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Gown Guidance

By the bay
Creative Commons License photo credit: flutterfly2002

One of the many exciting aspects of your wedding planning is deciding the design of your gown. Here are couple of things to think about whilst deciding….

Tips on necklines

  • When choosing a neckline, a bride should consider her weight, height, bone structure and age. The smaller the bride, the shorter she will look with a décolleté; the older the bride the less she should reveal.
  • A clean, athletic neckline such as a bib, racer or halter makes even the fullest gown look sleek and sculpted.
  • Stretch illusion or sheer fabrics like silk net, chiffon or lace are flattering on women  all ages.
  • Sheer fabric always makes a high neckline look more seductive.
  • Necklines should be discreet for a morning ceremony, while late-day and evening celebrations allow for more latitude.
  • Even a high neckline can be provocative with an element of surprise such as a plunging back.
  • Most reputable, full-service bridal retailers are responsible for fitting the gown properly.
  • Check with the retailer to understand its policies regarding alterations.


A sleeve can be a style consideration or a necessity

The effect of a sleeve or armhole on the design of wedding dresses should never be underestimated. The shape, volume and length of a sleeve should be determined by the bride’s specific proportions. While the perfect sleeve can enhance a gown or downplay difficult arms, the wrong one will compromise the design of the dress and the look of the bride. The proportion of an armhole will always impact on the construction of the sleeve and neckline.


A waistline is key to the fit of a gown

While a neckline and bodice frame a bride’s face, neck and shoulders, the shape and position of the waistline will determine the overall silhouette of her gown. For many, the waist is a bride’s best asset and deserves great emphasis.

  • An empire waist is a seam tucked just under the bosom
  • A high-waist is positioned anywhere across the rib cage, roughly two inches above the natural waistline. Like an empire waist, this proportion creates an illusion of long legs. It is also an extremely flattering proportion for most brides.
  • A natural waistline is a seam placed directly at the actual waist. Reminiscent of styles of the 1950s, it works best on a narrow or A-line skirt.
  • A basque waistline is comprised of two curved seams that form a ‘V’ just below the natural waistline. A basque waist can be carved to any proportion. While flattering on most women, a basque must be adjusted to the individual. The bodice will only fit properly if the waistline is placed at just the right height.
  • Kidney shaped or S-shaped waistlines are also flattering. The ’S’ shape is created by a seam that dips centre-front then curves gently up over the hips. Like a basque, this shape creates the illusion of a long torso and narrow waist.
  • A trapezoid-shaped waistline has horizontal seam that rises sharply at an angle on both sides. More geometric than an ‘S’ waistline, a trapezoid waist achieves much the same effect as a basque or kidney-shaped seam.
  • A high-to-low waistline is a gently curved seam that rises centre front and eventually dips down at the sides.
  • Original and unconventional, an asymmetric or off-centre waistline makes a bold design statement in soft or stiff fabrications. The asymmetry eventually affects the drape of the bustle in the back.
  • The dropped waist, as its name implies, is any horizontal seam that sits well below the waistline. When worn two to three inches beneath the natural waist, a dropped waistline also creates the illusion of a long torso.
  • The princess shape consists of two vertical seams that taper to hem without any seams at the waist. Because a princess shape is elongating, it also flatters a wide variety of figure types.