Wedding Dresses 101: A Guide to Bridal Fabrics

Since your bridal gown is the most important dress of your life, we thought it might be handy to have a guide to all the amazing wedding dress fabrics available to you. This way you’ll be able to select the perfect wedding dress fabric specifically tailored to you and your day! Many are fabrics from the past, but as trends come and go we will likely see the return of each of these at some point.

Batiste

A lightweight, semi-sheer linen or cotton fabric with a slight sheen ideal for summertime brides. Often seen in fine lingerie and vintage garments, like this gorgeous gown from the Victorian era:

Brocade

A jacquard-woven fabric which is very recognizable due to its raised designs and metallic sheen. We are obsessed with this 1930’s brocade stunner:

 

Charmeuse

A lightweight, semi-lustrous soft fabric, that feels like satin. This slinky fabric clings to the body. Imagine an Old-school Hollywood starlet in a form-fitting glamorous gown. Or, better yet, have a look at this luxurious charmeuse  wedding dress accentuated with a Sabrina neckline from Justin Alexander.

Chiffon

Delicate and transparent, this sheer fabric is composed of either silk or rayon. It is often layered due to its’ transparency. Popular for sheer sleeves and layered skirts, chiffon has a soft finish. This gorgeous long sleeve gown from Lillian West features a chiffon skirt:

Crepe

A light, soft, and thin fabric with a crisp, crinkled surface. The chic strapless ruched fit and flare gown, shown below, is perfect for those brides looking to accentuate their curves. The dress, by Sincerity, features a crepe bodice:

Crepe de Chine

Crepe made from lightweight and fine fabric, usually silk.

Damask

Like brocade in that it has raised designs, but this woven fabric is much lighter weight. Think table linens!

Dotted Swiss

Lightweight, playful and breathable, dotted swiss has evenly placed dots on muslin fabric. Old-fashioned and delightful, this fabric used in this 1970’s dress, which could work well for today’s boho brides:

Duchesse Satin

A lightweight mix of both silk and rayon with a low luster glossy satin finish and a heavier weight than regular satin.  Below is a Duchesse Satin gown with lace overlays from the 1960’s:

Dupioni

This plain weave silk is a lot like Shantung, but this tightly woven fabric has thicker, coarser fibers, and a slight sheen. Rich silk Dupioni is fashioned into a gorgeously dramatic plunging V-neck ball gown by Justin Alexander:

English Net

A soft, pliable fabric which looks like tulle, but is much more luxurious to the touch. Often used for special occasion dresses, accessories, bridal veiling and trim. Perfect for outdoor weddings. We love this lavishly beaded fit and flare gown from Venus Bridal which features English netting over lush satin:

Faille

A structured, ribbed finish that looks like grosgrain ribbon; usually quite substantial. This strong fabric works well for A-line dresses. Grace Kelly wore her iconic wedding dress with a pleated silk faille skirt in 1956, when she married Prince Rainier:

Gabardine

A tightly woven, smooth fabric that is firm and durable, with diagonal lines. Often used on jackets. Often used in bridal embellishments, like appliques or flowers. For contemporary brides wanting to eschew the traditional dress code, Oscar de La Renta offers this chic double-breasted jacket cut from ivory gabardine:

Georgette

A sheer, lightweight fabric often made of polyester or silk with a crepe surface. Venus Bridal offers a modest and soft Georgette princess dress with a skirt that gently flows down to a sweep train:

Illusion

A fine, sheer net fabric generally used for finishing touches on sleeves or necklines. This gown, by Venus Bridal, features a gorgeous lace illusion back:

Jersey

A stretchy and comfy elastic knit fabric; the face has lengthwise ribs and the underside has crosswise ribs. Great for maternity bridal gowns and often used for dress linings. This adorable short sleeved gown in chiffon by Sweetheart is lined in jersey for the ultimate in comfort:

Moire

A heavy silk taffeta with a subtle, wavy design that has a watermarked look.

Organdy

A stiff transparent fabric great for ruffles, like those on the skirt of this fabulous 1950’s gown:

 

Organza

Crisp and sheer like chiffon, but with a stiffer texture that can look a lot like tulle. This sumptuous fabric works nicely for flowing details like overlays and skirts. Like the circular organza skirt on this softly romantic Sweetheart gown:

Peau de Soie

The French translation is “Skin of Silk.” A soft satin-faced, high-quality cloth with a dull luster, fine ribs, and a grainy appearance.

Pique

Ideal for creating volume, this knit fabric has a waffle-weave appearance on top and a flat and smooth underside.

Point D’Esprit

A fine net with small dots spaced evenly all over. While the best quality dots are embroidered, they can also be flocked or woven with the net itself.  Point D’esprit over jersey lining is used in the creation of this sexy fit and flare gown by Lillian West:

Polyester

An inexpensive man-made fiber that can be woven into just about anything, including Duchesse satin.

Rayon

Like silk, but more elastic and affordable. This 1940’s dress with the killer pleating and ruching is rayon jersey:

Satin

Satin is not actually a fabric, it is a type of weave that gives a high sheen finish to whatever fabric it is used on. The result is a finished product with a high sheen on one side. Fabrics with a satin weave are commonly referred to as “satin” though. This classic sweetheart strapless lavish satin fit and flare gown is from Sincerity:

Silk

A traditional choice for wedding dress construction, silk is the most sought-after, and priciest fabric for bridal gowns. Silk is a natural fiber that is very shiny and made from the spun silk cocoons of silkworms. We love this bohemian take on a silk babydoll wedding dress by Lillian West. This is a very airy and modern take on silk chiffon:

Silk Gazar

A four-ply silk organza. This stunning Monique Lhuillier gown, circa 2016, features Chantilly lace, re-embroidered lace appliques, and silk Gazar fabric imprinted with roses:

Silk Mikado

A brand of blended silk, usually heavier than 100-percent silk. Used in couture gowns for structure. This sleek light Mikado ball gown by Venus Bridal features a plunging v-neckline highlighted by a crystal beaded belt:

Silk-faced Satin

A smooth silk satin, with a glossy front and matte back.

Shantung

Like a raw silk, shantung is characterized by its rubbed texture. This fitted gown, by Venus Bridal, is composed of Shantung, appliques and netting:

Taffeta

Crisp and smooth, with a slight rib. This fabric makes an unmistakable rustling sound and has a high sheen. This 1950’s gown has a taffeta ballerina length gown.

Tulle

Netting made of silk, nylon, or rayon; used primarily for skirts and veils. Exactly what ballerina tutus are made of. This alluring fit and flare gown by Venus Bridal features an illusion beaded lace bodice, a dramatic plunging neckline and a flirty tulle skirt:

Velvet

A soft, thick fabric with a felted face and plain underside. Perfect for winter nuptials, like this 1930’s twist front velvet gown in cream:

Voile

A breathable, semi-sheer fabric that is softy and floaty. Perfect for summertime weddings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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