Hello all! We took a hiatus to work on some other projects, but we’re back to blogging on all things, great and small, relating to weddings. Happy new year to all!

After seeing all the December engagements pop up on Facebook – did you know that December is the most popular month of the year to get engaged? – I got to thinking about what all those new brides-to-be would be doing first. The number one thing? Wedding dress shopping. Heck, it’s probably the most important thing about the wedding, in the bride’s mind. I have known more than one woman who found (and purchased!) a gown before even becoming engaged*.

There is no shortage of beautiful collections for the fall 2012 season. In the last ten to fifteen years, bridal fashion has really become fashion. There are trends that come and go, designers known for certain looks, styles and silhouettes, and such a variety in offerings that we’ve never seen before. It’s enough to drive a bride crazy, looking for the perfect gown among so many options.

Kelly, a bride-to-be for several months, recently told me that she has had trouble picking out a gown for herself, because she felt like she looked she was playing dress-up.

I wanted something to look as effortless on me as Grace Kelly’s gown did on her. I’ve always wanted a ballgown, but all the ones I tried just didn’t have the look I was going for.

I devoted some serious rumination to this, because I know exactly what she’s talking about. How is it that a movie princess can look like she was born in a huge, poufy gown, while the rest of us run the risk of looking like we’re extras in a Gone with the Wind remake?

The truth isn’t amazing genes, supermodel height or camera trickery. It’s foundational undergarments.

Yeah, you know all about the power of Spanx and a good push-up bra. But here are some things you may not have thought (or even heard) of, that may make all the difference in your look. The answer, as one of my favorite teachers used to say, is often in the dull, forgotten details.

How to wear an A-line

Many ballgowns today are of the A-line design, meaning they are full, but not so full as to hamper you from walking through a door. The skirt falls from the waist like the sides of the letter A. This is the easiest style of skirt to wear, hence its popularity. It flatters all shapes and sizes, and is extremely versatile.

A-line skirts are suited for occasions of all levels of formality – they are equally appropriate for an morning garden wedding or an elaborate evening ceremony. Most A-lines come with a built in crinolin (also called a petticoat or slip), which has stiff layers of tulle to help emphasize the A shape.

You can emphasize or reduce the fullness of the A-line by adding or removing layers of tulle from the crinolin.

 

How to wear the full ballgown

The woman who opts for a full ballgown is looking for a very specific kind of drama. The ballgown wedding dress is a statement-maker and attention-grabber. Which makes it all the more important that it’s drawing attention to the right places and elements.

 

When choosing a ballgown, many women look for the details: pickups, embroidery, bling. They look for the way it shows off the body. All very important things in choosing a gown.

But, the true beauty of the ballgown wedding dress comes from the way it moves. It’s so subtle, and something few people can put their finger on, but when it works, it just works. And when it doesn’t, it really doesn’t.

Most really full ballgowns today maintain their shape with one or more hoops, sewn into the crinolin or the gown itself. This makes it possible to have the really full shape, but without tons and tons of crinolin. It cuts down on expenses, and makes it easier for the bride to move.

But hoops have a tendencency to give themselves away. They often look like they’re moving on their own, and that leads to the dreaded “dress wearing the bride” syndrome. Also, comparisons to Scarlett O’Hara are often made (whether or not you consider that a compliment is up to you).

So how did Grace Kelly get her full tulip-shaped skirt? How did Audrey Hepburn’s ballgown in Roman Holiday look so regal and full?

The answer in one word: the bombast.

The bombast was a type of foundational miniskirt popular in the 50s. It’s what gave all the 50s style dresses their organic fullness – no hoops there! By making the skirt puff out from the waist, a perfect bell shape was created without masses of crinolin twisting around the knees and calves. It was comfortable to sit in, too.

The bombast went out with the 60s, but you can easily make your own and achieve the same effect. Check online retailers for mini tutus, or get crafty and make your own fluffy miniskirt. The effect: a gown that moves organically with you, effortlessly making you look elegant and completely at home in your ballgown wedding dress.

Tip: you can also use the same effect on a fit-and-flare or mermaid gown. Buy a slip that reaches the knee, and sew your bombast to the hem.

 

How to wear a slinky dress

Is there anything more sensual than a bias-cut, slinky gown? Specifically invented to hug and emphasize a woman’s curves, this 30’s style gown is timeless, supremely elegant and always sexy.

But it’s not enough to just wear Spanx and a good bra under this figure-baring style. To get the true look and flow of the satin, you need to do what the 30’s starlets did: wear a satin slip under the gown. The slip of satin against satin is what prevents lumps and bumps from marring the sleek lines. The gown will also move with you better, instead of catching on the lycra of your Spanx and bunching in weird places.

Keep the slip fitted, so it doesn’t bunch under the gown, and voila: they won’t be able to keep their eyes off you!

Stay tuned as we bring you more fresh ideas and inspiration to keep your wedding plans amazing, fresh, and anything but generic.

*Tradition claims it is bad luck to even try on a wedding gown before being engaged, but those ladies defied the superstition.