One of my all time favourite blogs is Fit for a Queen, where the intrepid Mrs Mole takes a range of off the peg, designer, heirloom and unusual wedding dresses and alters them to fit her variously shaped clients. She always succeeds, in my opinion, in making the brides look pretty good, despite the sometimes less than promising raw material.
This is quite a skill, especially given the attitude of some who are approaching the big day. Frayed nerves, overstretched budgets, miserable diets, family pressures and there being just too much to do can make it hard to make sensible decisions. My two sons and daughter in law are in Australia at the moment celebrating the marriage of Elizabeth and Clive.
Earlier this year we attended the lovely wedding of Maria and Adam (below) and we are looking forward to Kate and George’s wedding later this summer. I therefore want to offer a little advice on wedding dresses if you, or a loved one, is getting hitched this year.
The wedding market is worth $72bn in the US alone. A survey by Brides magazine shows UK couples spend around £30,000 on their wedding. I believe if you say you want something for a wedding – from venue to menu – the price goes up. Myself, I would not spend more than about £200 on a dress. For my first wedding I made a suit in a good quality crepe wool; for my second I got a nice dress from a high street shop for £55. It is an important day, everyone will be looking at you and you want to look your best. But unless you are a celebrity you do not need to spend £1000s a dress you will wear once. Keep some perspective – you have so many other more important things to spend your money on. If you making your own dress you can buy beautiful fabrics within this budget.
If you are buying a dress rather than making it (and just ask Anne who made sensational bridal outfits for her three daughters how much time, work and stress is involved), there are some very nice dresses available on the high street. Have a look at Top Shop, Whistles, ASOS, and H&M.
Once you have a budget you will want to think about the type of look you want. The modern preference is moving away from Disney princess approach to a sleeker, paired down look that is also more wearable for less formal settings such as barns, beaches and country house hotels. But while fashion and preference is important working with your body shape is important too. My main piece of advice is choose a style of dress that is similar to the dress shapes you already like and wear, in terms of silhouette. The three types of figure – the hourglass, the straight shape and the slightly shaped figures all have an ideal type of full length dress.
A wedding dress will generally make the bride look feminine and desirable – the length and close fit of the dress will make her look taller and slimmer. The light colour will reflect light onto the face and make her look younger and fresher (of course most brides are already young and fresh!). However some people do get it wrong. Princess Diana wore a style of dress that would have suited a curved figure (and it was two sizes too big for her). The second image of Diana in a column dress shows a much more flattering choice.
All images from Davids Bridal.
Shaped, curvy figure
Look for a dress with a fitted bodice, a defined waistline and a relatively full skirt. If you are full in the bust avoid high neck styles – – a lower cut is more flattering. The classic ball gown is probably your best look. You can wear softer, drapey fabrics, and curved hems.
A fit and flare dress will work well, as will princess seams. Emphasis on the waistline is good but make it smooth and uncluttered. A fitted bodice with a high waist can create a nice, balanced look.
If you are slim make the most of your shape with a column style dress. Look at dresses that are slim through the hips and thighs, perhaps “cupping” the butt. A halter neck, deep V or mandarin collar, will probably look good. If you have a straight figure but carry more weight try the dropped waist look, with fullness coming out from your relatively slim hip line can be very pretty. Stiffer silks and other fabrics will look better than the softer, draped fabrics.
White is the colour that will make you look larger than usual – wider and taller – especially if you dress in a full length style. This is the whole point of wearing white – you will stand out and appear to fill the space, larger than life. A very full skirt, or a long train, will again make you bigger than the congregation and cement your position as the centre of attention. The dark suit of the groom will tend to enhance the contrast and again help you to stand out. If you want to look taller and slimmer high heels and a creative headdress will add length.
The exact shade of white you choose is related to your colouring. People with cool, bright or deep colouring will look best in the brightest whites – often easier to find in synthetics rather than natural silks. People with warmer complexions will look lovely in the natural, warmer, creamy whites. And if you have muted colouring the very slightly greyed off white will look best – also very light greys, pinks and blues may appeal.
Shiny white fabrics will make you look even larger, as will lace and other textures. Consider avoiding them if you want to look slimmer.