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Elegant Bridal Gowns: What to Look For

This year, the watchword in wedding gowns is “elegance”. Pure, drop-dead, delicious elegance. Whether the look is contemporary, traditional or high couture, the overall feel on the wedding runways is unmistakable, it’s a return to la Belle Epoch, a world of chic elegance and graceful, dramatic silhouettes. Here’s what to be on the lookout for if you’re shopping for a wedding gown in the Spring/Summer 2009 season.

Asymmetrical Lines
Asymmetry is definitely in this season, but that doesn’t mean that the look is lopsided. The elegance is in the details and the execution. One of the most elegantly asymmetrical dresses for Spring 2009 is Priscilla of Boston’s Style 1408, a stunning one-shoulder ball gown that features a draped bodice and asymmetrical waistline to balance the asymmetrical neckline. The effect is just as lovely from the back as it is from the front with the drop waist echoing the diagonal of the one-shouldered bodice.

Silhouettes
The most prominent silhouette in this season’s range of elegant wedding gowns is the “fit-to-flare”, a cut that is flattering for most figures. The dress is cut to fit the torso, and then flares below the hip into a wide swirl. The most exaggerated fit-to-flare cut is the trumpet flare, which starts slim and swirls into a ground-sweeping flare at the floor. Another very flattering silhouette for your big day is the A-line dress, a classic wedding gown shape that fits closely at the bodice, and then flares out softly to the hem. Perhaps the most elegant wedding gown for a formal, traditional wedding though, is the ball gown, which combines a fitted bodice with a bell-like skirt. The Platinum Collection makes great use of the ball gown to create elegant couture looks in unusual and unexpected fabrics and styles.

Necklines
Sweetheart bodices, once considered the ultimate in elegance for fairy tale weddings, now have a lot of competition. Some of the most elegant contemporary wedding gown styles feature strapless bodices, often fanned or pleated. Many of the popular wedding gown styles feature sweetheart necklines modified to work with a strapless design. One shoulder asymmetrical designs are another elegant option for the contemporary bride, especially if the asymmetrical look is balanced by fullness at the hem or a contrasting asymmetry at the waist.

Pleated Bodices
Fan-pleated bodices are another wedding gown feature that you will see walking down the runway at the most elegant designer Spring shows. Strapless, fan-pleated bodices aren’t right for everyone, but they’re an eye-catching accent for the bride who isn’t overly endowed. Not all pleating is fanned, however. Some of the prettiest and most elegant designs feature ruched bodices and horizontal bands of pleating across the bodice, or vertically pleated satin and taffeta.

Hem Treatments
Hems are also getting the pleated treatment, along with flounces and tiers of lace. Some of the most elegant hem treatments include trumpet flares edged with lace or flounced with ruched netting. From the Vineyard Collection, the Ivy wedding dress model is the ultimate in simple elegance, a fitted sheath dress of silk and organza that features bands of satin detailing at the bodice and the hem.

Materials
The materials used to make a wedding gown are one of the major factors in determining the cut and the drape of the dress. The most elegant styles are those that move and flow with your body. Fabulous fabrics for wedding dresses include silk in its many variations, including shantung and charmeuse. Other materials that are traditionally used in elegant wedding gown design include organza, satin and tulle, but one of the most elegant designs of this season is a simple fit-to-flare gown made in chiffon and lace. The Holly, from the Vineyard Collection, features spaghetti straps, lace over chiffon and a flared skirt with insets of net that create an elegant sweep.

Lace
One of the most used laces in wedding gown design is Alencon lace, sometimes called the Queen of Lace. This embroidered lace is handmade, and highly prized for the fine needlework of the cording that makes up the designs. Alencon lace is often embellished with beading and metallic thread. Other lace that may be used in elegant wedding designs include Battenburg lace and Venetian lace. Handmade Belgian lace, sometimes called Princess lace, may also be used in net overlays or for wedding veils.

Important Things to Remember
Elegance is often in the eye of the beholder, but there are a few key things to remember when choosing the right wedding gown for you.

  1. Simplicity is often more elegant than fussy details.
  2. Quality of materials and workmanship is essential. Choose the finest materials and workmanship that you can afford.
  3. Elegance is a matter of fit. Be sure to have your gown fitted properly to you so that you feel confident and beautiful in it. Even the simplest gown is elegant when it’s carried off with confidence.

Stephanie Larkin is a freelance writer who writes about designer fashion, often focusing on a specific kind of dress such as elegant bridal gowns.

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