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The choice of the Bride’s dress is one of the most awaited moments for every woman, something dreamt about, since childhood.

Finding the dress which matches the levels of your expectations and imagination is not simple. In fact it is one of the most difficult aspects in the organisation of the whole Wedding Ceremony – because the choice made by the Bride inevitably determines every other aspect of the wedding day; the floral arrangements, the colours and the theme of the wedding.

The most important consideration must be that the Bride must feel herself comfortable with the dress, which must respect the shape of her body and enhance her best points, while at the same time expressing at a glance her personality and her innate style.

Therefore, before making your choice, start your search for inspiration by flicking through magazines, by looking at the collections of stylists and, once you have a concept in mind start the phase of trying dresses in the specialist shops.

And, above all, draw inspiration and a starting point from the information which I offer on the dress and its basic styles.

The A-line: The classic dress with a fitted bust which shapes the form with elegance and flow, and with a skirt which progressively widens as it descends. In silk, georgette, crêpe or Mikado.

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The Princess: A fitted top and a wide skirt, often completely of tulle, taffetà, or organza or duchesse silk supported by an underskirt or crinoline.

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Balloon Style: The classic shaped dress perfect for a country-chic ceremony. The waste is highlighted by pleats which multiply in the skirt and the bustier gracefully follows the lines of the bride’s body. The skirt is tight over the waist and then widens to finally become very voluminous before closing slightly, so subtly creating an “egg” effect. The dress can be made from a range of materials; silk, duchesse silk, satin, or lace – but could also be of linen and cotton to create a country-chic effect. The perfect veil is short.

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Empire Style: This is synonymous with regality and refinement, simple but aristocratic at the same time. The waist-line is elevated to sit directly under the breasts and emphasised by a ribbon or by the application of pearls or crystals (Swarovski) completed with a slightly darted skirt which is further enhanced with a train, either short or long. This is not a voluminous dress and can be formed either more closed (a column effect) or slightly more open. The ideal textiles are very elegant lace, perhaps with Swarovski crystals or small shiny pearls, silk lace or chiffon.

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The Mermaid Style: is a dress with a sexy style, which wraps the body of the Bride with a very tight form through to the thighs which then narrows to below the knees and then flares out noticeably. It is a very structured dress, not soft but fitted, which normally is made with chiffon or lace (in colours which are not too bright) or in a smooth textile, and is supported by taffeta and laced lined with organza.

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Peplum Style: which draws its inspiration from the women’s tunics of ancient Greece and joins elegance with simplicity. The cut is linear and sleek, with long drapery elements, which give movement and plasticity to the dress and slightly add volume to the fabric. It can be accompanied by a small train and is often shaped under the breast similar to the Empire style. It is usually made from soft and transparent fabrics such as chiffon.

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The Petticoat Style: Radical Chic, minimalist and with a character which is simple yet covertly sexy, this dress is cut as if it were “underwear”,  emphasises the line of the breast without binding them and, from a wide neckline, falls naturally and sinuously towards the feet. The textiles used are usually soft and semi-shining, such as silk or duchesse of silk, precisely to create the “underwear” look. The neckline is very wide on the shoulders, very and often the back can be enriched with, or actually replaced by, designs in rhinestones (to give a more elegant air) or in lace embroidery (for a sexier look). It should be chosen only for evening ceremonies.

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The “Bustier” Style: the bodice is “built” directly onto the body of the Bride and can be of in transparent and embroidered silk, often encrusted with Swarovski crystals and with its vertical support strips visible. It elegant character,  being at the same time both romantic and sexy, are the strongpoints of this style, best chosen by brides who are glamorous, self-assured and with a modern outlook.

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The Slip Style: simple and elegant, it follows the line of the body with binding it too much, leaving the bride more freedom of movement and harmonizing the whole body. The bust is defined with folds and shaped to flatter the wearer’s proportions, while the soft textiles allow a flaring of the skirt to balance the wearer’s shape and create an overall harmony in the design. The textiles used are usually soft such as chiffon, satin silk, cadì, duchesse silk.

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Column Style: this is a dress which is both refined and classic and which displays the bride’s silhouette while giving equilibrium to her shape. It underlines the chest and creates harmony between the breasts and thighs, without constricting the line, as occurs with the Mermaid style. It is a perfect dress either for an evening religious ceremony or especially for a civil ceremony because it is refined and elegant with being too lavish. It uses special textiles such as silk,  duchesse silk, lace, macramé, Mikado, and is often further embellished by the application of pearls or Swarovski crystals either on the body of the dress or to emphasise the waist.

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The Redingote style: this type of dress is characterised by its ease of wearing, form-fitting over the breasts, with a flare over the stomach and thighs, and bit-by-bit increases as it descends to the hem. It is characterized by two vertical cuts which start from the shoulders and finish at the hem. The chest is tight and sits slightly higher, but not as high as in the Empire style. This style takes its name from the riding coat, an English overcoat for horseback riding. It is only made in satin silk, duchesse silk, or mikado, and is often embellished with ruffles or ruches and also with pearls and Swarovski crystals.

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A veil – yes or no? Not all wedding dresses are suited to wear with a veil. While the veil has been considered an essential part of bridal tradition, in recent years it has often been replaced by accessories, special hairstyles, flower crowns/ coronets. In any case, if choosing a veil, you must take account of the important criteria, such as its length, and trial it to ensure it complements the dress of your dreams.

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You will be able to find more information on veils and on other head-dressing/ornamentation for the Bride in our next article.

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Alessandra Carbonari