TWS Bride Guide: Trims and Bridal Accessories

Here is some information about trims and helpful tips for you as you search for the right bridal belts, sashes, and head pieces.

Satin Ribbon is probably the most commonly thought of trim when it comes to bridal belts and sashes. Available in a ton of colors and variety of standard widths, usually between 1/8th" to 3 or 4", these can also come in a variety of qualities. There are thin, paper-y, stiff varieties that work better on a hat or an Easter basket, but a good bridal satin trim to search for or ask for is a double-faced polyester satin trim. Pictured here are a few of these, which are shiny on both sides, and slightly thicker than a basic satin trim. Thickness is especially important if you have a lace dress with a texture that might show through as bumps under a thinner satin. Also consider the width of the ribbon compared to the waistline on your dress and your bust size. A very thin trim may be the best way to bring waist definition on delicate dress or for a bride with a larger bust, while a more substantial dress or a bride with a smaller bust may benefit from a 2" wide trim. Much bigger than 2" is often tricky, because the shape of a waist usually curves in and out at about 1" above and below. Keeping an extra wide trim in place may require seams or darts to contour properly. 

TWS Bride Guide: Runway Trends

Browsing through a bridal magazine or scrolling around through Pinterest is a great way to get a sense of the current trends in bridal. Figuring out how you yourself would look in one of these trends can be challenging. This TWS Bride Guide feature will detail some of the bridal trends we've seen move from the runway into the bridal salon, and into our own studio, and important things to keep in mind as you decide which of these trends is best for you.

Runway Trend: Deep V-necks. The deep plunging necklines we see on the runways work so well, it's no wonder a lot of brides are drawn to these features as they shop for dresses. The best thing for a bride interested this look is to be honest about the level of support she needs to feel comfortable. Generally speaking, smaller busted women fare better in these plunging lines, especially on designs in lighter fabrics or with scooped out armholes. Though light cups or nipple covers can be put in place to prevent unnecessary nipple exposure, brides with fuller chests might need to choose a dress with more fabric at the side which could be manipulated to create a sturdier fit over the bust with darts. Using a nude mesh panel between the lines of the v-neck may also help achieve a better fit while maintaining the integrity of the deep-v design.  And of course, a little extra double-sided tape (our favorite is TopStick Toupee Tape!) along the neckline will help ensure you don't scandalize any short aunties when you bend down to give them a hug! 

Runway Trend: Lace Tiers. Lace scalloping and tiers are not new to bridal, but they've made a big comeback, especially with the influence of Spanish styles and bohemian trends. Proportions are important to keep in mind if you are searching for a tiered dress. Think about the scale of the tiers, the height of the lace details, the negative space between tiers and lace details, and the overall length of the dress compared to your height. If the dress needs hemming, the tiers may need to be shortened from the top, or the scalloped edge may need to be removed and re-attached at a higher point on the lowest tier, but this may mean losing negative space, or shortening the lace detail. A flounce tier (think ruffles on a Flamenco dancer) may be asymmetrical, requiring hemming at the bottom but not the top. In order to keep consistency in the height of the flounce throughout, consider removing the flounce fully and shortening only the panel to which it is attached, rather than shortening the flounce itself. 

Runway Look: Boudoir. A lot of dresses are sent down the runway without linings simply because it allows the details of the lace and structure of the design to shine. More recently, a lot of bridal designers are selling dresses with partial well-placed linings and exposed seam work, especially with built-in bustier or corset tops and unlined skirts. This may be too much exposure for some brides, or may not be compatible with the weather on the big day, so ordering a dress with a lining or having a tailor create a lining or slip to match up with the seam lines of the dress may make the most sense. If you want to keep some of the original style, consider a nude lining in a power mesh that is more fitted, or a bias-cut silk charmeuse on the matte side for something that can hit in all the right spots while also allowing the overlaying dress to drape over your body. 

Runway Trend: Cut-outs. Many of the more minimalist designers are including cut-out details along torsos, backs, shoulders, and necklines to create interesting lines on fairly simple silhouettes. Though it's one of my favorite bridal trends, tailoring a dress with these details can be a tricky endeavor. The cut-out lines must be perfectly taught in order to look clean and purposeful, while also not being too tight, resulting in digging. Cut-outs along back shoulders and rib-cages also need to leave room for movement and breathing. Threading a needle strung with 4 threads that is exactly the desired length, through the edge of the cut-out, can help ensure a perfect finish. Here again, a little double-sided tape can help too. 

TWS Bride Guide: Lace

Our first TWS Bride Guide feature is lace. Lace has become almost synonymous with wedding dresses, especially white lace. Historically, however,  many laces were not made in white, instead made in black for wear during mourning periods. White lace, and white wedding dresses themselves, were popularized not because of an implication of purity, but rather as an indication of wealth. A white dress, particularly one of all lace, would be easily dirtied, and difficult to clean. Wealthy women wore white lace for their weddings during the 18th and 19th century, showing that they could afford to own a dress they would only wear once, and became fully popularized by Queen Victoria's wedding to Prince Albert in 1840 (see more here in this lovely little BBC piece from 2014).   Below are some photos and descriptions of common laces found in the bridal universe, but the varieties are endless and these are merely a glimpse of the laces available. 

 Alençon lace. It is distinguishable from other laces by its heavy cord or thread on a fine mesh, usually outlining a floral motif. It's light and soft to the touch, but sturdy enough to cut and use all over a dress and as a detail, perhaps on a veil. Extra fact: Real alençon lace is a needle lace originating from Alençon, France, and the craftsmanship required to make this lace is recognized under UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity! 

Broderie Anglaise: a light but solid fabric (like a cotton voile) which is embroidered with a pattern composed of small round or oval holes which are bound in overcast (buttonhole) stitches. These little holes, commonly known as eyelets, can be accompanied by embroidered details, like the small flowers seen above. This style originated in the 16th century in Eastern Europe, but was popularized in the Victorian era in England. 

Battenburg lace: developed in the late 1800s. It's distinctive look is achieved from a combination of machine-woven tapes which are connected with hand-stitched or crocheted stitches. The tape is formed to make the structure of the design and the stitches holding these tapes together can be tight to look more like a mesh, or looser, almost like a net, like that shown here.

Beaded lace: A lot of chantilly and alençon laces may be beaded, particularly when it comes to bridal laces. Above is a beaded chantilly lace, with beads used to outline some of the floral motifs. This example also shows the eyelash fringe detail along the scalloped edge, which makes this a beautiful and elegant choice for a hem of train or if scallop depth allows, along a neckline and/or armhole of a bodice. When looking for beading lace, be sure to consider the additional time required to work with the fabric. 

Chantilly lace: This is also a traditionally handmade lace from Chantilly, France, dating back to the 17th century, and is known for its fine, spidery style on a fine ground mesh. The motifs commonly found in chantilly lace are floral, baskets, and vases, and rather than being outlined by cording as seen in the alençon lace from yesterday, these motifs are outlined in a flat untwisted thread. Its quite soft and delicate. I love seeing it on a softly draped bodice but is also used all over dresses, usually blocked over a more sturdy fabric underneath. Historically, this kind of lace was made with black silk threads, and was considered mourning wear. 

Guipure: This heavy lace is used often in edgings and insertions, but is also used all over for a bold bridal statement. It is a denser lace than most, and is good for brides who do not like the look of netting. It is distinguishable from other laces because of the legwork or "brides", which are long coarse stitches, joining the design motifs, usually flowers, as opposed to being sewn onto a mesh ground. Modern guipure can be made by embroidering the motif onto a water- or chemical-soluble material, which is dissolved away after later. I particularly love it as a lace jacket or crop top over a simple dress. 

Embroidered Organza: Often used as a trim or an applique, embroidered organzas are machine made laces that can have a combination of features of traditionally handmade laces, but on the more stable and durable organza fabric ground instead of a fine mesh ground. Some have cording outlining the motifs like alençon lace, like that in the foreground here. These are often beaded or embellished and used for belts and bridal accessories. 

Leaver's lace: This is lace made on the Leaver's machine, developed in the early/mid 1800s from an adaptation of a net making machine and the jacquard weaving apparatus, which makes lace complete with the pattern, net, and outline, all at once. This machine-made lace incorporates some of the shading details found in finder handmade chantilly lace, without requiring a netting ground. It's generally flatter, and makes for a sturdy lace option, even if made in a more delicate design.

Introducing the TWS Bride Guide

The process of choosing a wedding dress is exciting but challenging. There are many options when it comes to silhouettes, fabrics, details, undergarments, accessories, and more. In order to make sure you have the best experience from dress selection through alterations process and right up to the walk down the aisle, The Williamsburg Seamster will be sharing our insight and favorites here on the TWS Bride Guide. We hope it will serve to be a valuable resource for brides at any stage of the wedding dress process. Check in here and #twsbrideguide on instagram as we explore things like laces and veil lengths, steaming versus pressing, bustiers and backless bras, and more.