Hey Gals! We've got yet another wonderful treat from our favorite crew at Gown Boutique of Charleston. In case you've missed the past few times they've swung by, make sure to check out their truly informative posts on how to 'Be a Prepared Bride' and 'Ordering A Gown - How Long Does it Really Take?' But today, we're talking all about the fabrics, so we'll leave it to the experts to break it down for us...
You’re engaged! Congratulations! Is your head spinning yet? For many of you newly engaged brides, there is a lot of information to take in as you start to plan your wedding. Some of you are so excited that you rush to the bridal shop the minute that ring lands on your finger! That’s not a bad thing, but often times you can be unsure of the kind of dress you are looking for when you first start shopping.
Once the bridal consultant starts putting you in dresses and throwing out all kinds of terms for fabrics & silhouettes, it can be overwhelming. I thought it might help to give you a crash course on some of the most popular bridal fabrics. Reading up on your gown terminology can help ease the learning curve just a bit, and help you select the gown best suited for your taste and wedding style.
Let’s clear one thing up first…what is silk?
One term I see thrown about loosely is “silk”. Many brides say they want a silk gown, or ask if a gown is made of silk. Well, some gowns are silk, but that is only part of the story. Silk is a type of fabric that has many different forms: silk satin, silk taffeta, silk dupioni, silk chiffon, etc. The fabric types I outline below can be made of either silk or a poly blend fabric. These terms listed below refer to the appearance of the fabric, not the actual fibers that make up the fabric. For example, you can have silk satin or poly satin. A full silk satin will be higher in price because it is a higher quality fabric. On the other hand, a poly satin gives you the look of satin at a much more affordable price.
Satin (sometimes called Duchess Satin) is the most formal bridal material, and it is also the heaviest weight. This fabric is soft & supple to the touch with a high sheen that “bounces” the light off the fabric, which helps give that bridal “glow” people so often talk about. After not seeing much satin for several years, it is starting to make a comeback. We may see the trends start to swing towards the more formal looks for a while.
Charmeuse gives the high sheen of satin without all the weight. It drapes nicely, tends to hug your figure, and often gives that old Hollywood vibe.
Taffeta is a popular bridal fabric that has some sheen along with a slight texture to the touch. This fabric is light weight with great body to it, making it a great choice for styles that bridge the gap between formal & comfortable. Taffeta is a popular fabric not only for wedding gowns, but also for bridesmaids & mothers.
Chiffon is a sheer, very soft fabric that drapes well. Chiffon is often used for that Grecian goddess look, which works well with a beach, destination, or outdoor wedding. This fabric is one of the lightest in weight and tends to have a less formal feel overall, however the silhouette shape & the accessories can dress it up or down.
Organza is another very light weight fabric. It is as light as Chiffon, but has more body to it. We love this fabric on ballgown silhouettes because it gives you a full, flowing look without weighing you down. It is also great for creating ruffles or floral details on gowns.
Tulle is a sheer “netted” fabric is also used to make veils. It has a more casual in feel and is very light weight. It is a great way to give a gown texture without doing flowers or ruffles.
Both Dupioni and Shantung are types of “raw” silk that are known for their “slubbing” or lined texture that runs throughout the fabric. Most often, Dupioni will show more “slubs” than Shantung. I am showing examples in color here so that the texture variation will show well. We see this fabric used in bridal gowns, bridesmaids & mother’s dresses. This fabric is versatile and very comfortable to wear, and is a great option for keeping some sheen, but also getting some texture.
There are many kinds of lace, but the two most popular types of bridal lace are Chantilly Lace and Alencon Lace. You can see different patterns of Chantilly or Alencon lace, but most bridal gowns made of lace will fall into one of those 2 lace styles.
Chantilly lace is a handmade bobbin lace that is named for the city of Chantilly, France. Bobbin lace is made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread that are wound on bobbins to manage them. This lace has a delicate feel. It is known for natural looking floral or scrolled design, and its pattern is outlined in a flat, untwisted strand.
Alencon lace is a needlepoint lace with a floral design that is sewn on a sheer net background. It is characterized by a heavy thread outlining the design. This lace originated in Alencon, France, and “needlepoint” lace means it is a type of lace created using a needle and thread to stitch up hundreds of small stitches to form the lace itself. In its purest form the only equipment and materials used are a needle, thread and scissors.
Well, there you have it! You are now a bridal fabric expert! I hope that these terms will help you sift through the racks of gowns in your search for the perfect gown. I know you will at least impress a bridal consultant or two by throwing out words from your new bridal vocabulary.
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