (centered on the front of the skirt, of course.) Box pleats on the skirt add a touch of visual interest without competing with a busy or heavily embellished bodice.


Tiered wedding dress skirts are made from various layers of identical fabric. This achieves a soft, feathery, almost floaty appearance. The tiers may run horizontally or diagonally, and the size of the tiers (wide or narrow) dramatically impacts their appearance. Tiered skirts look best with a relatively plain bodice that doesn’t compete for visual attention.

skirt types for modest wedding gowns, modeled by's signature bridesBustle

In the bustle, fabric is gathered at the back of the gown (near the bottom of the bride’s spine) and secured with a series of hooks and buttons. It is commonly a method for drawing up a long wedding dress train for the wedding reception.


The “bubble” shaped skirt is wide at the knee and is tapered inward at the hem. The bottom hem has a puffy, rounded appearance. This shape of skirt, popular in above-the-knee prom dresses in the 1980s, is making a comeback. Both above-the-knee and floor-length varieties of bubble wedding dresses are gaining popularity.

skirt types for modest wedding dresses, modeled by's signature bridesMermaid or Trumpet

The Mermaid shaped wedding dress skirt is a fitted skirt that suddenly flares out just below the knee of the bride. For a little less skin-hugging and a slightly more modest wedding gown, try the trumpet shape, which features a straight-line skirt that flares out at about knee level.

Fanback or Fishtail

Similar in shape to the mermaid and trumpet skirts, the fanback and fishtail skirts achieve their shapes by attaching a separate triangular piece of fabric to the back of the skirt. The fanback skirt is accordion pleated; the fishtail is not. This is a fabulous little detail that transforms the bride’s entire silhouette from behind.

While the wedding dress bodice usually gets all of the fancy beading and embellishment, the skirt is also a great background for something a little different. Whether your bodice is ornate or plain determines what should be going on with the bottom half of the dress, but there is always some type of ornamentation that looks great on a flowing white skirt.

♥ Jenny Evans
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Modest Wedding Dresses, LDS temple weddings

LDS Weddings, LDS brides

2 comments on “Wedding Dress Skirt Types: Shapes, Overlays, and Textures”

  1. As someone who is pursuing to be a bridal dress consultant, I really appreciate this guide. Clear, coherent, and to the point, thank you.

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