Reign of the empire wedding dress

One of my sartorial inspirations comes from the drama series Downton Abbey, where the Crawley sisters exude such regal style and elegance, even when they’re just supping at home. In one of those episodes, one particular dress is locked in my fashion memory bank: the scarlet empire silhouetted masterpiece in satin, velvet and chiffon, worn by the unflappable Mary Crawley, played by actress Michelle Dockery.

To me, the dress was a proper tribute to the classic empire dress, a look that recalls Old World romance and Greek muses, flowing, beautiful and timeless.

Grecian goddess

The style, which traces itself to the late 18th century, consists of a close-fitting torso, a high waist cut right below the bust line, and a long, narrow skirt that flows freely. The term “empire” comes from the First French Empire (or Napoleonic Empire), when the first Empress Josephine, the foremost French fashionista embraced the slender dress style.

Flattering figure

More popular than the ball gown, the empire waist endures today in the modern era, and is also a popular wedding dress style.

One of the best things about the empire silhouette is that it is very flattering for many body types. The outline can enhance a small bust, hide wide hips and a stomach bulge,and give the illusion of length, making shorter women look taller.

The empire waist helps hide the stomach

The kindest cut of all

If you are pear-shaped or short of stature, an empire-waist gown is an ideal choice. However, if you’re very tall or big-busted, this silhouette won’t be very flattering for your body type.

Because this style is very forgiving, this is the perfect wedding dress for pregnant brides (or bridesmaids) who are starting to show prominently.

Best of all, the relaxed, flowing style that usually comes in a light fabric makes this dress very comfortable, perfect for more casual or summer weddings, or ceremonies in a tropical setting. Can this dress cut get any kinder?

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