Types of Silhouettes: Different Fashion Silhouettes & Waistlines

From types of waistlines to different types of silhouettes, there are so many terms that define a garment’s overall shape, and we even see new ones every season. Find them all here! 


A-line (ADJ.) [ay lahyn] A-line or A line silhouette has fitted bodice until the waist and flares out to create the shape of the letter A. Also A-line gown, A line dress. Unlike a ball gown, A-line silhouette doesn’t have a full skirt or puffiness.


Elie Saab

Ball gown (N.) [bawl goun] See ball gown in types of dresses.

Butt cape (N.) [buht kay-p] See waist cape.

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Sonaakshi Raaj

Cape (N.) [kay-p] A cape silhouette is one that has a large plain surface of fabric at the back to give the illusion of a cape. It may either be created with exaggerated sleeves or with a cape (panel of fabric) attached at the neck or shoulders that falls at the back. Also cape coat, cape top, cape gown, etc. Also see butt cape.

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Cold-shoulder (ADJ.) [kohld shohl-der] A silhouette with a cut-out at the shoulders to reveal exposed shoulders is called cold shoulder. Also asymmetric cold shoulder, cold shoulder dress, cold shoulder top.

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Neiman Marcus

Empire (ADJ.) [em-pahyuh r] Empire is a type of waistline or silhouette that is cinched or gathered just below the breasts and flares out from there. Also empire waistline, empire waist dress, empire waisted.

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Ali Express

Halter (ADJ.) [hawl-ter] See halter in Types of Necklines.

halter-neckline - about-our dress-fashion-glossary-words-terminology-dictionary-types-of-gowns-designsHigh low (N.) [hahy loh] A trend in skirts, dress or tops where the front hemline is higher than the back is know as high low.


Roland Mouret

Maxi (N.) [mak-see] A type of skirt or dress that touches the ankles is called a maxi dress or skirt. Also see maxi dress in types of dresses.

Mermaid (ADJ.) [mur-meyd] Mermaid gown style is fitted or body-hugging till the knees or calves, and then tapers or flares out to become a full skirt or train.

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Midi (N./ ADJ.) [mi-dee] A type of skirt, dress or silhouette that is below the knee but above the ankle is called a midi.



Micro-mini (N./ ADJ.) [mahy-kroh mi-nee] Micro mini is a type of skirt, dress or silhouette that ends just below the hips. Also micro dress, micro skirt.

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Forever 21

Mini (ADJ.) [mi-nee] A type of skirt, dress or silhouette that is above the knee but below the hips is called mini.

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Modified A-Line (ADJ.) [mod-uh-fahyd ay lahyn] A modified version of the A-line silhouette, a modified A-line is fitted through the bodice and hips and gradually flares out to the hem forming an ‘A’ shape. Unlike the A-line, modified A-line silhouette doesn’t have a well-defined waist line. Also see A-line.


Vera Wang

New look (N./ ADJ.) [noo luk, nyoo luk] A new look is a type of silhouette that has a cinched-in waist and puffy, exaggerated hips. The name “new look” was first used in 1947 by then Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar, Carmel Snow to describe a bar jacket silhouette that Christian Dior had in his first ever collection in the same year. Read more about the Fall 2018 fashion trend of new look waistline.

Yuliya Drobakha - new look-fashion-glossary-words-terminology-dictionary-types-of-gownsdesigns


Noodle strap (N.) [nood-l strap] A narrow shoulder strap on a dress or top that is nearly as wide as it is thick, like a noodle is called a noodle strap. Also noodle strap top, noodle strap dress.

Off-the-shoulder (ADJ.) [awf th uh shohl-der] A type of dress, top or silhouette whose sleeves or straps start below the shoulder-level is called off-the-shoulder. Also off-shoulder. Also see cold-shoulder.

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Pagoda shoulder (N.) A type of shoulder silhouette where the shoulders follow a concave line, rising up at the outer corners, almost to create the shape of a Chinese pagoda is called pagoda shoulder. Also see shoulder pad in types of surface techniques.

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Saint Laurent

Peplum (ADJ.) [pep-luh m] A type of silhouette with a gathered and typically cinched-in waistline and a short flared or ruffled flap of fabric attached to it.

peplum - i clothing-fashion-glossary-words-terminology-dictionary-types-of-gownsdesigns

I Clothing

Sheath (N.) [sheeth] See sheath in Types of dresses. Also sheath gown.


Oscar de la Renta

Strapless (ADJ.) [strap-lis] A type of dress, top or silhouette that doesn’t have sleeves or shoulder straps is called strapless. Also see off-the-shoulder.


strapless dresses - lulus-fashion-glossary-words-terminology-dictionary-types-of-gowns-designs


Three dimensional silhouette  (N.) [three dih-men-shuh-nuhl si-loo-et, three dahy-] A silhouette that uses poufy ruffles, flouncy frills, big sculptural sleeves or such elements that go outside the normal silhouette to occupy extra space is called three dimensional or 3D silhouette. Read more about the 3D fashion trend and 3d couture dresses.


three dimensional dress - aplusdesignn-fashion-glossary-words-terminology-dictionary-types-of-gowns-designs

A Plus Design

Trail (V/N.) [treyl] A long fabric that is attached to the back of a dress and sweeps the floor is known as a trail. Also train.


Galia Lahav

Train (N.) [treyn] See trail.

Trumpet (ADJ.) [truhm-pit] Similar to the mermaid silhouette, a type of silhouette that is fitted through the bodice, waist and hips, but flares out at the thighs is called a trumpet gown or dress. Also see mermaid.

Marchesa Bridal Spring 2017


Waist cape (N.) [way-st kay-p] Waist cape is a silhouette wherein a front-open overskirt or two wide pieces of fabric are attached at the waist on trousers, a dress, skirt or gown at either side to give the illusion of a cape that starts at the waist. Also butt cape. Also see cape.

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