Wednesday, January 18, 2017


This gem of a hat and gown called FLEUR sprung from my love of the idea of the cocktail wedding--an intimate afternoon gathering in a lounge or art gallery with a city chic aspect. The dress is formal length with a brush train out of soft crepe back satin/charmeuse. The halter bodice is Chantilly lace cinched with a cummerbund with pearl buttons up the front. White, ivory or candlelight (shown). Matching hat available

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


From a designer’s point of view, sleeves can be one of the most creative components of a gown. For me, a well-designed sleeve is a work of art; it combines fabric and adornment into the overall image of the gown. I also think sleeves are the most satisfying part of a gown to work on—the actual stitching, manipulation of fabric and trim—the real character of the gown. There are probably more variations of sleeve than any other component and once you’ve decided to go with sleeves realize your possibilities are never-ending.

Besides looking beautiful, the right sleeves can add bodice appeal as well as keep your skirt or sloping shoulders in proportion. Although not foremost, keeping arms warm could be another option for wearing sleeves. Once upon a time etiquette dictated the length sleeve you could wear during winter months or time of day you got married. Fortunately these restrictions were lifted long ago. Nowadays, you can go for long sleeves in summer, short caps in winter if that’s your desire. Be realistic though. Just make sure you have a decent wrap or stole in New York for your December wedding. As for long sleeves next July in Palm Springs, go for them. Ever since Vera Wang popularized the detachable sleeve that ties and unties from your gown’s bodice, brides still opt for them.

When choosing a sleeve, think of them in terms having their very own silhouette within the outline of your gown as a whole. Because of the vast variation there is on sleeves, I’ve listed only the basic sleeve silhouettes from which many other styles derive.   
Above: Gauntlets on The ROCHELLE Dress

Cap: Tiny sleeves that barely cover the upper portion of the arm.  
Flounce or Flutter: Usually cut on the bias this resembles an open bell sleeve with a hem falling diagonally, sometimes falling into a deep-V back.
Puffed: Short sleeve gathered at the armhole into a puffy top.  The cuff is also puffed giving a ballooned shape 
Petal or Tulip: curved ar hem and overlapping to give a petal-shape.  Aka a tulip      
Short: Longer than a cap sleeve, you will find examples of these on t-shirts
Three Quarter: Hemmed at the upper forearm
Long: Set in and fitted sleeve extending from shoulder to wrist, offering the classic bridal look
Bell: Set in smoothly at the armhole, flaring to a straight across hem
Bishop: Long, full sleeve set in smoothly to the armhole, gathered at the wrist.  Always is fuller at the wrist than
Juliet: A long, fitted sleeve with a puffed shoulder.
et: A long, fitted sleeve that is put on separately like a glove and not attached to the bodice or dress in any way
Dolman or Batwing: A set in sleeve tapering from an oversized armhole, fitted closely at the wrist.  Seen in many dresses harking back to the late 1930s.
Leg of Mutton: Wide and puffed at the upper arm, narrowing from elbow to wrist

Clockwise: Photo 1--Long and fitted sleeves of Chantilly lace//Photos 2&3--Three Quarter sleeves with a flounce//Following Page: Shirred gauntlet sleeves.
Header Photo; Flutter sleeves on the COSETTE Dress//Above Clockwise: Photo 1--Long and fitted sleeves of Chantilly lace//Photos 2&3--Three Quarter sleeves with a flounce

Monday, January 16, 2017


Below are just a few of the highlights you'll find in Bride Chic's new look book that's out on ISSUU.  I love putting together these look books that are a product of the shoots we do for this blog and for my business.  Also on the horizon is the completion of Bride Chic: The Book, a comprehensive bride's guide of fashion and putting your look together on your wedding day.  You'll find everything from choosing fabric, dress style and lots of tips on accessorizing from a real pro like yours truly . . .
Above:Images from The Pursuit of Simplicity Shoot, photography by Shannon Grant///Below: Diaphanous blouses from The Bridal Blouse Shoot 
 Above; Images from An Autumn Champagne Tea In The Woods with photos by LaKeela Smith Photography//Below; The UNION Shoot with images by Nathan Larimer of Winter Tree Studios

You can also catch back issues of Bride Chic Look Books on ISSUU but believe me, they carry timeless fashion and photography ergo as fresh as the newest stuff . . . .

Friday, January 13, 2017


When it comes to bridal wear, silks rule. Made from the cocoons of silkworms, around 2500 B.C. the Chinese discovered and developed the process of weaving it into fabric. China is still the largest producer and exporter of 80% of the world’s silks. Most silk weaves are luxe, opulent and suggest a certain formality ideal for the bridal gown. Tightly woven silks like duchesse satin have a luster and are ideal for structured silhouettes, whereas loosely woven silks like charmeuse and crepe lend themselves to drapery. Choosing the right silk depends on the style of your gown in addition to time of day and year your wedding takes place. Here are a few of my faves


Brocade-Heavyweight fabric used in structured silhouettes. The elaborate patterns of this fabric are created by mixing muted and glossy yarns in matching (sometimes contrasting) colors. Most bridal gowns made out of brocade have a surface design of florals though I once saw a gown with some interesting geometric patterns. Brocade molds perfectly in sheath and A-line silhouettes. A fall/winter fabric, brocade is an excellent option for bridal suits.

Charmeuse (aka crepe-backed satin)-Lightest weight of all the satins. This fabric has a glossy finish that clings and drapes the body beautifully. No other fabric evokes the image of the white, bias-cut evening gown quite like charmeuse. Works best in evening gown and slip dress styles. 

Chiffon-Lightweight and transparent, the delicacy of this fabric makes it best for billowing sleeves, cowl draped necklines, ruffles, ruched bodices and long, airy trains. See-through dresses worn over slips can be made of chiffon. Full skirts in chiffon are ethereal and can be layered. Be careful if you’re planning on dressing your bridesmaids in full skirts of pastel chiffon. Unless you have a stylistic eye they could come off like they’re auditioning for The Lawrence Welk Show. 

Crepe (aka crepe de chine)-Lightweight and drapey, the crinkled surface is achieved by a hard-twisted yarn process. To get a sense of what crepe is like, look at the subjects of any Maxfield Parish painting. Though it’s available in wool, cotton and rayon, silk reigns the favorite due to its incredible swathe and drape effect.
 Damask-Lighter weight than brocade, damask is a jacquard fabric with woven designs thorough out. Best for structured silhouettes.

 Duchesse Satin-Medium weight satin with a glossy finish. A staple of traditional bridal wear, it has versatility whereas it works for strait as well as full silhouettes.
 Dupioni-(Above) Made from thick uneven yarns rolled from double cocoons. Has irregular slubbing and lustrous texture. Ideal for fuller silhouettes yet I have used this continually in sheath and modified A-lines with excellent results.
Faille-Medium to heavy weight, cross-ribbed fabric with a tight weave. Structured silhouettes.
Gauze-Lightest weight transparent fabric. Since it’s lighter than chiffon it has an airy
quality perfect for light trains, veils and scarves. 

Georgette-   Lightweight and sheer fabric made from twisted yarns. Somewhere between chiffon and crepe, it has a crinkly appearance surface. 

Marquisette-Very light mesh fabric. Drapes like chiffon and georgette. A very hard fabric to find. 
Mikado-Medium weight twill weave with beautiful luster. Ideal for both A-lines and full skirts. Used by more and more designers in recent years, brides love the surface sheen of this fabric.
Moire-A treatment of watermarking given to fabric, leaving an undulating, watery finish. Most moiré is either faille or taffeta. 

Organza-Light, springy and transparent fabric. Once considered suitable only for summer, organza is now year-round and widely used in gowns requiring full skirts, A-lines, trains, veils, drapes and overlays.
 Peau de Soie-Heavier-weight satin with dull finish. Structures well in either straight or full silhouettes. Ideal for tailored gowns and suits. 

Taffeta- (Above) Stiff, crisp, lightweight cross-rib weave. Taffeta can have either a slight luster or muted finish. It can be shaped, adding volume without bulk and weight, making it an ideal choice for A-lines and ball gowns. Nice in a sheath silhouette providing it has some kind train preferably of the same fabric with some degree of fullness.

Tulle-(above) Fine mesh netting with hexagonal pattern that comes in silk or nylon. Tulle is standard material for bridal veils. Also used in bouffant skirts proffering that layer upon layer ballerina look Vera Wang popularized a few years back. While the big tulle skirt is classic, edgier versions of late suggest special effects like draping, ruching and pick-up treatments over more modified skirt silhouettes.
 Velvet- (Below) Heavy-weight, napped fabric. Perfect for the winter bridal suit. Pictured below is a cut velvet ensemble.
All Dresses by Amy-Jo Tatum
Header Photo by Strotz Photography
Chiffon Photo: Shona Nystrom of Studio 7teen Photography
Dupion Photo: Hayden Housini
Organza Photo: Pixamage
Taffeta Photo: Winter Tree Studios
Tulle  and Velvet Photos: Scott Williams Photography

Thursday, January 12, 2017


    Okay so you’ve been browsing the net to gather ideas. You  could easily look at up to three thousand gowns in one night, not to mention the main stream designer and mass retailer sites.  Suffice it to say you’ve narrowed down your search—decided you like the evening gown look but you’re not absolutely, positively, 100 percent sure an A-line is out of the question.  Next you actually get up from the computer and physically go out shopping.  You hit every salon within a twenty-mile radius, gone through racks and racks of gowns in all kinds of fabrics you never knew existed.  You’ve tried on more than a few in every shade and texture of white imaginable.  And while you feel like you’ve had a crash course in Bridal Gowns and your dreams feel like Act II of Giselle every night, still nothing out there’s grabbed you.  Then, a week later this picture of a gown finally comes together in your head—the neckline you found in Weddings; the sleeve on a dress you tried on in the salon combined with the sweep train you spotted last week in the Film Noir.  Once all this gets put together you’ll have a custom designed gown, something one of its kind and only yours like no other in the world. 
    It’s finally in your head.  Now all you need is help from a skilled designer or dressmaker and the savoir-faire to know the difference.

     A custom designer or skilled seamstress puts many hours and a high level of craftsmanship into the creation of a custom gown.  Working with fragile, white fabric and delicate white lace is indeed an art form.  Figure any custom gown crafted by a designer usually takes four to six months to complete from a listing of your measurements.  Since the design process involved with a custom gown is more of a direct collaboration between you, you’ll have more input with decisions regarding fabric, silhouette and style.
                                                                             STEP 1 
    Every first consultation begins by asking questions about the actual wedding itself.  You’ll look at and evaluate all the factors involved in optimizing gown design; the scale of the ceremony, the nature of its backdrop, your use of tradition, even right down to the surfaces on which you’ll be walking.  With respect for cleaning and preservation, sometimes even post-wedding plans are made for the gown.
    If you’ve collected any photos, magazine clippings (digital or hard copy), sketches or swatches of fabric, these are discussed, usually with the designer running a few of her own ideas back to you.  Choices and cost of materials, fabrics and a few other details are usually explored.
    If the designer has a small sample collection, this is usually when you can begin trying gowns on to see what the fabrics are going to look and feel like with you in them.  This is the time too to look over how well the samples are made.  Don’t worry about whether or not you know haute couture techniques here—just pull up a hem or look at the inside of one of the garments and you’ll know if its cleanly made and as beautiful on the inside as out.
  STEP 2
     Eventually, a gown is in the making.  After a final sketch is approved, a written estimate follows, complete with fabric swatches and your measurements are finally taken.  For every gown order, a paper pattern is made.  Think of the paper pattern as a blueprint, a record with all your dimensions on it.  From this, most designers (some dressmakers too) work out a muslin.  The muslin is an actual cotton mock-up and ‘living pattern’ of the gown design, fitted exactly to your body.  Now, think of the muslin as the foundation work—laying all the necessary groundwork upon which your dress will be built.  This is where most of the fine-tuning is done to get the perfect fit before one cut or stitch goes into the true gown fabric(s). 


After your muslin fittings (there may be two of them), the muslin is unstitched and laid out on the
actual fabric and the gown is made up. Since most of the fitting is worked out on the muslin, second and third fittings usually follow up with finishing touches on the gown like, final hemline, closures, remaining design details, etc. Be prepared for more than three fittings though. A gown made from the ground up is a work in progress and each step along the way is painstakingly taken, checked and rechecked.
Keep in mind you want your gown delivered at least a month before your wedding. Yes. You need to synchronize your calendars on this one. You want to be able to relax and deal with all those other last minute details involved in your wedding, not still fussing around over hemlines.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Wouldn't you agree? When your dress is as light as air you're free?  Free to travel light, be comfortable and just plain feel good!  The number one concern brides have about the dress: Is it pretty and light as air--something unencumbered that embodies the free-spirit f today's bride? I use chiffon,tulle and lightweight laces; these fine fabrics make for delicate looks as well as keeping overall weight of the dress low.  Linings?  I zone in on lightweight but durable for all that moving around you'll be doing on your wedding day.  Below are some gems from The Forever Boho Collection created with that visual 'lightness of being' in mind  . . . .

All dresses by Amy-Jo Tatum//Photos Vetter Photography
Photo 1:The DAHLIA Dress
Photo 2:The ASTRID Dress Photo 3: The GEMMA Dress

Friday, January 6, 2017


 Just off the work table are these beautiful little capes covered in laces.   Capes match up perfectly with evening gown silhouettes and give you the benefits of a convertible look. The top cape was covered in three different laces--the one below made out of an allover ecru Peau d'ange lace with a bit of shimmer.  Both have a handmade floral closure crafted out of lace.  These were no doubt inspired by one of my favrite genre/eras The Golden Age of Hollywood.  Believe it or not, more of these gems are coming . . .

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Claudette Colbert as Ellie Andrews, Audrey Hepburn as Jo Stockton. No, they weren't real brides but the designers, writers and producers who created them certainly were. Hollywood designers and the actresses who wore their creations influenced the way we look at weddings and fashion today. All the gowns pictured here are works of art and stellar representatives of their times. What could be more 1930s than Robert Kalloch's creation for Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night? The body-hugging bias cut was still a new, even radical concept in 1934, especially for a wedding gown. During this golden era, it was not Paris anymore as much as Hollywood that decreed fashion. This simple satin gown with florals surrounding the neckline could be found today in a few designer collections. The look has become timeless. Attached to the cap head piece you'll see miles of chiffon netting, a light and airy fabric the designer chose because in this story, Colbert needs to become the runaway bride once she decides Clark Gable is the one. As she runs, the veil, long as it is, lifts and floats beautifully off the ground to produce a kind of 'bride in flight' look.

The Givenchy on Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face has become a favorite for brides of every decade. When clients bring in inspiration photos so I can get an idea of what they want in a gown, this photo is pulled out often. And sometimes it is not the exact same dress a bride wants so much as 'the look' it evokes, the epitome of pure, flawless design.
Above is one of the purest, most traditional wedding designs out there (the other is princess Grace's--also by a Hollywood designer, Helen Rose). I'm glad I finally found this image of Julie Andrews in Dorothy Jeakins shantung wedding gown. It's from one of the most beautiful movies ever made, The Sound of Music. Raised in an abbey by cloistered nuns, when Maria marries Captain Von Trapp she marches down the aisle alone. This really touched me when I first saw this movie as a kid. So much so that when my own day came to meet my intended and take my vows, I too walked alone and gave myself away.
The gown Elizabeth Taylor is wearing was standard for its time. Post war, the world celebrated lifts on fabric restrictions by using vast amounts of it in skirts. Bridal gowns were the ultimate show-off the hourglass shape vehicle. The MGM release of Father of the Bride coincided with Taylor's own real, life nuptials with hotel heir, Nicky Hilton. Both her own and fictional wedding gown was designed by Helen Rose.

Below right is Carrie Bradshaw's Ivory silk taffeta confection. It's actually one of the finale pieces from Vivienne Westwood's 2007 "Wake Up Cave Girl" Collection. Hand picked by Sex in the City stylist, Patricia Field, personally, I was surprised Sara Jessica didn't rate a custom designed gown for her role in the film. I mean heck! Check out Audrey Hepburn. Didn't she have that one-of-a-kind-designed-to-fit-her-character Givenchy tulle wedding dress? The suit on the left would have been my choice . . .  . .ultimately Carrie's as well.

Monday, January 2, 2017


Happy 2017 everyone! I'd planned on running a few photos of some new capes just off the work table but camera downloading to computer has having issues.  So working on The Bride Chic Book over the holidays, I uncovered this nugget of a chapter especially for all you brides out there contemplating ditching the veil.

Yes, veils are still in vogue.  And yes, there are more styles out there than you can count.  But before making the decision to wear one consider your options.  Some brides are ditching the veil altogether, topping off with special touches like wide brimmed hats, fresh flowers and jewels in their hair.  The idea is, if you’d rather wear a feathered toque down the aisle and it works with your gown, go for it.
FLORALS in your hair.  (Below Left) They compliment simple evening gown silhouettes with that tropical feel, A-lines and ballgowns with a touch of the romantic.  There are three kinds of florals: Fresh, artificial and hand-rolled fabric flowers.  All are beautiful choices.  Fresh can be ordered through your florist possibly echoing some of those in your bouquet.  Artificial flowers are typically silk, some so well made they look like they were just picked out of the garden.  Hand-rolled flowers are made out of fabric like dupioni, organza or shantung, sometimes in the same fabric as your gown.  These have a real haute couture look and are usually attached to a barrette or spongy wire
WREATH-(Below) Very romantic.  A wreath circles the head and is interwoven with flowers, foliage and in some cases, ribbons.  Florists can put these together either with fresh, artificial or dried flowers.  Some variations would be those made exclusively of English Ivy or dried roses and baby’s breath.
HATS   Once you start trying them on, you’ll see how each works with the shape of your face, your body type and gown.  A petite bride can wear a picture hat like the one below as long as it’s not massive and is in proportion with the rest of her.  The evening-gowned bride will need something with enough width to create symmetry with her gown.  Go wild with adornments like feathers, flowers, ribbons, drapes and poufs of netting, to name just a few.  The widest assortment of hats can be found in millinery shops.  Here you’ll get lots of personal attention.  And if you don’t find exactly what you want, they’ll custom make it for you.  Look through better department stores and go to Etsy shops for more inspiration.   

SNOOD- (Above) Another sophisticated look.  A snood is a piece of openwork netting used to cover buns and chignons.  They were highly popular in two eras: the Civil War and World War II.  The contemporary versions that compliment evening and bridal wear often have pearls, or crystals on them.
HEADBAND- typically attached to a gathered pouf veil, you can wear the headband individually without the veiling.  Headband brides have that fresh, Estee Lauder look.  Bands range in style from simple, narrow satin ones to those covered in pearls and crystals.  A great option for hair worn down, not quite shoulder length like a bob.  The beaded band below is worn low on the forehead to create an entirely different look.
TIARA-Just the tiara—no veil.  This is a classic look.  Most tiaras are made out of crystal and rhinestone. Best when the tiara sits upon a well-coiffed up-do.  Forget the plastic pageant variety.  Invest in Swarovski.  The tiaras below are made of feathers and Alencon Lace--maybe not your typical but loads of fun . . . .

HAIR JEWELRY-These can range from Mother of Pearl hairpins to crystal adorned hair-sticks and clips. You can wear one or many sprinkled though a beautifully coiffed head.  Top notch hair styling is a must to wear these properly.
Photo Credits: Header Photo and hair florals-Lirette Photography
Wreath by Sweetlight Studios/Head Band photos by Bride Chic
Directly Above Photos by Sweetlight Studios

Friday, December 30, 2016


Truly this has to be one of my favorite posts every year and something of a January 1st tradition.  Summing up all the gorgeousness created throughout the year, tulle, chiffon and lace once again took the stage, this year sporting looser and more costume-inspired designs.  Below are a few of my faves from the 2016 arsenal of allure . . . .
Directly above and below the CLAUDIA Dress here looks like something out of Downton Abbey with its cascading lace.  Perfect for garden or beach destinations this two piece dress travels light.  A mix of chantilly laces and ivory silk chiffon, the rosettes were made from hand cut and sculpted pieces of lace accented with a pearl . . . .
  Above: baring your midriff on your wedding day might have shocked your great grandma but oh what a great beach frock the TONYA Dress would make!  A mix of Chantilly and Venice laces this two piece is total comfort . . . .
I sell quite a few of these tulle head pieces.  This one is a headband.  Yes, they're popular for a certain kind of bride who gets the word, 'Chic' on her wedding day.
Above: New spin on a tried and true piece in the collection, COSETTE gets a midriff treatment of torn chiffon, adding a bit of grunge to a sweet lace theme.  This is a custom piece perfect for the bride wanting the best of both worlds on her wedding day . . . .