Wedding Dress Fabrics Glossary

Once you start dress shopping, you'll begin to hear a lot of the same fabric terms — satin, tulle, silk, blends, Chantilly, charmeuse... But unless you're a designer or seamstress, you may not know exactly what they mean and, more importantly, why one would make a better choice for your dream dress. Style, cut, texture, drape, and season are all-important factors in determining the best fabric for a wedding gown. The same style dress can look and feel quite different in a variety of fabrics, since each material is designed to produce a distinct effect. So we're put together a list of fabric descriptions of most of the fabrics used in wedding dresses.

 

 

Satin -

One of the most common, most versatile, and most durable bridal fabrics, satin has a smooth finish with a lot of body, making it perfect for more structured gowns. It's a supportive fabric that works with every body type and is a good choice for ruched, draped, and ball gown styles.

 

Duchesse Satin -

A lightweight hybrid of silk and rayon or polyester woven into a satin finish. It's stiffer and lighter than regular satin, so it carries a shape well while also draping nicely. And bonus: The heavier weight means it's less prone to wrinkling, so it's a good choice for brides who'd like to dance all night long without much wrinkle action.

 

Charmeuse -

Light, semi-lustrous, and soft, this textile has a satin-like feel. Straight charmeuse is expensive and fairly accident prone, since it's so delicate. It's also a curve hugger so if you don't generally like form-fitting styles, this isn't the fabric for you.

 

Chiffon -

Incredibly sheer and lightweight, chiffon is a light woven fabric. Because it's so sheer, it's often used in layers or as an overlay for a more substantial fabric. This delicate fabric has a floaty, weightless look, but it does fray and snag easily.

 

Organza -

Like chiffon, organza is a sheer, lightweight woven, but far stiffer than chiffon. Whereas chiffon drapes, organza is more structured, though still light and ethereal, making it perfect for warmer weather weddings. It, too, is a very delicate fabric, so watch out for snags and pulls.

 

Tulle -

You know the light, netlike fabric that ballerina's tutus are made of? That's tulle. Tulle is sheer with on open weave that looks like netting. Tulle is basically netting made from silk or rayon. The fabric can incorporate lace designs, as well. It's an incredibly delicate fabric, easily snagged on jewellery.

 

Lace -

Most often used as an overlay or detail, lace comes in a startling variety of styles, most often named for the city where they were originally produced. Some of the more popular varieties are Chantilly (a very detailed, open lace with a defined border), Alençon (bold motifs on net, trimmed with cord), and Venise (heavier and more textured; often used in winter weddings). As with tulle, the open weave makes it susceptible to snags.

 

Illusion -

Illusion fabrics are finely woven net fabrics that are generally used as a decorative elements for sleeves or necklines, thanks to the material's sheerness.

 

Taffeta -

A crisp, textured, lightweight fabric. It rustles when it moves.

 

Mikado -

A blend of silks that results in a heavier fabric, Mikado is frequently used for cool weather weddings.

 

Double-Faced Satin -

Like the name implies, this is satin with a sheen on both instead of just one side which normal satin has. It is heavier because of this and tends to be used on more expensive dresses.

 

Jersey -

A very elastic knit fabric that is breathable and comfortable for warm weddings.

 

Brocade -

A Jacquard-woven fabric with raised designs, brocade often comes across as formal and ornate (the name derives from the French word meaning "ornament," so now you know). It's traditionally a fall and winter material.

 

Batiste -

A lightweight, soft, transparent fabric with a mercerized finish, which gives the fabric its sheen and strength. It's woven with cotton or linen, making it an excellent choice for summer as well as for the eco-conscious bride. The fabric creates a delicate, "home-made" look and is found most often in vintage dresses.

 

Crepe -

A light, soft, and thin fabric with a crinkled surface, which is achieved through hard spun yarn or chemical treatments. Though it's great for draping, it can cling to the body, so there's little hiding in it.

 

Jacquard -

A “jacquard woven fabric” is one in which the design is woven into the material instead of being printed on afterwards. This makes it generally a bit heavier than other materials, and it will usually have either varying surfaces or colours incorporated into the design.