All About the Dress

Maybe you stumbled upon it clicking through the latest runway gowns, or perhaps it’s your mother or grandmother’s gown you want to mod into your own modern-bride look. Old or new, borrowed or blue, the dress is the one of the most exciting parts of the wedding for the bride. And contrary to popular belief, shopping for one is easy.

You may have been told the more dresses you try on, the more you look the same. So rather than stretching gown shopping over months and months, focus a smaller window of time on finding your perfect dress.

Like everything else wedding-related, your budget is the most important factor.

If you’ve set aside $1,000 for your gown, for example, don’t spend your time trying on $3,000 gowns when, first, you’re not going to purchasing one and, more importantly, you could be trying on a dress that fits your budget and style. Stay focused and you’ll find the perfect one with ease.

Some dress shops may require that you schedule an appointment, so be sure to schedule your shopping trip, if need be. “Closed shops” keep the dresses in a storage area off-limits to shoppers; a sales associate brings the gowns to you in a private fitting area. “Open shops” display the dresses on the sales floor.

It’s easy to get misguided by the models you see in bridal magazines, but remember, what looks good on them might not be the best look for you. This is the time to play up your strengths! Here’s a look at some of the modern styles and fabrics brides are going for:

Strapless gowns

Paired with a swooping neckline, these perennial favorites give any bride a slimming silhouette. These dresses work well for brides with sloping shoulders, which may cause spaghetti straps to fall.

A-line gowns

Taking the place of the princess ball gown, these modern gowns hug the body through the bodice then flare out below the hip, accentuating the waist.

Sheaths and Columns

With narrower silhouettes in vogue, brides are embracing these looks that drape the female form in sophistication. This stye begs for vintage-inspired lace overlays, such as corded or Chantilly lace.

Short Gowns

Designers are rolling out higher hemlines for a fun, fresh look, which work great on their own or as a second, “reception” dress. Designers even have been rolling out entire collections of “little white dresses.”

Dress price is dependent upon dress intricacy. The more lace, beading and embroidery a dress has, the pricier it will be. Today’s trends are gearing toward clean lines and minimal but dramatically placed details; ornaments, mainly crystal and embroidery, are concentrated on bodices and hems. Consider these fabrics:

Organza: A thin, sheer plain-weave fabric made from silk, its lighter feel makes it ideal for summer-style weddings.

Taffeta: A crisp, smooth woven fabric made from silk or synthetics that is known for its slight sheen and light weight. Thin enough for ruching, taffeta can add texture without bulk.

Tulle: A lightweight, fine netting that can be made from silk, nylon and rayon, which gives gowns stunning, flowing skirts.

Charmeuse: A lightweight fabric usually made from silk or polyester. It’s smooth, soft and drapes beautifully.

Chiffon: A plain, sheer woven fabric with a soft drape. It can be made from silk, polyester or rayon.

Dupioni: A plain weave using yarns to create a fabric with surface slubs. In silk, it has a distinctive rustic and sleek luster.

Georgette: A lightweight fabric usually made from silk or polyester that’s heavier and less transparent than chiffon. The fabric’s fibers are twisted, which gives it a springy quality.

Peau de Soie: Made from silk or polyester, this fabric is medium to heavy. Its dull luster is more flattering to curvier women than high-luster satins. Polyester peau de soie also doesn’t water-spot as easily as silk.

And don’t think you have to default to white, either. Shades of ivory and champagne are popular among brides looking for a nonwhite option, and they flatter most skin tones. White sometimes draws attentions to veins or makes certain skin tones appear jaundiced, which is why a bride might opt for one of the neutral tones, or even light pastels like pale yellow and pink. Colorful sashes and embroidery are another way for brides to add a splash of brightness to the big day.

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