New & Used Wedding Dresses Glossary

Feeling overwhelmed by all the different styles, fabrics and embellishments that can be on a wedding dress? Confused between what the difference between Alencon and Chantilly lace is? Or the difference between an A-line wedding dress and a ball gown dress or a mermaid versus a trumpet gown? Not to worry, here you will find a glossary of wedding style terms so that you can understand all of the bridal fashion lingo. We got you covered here from fabrics to styles.

A-Line: A skirt style that starts tighter at the hips and gradually widens as it moves towards the hem. The skirt of the wedding dress gives off the same shape as a capital letter A.

Alencon Lace: A French needle lace originating in the 16th century. Alencon lace tends to be thicker and bolder in look. The lace pattern has a raised continuous outline. Many people of royalty have used Alencon lace on their wedding dresses and veils over the years.

Appliqué: a piece of fabric (or lace) is layered on existing fabric and stitched in place. Used to embellish many wedding dresses and add beautiful three-dimensional details.

Asymmetrical: A waistline that starts higher on one side and drops on the other. Either starting from an empire waist moving to a natural waist or natural waist moving to a dropped waist.

Ball Gown: Full flared skirt. Creates a very formal looking wedding dress

Basque: A waistline that comes to a low U or V. Creates the look of length. Also known as a dropped V waist.

Boat Neck: A wide horizontal neckline that goes across the collarbones from shoulder to shoulder.

Chantilly Lace: A handmade bobbin lace. Originating from France in the 17th century. It is a fine lace that has a great amount of detail. Wedding dresses often use a Chantilly lace in flower patterns which gives a softer look then the Alencon Lace

Charmeuse: A light weight fabric that has a shine and luster to it and is sometimes woven with satin. The fabric is used for wedding dresses that are more tailored to the body.

Chiffon: sheer woven fabric made from cotton, silk or synthetics. Resembles a fine net or mesh and is often used in overlays. It adds a very romantic feel to wedding gowns.

Corset: A slim fitting top, usually strapless with stiff boning inside as support and either laced up or with hooks as closures.

Dropped Waist: A waistline that falls three to five inches below the natural waistline and as low as the hips, it gives the illusion of a longer torso.

Empire: A waistline that is three to five inches above the natural waist sometimes even starting right under the bust line.

Fit and Flair: a dress that closely hugs the body through the bodice and right past the hip, where the skirt then flares away from the body.

High- Low: a hemline that usually comes to the knees, or slightly below, then gradually becomes longer, as it angles toward the back of the dress.

Mermaid: The dress fits to the form of a body and then flairs out below the knee.

Natural Waist: A horizontal waistline that falls at one’s natural waist – the narrowest part of the body between the ribs and the hips.

Organza: A thin woven shear fabric traditionally made from silk or synthetics.

Pleats: Fabric that is doubled back against itself and secured in place.

Pick-ups: Often found in the skirt of wedding dresses. They are pulls in the outer layer of fabric to create a small lift in sections of the skirt sometimes exposing another fabric or pattern.

Ruched: Creating gathers in cloth by pulling it between two or more lines of stitching. Also known as shirring.

Ruffles: A sewing technique in which a strip of fabric, lace or ribbon is tightly gathered or pleated on one edge and applied to the garment creating a flowing, feminine detail.

Scoop Neck: A neckline that is dropped below normal necklines and takes the shape of an exaggerated circle.

Satin: A fabric with a silky, lustrous finish. The fabric’s long, interlaced yarns have no visible pattern, which creates a smooth, shiny surface.

Sheath: A dress that is characterized by having a straight, form-fitting skirt and bodice. Usually hits just below the knee, often with a slit in the sides or back for ease of movement.

Sheath: This natural fiber is known as one of the finest textiles because of its softness and radiant sheen.

Strapless: A garment with no sleeves or straps.

Square Neck: A half square or rectangle shaped neckline.

Sweetheart Neck: Created by the top of the dress on either side arching over each breast meeting in a v at the center creating the shape of a top of a heart.

Taffeta: A medium-weight, plain-weave fabric with a slightly ribbed texture that is known for its luster.

Trumpet: The wedding gown is fitted to the body through the hips, around the mid thigh the dress flairs out but not as dramatically as a mermaid dress.

Tulle: A stiffened silk net. The term can also include synthetic nets.

Venice Lace:  Also known as French Point De Venise Lace was popular between the 16th-19th century. The lace was originally needle worked as separate pieces and connected together with fine bands. The pieces gave a geometric cutout look. The pieces are outlined with thicker cording or threads to make each piece stand out.

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