Dress Guide

Fabric is one of the most important aspects of your wedding dress. It affects the texture, drape and movement of each and every dress (and how it’ll appear in photographs) When describing your dream dress to your consultant, it’ll help to have a basic knowledge of a few of the top bridal fabrics. After silhouette, a wedding dress is best described in the fabric you’re envisioning!

Silk: Fiber made from silkworm cocoons. Silk fabric comes in many different varieties including shantung duchesse, zymboline and mikado.

Satin: A heavy, tightly woven fabric that’s glossy on the front and dull on the back.

Organza: A sheer fabric more flowy than tulle, but stiffer than chiffon. A favorite choice for multilayered skirts.

Taffeta: A light, crisp, lustrous fabric with a paper feel.

Pro-Tip: Organza and Taffeta are light weight fabrics perfect for summer weddings!

Tulle: A netting made of silk, nylon, or rayon. Tulle can be soft (as seen on veils or poofed ballerina skirts) or stiff (used in layers under skirts to give them body and volume).

Charmeuse: A lightweight, semi-lustrous fabric with a soft texture.

Chiffon: A delicate, semi transparent fabric with a soft finish. Most often seen layered on skirts or veiled.

Linen: A fabric woven from flax. It’s cooler than cotton but tends to wrinkle easily.

Pro-Tip: Linen wrinkles very easily. So you may want to be sure you take all your wedding portraits earlier in the day or prepare to retouch your photos!

Brocade: A heavy, intricate woven fabric with 3-D designs.

Damask: Similar to brocade with designs expressed in texture.

Illusion: Although not made of one specific fabric, this fine translucent netting is usually seen on neck panels, back panels or sheer sleeves.

Pro-Tip: Illusion netting is very delicate. Be careful not to wear jewelry that may snag it on your wedding day.

Lace: A delicate and classic open fabric made by made by looping, twisting, or knitting thread in patterns. There are many different types of lace from Alencon to Chantilly to Venice.

Like every other element to a wedding dress, the train has many different styles. It’s the elongated back of the gown that makes the most impact when walking down the aisle—whether your train is short or sweeping back for multiple feet, it’s important to know the various types. We’ve got you covered.

Attaching to the shoulders, this train style falls loosely to the hem of the dress. It creates a dramatic cape-like effect.

Also known as a “brush,” this train extends a foot or less from where the fabric hits the floor. A sweep train is subtle, yet romantic.

The court train extends two feet from where the fabric hits the floor —one foot beyond the sweep train.

One of the more popular train options, a chapel train extends three to four-and-a-half feet from the waistline.

This formal style extends six to seven-and-half feet from the waistline and has a dramatic feel.

Also known as “royal” train, this very formal style flows 12 feet or more from the waist.

Note: Unless the dress has a detachable train, consider a bustle for keeping it off the ground during the reception. Trains are easy to trip over and not so easy to dance in!

Finding the right wedding dress means finding the one that fits your style and body type. Get started by learning the variations of necklines and how to best wear them.

Like the name, this neckline sits just below the shoulders to showcase the décolletage. Sleeves typically drape over the upper arm. Off-the-shoulder necklines make for stunning bridal portraits and is flattering on nearly all body types.

A strapless neckline is one of the most popular styles, especially for brides with a larger bust. It pairs perfectly with a sweetheart or straight-across square bodice.

The sweetheart—which is actually shaped like the top half of a heart—is a great option for brides with a fuller bust because it accentuates the décolletage (like an off-the-shoulder neckline). The sweetheart is often designed with an overlay of sheer material that rises higher than the heart shape, making the neck and torso look longer.

Characterized by a wide, soft scoop from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other and similar to an off-the-shoulder style neckline, the portrait neckline is an elegant way to frame the face.

This shape gently follows the curve of the collarbone, almost to the tip of the shoulders—it’s cut straight across so less of the décolletage shows. It can be paired with sleeves or a sleeveless style.

You guessed it—this neckline dips down in the front into the shape of a “V.” It draws the eye downward creating the illusion length and is very flattering on petite and narrow frames, but also on a larger bust when fitted properly.

Halter or High Neck
A halter or high neckline style wraps around the neck or narrows at the neck leaving the shoulder bare. This stylelooks great on tall body types.

The scoop, a U-shaped neckline, is a universally flattering classic. It can be cut low, and quite often the scoop will continue on the back of the dress.

Also known as the T-shirt neckline, due to it’s similarity to an actual T-shirt, the jewel neckline is round and sits at the base of the throat.

In a time where wedding dress sleeves no longer mean “modest”, it’s safe to say that sleeves make a gown feel more stylish, not to mention interesting and in some instances sexy. With so many types to choose from and reasons to wear sleeves (think structure and support, ease for dancing, etc.), enter: the sleeve glossary.

In a traditional sense, these sleeves might sound cutesy but when done with an illusion neckline or in a soft lace, they’re a chic way to add stability and coverage. A cap sleeve should cover just the shoulders and typically do not go all the way under the arm.

These sleeves are a classic style for warmer weather weddings and are very versatile. Much like a short sleeve shirt or blouse they provide coverage of the full shoulder, go all the way around the arm, and allow for generous range of motion.

¾ Length
Perfect for a wedding in any season, the quarter sleeve has made it’s way back into fashion season after season and create a modern (and sometimes dramatic) look depending on the fabrication. A soft tulle will create a different feel from a structured ¾ lace sleeve.

While some church venues require sleeves for the ceremony on the bride’s dress, long sleeves are a popular choice because they add a formal feel without being over-the-top. Whether you wear them to create a vintage vibe or sexy silhouette,long sleeves have become a hot bridal trend on the runways.

This type of sleeve is technically a fitted long sleeve with a gathered puff at the shoulder. It’s a romantic style that is reminiscent of Renaissance fashions and Shakespeare (if you couldn’t guess by the name).

The short-sleeved version of the Juliet sleeve, a puff is fitted at the bottom of the sleeve around the arm with elastic or a band to keep it in place. This style is youthful and worn well in a lighter weight fabric and creates a Bohemian feel when done right.

Just like it sounds, butterfly sleeves are short and loose flowing sleeves set at the top of the arm with little to no coverage underneath—they flutter! Most commonly seen on bridesmaid dresses, butterfly sleeves have made their way back to bridal.

As seen on the most recent Bridal Fashion Week runways, bell sleeves have emerged once again as a top trend [insert link]. These sleeves flare out toward the wrist for a very dramatic look and feel. Most are long-sleeved, but bell sleeves can also fall at the forearm or the elbow.

These long, loose fitting sleeves end at the wrist with a tight cuff creating a flowy, whimsical effect. Very popular with bohemian and relaxed-styled weddings, the Bishop sleeve has maintained a sense of romance that brides fall in love with again and again.

Also known as flared or bell sleeve, poet sleeves are feminine and romantic while holding true to a youthful feel. These are done well in soft lace or sheer fabrics.

The set-in sleeve literally means that it is part of the bodice—there is no seam to separate each sleeve from the rest of the dress.

This modern style is most often seen in contemporary fashion—less in bridal—but minimalist-style designs have been known to incorporate some unique elements like a raglan sleeve. The seams create a line from the underarm to collarbone.

Inspired by the look of a tulip, this short sleeve is created when fabric wraps over itself at the top of the shoulder. These sleeves are more common in bridesmaid dress styles but are also an option for customizing a dress to have more coverage with a romantic touch.

Spaghetti Straps
These dainty details help support the bodice without actually covering the shoulders. They are easily added and removed and can be embellished to match the dress.