Frequently Answered Questions

'How To's
for the

a Train

a Train

Frequently Answered Questions

Hints on Finding The Perfect Dress

Is a Seamstress Right for Me?

So Now That You've Found the Perfect Dress


What Should I Wear When Going Gown Shopping?

I highly suggest wearing comfortable clothing! It's best if you can wear a button down shirt rather than a pullover because you will most likely be doing a lot of changing of garments and dealing with veils! Comfortable shoes also a must because you will probably be standing, looking, and even walking around the salon for a while to decide what you'd like to try on. You may even be hopping from salon to salon and on your feet for an extended period of time.

I also suggest that you not wear a lot of makeup or jewelry. Why, you ask? Dresses being tried on could "touch" your makeup and jewelry, while watches could "snag" the dress.

If you feel that you would benefit from wearing a "body shaper", corset, underwire, or any other undergarment that may help you to achieve the look you want, then by all means do so. You may want to bring a strapless bra as well if you are considering a low back or off the shoulder style. However, as these undergarments are generally considered "non-returnable", I would not suggest that you go running out and buy a bunch of different ones to try on with your gown.

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What Should I Look For in a Shop?

Hopefully, you will be greeted by friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable sales people. "Doing your homework" ahead of time, however, can relieve some of the stress. You want to be able to enjoy this time with your shopping companion, (usually a friend and/or family member who participates with you in your dress shopping) and not be a confused and frustrated bride.

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Which White to Choose?

If you are fair skinned, wearing white gives a "washed out" look and is not becoming. There are many shades of ivory, ranging from a "yellow" ivory to a champagne beige. I would highly suggest a candlelight (the shop will know what you're talking about) even over a diamond white (just slightly offwhite). Candlelight is a beautiful light cream that gives a "candlelight" glow from the sheen of the fabric. It is lovely on many different skin tones.

Many brides find that white tends to give them a "washed out" look, but the best way to tell ahead of time it to stop by your local fabric store. Take a few bolts of fabric and drape each one across you, holding it near your face. You will find different nuances of white, ivory and other colors. This is also a good time to go up and down the aisles and "feel" the fabric. Look at the end of the bolt to see what kind of fabric it is. Is it: Silk? Crepe? Satin? Chiffon? Organza?

Visiting your local fabric store will help you attain knowledge about shades and textures, as well as making you feel more confident when talking with a seamstress or a salon sales person.

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What Shape Am I?

There are four different types of body shape. These are:

  • Triangle - smaller bust, larger hips
  • Inverted Triangle - broad shoulders, larger bust, smaller hips
  • Rectangle - bust, waist, and hips are all about the same size
  • Hourglass - bust and hips are similar in size, smaller waist

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What Style Will Look Best on Me?

Suggestions based on body shape:

  • Triangle
    Gown should be fitted through the bodice, which should be embellished (with lace, beading, etc.) Skirt should not be full or heavily embellished, in order to prevent drawing attention to the hips.

  • Inverted Triangle
    Gown should have a full skirt (preferably with train), and a simple bodice (with little embellishment).

  • Rectangle
    Gown should have a high waist or empire style for the bodice, with a full skirt.

  • Hourglass
    Gown should have a dropped or "Basque" waist. An A-line, or a "classical" look, is flattering.

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Who Should I Take with Me?

If you bring your attendants, family members, etc. with you, make it clear that they will all give you their opinion on which dress they like best. It might be best to keep this number to a minimum - perhaps a Mom and a MOH.

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When you've found your dress, quit looking!

Tips to de-stress about the dress:
1) remember it is just a dress to be worn a few hours only-put it in perspective-you can choose to focus on other things like the marriage, your new home, life in general. :-)

2) stop comparing yours with all the thousands of dresses out there once you have made a purchase. You can ALWAYS find "bigger, better, faster" if you choose to.

3) you obviously chose that one for a reason, if it was pretty and comfortable, that's all that really matters-your guy would marry you in jeans and a t-shirt. :-)

4) The excitement and nerves of getting married tend to make some ladies "panic" and want control over every aspect, want everything to be perfect, want to make sure they are making the right decisions about everything, and it's just not possible without wearing yourself out in the process-totally unnecessary.

5) If you really "hate it" for some reason now, then I suppose you can sell it and get a different one, but if you do have to sell it, you are often lucky to get 1/2 of what you paid for it-sometimes a bit more, but always at a loss.

Relax, enjoy the rest of your planning and then after the wedding there will always be other things in life that can take your attention-make a choice to not let it get to you. :-)

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How do I Find a Good Seamstress Close to Home?

Contact your local fabric stores. Associates will most likely have a listing of local seamstresses that the store deals with. They may also know some of these seamstresses personally, and be able to vouch for the quality of their work.

Also check local dry cleaners, theater groups and costumers, as well as home economic departments of the local high school and college. You can also look in the Yellow Pages. Look under these listings:

  • Alterations
  • Bridal Shops (yes, they do list there)
  • Fabrics
  • Sewing
  • Wedding

Seamstress Questions

What Questions Should I Ask My Seamstress?

A few suggested questions are:

  1. How long will it take you to make the dress I have described to you?
  2. How heavy is your current workload?
  3. Do you charge by the hour or by the job? (amount of work to be done)
  4. How many fitting appointments do you require?
  5. How much deposit do you require down? When is final payment due?
  6. Do I buy the fabric or do you?
  7. How far in advance should fabrics be ordered?
    How long does it normally take to get the fabrics in?
    Where do you suggest I purchase the fabrics or where do you plan to purchase them?
  8. Do you press/steam and hang/bag the dress?
  9. Do you have current jobs that I may see your work? Pictures also?
  10. Can you give me names and phone numbers of current and past clients for references?
    Are you on any fabric stores lists of recommended seamstresses?
  11. Do you work from a pre-made pattern or do you create a style for me from combining pattern pieces or by drafting from scratch?
  12. Can you "copy" a dress if I give you a magazine pic or snapshot?

Also try to get an idea of her personality, either over the phone or in person. Does she seem impatient, stressed, or overwhelmed? Does she seem knowledgeable?

Seamstress Questions

When Should I First Contact a Seamstress?

As soon as you have your date set, begin interviewing seamstresses. Once you have found a seamstress with whom you are comfortable, be sure to give yourself at least 4 months (I prefer 6 months) for the process of making your gown.

If she is also making your bridesmaid dresses, then even more time is necessary. How much extra time is needed depends on how many girls you have in your bridal party.

Seamstress Questions

How to Haggle for a Better Price

No matter who is paying for the dress, know the budget ahead of time. Allow for a little leeway, but stick to it. Check on the web for gown sites that will give you a good idea of the price of gowns, thus preventing "sticker shock" when you get there! Shop the discounted bridal gown vendors as well. There are ones that are online as well as big bridal "superstores" throughout the U.S.

If price is paramount to you, ask to see the "discontinued" and "on sale" dresses. If there is a strict budget, let them know right up front, so that they hopefully won't try to talk in into something you cannot afford. Many a bride has felt pressured into "buying it today" only to regret that decision days later, especially if they've gone way over budget.

Dress Questions

How to Store Your Dress

If at all possible, the dress should not be hung for storage. It should be laid flat . It can be placed on a spare bed (or under it) at your house, or a relative's house, etc.), or be laid down on an upper shelf in a spare closet, etc. Hanging your gown, will cause pulling and stretching of the shoulder seams, waistline, train, etc. You should also stuff the bodice and sleeves (if applicable) with tissue (acid-free is the best for long term storage, but plain white tissue is OK for short term storage). If you really prefer to store it in the plastic bag it came in, wrap it up in a clean white sheet (one that is free of fabric softeners, perfumes, and dyes) first, then leave the bag unzipped about three inches (3") or so to avoid trapping moisture and causing mold.

The dress should not be stored in a basement. Avoid any of the following conditions:

  • damp
  • humid
  • hot
  • cold
  • brightly lit

Fabrics (especially natural fibers) are very sensitive to light, air, and all the before mentioned conditions. It should be kept at an "even" room temperature throughout it's storage - not changing storage places with different temperatures and conditions.

Avoid frequent peeking at the dress to "check on it". Each time the dress is exposed to air, fibers begin to break down. However, it is good to check on it once every couple of months - preferably by a quick check for yellowing, moisture damage, etc. but keep it limited.

Do not store the dress in the plastic bag it was sent in! The plastic traps moisture and will increase mold and bacteria reactions. It is best to wrap the dress in a clean, white bedsheet that is free of dyes, perfumes, fabric softeners, coloring, etc. You can buy any one, just make sure to check the label for any "treatments". The more "pure" cotton in the sheet, the better. If you are concerned that one sheet may not be thick enough, long enough, etc. then by all means use two or more. You'll be glad you did.

Dress Questions

How to Travel with Your Dress

It is best to avoid "folding" the dress as much as possible. In the car, hang it from a side hook and then drape the dress across the back seat to the other side. If you have fold down seats in your vehicle or have a van, just lay the dress down across the seats or from the front to the back of the vehicle (whichever works best).

If the trunk is your only option and the dress bag is longer than the width of the trunk, you can fold it gently in half at the waist. I would not suggest folding anywhere along the skirt if possible. Even if you plan to have your dress pressed at the last minute on the big day, it's still best to avoid as much stress to the dress as possible.

When you get it home (or to your destination), it is best to lay it down on (or under) a bed (maybe you have a spare bed at home or an aunt has room). This will elevate any stress from pulling or hanging. If you will be storing your dress for any length of time, this method works well.

Dress Questions

How to Clean an Antique Veil?

Start by getting a small box of "BIZ" (which can be found at Walmart, in the detergent aisle). Then fill a big Tupperware bowl, clean sink, or tub with cool to lukewarm water. As the water fills, put a teaspoon or so (not a lot) of the powdered BIZ under the faucet. Swish the water to mix it well. Then lay the netting in the water and let it soak.

Occasionally, swish the water and gently agitate the veil by hand. Never "wringe" it out. Rinse with cool water and repeat process until the water is clear after soaking and you are happy with the brightness. Drain the container (tub). Then gently press out the water in the veil with several bath towels.

Lay the veil out on fresh, dry towels, and allow it to dry near a well ventilated area (a ceiling fan, near a window on a breezy day, etc.). If the veil is wrinkled after drying, just steam it by hanging it in a bathroom during a few showers or by boiling water on the stove and setting the pot on a table and holding the veil over the steam.

Dress Questions

How Do I Make a Veil Detachable?

Very thin Velcro strips are quite popular to sew or glue (using a low temperature glue gun and sticks) to the top of the tulle (the rough/sticky side) and the smooth side of the strip sewn or glued to the back of the headpiece.

Dress Questions

Bridal Lingerie

For every woman's special day (the day of her wedding), she should have special bridal undergarments. An everyday bra and underwear should be left at home. Fresh, form fitting garments should be worn under the most important garment you will ever wear. This will make you feel better about yourself, thus leading the better posture (walking upright and "regal") The bridal undergarments you choose should flatter the style of dress you will wear, as well your figure. They should also be a good foundation for that perfect fit.

It is best to start shopping for your undergarments as soon as your dress is chosen. You can start by talking to the salesperson at the bridal salon where you purchased your gown. They will often have ideas and some salons carry a small line of undergarments. You can also check the Internet or catalogs to get ideas even before you purchase your gown.

Lingerie Questions

Helpful Hints on Finding the Right Bra

Specialty shops are often the best place to start, as they tend to give you more private one on one service. The salespeople also tend to be more knowledgeable, and they can show you a bigger selection, as well as suggest flattering styles, take your measurements, offer particular pieces for you to try on, etc.

When shopping for these items, it is best to bring pictures of your dress (front and back) with you. If you do not have photos of you in your dress, bring the magazine shots of them. It is best if you know how deep a plunge is in the front and/or the back when choosing a bustier, bra, corset, or bodyshaper.

Because the fabric will be so form fitting against your skin, you will want to choose a fabric that does not cause you to itch, perspire excessively, or have very stiff boning in the construction that might become uncomfortable throughout the day. If you need boning, it is best to choose something that is flexible.

If your dress is strapless or an off-the-shoulder style, you might prefer a bustier rather than just a strapless bra. It completely surrounds your torso and at the same time pushes the breasts upward. This style works especially well if you have a full figure or a dress with a low cut back.

If your dress is a halter style or backless, often cups can be sewn into the dress or cups can be adhered directly to the body. There are also bras with straps that wrap over the shoulders and around the waist to conceal the straps (Also known as a convertible bra).

If you choose an empire style gown (which is flattering on many different figures), you can look lovely in just about any bra without having to use a bustier or corset.

Sometimes, when you purchase a bra, bustie,r or corset and then try it on with your dress, you realize that the boning, straps, or embellishments show through the dress! If your dress is somewhat sheer with fine fabrics such as chiffon, you should keep this in mind when shopping. You may want to choose a "nude" color rather than white for your bra/bustier/corset. If your dress is beaded, made of a brocade, shantung or some other heavier fabrics or has 2 or more layers, then this should not be as quite a concern for you.

Lingerie Questions

What About Panties and Hosiery?

It's best to choose a panty that is sleek, fits close to the body, and most of all is made of a comfortable fabric for you. If you have a close fitting "sheath" style gown, it will be important to make sure no panty lines are visible.

Often brides find that a one piece body shaper is the best answer - that ensures no panty lines and provides a smooth look. Body shapers can also be very helpful for the bride concern with "tummy issues".

For hosiery, it is best to choose a size that fits you very well without bagging or slipping. It is also important to choose one that will help support the stress on your legs from being on your feet and in heels for much of the day and evening. Also, a good quality hosiery will not be prone to snag or tear as easily.

Lingerie Questions

On to the Slips!

There are many different styles of slips to choose from as well. The style that will look best will with your gown will be dictated primarily by the style of the gown you choose.

A very full, bouffant skirt will definitely need lots of lift to keep the weight of the dress from pulling the fabrics down and dragging the hem of your dress. A crinoline slip with many layers of very stiff netting will work best.

If you gown is an A-line or an empire style, a crinoline of only a couple of layers of medium weight netting will be all that is necessary to hold the crisp A-line look.

If you wear a sheath or "mermaid" style gown, you may opt for only a nylon half slip or perhaps only a smooth fitting body shaper with hosiery.

Whatever you choose, remember that the undergarments are the foundation for a great look!

Lingerie Questions
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