Sunday, February 21

Top 5 Favorite Gown Designers


If you’re like me and the first thing you did after getting engaged was buy an armful of bridal magazines, then you’ve seen advertisements of more gown styles than you even knew existed. It’s pretty overwhelming at first but soon you start picking up on the unique look and overall tone from different designers, and in no time at all you know your favorites by name as if they’d been in your vocabulary since birth. While everyone gravitates toward their own personal likenesses, whether it’s the glamour of a tight corset or the elegance of a free flowing skirt, you should also keep your dress choice in perspective with the overall ambiance of you wedding. You wouldn’t wear a 10′ train, moire-fabric gown at a beach wedding just as you wouldn’t wear a casual jersey J. Crew dress for a cathedral wedding. But that doesn’t mean both dresses aren’t gorgeous! Your dress selection should also be hugely influenced by the budget allotted for your gown, shoes, and veil – and don’t forget those pricey alterations! – so be sure to always know how much you are willing to spend before falling in love with a dress that is 10x your price range. With that it mind, I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 favorite designers that are affordable enough for the average-priced wedding. The Destinations line from Maggie Sottero can run as low as $350 a dress, but you’ll still get that beautiful designer look! Meanwhile, the San Patrick collection can run in the upwards of a couple grand, which is reasonable for some brides but questionable for others. It’s all about finding a dress that looks stunning on your figure, matches your budget, and makes you feel like a red-carpet movie star on your big day.

Maggie Sottero
Maggie offers those classic looks that you envision when you hear the phrase “Beautiful Bride”. She uses a lot of taffeta and silk in her gowns but some also feature laze, organza, and tulle. Her dresses are sophisticated, glamorous, and suit many body types.
Maggie Sottero Front
Maggie Sottero Back
(Pictured is Style Fiorella from MaggieSottero.com)

Sophia Tolli
Sophia is big on that sweet-bride look by utilizing plenty of lace and subtle jewels. She has a unique style that makes every dress very different from one another. They are great Ballroom gowns and will transform you into an instant princess!
Sophia Tolli Back
Sophia Tolli Front
(Pictured is Style No. Y2723 from SophiaTolli.com)

Watters and Watters
Watters, to me, means style and fashion. You get that unique designer look with simple fabrics and creative designs.
Watters Front
(Pictured is Style Monclova from Watters.com)

Jim Hjelm
Jim shows off the classic bridal look  with gowns that are sophisticated and dreamy. All of his designs are very soft and feminine.
Jim Hjelm
(Pictured is Style No. JH890 from jlmcouture.com)

San Patrick
The first dress I fell in love with was from San Patrick. The are all very couture and stunning, well suited for the bride that wants all the attention on her wedding day. 
San Patrick
(Pictured is Style Babieca from SanPatrick.com)

And for more tidbits on how to choose your wedding gown by fabric, here’s a great article I found from the fabulous wedding website Beau-coup:
Wedding Dress Materials and Fabrics
Style, cut, texture, drape, and season are all-important factors in determining the best fabric for a wedding gown. The same style dress can look and feel quite different in a variety of fabrics, since each material is designed to produce a distinct effect. Some fabrics cling to the body, while others stand away. Some are cherished for their crispness, others for being light-as-air. Silk—a natural fiber that exudes an innate quality of refinement—is undoubtedly the most sought-after and cherished wedding dress material, noted for its resiliency, elasticity, and strength.
Silk threads are woven to create various fabrics, including satin, a densely-woven silk notable for its super-lustrous gloss; duchesse satin, a blend of silk and rayon that is lighter and more affordable than pure silk satin; charmeuse, a lightweight silk satin with a more subdued luster; and shantung, a low-sheen textured silk characterized by a rough, nubby quality. Then there are the gauzier, textured silks like chiffon, tulle, and organza—all used in multiple layers for gown skirts since they are transparent, but lightweight.

The Fabric Hotlist

  • Batiste: A lightweight, soft, transparent fabric.
  • Charmeuse: A lightweight, semi-lustrous soft fabric, that is satin-like to the touch.
  • Chiffon: Delicate, sheer, and transparent—made from silk or rayon, with a soft finish; often layered because of its transparency, making it popular for overskirts, sheer sleeves, and wraps.
  • Crepe: A light, soft, and thin fabric with a crinkled surface.
  • Damask: Similar to brocade with raised designs, but woven in a much lighter weight.
  • Duchesse Satin: A lightweight hybrid of silk and rayon (or polyester) woven into a satin finish.
  • Dupioni: A finish similar to shantung, but with thicker, coarser fibers, and a slight sheen.
  • Faille: A structured, ribbed finish like grosgrain ribbon; usually quite substantial.
  • Gabardine: A tightly-woven, firm and durable finish, with single diagonal lines on the face.
  • Georgette: A sheer, lightweight fabric often made of polyester or silk with a crepe surface.
  • Illusion: A fine, sheer net fabric, generally used on sleeves or necklines.
  • Jersey: A very elastic knit fabric; the face has lengthwise ribs and the underside has crosswise ribs.
  • Moire: A heavy silk taffeta with a subtle, wavy design.
  • Organdy: A stiff transparent fabric.
  • Organza: Crisp and sheer like chiffon, with a stiffer texture similar in effect to tulle, but more flowing; popular for skirts, sleeves, backs, and overlays.
  • Peau de Soie: A soft satin-faced, high-quality cloth with a dull luster, fine ribs, and a grainy appearance.
  • Pique: A lengthwise rib weave in medium to heavy weights; wrinkles badly unless given a wrinkle-free finish.
  • Satin: A heavy, smooth fabric with a high sheen on one side; very common in bridal gowns.
  • Silk Gazar: A four-ply silk organza.
  • Silk Mikado: A brand of blended silk, usually heavier than 100-percent silk.
  • Silk-faced Satin: A smooth silk satin, with a glossy front and matte back.
  • Shantung: Similar to a raw silk, shantung is characterized by its slubbed texture.
  • Taffeta: Crisp and smooth, with a slight rib; not frequently used.
  • Tulle: Netting made of silk, nylon, or rayon; used primarily for skirts and veils (think ballerina tutus).
  • Velvet: A soft, thick fabric with a felted face and plain underside.

    Fibers

    • Polyester: An inexpensive man-made fabric that can be woven into just about anything, including duchesse satin
    • Rayon: Similar to silk, but more elastic and affordable.
    • Silk: The most sought-after, cherished fiber for wedding dresses (and also the most expensive); there are several types with different textures: raw silk and silk mikado are just two examples.

    Lace

    Delicate-looking yet strong, and rich with history, lace is the perfect parallel for the bride herself. It covers while revealing, and adds a touch of centuries-gone-by grace while remaining utterly current. A bride who wears lace can’t help but feel that she’s paying tribute to a time-honored tradition.
    Developed from embroidery traditions dating back to the 15th century, lace-making involves looping, braiding, and interlacing cotton, silk, nylon, and other types of thread to form a pattern. By the Victorian era, few brides would marry without a touch of frilly threadwork somewhere on their gowns; today, lace is widely used in wedding gowns. Heralded for its inherent romance, intricacy, and graphic detail, lace comes in hundreds of weaves and shades, from the bold decoration of Alencon, Guipure, and Ribbon, to the delicate finery of Schiffli and Chantilly.

    Lace – The Hot List

    • Alencon: Probably the most popular type of lace for weddings, with a background of flowers and swags.
    • Chantilly: Features flowers and ribbons on a plain net background.
    • Duchesse: An irregularly spaced lace of floral design with a lot of raised work.
    • Guipure: A large series of motifs connected by a few threads.
    • Ribbon: A random pattern of ribbon sewn over a net background.
    • Schiffli: Lightweight, with an all-over delicate embroidered design.
    • Spanish: Designed with flat roses on a net background.
    • Venise: A heavy needlepoint-type design with floral sprays, foliage, or geometric patterns
    Remember – Dress shopping is a process that requires time and patience, but it should also be a lot of fun. The only downside is that you can only choose one … too bad it’s not as easy as it was to choose your fiance!

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