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What to Wear?
What to Wear?
...A Bridal Dilemma

Before you begin to shop, it helps to know the wedding date, time, location, the degree of formality of the wedding and how much you want to spend. Each of these factors enters into your choice.

And while there are informal/formal and time of day guidelines, you should know that many brides choose to disregard these guidelines. My suggestion is that you buy the dress that fits your dream and that makes you feel comfortable.

Knowing how much you are willing to pay will help the process and it will help your salesperson find the right dresses for you to choose from. Generally gowns for evening weddings are dressier and backless and/or sleeveless dresses are fine for this type of event. And generally most of your upper body should be covered for a morning wedding.

Dress Shape

Those who help brides pick their dress, agree that it helps to know what silhouette dress you desire - or what the overall shape dress you desire. You will have these shapes to choose from:

* Ball gown:

This is the dress that looks like it is ready for the ball. It has a fitted corset with a very full skirt that reaches the floor. The waist line may be elongated in a triangle (called a Basque waistline) or dropped to hug your hips. These dresses may be highly embellished with sequins, lace and or crystals. This dress looks particularly well on women with small waists and small to medium breasts.

* A-Line:

These dresses are flared from either the shoulders or under the bust. This is also called the princess line. It is flattering for most figures.

* Empire:

A variation of the A-line, the bodice is cropped and the waist seam ends just below the bust line to create a flattering elongated effect. Works particularly well on women with medium to large breasts and less than tiny waist.

* Mermaid:

This is a narrow, body-hugging gown that flares dramatically at or below the knee like a mermaid's tail. It is sometimes called a trumpet skirt. This dress is good for showing off a curvy body, especially for a taller bride. This gown may feel constricting.

* Sheath:

This is a narrow, close-fitting gown that goes down to the floor in an unbroken line. This evening dress like bridal gown is currently very popular with buff brides. When the material is cut on the bias it is particularly revealing. It is almost impossible to kneel in this style. This is even more restrictive if combined with fitted long sleeves.

* Slip:

This dress looks like a long tank top and is usually without ornamentation. It may be backless or bias-cut. It is most elegant on someone tall and slender.

Dress Length

How long should your dress be? There are several typical lengths for you to choose between, depending on the style dress, your height and the height heel you feel comfortable wearing. The standard lengths are:

* Ballerina: This length comes to the tops of your ankles and is generally used with full skirts.

* Full length: Just the tops of your shoes should show. The back should be short enough for you to dance in. This is also called floor length.

* Intermission: Also known as high-low, the front is cut shorter, about to midcalf, and the back goes to floor length.

* Mini: This length ends right above the knee or shorter.

* Street length: The knees are covered.

* Tea length: This length ends just above the ankle or at the lower calf.


The train you choose will change and transform your dress. It forces you to walk more regally as it swishes behind you. They are either detachable or made to be gathered up in a "bustle" with the help of buttons or loops so that you can dance.

The common lengths are sweep, chapel and cathedral. The sweep train just reaches the floor; the chapel train trails three to four feet behind the gown, and the cathedral trail six to eight feet.

TIP: Look how a dress's train is bustled before you buy it. And have your maid of honor or whoever will be in charge of “bustling” your dress to come to the last fitting for a lesson, otherwise you will be away from your party while someone figures out how to bustle your dress.

Does it Have to Be White?

No, it doesn't. Some brides just go away from white altogether. Others pick dresses trimmed with other colors. But since the late 1800's, white has been the standard color. All whites are not the same, there are many different shades of white and some will look better on you than others.

Absolute white or blue-white or stark white isn't the best color for most blonds, but can be stunning on dark-skinned women. Generally dresses in this color or polyester.

Natural white, or silk white, or diamond white is a softer white. It is flattering for fairer brides. Generally dresses in this color are made in natural fibers like silk, cotton or linen.

Off-white has pink undertones and is generally called champagne or rum. This shade is flattering for olive or darker skin tones.

Creamy white has golden or yellow undertones and is termed ivory, eggshell or candlelight. It usually looks good on fair brides, but remember that one designer's ivory may greatly differ from another designer's.

For more information about choices in necklines, sleeves, places to shop and questions to ask before you pay, visit bestweddingyet.com.

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