Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How To Find The Perfect Wedding Dress

Searching for the perfect wedding dress?

After all there is something about a wedding gown prettier than any other gown in the world.  ~Douglas William Jerrold 

It’s a given, every woman wants to look their best on their wedding day. You may “think” you know what colors look best with your skin tone, what shapes are most appealing for your body, and by watching TLC, assume you know all there is to know about wedding dresses. But this dress is unlike anything you have worn before and with all the new options, the process can be more difficult than you expect. La Soie Bridal Salon located in downtown Santa Barbara, broke down the entire process and gave insight that can make this process easier and more enjoyable.

The silhouette is the starting point and most important aspect of your gown. But what exactly is the silhouette? It is the overall shape of the gown, the style of both the bodice and skirt together. Here are some of the basic silhouettes.

Wedding Dress Silhouette

Ball Gown
The most traditional of all categories, the ball gown is typified by a fitted bodice and waistline that lead to a very full skirt.

The hallmark of the Empire-style gown is a high waistline (right under the bust), which falls to a slimmer skirt.

A-Line or Princess An A-line or Princess shape is cut close to the hip with a slight flare at the hem (creating an A-shape).

Dress by Kevan Hall

Sheath The slim sheath silhouette closely follows the lines of the body.

Mermaid A body-hugging silhouette that flares below the knee.

Dress by Jim Hjelm,

Trumpet A more understated style. The fit-and-flare trumpet skirt gradually flares at mid-thigh.

Do you know what styles are best for your body? Here are some tips for choosing the most appealing silhouette specifically for your body type.

The silhouette is the most important component of the dress in creating that “perfect” shape to your body. La Soie Bridal salon gave the inside scoop on the do’s and don’ts for certain body types while also suggesting designers to try, depending on your shape. Here are the tips!

Petite, plus or average size, she has got a full bust.
Dress dos: Accentuate the positive with an uplifting foundation garment, like a good bra, or a corset. Or minimize your curves by balancing your top with a full skirt.
Dress donts: Be careful that your dress isn't too revealing -- you want the focus to be on your face. And don't forget to move around in your gown during fittings to make sure everything stays in place.
Designer to try: Dennis Basso
Dennis Basso incorporates lots of ruching into his designs. Terry Hall, fashion director at Kleinfeld Bridal, says, "Ruching can actually help slim and balance a larger bust.”

she is built like a swimmer, with wide-set shoulders.
Dress dos: Highlight your toned shoulders with a halter neckline, or go for drama in a gown with long sleeves worn off the shoulder. Select a dress with a bodice that highlights your waistline to offset your shoulders and create an hourglass shape.
Dress donts: Trying to conceal your shoulders is not recommended, as it sometimes produces the opposite effect. Stay away from cap sleeves, which can add width to the shoulder area.
Designer to try: Amsale, Lela Rose
Amsale is a go-to for Hall when he's helping clients find a halter-style gown. Mark Ingram of Mark Ingram Atelier recommends Lela Rose, however, because her designs are perfect for accommodating broad shoulders.

though small on top, she is round off toward the bottom.
Dress dos: A dropped-waist style or a strapless ball gown will cover your bottom half and put more emphasis on the top. An off-the-shoulder neckline will keep the attention on your upper body, and an A-line gown is always a flattering choice.
Dress don'ts: A sheath can be unflattering, and a V-neck will draw the eyes downward.
Designer to try: Alita Graham
Available in a variety of styles, A-line silhouettes look good on most body types. Alita Graham has an assortment of full A-line options, says Hall.
Keep in mind that while your weight may fluctuate between the times you buy your gown and the day of your wedding, your actual body type will remain the same. So even if you're planning to drop 20 pounds before exchanging vows, choose the gown that fits your body type today.

You're voluptuous, with a well-endowed bust and curvy hips.
Dress dos: Try a mermaid- or trumpet-style gown, which will have a slimming effect. A high-waisted A-line dress with a low neckline also complements curves.
Dress don'ts: A slim sheath or slinky bias cut will cling and may accent any extra inches; also avoid spaghetti straps because they won't provide the support you need.
Designer to try: Pnina Tornai, Monique Lhuillier
Pnina Tornai is noted for her sensual styling and fitted designs. Many of her gowns have corsets to help define your shape. Ingram recommends Monique Lhuillier for her sexy silhouettes with good coverage.

Short or tall, she has a boyish waistline.
Dress dos: Empire-waist gowns are made with you in mind. And a ball gown with a basque waistline, which is a V-shaped dip in the front, will give your waist a nipped-in look for more shape.
Dress don'ts: Steer clear of sheaths and dropped-waist styles, which will make you appear boxier.
Designer to try: Amsale, Pnina Tornai
"Both Amsale and Pnina Tornai have beautiful corset options, which create the illusion of shape by defining your waist,” says Hall.

She is tiny.
Dress dos: The key word here is elongation. It's best to keep it simple. A column-like sheath or an A-line dress works best: These will keep the eye moving and create the illusion of height.
Dress don'ts: Almost all silhouettes will flatter your figure, though a big ball gown or a dress with lots of voluminous fabric may look overwhelming on your small frame.
Designer to try: Monique Lhuillier, Anne Barge
"Both designers have dramatic silhouettes that won't overpower you if you still want a full gown,” says Ingram.

She’s five foot ten or taller.
Dress dos: Taller women look great in everything from sheaths to A-line styles and full ball gowns. A long veil is great for you because you can carry it off.
Dress don'ts: Skip gowns with high necklines because they'll draw the eye upward and create more length. And avoid updos and headpieces that add too much extra height.
Designer to try: Any -- have fun!

Short or tall, she’s not a fleshy woman.
Dress dos: Bateau necklines and sleeveless gowns are flattering options for you. A ball gown is a very feminine shape that will balance out your overall silhouette and visually create curves. Try one with a dramatic cutout back.
Dress don'ts: If you're concerned your collarbone is too bony, stay away from portrait, off-the-shoulder or halter necklines. And if you're flat-chested, avoid a bodice with pre-designed cups.
Designer to try: Elizabeth Fillmore Bridal
Elizabeth Fillmore is the ultimate designer for statuesque, sheath gowns.

She’s got a baby bump, anywhere from four to nine months along!
Dress dos: Buying a gown while pregnant can be tricky, since you can't predict how big you'll be come the wedding day. An Empire waist is your best bet for its loose structure and relaxed silhouette. For the mom-to-be who wants to show off her belly, a soft, clinging sheath in a stretchy fabric makes a proud statement.
Dress don'ts: Avoid anything that's too constricting or uncomfortable, including tight bodices and ball gowns, which will emphasize your middle.
Designer to try: Kenneth Pool, Lazaro
Kenneth Pool and Lazaro both offer Empire-waist designs that are ideal for a growing belly.

Arm Issues
She’s self-conscious about your arms, whether they're heavy, jiggly or too skinny.
Dress dos: Choose long or three-quarter-length sleeves in a sheer illusion fabric, or add a bolero to your look, which can be removed whenever you like!
Dress don'ts: Steer clear of off-the-shoulder styles and cap sleeves, which will highlight the upper arms.
Designer to try: Reem Acra, Augusta Jones, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta
Multiple designers provide sheer overlays -- cover-ups that camouflage arm issues.
Even though certain styles work best on certain body types, don't let the "rules” narrow the search too much. It helps to try on all different kinds of dresses and then decide what shape and style look and feel the best.

Now that you’ve got the basics, what about the first part of the dress people look at and notice? The Neckline! Now find the best neckline for your shape!

The neckline is very important for two reasons: Not only is it the part of the dress people notice first, but it's also the one that sets off the face. If a bride's face is a portrait, then her neckline is its frame. Some necklines -- the bateau, jewel and mandarin -- are designed to sit high on the neck and offer coverage. While others -- the portrait, sweetheart, one-shoulder -- are defined by what they leave bare. The right neckline can add character to a gown, show off an accessory, or highlight a unique figure feature -- be it a long, graceful neck, daring d├ęcolletage, or a strong set of shoulders.

Neckline Glossary
Sweetheart. Sabrina. Strapless. The right neckline can make the difference between a wedding gown that flatters and one that falters. Below, we help you decipher the different styles.

Dress by Marchesa,

Just like the name implies, this neckline sits below the shoulders to showcase a woman's collarbone and shoulders, with sleeves that cover part of the upper arm. While this style is super flattering to medium- or full-chested women, an off-the-shoulder neckline will look good on almost all figures. But if you've got fuller arms and are uncomfortable with baring your shoulders, you may wan to consider a portrait neckline instead.
Good for: Full-chested and pear-shaped women
Bad for: Broad shoulders, fuller arms

Dress by Mori Lee Bridal,


Similar to an off-the-shoulder style but made with more fabric, the portrait neckline is characterized by a wide, soft scoop from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other.
Good for: Fuller arms and prominent collarbones
Bad for: Undefined collarbones

Dress by Watters,

The sweetheart neckline -- which is actually shaped like the top half of a heart -- is a wonderful option for fuller-chested women because it really accentuates the decolletage. The sweetheart is often done with an overlay of sheer material that rises higher than the heart shape, giving the torso a longer line and also making the neck look longer.
Good for: Serious decolletage
Bad for: The decolletage-impaired

Dress by Junko Yoshioka,

This shape gently follows the curve of the collarbone, almost to the tip of the shoulders -- and it's cut straight across so less of the decolletage shows. It can be paired with sleeves or a sleeveless style.
Good for: Small breasts
Bad for: The well-endowed

Dress by DaVinci Bridal,

Halter/High Neck
The halter features straps that wrap around the back of the neck, or a high neck with deep armholes. Both look best on broad shoulders or taller women -- 5'7" and up.
Good for: Broad shoulders
Bad for: Narrow shoulders

Dress by Christos,

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.
Good for: Just about anyone

Dress by Jenny Packham,

Also known as the T-shirt neckline, due to its similarity to an actual T-shirt, the jewel neckline is round and sits at the base of the throat.
Good for: Small-chested woman (it will make you look bustier)
Bad for: Large-chested women (it will make you look bustier too)

Dress by Alfred Angelo,

The name says it all: The neckline dips down in the front (and sometimes in the back as well) in a V-shape, de-emphasizing the bustline.
Good for: B or C cups
Bad for: Anyone bigger or smaller

Dress by Reem Acra,


The strapless neckline is a popular choice with busty brides, and it looks wonderful when paired with either a sweetheart or straight-across square bodice.
Good for: Great shoulders and collarbones
Bad for: Smaller-chested women

The neckline is only one aspect of your dress that adds personality. Find out every component of the wedding dress that needs just as much attention!

Bridal Dress Anatomy (The wedding dress breakdown)
Think you’ve thought about every detail of your dream dress!?
Think again! Here are all the components that can bring personality and uniqueness to your dress. Now you can go into that dressing room and know exactly what you can change, add, or remove!

-The silhouette refers to the overall shape of the gown. This is the most important element of your dress and sets the tone of your look. Do you want to be a “Cinderella/Princess” bride? Or a “sexy/modern” bride? 

-The neckline is the first part people notice and sets off the face. It can add character to a gown, show off an accessory, or highlight a unique figure feature.

-The waistline is the horizontal seam that connects the bodice and skirt. It brings shape and balance to the gown while adding style to the silhouette.

-Sleeves can add style to the bodice and provide balance for a skirt. Choosing a sleeve style can depend on the season your wedding is in. The ultimate decision should be based on/consider how much or how little skin you want to show.

-The hemline of the gown is the length of the gown. The length can dictate the formality of your wedding, with the longer length normally being the most formal. Now days even the short length gowns can be seen as sophisticated and formal.

Fabric and Finish
-The same dress can have drastically different effects depending on the fabric. Style, cut, texture, drapery and season are all factors in choosing the fabric of your gown.

-Lace comes in hundreds of weaves and shades. And can be used to both cover and reveal. It also can add a touch of vintage or add modernity to the gown. (Keep reading for tips on this hottest trend)

-Embellishment can be thought of as the icing on the cake. While there are hundreds of different types, some are fringe, sequins, gems, crystal droplets, and beading etc.  It can add glamour and individuality to your gown while some are used to add movement.

Skirt Details
-The skirt is the where personality can be added to your gown. The most popular style known as the “bustle-back” consists of gathering the material (bustling) on the back of the skirt and looping and securing it with buttons or hooks. Pleats, slits, drapes, and flounces can add sex appeal or make it more poetic.

Bodice Details
-Just like embellishments on the skirt, the bodice can be decorated to add personality and individuality.

-The train is the back portion of the gown that lies on the floor and trails out from the bride. Longer trains are considered to be the most formal while Watteau and court trains which spill from the shoulders and fall to the hem or floor are less formal. There is also the detachable train that can be any length and used to for being able to change into a less imposing look after the ceremony.

-For most people, nothing is more synonymous with a wedding or marriage than the white wedding dress. Most brides choose white dresses but many don’t know the array of white dresses that are available. There is stark white, natural white (flatters most skin tones), ivory (flattering for fairer skin tones), and champagne. (flattering for dark skin tones). Many designers are using other shades than white such as the new popular “black” gown, gold, blue, pin, purple, and red. Colored embellishments can be used to add a pop of color. (Keep reading for tips on choosing the right "white") 

Think you know what fabrics you like or dislike? One of the hottest fabrics may surprise you!

“Lace isn’t just any old thing”- Don’t Rule Lace Out!

Think lace will make you look old and conservative on your wedding day? Does lace remind you of the gowns your mom or grandmother wore? It is true that wearing lace is a time-honored tradition but considering it “old” and "outdated" is no longer true. While lace can be conservative and be used cover up your body, lace can also add modernity and sex appeal by using it to reveal the body. There are hundreds of different types of lace in different shades and weaves. Finding the right one can add individuality and personality to your dress. (But remember, just like all trends these are constantly changing)

The Lace Hot List
Alencon: One of the most popular types 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

Another way to add personality to your dress is through different bodice treatments!

The most popular bodice treatments

Dress by George Bridal

Bones: Stay used in corset and strapless bodices for shaping and stiffening.

Corset Back: A dress bodice that laces up the back like a corset.

Crumb Catcher: An insert of fabric at the bust, usually decorated with beads and lace, used to create the illusion of extra length.

Inverted Pleat: Two folds of fabric brought to a centerline at the bust.

Keyhole: High round neckline with wedge-shaped or rounded or oval piece cut out at the center front.

You want a white dress, so your done color shopping…. Think again! Here are some tips on choosing the right color for your skin tone!

How to choose the Right White
Do you know the difference between champagne, Ivory, and Stark White? Choosing a shade of white is just as difficult as choosing the gown. It’s not just about knowing the difference in the shades, but the best shade for your skin tone. Here is everything you need to know.

Reminder: Before trying on dresses, keep in mind that dresses your trying on are "samples". So they may be dirty and their actual color may be more appealing than the sample dress appears.

Tip: Ask your consultant for a clean fabric swatch to place next to your face before making a final decision.

  • 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. As a general rule, most people look best in a soft, diamond-white gown, which isn't as chalky as a white-white one.
  • Ivory
    Also referred to as "eggshell" or "candlelight." Some ivory dresses have yellow undertones, making them look creamy; some are just a "quiet" white.
  • Rum or Champagne
    A white with pink undertones that looks nearly white in photos.

  • If your skin is fair, you'll look best in yellow-ivories. 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 white 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.

No one wants an ordinary dress! Embellishments can add personality and make your dress one of a kind!

As La Soie Bridal puts it, “Embellishments on the gown are like sprinkles on ice cream.” (And who doesn’t love sprinkles?!....or ice cream) They can be used to add personality, uniqueness, richness, texture, and movement to your gown.

The Extras You Can Add:
Appliques: Fabric cutouts sewn onto the dress.
Beading: Pieces of glass, crystal, gem, or other material glued or sewn onto the gown.
Austrian Crystal: Lead crystal polished and faceted to give full-spectrum light.
Border Trim: Braided, ribboned, ruffled, or scalloped edges.
Bugle Beads: Long, tubular-shaped glass beads.
Crystal: Beads carved out of genuine transparent quartz.
Edging: Narrow decorative border of lace, embroidery, braid, or fringe used for trim.
Embroidery: Fancy needlework or stitching on a gown done by hand or machine.
Fringe: A sequence of cut fabric or threads; adds movement to a dress border, or can be applied all-over for a flapper look.
Jewels: A look created from an illusion back speckled with faux sparkling jewels.
Ribbons & Bows: Used in various lengths and sizes, from one giant butterfly bow in back to a tiny shoestring tie in front.
Seed Pearls: Tiny real or faux pearls used to adorn gowns, headpieces and shoes.
Baroque Pearls: Natural or faux pearls in irregular shapes.
Sequins & Paillettes: Small, shiny, iridescent plastic discs sewn to fabric to add "twinkle"; sequins are secured flat in place, paillettes are larger and usually hang off of the fabric, adding movement as well as sparkle.

Now that you know the entire wedding dress anatomy, learn the ideal time to order your dress and what to expect at your fittings!

The Ideal Timeline for Ordering a Dress.
You need to order your dress at least 6 months prior to your wedding. So if your wedding is in June, you should order your dress around January. Giving you and your seamstress enough time is vital, especially because 80% of all dresses are made outside the US. (being in a time crunch will only limit your choices and less perfect your fit)

Giving yourself this time will allow you to get in the recommended 3-4 fittings before your big day. Again if your wedding is June, you should have your first fitting by March or the beginning of April. And remember, always wear the under garments and shoes you will be wearing on your wedding day! 

The Fittings
1st- The first fitting is when the dress you ordered has arrived at your store. Don’t freak when it doesn’t fit you perfectly! Most likely the fit of your dress will not be exactly how it was when you bought it. This dress will be new and some parts may be loose on your body. This is why it's important to allow numerous fittings to ensure that perfect fit. Here the seamstress will start pinning your dress to fit your shape. This is when you can give any specific requests and throw around ideas.

Tip: In the first fitting you will decide whether or not you need to shorten the dress and if so, the hem will be removed. It is important to remember the hem will be the first and last thing put on your gown, so don’t expect the hem to be exactly the way you want it until the rest of the dress is finished and perfected!

2nd- Two weeks following your first fitting, you should have your second fitting. Here the dress will be opened (by the seamstress) and pinned to fit your shape. (Remember, it takes more than one pinning to get it right, don’t stress if it doesn’t fit you perfectly yet!)

3rd- Like fitting 1 and 2, the third fitting is to keep perfecting the fit. The dress should now be closer to resembling how you want it to look on your big day. This fitting allows the seamstress to make any last minute changes due to weight gain or weight loss. (La Soie Bridal said if anything, most brides loose weight because of stress, not the other way around. I know this surprised me too!) Here your hem, or the length, should be where you want it.

4th- Your fourth fitting should be the week of your wedding. In case there are any drastic changes, you still can fix your dress.

Tip: During this 4th fitting, you should bring your designated bustler (the person who will be bustling your dress on your wedding day) so the seamstress and consultant can teach them how to do it. 

Your bridal salon can make or break your wedding dress experience. Here’s some advice to consider when choosing your salon.

During this process, working efficiently with your seamstress and consultant can make or break your experience and possibly affect your final look. La Soie Bridal gave me the criteria you should be looking for when it comes to choosing your salon.

If during your first appointment, you tell your consultant your preference and the first 3 or more dresses are not at all what you are looking for, WALK OUT! La Soie expressed how important it is for consultants to listen to the clients and this shows they are not listening!!

Your consultant should be considering your wants but should also make sure that you are not choosing unappealing dresses. They should be honest (not harsh) and offer you other styles. Brides mostly have an idea of what they like and want, but keep an open mind to your consultant’s ideas. Many brides end up with a style they had no idea they were looking for.

If you aren’t satisfied trying on that ball gown dress you have always wanted, your consultant should look at the specific components you like and offer a different style that incorporates that component.

To make sure you get the most out of your fitting, you need to make an appointment so you will have time to work with your consultant. (La Soie recommended 1:30 -2:00 hours for an appointment) And like many of us know from watching Say Yes to the Dress, bringing a posse can create some challenges. Some salons, like La Soie, allow clients to bring big groups, (you can even bring your own champagne!) just as long as you have an appointment. If you do have a big group, walking in on a Saturday afternoon with no appointment will probably not be the best idea. The preferred days for dress shopping (even with an appointment) are Tuesday- Friday.

You've found your perfect wedding dress.... now what? Find out what is next!


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