Nearly every day I meet a bride-to-be insistent that she doesn’t want to wear a strapless dress. The strapless neckline has reigned supreme for over a decade, but now we are finding lots of brides are seeking something different and are searching our rails for gowns with straps and sleeves.
We make a determined effort to stock gowns with various necklines and right now nearly a third of our stock are gowns featuring straps; but what we also do is make sure that the strapless looks we choose can easily have straps and sleeves added. Sweetheart necklines lend themselves most naturally to the addition of straps, but with a little bit of tweaking most bridal gowns can have some sort of strap or sleeve added. And I’m not talking about just plonking on an extra bit of fabric! The kinds of straps we add are carefully considered and constructed to blend perfectly with your gown and also to form the most flattering shape on your body and against your face. We’ll source the exact kind of fabric, embellishment and decoration to make sure that they merge into your dress – it’s important that no-one ever guesses that the straps were an addition, we want it to look like they were there all along!
I love using straps in creative ways to address figure problems or areas you are self conscious about – the right strap shape can draw the eye away from anything you aren’t so keen on and instead draw your eye to something that you love! It’s all about optical illusion!
My particular favourite strap shape is the cap sleeve added on to a sweetheart neck as it serves to frame your face really well, can broaden your shoulders and draws focus to your waist. It’s a great tool to use if you feel like your hips look too wide – simply add a cap sleeve and suddenly there is balance and an hourglass proportion! However a cap sleeve is best avoided if you already have broad shoulders or if your dress is particularly straight as this kind of strap will just emphasise what you might not be happy to showcase.
A halter strap added to the widest parts of the neckline (just by your underarms) can also be a really useful figure balancing trick, and is also perfect for disguising that little bit of pudgy skin many of us can get between our bust and our arms where the skin folds. But definitely avoid a halter neck if you have sloping shoulders or wobbly upper arms. This is because the lines of the halter will act as an arrow right to these areas.
If you are conscious of your upper arms then more of a sleeve effect can be added too. I prefer these done in sheer fabrics like lace or chiffon to keep them delicate and flattering, as these shapes done in a solid denser fabric can have the opposite effect and draw attention to the area and can even make you look bigger.
Sleeves can also be a really useful trick in making you look taller and lengthening your body proportions. I find that narrow fitted sleeves can really stretch you and sleeves that end right at your waist can have the bonus effect of drawing attention to your waist.
A neckline that we are adding to dresses at the minute which I really love is the sheer tulle bateau. Again this addition looks fabulous added onto a sweetheart neckline but can work pretty well on a totally straight across neckline. I love that it instantly adds a chic ‘Audrey Hepburn’ type look to the plainest bridal gown. We’ve been making them totally plain but also trimming them in satin ribbon for a really retro look and adding lace motifs to match a lace bridal gown. This type of neckline can either be added as a tank shape or shaped more around the shoulders depending on both your dress and what flatters your body the best.
I love how little additions like these can totally transform your wedding dress and really make it individual to you!
So if you have a bridal consultation with us and I start grabbing random bits of fabric and pinning it to you – don’t be scared, I always have a plan!