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The Anatomy of the wedding dress

February 2018

Many people think wedding dress shopping is no different to shopping for a Matric Farewell or special occasion dress. They can however, not be more wrong!

Wedding dress shopping is almost a form of art, with its own language and story to tell and if you misunderstand it you may end up with second best when searching for “the one”!

A wedding dress is like a woman, she has a name, a pronoun, a shape, a style, and a personality. Like a woman, a dress is also made up of a number of different features creating a structure or as we like to call it a wedding dress anatomy.

Luckily for us though, learning about the anatomy of a dress is much easier than learning about the anatomy of humans. By reading this article we hope you’ll be educated and informed and able to teach your bridal consultant a thing or two when it comes to bridal lingo.

Let’s take it from the top!

Technically this first term is not attached to the dress itself, but it is an integral part of many a bride’s wedding attire. The part being referred to here is the iconic veil.

VEILS

Many people confuse a veil with the train of a wedding gown which is ironic seeing as the train is at the opposite end of the “anatomy”- but we’ll get to that in a bit.

A veil is the head covering brides traditionally wear to show respect during the church ceremony as well as to mask their faces from the groom until the big reveal is done by the bride’s father. It is usually made from a form of netting otherwise known as tulle. Veils come in different lengths with the option of covering your face known as 2 tier or simply opting for 1 layer at the back defined as 1 tier. The illustration below should shed more light on the options available.

Anatomy Veil Length

BODICE

Next, we look at the bodice. The bodice is the top portion of the wedding dress that serves the purpose of enhancing the torso. Often decorated with intricate beading, delicate lace and fine fabrics, it’s ideal to lure the eye upward in order to frame the bride’s beautiful face.

BACK

The back of a dress is an important part of the wedding dress anatomy because it is usually a focal point for an extended period on the wedding day, mainly during the ceremony. Wow your guests while you say I do by having a stunning low, illusion, V-shape, cowl, corset or insert back. For extra detail, have a look at something with buttons or bead work.

Justin Alexander 8936
Justin Alexander 8936

WAISTLINE

The waistline can be found where the bodice stops to join the skirt. The waistline can be empire, natural waist or a dropped waistline depending on the silhouette of the dress. Empire refers to a style line just below the bust, where a natural waistline accentuates the smallest part of your waist & dropped waist falls just below the hip bone. Waistlines are often accentuated with a belt or joint seam to give a dress that x-factor.

WAISTS BIG

Another element connected to the bodice is a neckline together with some form of a sleeve or strap. Which brings us to our next point of the anatomy “lesson”- Necklines, Sleeves and Straps

These elements all go together in an important way but let’s start at a point.


NECKLINES

Necklines come in all shapes and sizes, each having a different effect on the wearer. The neckline is important because it greatly contributes to the look you are going for. If you are having a very traditional wedding, a low neckline for example might not be the best option for you. Whereas a very popular neckline that flatters almost any bride is the famous strapless sweetheart neckline (the name is derived from the top curves of a heart shape). Other neckline types include, the scoop, cowl, V-neck, square, round, Grecian and more.

Another favourite neckline and a huge trend for 2018 is the illusion neckline. An illusion neckline incorporates a transparent element of nude tulle & lace that gives you the illusion of either a strapless gown or the illusion of a lace tattoo on your skin. For your convenience, we’ve added an infographic so that you can start pondering the perfect neckline for yourself.

NECKLINES BIG

SLEEVES & STRAPS

Sleeves usually wholly or partially cover a brides’ arms delivering a beautiful end product. Sleeves can be found in a variety of lengths, styles and fabrics. The attached infographic on sleeves will give you a good indication of all the options available. Contrary to popular belief, sleeves are not only suitable for winter weddings as a thin layer of tulle or lace will hardly shield you from the cold. Therefore, if you adore the classy and elegant look of a long sleeve don’t let a little sunshine stop you! Take a tip from the royals, they love their sleeves!

Straps also come in an array of different shapes and sizes. One of the most popular is the spaghetti strap which is a thin strap that goes over the shoulder. Another prominent strap which we’ve fallen in love with is the off-the-shoulder strap which can be made from lace, fabric or tulle! For more straps have a look at the images below.

SLEEVES BIG

SKIRTS

Skirts greatly contribute to the end result of the look you want for your wedding. Various options available include the voluminous ball gowns, the very flattering A-line, the dramatic fit and flare mermaid silhouette, understated straight sheath gowns or the famous trumpet shape. When it comes to skirts you can either opt for a soft and graceful, or a more structured end result... it all depends on the look you’re going for.

SKIRTS BIG

TRAINS

With every graceful skirt there usually comes an exquisite train. What would a wedding dress be without one? Your wedding day really is the only suitable time for you to embrace the joys of a train (unless you are going to the annual Met Gala) so why not grasp the opportunity? It doesn’t have to be a 10m train to finish off the look, there are many different options that are just as impressive!

You can keep it short and sweet with a sweep train, opt for a court train which is slightly longer or embrace the ever so popular chapel length which is most commonly used and medium in length. If you’d like to make a statement fear not, there’s a more dramatic option like the well-known Cathedral length, ideally suited to compliment a Black-Tie Wedding.

Lastly, you can go for the Royal train. This train is fit for royalty and that is probably why all the princesses and queens have opted for it over the years. If you’re going with this train make sure you have a large bridal party to help!

Anatomy Train
Justin Alexander 8970

Allow us to suppress your concern by answering a question often asked. Yes we do incorporate a pick-up for your magnificent train so that you can dance the night away without having to worry about anything!

And that’s a wrap!

The anatomy of a wedding dress is much less complicated when you have simple explanations to help you along! Now you are ready to go out there and show your bridal consultant that you also know a thing or two.

All illustrations courtesy of Camille Garcia Bridal Couture