Bridal Year

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Bridal Year

For the uninitiated, choosing a wedding dress doesn’t seem to be a big deal. After all, it’s a big, white dress with a train and maybe a veil. Ask any woman who has to shop for one and you soon realize there’s a whole lot more to it than meets the eye. First, one has to decide what shape or silhouette to go with. Below is a simplified list to give you an idea.

Silhouette Name: Description | Body Type | Reasons
  1. A-Line: Gradually flares from the naturally-fitted waist to create an A-shape | One-silhouette-fits-all style | Functional and reusable.
  2. Empire: The waistline is right under the bust. | Petite bodies who would like to appear taller | Flowy and whimsical. Leaves the body to the imagination.
  3. Ball Gown: Dramatically flares from the naturally-fitted waist | Slim-hips and a large bust. | Very extra and over-the-top.
  4. Sheath: Slim, tight-fitting dress that hugs till around the crotch the falls straight to the floor. | Slim women. | Sophistication, glamour and elegance.
  5. Slip: Minimalist, tight-fitting dress. | Slim figures. | Fuss-free. Will shine a spotlight on any accessory.
  6. Column: More seamless than a sheath. | Slim and/or athletic body-types. | Fuss-free.
  7. Trumpet: Fitted on the bust, waist and hips, then flares out subtly around the knee. | Slim and curvy women. Hourglass-shaped bodies. | Sophisticated sultry.
  8. Mermaid: Fitted on the bust, waist and hips, then flares out dramatically around the knee. | Curvy and slim women. | Sultry seduction.
  9. Fit-and-Flare: Hugs the body on top and flares out between the hips and knees. | Best for women with curves. | Voluptuous meets comfort.
  10. Jumpsuit: One-piece suit with integrated pants. | Slim and tall figures. | For ‘modern’ women who want to do the unexpected.
  11. Pantsuit: Formal jacket and pants with bridal decor. | Slim women. | For those whose identities are centred on being a working profession.
  12. Mini: Dress which ends between the crotch and the knees. | Slim woman with sexy legs and shoes. | Fun and daring option, or your dance-dress after uncoupling your flare and train.
  13. Midi: Sub-category: dress which ends between the knees and ankles | Slim or petit women with sexy shoes. | Fashion-forward shoe-lover’s dress.
  14. Tea-Length: Sub-category: a skirt which ends just above the ankles. | Slim women with nice shoes | The down to earth Retro-look is cute.
  15. Separates: Sub-category: separate top and bottom dress | Slim women | A really out there look, or if you want to rock a fabulous belt.
  16. High-Low: Sub-category: the front of the dress is cut in an a-shape between the knees and calves, making it short in front and long in the back | For those women with killer legs | The dress for show-stopping shoes.

The very next thing of importance is to choose which neckline the dress should have. The neckline is the shape of the top part of the dress and has a large effect on the overall look of the dress. Some necklines are best suited for specific silhouettes.

Neckline Name: Description | Best suited for
  1. Sweetheart/Semi-Sweetheart: Looks like the top of a heart | For big busts and lean bodies. The semi-sweetheart goes up higher for more modesty.
  2. Plunging: A V-shaped cut that goes down further than the bust, usually ending between the breast and naval. | Good to balance out long sleeves. Only for more daring brides who don’t mind showing more skin.
  3. Portrait: A U- or X-shaped cut that hugs the sides of one’s shoulders. | Good for accentuating one’s collar bones.
  4. High: Covers at least the whole base of the neck but often covers higher up | For accentuating long necks. The most modest neckline of all. Illusion details can soften the look or alleviate the constricted feeling.
  5. Oneshoulder: A strap that covers only one of the shoulders | Great for drawing attention to the face (and earings).
  6. Scoop: Description | Recommendation
  7. Straight: Almost a straight line from a few inches below the armpit | For strapless dresses but with added modesty. For a more secure hold.
  8. V-Neck: V-shaped cut from shoulders to the chest | Make the torso look longer.
  9. Illusion: Near-translucent material placed between a plunging or delicate strapped dress | Gives more support for thin straps. Removes the possibility of a wardrobe malfunction in a plunging neckline.
  10. Bateau / Boatneck / Sabrina: A very flat u-shape that goes just below the collarbones | Very good support and modest whilst staying elegant.
  11. Off-the-shoulder: Looks like thick straps which have fallen on both sides | Warm-weather neckline that draws attention to the face, shoulders, and collarbones.
  12. Scoop: U-shaped cut that usually ends just above the bust | Universal favourite. Make the neck look longer.
  13. Halter: X-shaped cut that covers the base of the neck and flairs out right below the collarbone | Accentuates the shoulders. Adding a keyhole detail (a vertical slit cut from the top of the costal arch, down to just above the naval) adds extra flair.
  14. Jewel / T-Shirt: A circular cut that follows an inch outside the line of the base of the neck. | Accentuates the neck and bust. Good for smaller busts and narrow shoulders.
  15. Empire / Square Necklace: A rounded square cut that starts where the collarbone ends. | Good for accentuating necks and busts while minimizing their shoulders.
  16. Queen Anne: Upside-down triangle straps attached to a scoop, v-neck or sweetheart cut.

After deciding a dress’ neckline, you need to decide what material the dress should be.

Neckline Name: Description | Best suited for
  1. Point d’esprit: Translucent | Light | Textured, diamond-patterned net. | Vails mostly, but can be used for vintage.
  2. Chiffon: Near-translucent | Light | Fragile, ethereal and airy | For overlaying, layers, and accents
  3. Organza: Near-translucent | Light | Sheer and crisp with a tight weave | Adds fullness to layered gowns, ball gowns, trains, and veils.
  4. Lace: Near-translucent | Light to medium | Very supple with lots of different patterns. Extremely versatile | Overlays and detailing for any size, shape and season.
  5. Satin: Opaque | Heavy | Shiny and smooth, but wrinkles and ripples | Historical favourite. Good for structured looks in cooler months.
  6. Silk: Opaque | Weight | Durable, timeless and versatile. Has a muted shine | Very traditional material. Avoid the hottest weather.
  7. Crepe: Opaque | Light | Gauzy and crinkled | Really good for curvy bodies but can be used for any gentle silhouette
  8. Dupioni: Opaque | Light | Slightly rough. Raw-looking | Real good for dramatic silhouettes
  9. Batiste: Translucent | Light, soft and plain | Overlay or veil for a summer wedding
  10. Brocade: Opaque | Lighter than satin with a raised design | Autumn or winter gown material
  11. Charmeuse: Opaque | Ultra-lightweight | Glossy on the outside, matte on the inside | Soft drape for flowy styles. Good for slim dresses and hotter months
  12. Damask: Opaque | Light | Raised designs | Structured styles
  13. Dotted Swiss: Opaque | Light | Breathable with a dot pattern | Warm months
  14. Faille: Opaque | Heavy | Appears ribbed and holds its shape well | For a substantial look of sophistication. Tends towards colder months.
  15. Gazar: Near-translucent | Medium | Smooth, crisp, and stiff. Holds its shape well | For dramatic silhouettes
  16. Georgette: Near-translucent | Light | Sheer with crepe surface | Top layer for more feminine silhouettes. Good for warmer seasons.
  17. Mikado: Opaque | Heavy | Thick and shiny. Holds form well. | For highly structured designs. Great for mermaid and strapless ball gown silhouettes. Good for cooler weather.
  18. Moire: Opaque | Very heavy | Wavy design giving the illusion of water | Winter months.
  19. Pique: Opaque to near-opaque | Heavy | Waffle weave exterior | Informal crisp styles and structured silhouettes during bright seasons.
  20. Polyester: Opaque | Heavy | Inexpensive. Can be woven into a more durable and stiff form of many fabrics. | Common dress material but should be avoided at the height of summer.
  21. Rayon: Opaque | Light | Smooth and elastic. Affordable. Breathable. Wrinkles easily | Good for draped, and structured styles.
  22. Shantung: Opaque | Medium-light | A thinner, less irregular form of Dupioni. Raw but rich look. Has a beautiful drape. | All-year, versatile choice.
  23. Taffeta: Opaque | Light to medium | Crisp and versatile | Great for A-line dresses and full-skirt ball gowns.
  24. Tulle: Translucent | Light | Very fine with a stiff netting | Gown lining or veil.
  25. Velvet: Opaque | Heavy | Thick and soft | Regal winter weddings.
  26. Voile: Translucent | Light | Breathable | Casual, informal weddings. Good for softer silhouettes in warmer seasons.
  27. Zibeline: Opaque | Weight | Thick, soft and shiny | Optimal of A-line or fit-and-flare silhouettes.

After all this, we haven’t even talked about the train and vail, each of which has various types to consider. Not to mention shoes and accessories!

The world of bridal fashion is a fascinating one. Every wedding outfit is designed to accentuate and hide aspects of the wearer for the most flattering look. In Bridal Year we’re taking a look at not one, but two internationally acclaimed bridal shows: The Spring-Summer 2019 collections and the Fall-Winter 2019 collection. The style’s you’ll see on display are as varied as they are beautiful.

Fridays at 4 PM on FashionBOX (ch 282) from Friday, 05 February

Author: Jan Hendrik Harmse