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Copyright © 2016 Elizabeth Smith & Elizabeth Smith Bridal, 65 Union St, Ryde, Isle of Wight. PO33 2LG +44 (0)1983 615973
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Straight Cut & Fishtail style
This concept covers styles from the simple shift dress to separate bodice and parallel straight skirt. A straight gown offers a wide variety of choice and does not have to be boring. Bodice styles are infinite and skirts can be with integral mermaid style' trains, without trains or with detachable trains. The straight style can be made classically plain or as elaborate and embroidered as was the gown of actress Catherine Zeta Jones.
This style is also useful if the Bride wishes to combine a hint of history with modern and minimal ideas. For example a ruched skirt can be combined with a modern strapless bodice, or a laced back added to a bodice with medieval sleeves combined with a modern 'fishtail' shaped skirt.
The straight style of gown is perhaps not the first choice for tall or thin Brides, as the long profile will emphasise height of the former and, unless the gown is well cut, it will emphasise the lack of body shape in the latter. A fuller style will look better for both of these clients. Brides who have a fuller figure can look lovely in a straight gown providing that the gown is cut carefully and the style chosen with care. However, this style allows Brides who prefer the silhouette outline to wear a sumptuous gown and feel every bit as special as those who opt for a more traditional ball gown style.
With this style the choice of lingerie is important, as a smooth outline is vital.
Princess A Line style
The classic style for Brides. This style is based upon a 'fit and flare' cut, and because of this gives the impression of making the Bride look taller. Its versatility allows an enormous number of neckline styles to be used; the cut slims down large hips and bust lines, but emphasises or produces the impression of a small waist.
The secret of the princess line lies in its ability to skim the hips and bottom and
looks better all in one material and in one piece. However if you like the idea of
a defined corset bodice, a princess line skirt can be adapted and if cut well can
The princess line dress can be cut with any train length, from chapel, which just touches the ground at the back of the hem, to cathedral length, which extends in a length equal to the height, or longer, of the Bride at the back of the hem. This gown is the classic gown and as such is often better left plain and elegant, relying on the gown's material and cut to give the overall impression of subtle beauty and elegance. The princess line is a good style to work from if you are looking for a medieval wedding gown.
Excellent for petite, fuller figure, shorter Brides, and Brides looking for a tailored look.
With this style I always think of Jane Austin. Any one who saw Elizabeth Bennett's ample bust line in the TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice will be left in no doubt as the emphasis here.
The skirt joins on to the bodice just below the bust and creates an elegant long line, and supports the bust. However this style does not necessarily have to look historical. Necklines can be varied but the Bride must be aware of not allowing it to drop too low. Sleeves can be straight, puffed or in a crossover of eras, even medieval. Trains can be chapel length or church, which is roughly half the height of the Bride.
This style of gown always gives the impression of a sweet elegance of former times. Modern empire lines cut in sumptuous crepe materials, perhaps with low back necklines and sleeveless, can give an interesting interpretation of a classic style.
This style also encompasses the Baroque era, which allows the Bride to include heavy embroidery and silk damasks, together with light georgettes and chiffons. Think of Juliet on her balcony.
The empire line is suitable for most types of Bride. The cut allows large hips and bottoms to be hidden, and supports a full bust. Clever cutting of the under bodice can vanish problem areas around the tummy, and the train gives an impression of height.
This style looks good on most Brides, petit, fuller figure and those Brides looking for a subtle or outright historical look. This style is better all in one piece.
Ball Gown Style
Ask any one to draw a wedding gown style and this is the one most will produce. Made famous by Lady Diana Spencer, the variations in this style are legion.
The style consists of a tight basque waisted bodice and a full gathered or pleated skirt. Neckline styles are unlimited and only you're imagination limits the choice of material used.
This style is often thought of as for the young slim Bride only, however clever cutting and choice of material means that a fuller figure will look every bit as romantic and sexy as a size 10. Often a fuller bust looks better in a corset, and a pleated skirt can hide hips. The addition of a train will give the impression of height.
The corset bodice is also useful in creating a bust line if the Bride has a small chest measurement. The insertion of inner bodices with padding can produce a cleavage if this is what the client requires. For the petite Bride this style gives height and definition as long as the gown is made in proportion to the client and the materials and any added decoration is careful considered.
The ball gown style is suitable for most Brides however, Brides with very full figure
or are more mature may wish to look at the princess line style. With this style the
Bride will still have an opulent, romantic look but, be able to de-
For those Brides looking for a historical Wedding gown this style provides a good place to begin and allows the imagination to run wild. This style can be made in one piece or in separate bodice and skirt.
An ultra modern style, popular with Brides who wish to wear a minimalist, sexy, evening gown type look. Bridal gowns cut 'on the bias' swath the body in fabric and ripple down into a 'puddle' train on the floor at centre back.
To achieve this look, the material from which the gown is made, is usually a crepe silk or satin, which has both movement and texture. The material is turned around from the normal direction for cutting out a gown pattern, and the pattern placed on to the material to emphasise its properties of movement and 'give'. A 'puddle' train is usually set into the centre back seam to give a wide integral back feature.
This type of gown is usually chosen by Brides who wish to make a statement on their wedding day, and who particularly wish to wear this style. Because of the way these gowns are constructed, this type of wedding gown will show all the features and contours of the body. Because of this, this style should be considered carefully before it is chosen. Lingerie type is important and needs to be given high priority.
This gown is best all in one piece however, a 'bias cut' skirt can be put with a ridged bodice to combine a sexy fitted look with the support and a hint of history around the bodice. Colour and length is up to you.
With the Marriage act passed by Parliament, couples are now planning their wedding in many different locations. From Castles to Manor houses, Rose gardens to Windmills. Because of this, historical gowns and gowns with a period feel are becoming increasingly popular.
Modern methods of construction and use of alternative materials now allow modern Brides to create a comfortable and easy to wear version of historical pieces that they may have seen in paintings and on film. Use of historical costume books is important here to understand which era you wish to pick styles from. It is important that the overall look of the wedding ties together the choice of gowns, Grooms and principle men outfits, Flowers etc. An historical Bridal gown, a modern lounge suit, and short Lycra Bridesmaid's gowns at a wedding set in an historical building, do not immediately appear to fit together!
As these gowns were worn by all sizes of woman in history, this style suits most Brides and is usually the gown of choice to reflect the Bride's interest in a particular period or, the place in which she is being married. There is a wide choice of sumptuous materials available from which to construct these, from velvets and brocades to satins and taffetas. An attempt should be made to use a similar material, to that which would have been used at the time the gown was worn originally. This will give a more authentic look to the final piece.
Historical gowns do not have to be full and large, they also can overlap the next section, which covers straighter gowns. Perhaps made with a rouched front skirt and fitted bodice as worn by Princess Grace of Monaco and popular in Edwardian times. And don't forget ancient times. Interest is increasing in draped styles from Greece and Rome. Made in modern fabrics and cut to flatter the body, these gowns offer an exciting alternative to the usual historical look.
With period gowns, ivory or white is not a must. Most historical gowns are made in a wide variety of colours and materials. Do you're homework carefully and prepare to amaze you're guests. Remember to match any Bridesmaids gowns, accessories and flowers carefully.
Alternative / Retro / Vintage
Many Brides now wish to wear alternative colours to the popular ivory and white and to put their own stamp on their wedding look by wearing an alternative and more unusual style of gown. Using coloured material for the whole piece , coloured embroidery or blocks of colour on a gown can turn an otherwise simple gown into an eye catching, different design. Combining historical details with modern design and accessories will also make for an unusual bridal look. More often made bespoke, these dresses are not for the 'wallflower' bride, as they will be loved by some but hated by others.
For those who aspire to be different perhaps choose a muted shade of champagne, dark ivory, mink or pink instead of full on red or black. Pastel and vintage shades with raised appliqué overlays and simple accessories are just different enough without being too 'out there'. But as there are no rules the Brides imagination.. and budget..is the only limit.
Choosing the correct gown.
There seems to be more choice of wedding gown styles than ever before for potential Brides to choose from, and consequently more opportunity to experiment with different looks and materials for her wedding day. This is wonderful but, along with this wide choice of styles, there often comes confusion and uncertainty as to which gown the Bride should choose.
if you are beginning to sink beneath a wealth of wedding gown brochures, sketches made of you're ideal wedding gown, advice from close family or friends, and you want to know the difference between a straight cut and an empire line, here are a few simple to understand paragraphs, complete with photos, covering different styles that are available for today's Bride.