Wedding Dress Shopping - Defining Your Perfect Style
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Wedding Dress Shopping - Defining Your Perfect Style

Wedding Dress Materials and Fabrics

Style, cut, texture, drape, and season are all important factors in determining the ideal materials for your wedding gown. The same design can look and feel quite differently when made of different fabrics. In fact, designers choose their materials in order to produce a distinct effect. Browse the wedding gown fabric hot list for the most popular styles.

  • Batiste: A lightweight, soft, transparent fabric.
  • Charmeuse: A lightweight, semi-lustrous soft fabric, that is satin-like to the touch.
  • Chiffon: Delicate, sheer, and transparent-made from silk or rayon, with a soft finish; often layered because of its transparency, making it popular for overskirts, sheer sleeves, and wraps.
  • Crepe: A light, soft, and thin fabric with a crinkled surface.
  • Damask: Similar to brocade with raised designs, but woven in a much lighter weight.
  • Duchesse Satin: A lightweight hybrid of silk and rayon (or polyester) woven into a satin finish.
  • Dupioni: A finish similar to shantung, but with thicker, coarser fibers, and a slight sheen.
  • Faille: A structured, ribbed finish like grosgrain ribbon; usually quite substantial.
  • Gabardine: A tightly-woven, firm and durable finish, with single diagonal lines on the face.
  • Georgette: A sheer, lightweight fabric often made of polyester or silk with a crepe surface.
  • Illusion: A fine, sheer net fabric, generally used on sleeves or necklines.
  • Jersey: A very elastic knit fabric; the face has lengthwise ribs and the underside has crosswise ribs.
  • Moire: A heavy silk taffeta with a subtle, wavy design.
  • Organdy: A stiff transparent fabric.
  • Organza: Crisp and sheer like chiffon, with a stiffer texture similar in effect to tulle, but more flowing; popular for skirts, sleeves, backs, and overlays.
  • Peau de Soie: A soft satin-faced, high-quality cloth with a dull luster, fine ribs, and a grainy appearance.
  • Pique: A lengthwise rib weave in medium to heavy weights; wrinkles badly unless given a wrinkle-free finish.
  • Satin: A heavy, smooth fabric with a high sheen on one side; very common in bridal gowns.
  • Silk Gazar: A four-ply silk organza.
  • Silk Mikado: A brand of blended silk, usually heavier than 100-percent silk.
  • Silk-faced Satin: A smooth silk satin, with a glossy front and matte back.
  • Shantung: Similar to a raw silk, shantung is characterized by its slubbed texture.
  • Taffeta: Crisp and smooth, with a slight rib; not frequently used.
  • Tulle: Netting made of silk, nylon, or rayon; used primarily for skirts and veils (think ballerina tutus).
  • Velvet: A soft, thick fabric with a felted face and plain underside.
  • Polyester: An inexpensive man-made fabric that can be woven into just about anything, including duchesse satin
  • Rayon: Similar to silk, but more elastic and affordable.
  • Silk: The most sought-after, cherished fiber for wedding dresses (and also the most expensive); there are several types with different textures: raw silk and silk mikado are just two examples.

A Note About Lace
Delicate-looking yet strong, and rich with history, a lace gown is a highly coveted thing forClassic and Vintage brides. A bride who wears lace can't help but feel romantic.

Developed from embroidery traditions dating back to the 15th century, lace-making involves looping, braiding, and interlacing cotton, silk, nylon, and other types of thread to form a pattern. By the Victorian era, few brides would marry without a touch of lace somewhere on their gowns; today, despite many more options, designers and brides still love to incorporate some frilly threadwork. Admired for its intricacy and graphic detail, lace comes in hundreds of weaves and shades. Here are the most popular types of lace.

  • Alencon: Probably the most popular type of lace for weddings, with a background of flowers and swags.
  • Chantilly: Features flowers and ribbons on a plain net background.
  • Duchesse: An irregularly spaced lace of floral design with a lot of raised work.
  • Guipure: A large series of motifs connected by a few threads.
  • Ribbon: A random pattern of ribbon sewn over a net background.
  • Schiffli: Lightweight, with an all-over delicate embroidered design.
  • Spanish: Designed with flat roses on a net background.
  • Venise: A heavy needlepoint-type design with floral sprays, foliage, or geometric patterns

Whites and Color

Off white, stark white, bright white...eggshell? Who knew white came in so many different shades! Whether you're choosing a classic white wedding gown or opting to go with something with a little more color, here are a few things to consider to get the right white.

  • Stark White
    The brightest, crispest white you can find. Looks great on dark skin.
  • Silk, Diamond, or Natural White
    A shade off of stark white, though it looks pretty much the same in photos. "Eighty percent of the population looks best in a soft, diamond-white dress, which isn't as chalky as a white-white," explains dress designer Melissa Sweet. "When in doubt, buy diamond white."
  • Ivory
    Also referred to as "eggshell" or "candlelight", some ivory dresses have yellow undertones, making them look creamy while some are just a "quiet" white.
  • Rum or Champagne
    A white with pink undertones that looks nearly white in photos.
Knowing Your Skin Tone.
  • If your skin is fair: you'll look best in yellow-ivories and warmer natural colors. You should probably steer clear of stark white, though-it may wash you out.
  • If your skin is medium with pink undertones: opt for creamier colors.
  • If your skin is medium with yellow undertones: try diamond whites or champagne.
  • If your skin is dark: lucky you-most shades of white will complement your skin. If you have yellow or olive undertones, though, stay away from yellow-ivory dresses. Try stark white or rum pink.

The Bustle

Some wedding dresses have long trains that create a beautiful and dramatic effect as you walk down the aisle. After your ceremony, however, the train gets in the way. A bustled train allows the bride to move around more easily, and perform the first dance without tripping over the extra material. Bustling involves gathering up the train and attaching it (with loops or hooks) to the dress so that it is off the floor.

  • Overbustle
    This involves raising the train by securing parts of the train to the waistline or any part of the train.
  • Underbustle (also known as French or Victorian bustle)
    Draws excess fabric under the train and is attached using ribbon ties. This seems to be the more popular style while also being more secure than the overbustle.
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