The last thing a stylish bride needs is a pair of uninvited, R-rated "guests" crashing the wedding — which is always a concern in...
The last thing a stylish bride needs is a pair of uninvited, R-rated “guests” crashing the wedding — which is always a concern in a strapless gown.
Good news for your “girls,” girls: While strapless is still classic, this is the year of new up-top options — from halters and spaghetti straps to short, sassy cap sleeves and even elegant full-length ones — and that means bosom support, shoulder coverage and a precious sense of security are suddenly chic.
“A lot of customers say they don’t want a strapless gown,” said Linda Shaps-Shanin, a vice president at David’s Bridal, a national chain of wedding shops. “Whether it’s for religious reasons, or to have their shoulders covered, or they’re afraid of lifting it up constantly, they want to feel comfortable that it’s not going to fall down.”
You may now kiss the bridal industry. They finally get it — and now they’ve got oodles of cool alternative necklines.
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“Right now, designers are doing everything but strapless,” said Oscar Hopkins, co-owner of Marcella’s La Boutique in downtown Seattle. “One-shoulder Grecian gowns; romantic lace-cap sleeves; ruffled halters; and even long, sheer, beaded sleeves make dresses look unique.”
Which is the point, after all — you want to be The Bride, not Any Old Bride. And you want to be hip, and chic, and confident. And, of course, free from wedding-day wardrobe malfunctions.
Here’s how to pull it all together, with the year’s hottest wedding-fashion trends:
The mermaid gown. “The slim silhouette is going to be very, very important,” Shaps-Shanin said; so important, it’s moving in on the traditional billowy ball gown. Wedding gowns are taking on a Hollywood red-carpet attitude, she said — much more “fashion-forward, trendy, ready-to-wear inspired.” And, just like Hollywood, oh-so-skinny.
Dramatic hem lines. Further proof that the ball gown has competition: “From short and flirty cocktail dresses to high-low gowns (short in front and long in back), skirts are getting more creative,” Hopkins said. Look for gowns with ruffles, tiers, slits, bubble hems and asymmetry.
All-over color. Though brides (and designers) still love colorful accessories with a white gown (black is especially chic), they’re taking it even further this year. “The look is head-to-toe color, with gowns in gorgeous shades of platinum, champagne, blush pink and ice blue,” Hopkins said.
Seattle couture designer Luly Yang, who “absolutely loves using color,” is especially fond of diamond white. “Off-white is more natural and flattering to anyone’s skin than bright paper white,” she said.
Softer fabrics. Another bridal bastion takes a hit: the omnipresent satin gown. “Satin has been the mainstay for years and years and years,” Shaps-Shanin said. But now it’s making way for softer, less-formal fabrics. “It’s like a goddess look,” she said. “Very drapey in the front, very flowy and driven by chiffon or crinkle chiffon — more fluid fabric.”
Fluid, yes — and easier to haul around, too. “Flowy chiffon and satin-face organza are great to build body in a skirt without adding weight,” Yang said.
Textures. Embellishment, embroidery and details are popping like champagne corks at an open bar. One of Shaps-Shanin’s favorite new textures is a soft floral “burnout pattern.” “The fabric is literally burned, so some of it is shiny, some flat.”
Other interesting ways to add dimension, Hopkins said: “Swiss-dot, embroidery, striped jacquard, beading, polka dots, velvet, tulle flowers, organza ruffles and even raffia are being used this season.”
Yang turned texture into art in her 2008 collection, with “taffeta and organza and chiffon, ruched to create airy texture, mimicking the sky and cloud and the ocean’s ripples.”
It’s back! Still need that “something borrowed”? Hit up that groovy aunt who got married in the ’80s. Yes, taffeta is hip again. “Last year was the first time taffeta dresses started growing in importance,” said Shaps-Shanin. “Now it’s definitely growing” — especially when it has some “skirt interest,” such as folding or draping. Hopkins said pleats and ruching, too, add great detail to a simpler fabric such as taffeta.
And about those sleeves: Mind you, we’re not talking polar-fleece intensity, but more “a translucent romantic veil to cover part of the arm, or as a design element,” Yang said. “When sleeves are light and sheer, it allows the gown to keep its youthful lines.”
Shapes-Shanin is so sold on sleeves, she invented 10 different options that can be attached with a hook and eye to any strapless gown — and removed at will.
For your man: Grooms face some serious choices, too — some even beyond Bud Light vs. Fat Tire. But most seem to revolve around two big-picture considerations: 1) Classic vs. updated; and 2) Um, what do you think, dear?
For example, tux color. “This is driven by what the bride-to-be wants the colors of the party to be,” said Simon Chan, men’s buyer for Mario’s in Seattle. To a point, anyway; not too many dudes are going to agree to an all-peach tux. Black and white are still the “classic and timeless” choices, Chan said, so more likely, the color of the tie, vest or cummerbund “should match the bride’s color story.”
As for fit, men’s wedding wear is following fashion trends, too: “Trousers are all cleaned-up and slimmer for a more updated and sophisticated look.”
In the accessories aisle, Chan said the long necktie or 4-inch hand tie is more current, while the classic bow tie/cummerbund set is timeless.
For the same-sex couple: The trend here is coordination, said cruise-destination-wedding planner Royal Ocean Events president Tonia Scurr, who coordinates weddings in Vancouver, B.C., where same-sex weddings are legal.
Most male couples are opting for traditional darker colors, in identical tuxedos or suits with matching ties, she said. For women, Scurr said she sees a lot of traditional white wedding gowns — but never, yet, on both partners. More often, one woman’s gown is tied into her partner’s white suit with flashes of matching color — a blue sash for the gown, a blue shirt for the suit.
One couple, Scurr said, chose a clothing theme of olive green and brown — and even carried it through to the cupcake icing: “It did look quite nice by the time we put the flowers on.”
Sandy Dunham is a desk editor at The Seattle Times. Harley Soltes is a Seattle-area freelance photographer.