A wedding dress is unlike any other formal gown you’ll ever wear. By definition, it’s made for one bride and not available to anyone else (a ready-to-wear dress, on the other hand, is purchased off-the-rack). And it takes a lot of time and work to make. “There are lots of elements and techniques that go into making a wedding dress,” Cho says, such as boning, lace, layers of tulle and intricate embellishments. It’s also designed to be as flattering as possible, so brides can feel their most confident on their big day.
In addition to being a symbol of a bride’s love, her dress is also a signifier of her social status. For example, in the past, rich and royal brides wore white dresses as a way of showing off their wealth to their guests. But by the late 1800s, white became de rigueur, even for middle-class brides. In fact, it was Lady Harriet Sams, a social worker who married at 35, who broke the mold when she wore a vibrant red calf-length frock with blue accents to her wedding in Earlsfield, Middlesex in 1889.
Today, the wedding dress is more often worn as a symbol of the bride’s personality and style. But that doesn’t mean the trend for color has waned. Rather, designers have incorporated it into the silhouette by adding a cascading floral print to the skirt or a delicate blush hue to the train for a romantic look.
As for sleeves, a strapless dress is the most traditional, while cap and spaghetti-strap styles add a sexy, lingerie-inspired appeal. But it’s the neckline that really ties the whole look together, whether it’s straight across in a classic V-neck, curved into a heart-shaped sweetheart or a bold, maxi puff in a boho bell silhouette.
For the bottom half of the dress, sheath and slip styles skim down the body for a sleek effect. For a little extra oomph, pick a dress with a dropped waistline or an empire waist that sits right below the bustline. And, if you’re looking to show off a little more skin, there are a number of plunging necklines, including the deep v, the sexy smock and the off-the-shoulder.
Lastly, the length of the dress’s skirt determines its level of formality. Longer trains like the Watteau and sweep trains create a grand appearance, while shorter options, such as court trains and detachable trains, barely graze the floor and are more casual.
When it comes to choosing a dress, every bride has her own unique style and taste. But it’s important to consider religion, culture and tradition when selecting the dress for your big day. And most importantly, don’t forget to take your groom into consideration when selecting the perfect wedding attire!