A-Line vs Ball Gown: Understanding Your Style Choices

When it comes to understanding the many different types of dress styles, you might feel a little overwhelmed trying to differentiate between A-line gowns, ball gowns, and everything else.

A-line dresses and ball gowns are two of today’s most popular styles. It’s important to be able to tell these dresses apart as you start shopping for the perfect dress to complement your silhouette. Our guide helps you understand the main differences between these dresses so you can pick the best style for you.

What Is an A-Line Dress?

What Is an A-Line Dress

An A-line dress is one that copies the shape of the capital “A.” It has a more fitted bodice that might range from strapless to capped sleeves or long sleeves depending on the design, and the skirt of the dress gradually flares out starting from the hips.

A-line dresses have a somewhat relaxed, flowing shape. It is often a good choice for someone who wants a tighter bodice and a longer, full-length skirt that isn’t too voluminous.

A-line dresses may also be short, with the skirt falling somewhere around mid-thigh, but when you are looking into more formal dresses, these are typically floor-length gowns. They may have a slit in the skirt, again depending on the style and material the dress is crafted from.

What Is a Ball Gown?

What Is a Ball Gown

A ball gown is known for its more dramatic styling, and while it does have a tighter bodice that hugs the figure, the dress quickly flares out into a large set of skirts starting at the hip.

The skirts on a ball gown are larger and fuller, and they don’t hang long and relaxed like an A-line dress. The skirt on the ball gown is designed for volume, and this skirt may range from many layers of fabric to a few layers with designs or lace on the top layer of the skirt.

Much like A-line dresses, you can find ball gowns in strapless, short-sleeved, and long-sleeved designs. Ball gowns are almost always floor length due to the layers of fabric and skirt that they contain.

How to Quickly Tell the Difference Between Styles

A-Line vs Ball Gown

Quickly identifying the difference between A-line dresses and ball gowns is essential if you want to easily look through your dress options. This will help you avoid wasting time figuring out if the silhouette of the dress is what you are looking for. Use the pointers below to help you quickly identify which type of dress you are working with:

  • A-line dresses have a relaxed flare of skirts that starts at the hip and gradually gains volume.
  • Ball gowns have skirts with more volume that typically start right at the hip.
  • A-line dresses tend to look more flowy and relaxed, and the fabric will typically be longer and straighter.
  • Ball gowns have more volume in the skirt and they are designed with several layers of fabric, some of which may be bunched up or ruffled to create the iconic ball gown silhouette.

A quick Disney princess reference to help you keep this straight – if a dress looks more like Cinderella’s dress, it is a ball gown. If it looks more like Aurora or Snow White’s dress, it is an A-line dress.

Where Can I Wear My Dress?

Where Can I Wear My Dress

Picking an A-line or a ball gown is only step one as you decide which event is the best to wear your dress and unveil your style. Both of these dress types come in a variety of designs which makes them multi-purpose.

You may wear A-line dresses or a ball gown at a prom, a wedding (as the bride), formal events, a quinceañera, or at fancy-dress parties.

As the more relaxed option, A-line dresses tend to find their way into more casual events and get-togethers, while ball gowns are reserved for more formal events or events where you will be the focus, such as the bride of a wedding or a quinceañera.

While choosing the perfect ball gown for your special event, keep in mind that purchasing a dress for a single occasion can be costly. Renting ball gown dresses online offers a more economical choice, allowing you to dazzle at your event without the commitment of a purchase.

Picking the Best Style for You

Picking the Best Style for You

Knowing the difference between an A-line dress vs ball gown is essential to style knowledge as you decide which of these silhouettes best fits your shape.


It’s important to keep in mind where you might be wearing your dress, as well as the style that you feel most comfortable in. These factors will help guide you to a dress choice that is appropriate for your event and makes you feel you’re most confident.

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