Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To Strapless, or Not To Strapless; That is the Question

If you have looked at a bridal magazine, or Say Yes to the Dress anytime recently, you have probably seen that the bridal styles are dominated by strapless dresses. But many brides come in and say they don't want one - what then?

Now, I happen to be a big fan of dresses with straps, cap sleeves, one shoulders, etc. But the reality of it is, if you decide before you shop not to wear a strapless, you are eliminating a huge percentage of the available styles. It may be harder to find a gown that has all the other aspects you like, if you are only looking at styles with a certain neckline. So the first thing I do when a bride tells me she doesn't want a strapless is find out why. There are many reasons people give - some are good, some not so good. And by not so good, I don't mean to say that brides should be forced to wear something they don't like, just that their reason for not even trying on a dress with a certain feature is based on a fallacious premise.

Bad Reasons Not to Try On a Strapless

"I have a big chest, and I don't want to have my dress keep slipping down." - If you have seen someone wear a dress that is slipping down it has nothing to do with the size of her bust, but with the quality of her alterations. Either she lost a few pounds at the last minute, whoever tied her corset back didn't do it tightly enough, or she skimped on alterations.

"I have a small chest, so there's nothing to hold it up." - Your chest does not hold up a strapless. Your waist and hips do. When the dress is fitted well to the smallest curve of your body, it can't possibly slide down because, by definition, the dress is to small in the waist to slide down over your hips. The boning inside the bodice helps it to hold its shape, and so the dress is held up by the curve of your hips.

"I don't think a strapless will look good on me." - People have many reasons for thinking this, and it may be because you have tried on a strapless in the past and not liked how it looks. But all strapless dresses are not shaped the same. For example, some petite girls don't look in a strapless because they don't have a "pleasing proportion" of skin showing from the top of the dress to the hollow of their neck (the standard is about 4"). On these girls, a strapless can appear to look like it is too high and right under their chin. I would suggest a sweetheart-style strapless to open her up through the throat and show a little more skin and decolletage. A girl might think that a strapless shows too much cleavage. This bride should try a gown that does not dip in the front in any way, and maybe even has a detail like scalloped lace or a crumbcatcher for extra coverage of the bust. Tell your consultant your concerns to see what she thinks.

Good Reasons Not to Wear a Strapless

#1 Most Important: Afraid to be bare. Often I will have a bride in my dressing room in a dress that fits perfectly and she'll be yanking up at the gown to lift it up higher. I'll ask her if it feels like the dress is slipping, and I'll even demonstrate that if I pull down sharply on the gown it still won't come down over her hips and expose her. She'll nod and agree and a few minutes later be yanking at her dress again and stealing downward glances at her cleavage. Why? Because she feels so bare she will never trust that she isn't hanging out. This is the kind of bride I would prefer just choose a different dress rather than be fidgeting throughout her wedding day.

Shoulders that need to be covered - whether you have a dark tattoo that you don't trust to concealer makeup, or linebacker shoulders that are broad, muscular or sloping, these are often best disguised or visually broken up by a strap or a one shoulder design.

Religious or Modesty Concerns - Although more churches are getting away from this, many faiths or individual Officiants are still enforcing rules that require the Bride to cover her shoulders, arms, back, etc. Even if a Pastor doesn't require it, some Brides and their families feel that a certain amount of skin coverage is appropriate for such an occasion.

A very thick middle - if your waist measurement is your largest measurement, it will be difficult to alter the dress in a way that will allow it to be secure without sliding down.

My lesson in this is that it is, after all, your wedding and your dress. It would just be a shame to eliminate a possibility because of a reason you hadn't shared with your consultant. So make sure to talk to her and share your concerns. She may find a solution, like a dress perfect in every other way, that can be altered or customized with straps, or that the right accessory like a veil or bolero, will complete your dream look.

Happy shopping!


Mommy on the Spot said...

You are a wealth of knowledge. I wish I knew you when I was getting married!

Sparkling said...

I have never seen a strapless dress on anyone that I thought was nice. Once a person moves, that strapless dress shows lots of flaws, in my opinion. I don't think a person needs to have wide straps or sleeves, but a nice, thin strap can do wonders. I think women hold themselves funny in strapless dresses and I wish they weren't so popular! They look great on a mannequin but they are something entirely different in real life.