Everything a Bride Needs to Know About Bustles

Everything a Bride Needs to Know About Bustles

Prepare for your bridal appointment by learning about bustle styles.

There’s no sweeter moment at the wedding reception than that tender first dance between the new husband and wife. But, it takes more than the perfect song to make the first dance memorable. Without a bustle artfully holding your gown in place, you’ll never be able to show off those spins and dips you’ve been practicing.

A good bustle lets you dance the night away without tripping over your train like Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars. But how much do you know about bustling a dress? It’s not that hard to learn the ropes – or ribbons! With a little preparation, you’ll know just what to ask about bustles at your bridal appointment.

Not all wedding gowns need a bustle

Not every bride wants to bustle her dress, and not every wedding gown needs a bustle. If your dress doesn’t have a train, or it only has a baby train, you won’t need a bustle. These types of wedding dresses allow for greater freedom of movement overall, which some brides appreciate.

Other gowns may be constructed of a lightweight fabric that can be managed without a bustle. For instance, on some gowns a seamstress can attach a loop to the underside of the train which secures around your wrist. This lets you elegantly lift your gown while keeping your hands free.

Think about the bustle when you pick your gown

The bustle can really change the look of the gown and how it functions. At your bridal appointment, talk to your stylist about how your dress will be bustled. Most dresses allow for a few different options, but you should make sure you like your choices. You may spend most of your wedding day with the gown bustled.

Perhaps you love the gown but decide that you don’t like how it would look or feel with a bustle. Gowns with long dramatic trains can look stunning during the ceremony, yet may feel like too much to manage all day, even with a bustle. In that case, consider buying a second gown just for the reception.

There are two main types of bustle

Although there are many styles of bustle, all are of two main types: the under bustle and the over bustle. An over bustle has one or more fasteners on the top of the train that get lifted up and hooked to the fabric on the outside of the gown. An under bustle folds the train under itself, attaching to the underside of the gown.

Some bustles are much more complicated in design, and they can add substantially to the cost of alterations. As a savvy bride, you are probably already budgeting for alterations, but be sure to ask specifically about the bustle. An experienced seamstress can give you a good estimate.

What are the most common bustle styles?

Although there are many different styles of bustle, not all suit every gown. Still, you will have a lot of options to choose from, so here’s a quick introduction to five popular bustles.

  • The American Bustle: Best for ball gowns, or gowns with long trains, the American bustle is a type of over bustle. It gathers the train and attaches it to the skirt of the dress, creating a waterfall of material down the back.
  • The French Bustle: This style is recommended for mermaid, sheath, and A-line gowns. It’s an under bustle, with hidden fasteners that create a small billow in the back of the dress.
  • Victorian Bustle: This elaborate style works best on a very full ball gown. The train is gathered and attached at multiple points down the back of the dress, creating beautiful and striking folds.
  • Ballroom Bustle: A universally adaptable style, this bustle flips the trailing skirt under the ballgown and attaches it to the inside of the dress, as if hemming it. It’s lovely on its namesake, the ballgown, but it works on much simpler dresses as well.
  • The Bow Bustle: This is essentially the American bustle, but with the addition of a bow. The train is gathered and attached with a sash, adding a pretty detail to the bustle. It looks best on an A-line dress.

If you have trouble visualizing how any of these styles would work on your dress, do a run through at your alteration’s appointment. The tailor can pin the bustle into the dress, so that you can see a variety of different looks.

Don’t forget you’ll have to DIY

You’ll have an expert to create the bustle for you, but remember that on your big day someone else will have to secure your train before your reception. That’s why it’s good to do a test run when your bustle is especially complicated. You don’t want to damage the fragile fabric.

Bring someone you trust to your final alteration’s appointment. He or she can have the tailor show them how to attach the bustle and supervise their attempts. That way everything will go more smoothly when it really matters.

Ready to try a few styles for yourself?

Done reading about bustles and want to see a few in the wild? There’s nothing like trying on a gown to help you envision how your dress might look and feel while bustled. Call us today to set up your bridal appointment at The White Dress. Our expert staff can help you find the right dress and answer all your questions about alterations.