The Gown Guide
● By Aimee Cormier
By Shanna Perkins | Photos Submitted By Le Jour Couture
“What a beautiful bride.” “She looks like a princess.”
All brides want to hear this type of flattering chatter as they mingle with their guests. While how they want to feel is universal, the type of bride they want to be varies widely – trendy or traditional? Current or classic? Luckily, the 2016 bridal styles offer the best of both worlds.
It’s A Tradition
“Traditional fit-and-flare silhouettes and ball gowns are always on trend and flattering for almost any bride,” says Le Jour Couture owner Shayda Yazdi. “The variations of design within these two silhouettes provide brides with options of personal preference. Overall, fit and flares and ball gowns are here to stay in bridal fashion.”
Elements of traditional bridal gowns are making their way into modern designs. By now it’s clear that Kate Middleton’s influence a la the royal wedding isn’t fading anytime soon. The predominance of layers of lace and long sleeves has been on the uptick since the noble nuptials in 2011.
Even Victorian touches are becoming popular with designers drawing inspiration from this era of opulence. Details like high necklines, flared sleeves, silk ball gowns and the use of pearls as embellishment were seen all over the spring 2016 bridal runways.
Lace is a bridal staple and this year there’s no such thing as too much lace. Designers incorporated lace into the traditional areas of their bridal gowns. And when they were done with that, they added more – layering Chantilly lace over embroidered tulle and Swiss dot lace to create elegant, but rich texture.
Sheer Comes The Bride
Brides are certainly becoming bolder. Many women are steering clear of anything resembling their mother’s wedding dress and opting for some surprisingly tasteful barely-there gown options. The backs of gowns are bringing sexy back in a big way. In 2016, the low back trend has graduated to the ultra-low back trend.
The concept was taken to the extreme when bridal designer Galia Lahav sent a dress down the spring runway with a back so daring, the audience gasped when the model turned around. However, that’s not necessarily appropriate in front of your grandmother. There are several ways to try the daring concept in modern and sophisticated ways. But, Yazdi says she believes the risqué gown trend will begin to fade as we make our way through 2016.
“For bridal fashion inspiration, brides looked to Israeli designers such as Galia Lahav and Berta, who took over Pinterest in 2014 and 2015,” she explains. “While these trends stuck around for awhile, it was not always practical. That was something our brides quickly realized.”
Illusion backs are one way to incorporate this trend while maintaining coverage and support. If you’re not into showing off your back, there are several other ways to show off a little skin. Cutouts have been a major trend in fashion and they have made their way to the bridal world. Bridal gowns are featuring strategically placed sheer and lace paneled cutouts around the midsection. Crop tops are another fashion trend that crept over to bridal, but we aren’t talking about exposed bellybuttons. Bridal gowns are featuring full high-wasted skirts and box cut crop tops that barely graze the top hem of the skirt.
As always, the trend of underwear as outerwear for bridal has its feet firmly planted. Structured corsets have been a long-running staple in gowns and it continues into 2016. Over the last few years, fashion has been experiencing a revival of the 90s and this influence is clear in bridal designs. Reminiscent of Caroline Bessette-Kennedy’s 1996 Narciso Rodriguez wedding gown, slinky, silky slip gowns have made a huge comeback.
What Goes Up…
Must come down. Just when it seemed like plunging necklines had reached rock bottom, they turned themselves around and went all the way up! The counter-effect of low neckline on bridal gowns is lacy or tulle-ruffled turtlenecks. Peter pan collars have also been trending in bridal. As 2015 came to a close, mock turtlenecks were very in style for winter wear, so expect to see this detail in spring bridal. Arguably, the most elegant neckline that we’ll be seeing a lot of in 2016 is the basic bateau neckline.
Another romantic way brides are covering their upper bodies is with capelets. There were a few major cape moments shown during the 2016 collections of Jenny Packham and Pronovias. When the world saw Solange Knowles don a decidedly chic and modern cape for her New Orleans wedding in 2014, we all jumped on the cape train! Maybe you love the idea of the cape, but it doesn’t exactly fit your personal style – enter the capelet. It’s the perfect finishing touch.
“Designers such as Hayley Paige, Anne Barge and Pronovias have come out with some absolutely stunning caplets ranging in detail from modern gem studding to delicate romantic lace,” Yazdi explains.
It’s All In The Details
The 2016 details for bridal gowns are completely whimsical. Flowers aren’t just for the bouquet anymore; floral is a staple pattern for spring. It’s hard not to think of the line from “The Devil Wears Prada” when Miranda Priestly sarcastically states, “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.” Except, something groundbreaking is happening when it come to floral in the bridal world – 3D floral. The runways were covered in wedding gowns with dreamy floral fluttering off of silk tulle.
“3D floral is always fun and really gives a gown that ‘wow’ factor,” Yazdi agrees.
Brides looking to combine the trends of whimsy, movement and texture are in luck, because feathers have been flocking to wedding dresses. Designers are using feathers in several ways: to give volume to skirts, as fluttery and delicate details, as not to be missed bold dramatic elements and to create a cascading body effect.
Not Your Mamma’s Gown
For the bride who marches to the beat of her own drummer, 2016 has some of the most unique nontraditional options yet. Bridal suits, they are very real and very chic! The two-piece suit is a striking option for the bride who is just a little bit cooler and slightly more casual than most. For 2016 Pamella Roland, Naeem Khan, Carolina Herrera, Theia and Houghton all had a bridal suit in their collection.
Maybe white isn’t your thing. Maybe you just don’t look great in it. Maybe you just aren’t drawn to it. Brides who opt not to do a traditional white gown have more options than ever before. Stonewashed shades are exceedingly popular and they’re subtle enough that they don’t rock the boat too much. Taupe, nude and silver are warmer options to white. If you aren’t ready to fully abandon tradition, nude underlay has the same effect. Because it is spring, blush tones are perfect to add a pop of color to your gown – try a soft pink or rose.
“Colors such as blush, alabaster and taupe have been all the rage in 2015, and will only get bigger and better in 2016!” Yazdi says with excitement of one of her favorite bridal trends. “Although these gowns are offered in ivory, these colors can be flattering on a number of skin tones, and can take a gown to a whole new level.”
Last season, brides opting out of white leaned for soft pastels and icy blues. This isn’t completely gone, but it’s been elevated. Soft and dreamy watercolors are prominent in the nontraditional category for the upcoming season.
Mix It Up
Every bride wants to feel like a princess on her wedding day. And lately, they’ve been taking cues from actual royalty (and celebrities) by changing into a new dress or outfit for their reception. And 2016 is their lucky year, because trends are making it easy for brides to change the look of their dress without actually changing.
The convertible wedding dress is perfect for brides seeking a dress that gives them both a traditional look for the ceremony and a fun vibe for the reception. These dresses can be worn several ways. When the skirt is attached it can look like a full (unsuspecting) skirt or it can look like a high/low hem. But when the skirt is removed, it reveals a short party dress. And if a change in hemline isn’t in your playbook, bows are back and they’re here to stay…or go.
“Convertible or high-low gowns are so convenient for a bride,” Yazdi explains. “They have a modern romantic flare and can give brides a seamless transition from ceremony to reception. Bows can be both modern and classic or, if a little larger, super fun! Bows can also be taken off to mix things up for the reception if chosen.”
Try Try Again
Most brides to be have an exact vision of what they want to look like on their wedding day, but occasionally that does more harm than good. With all of these emerging trends, the image of the modern bride is constantly changing. And while it’s important to stay true to who you are for your big day, Yazdi advises brides not to confine themselves to one vision they have of themselves.
“Every style is different on everybody,” she explains. “Eight times out of 10, brides come in with one idea and leave with something entirely different than what they thought. We cannot stress enough the importance of trying a variety of silhouettes on to find the most flattering style. We encourage brides-to-be to have an open mind when searching for their perfect gown.”