Underneath It All

By Glenda Winders

July 17, 2009 5 min read


Build the foundation for your perfect wedding look

Glenda Winders

Creators News Service

It's the day you've been dreaming of since you were a child. The dress is probably the most expensive one you've ever owned and your family will be looking at the photographs for generations.

Your wedding day is not the time to skimp on the extras that can help you look as beautiful as you can possibly be.

"After finding your dream bridal gown, you want to choose the correct undergarments to make sure your dress looks picture-perfect," said Tabitha Wiley, associate lingerie buyer for David's Bridal.

Wiley said shopping for the pieces you'll need is very different from the typical trip to a lingerie store, as you are building a foundation for your gown. Highly embellished, voluminous or heavier gowns require a more supportive base to carry the dress.

"Since wedding gowns can be quite heavy, bridal lingerie is built to support your form beneath the weight of the gown," she said. "It's constructed to shape and slim your body and features strategic boning, seaming and enhancement that everyday lingerie lacks."

The bra is the most essential piece, she added. For a heavy gown, a long-line structured bra is your best bet. A bandeau style that will work well with halter top or strapless dresses is also budget-friendly, as it will work well under special-occasion dresses or business attire when the wedding is just a happy memory.

Bra expert Susan Nethero agreed. She's talked about bras on "Oprah" and "The Today Show," and fashion guru Carson Kressley has dubbed her "the bra whisperer."

"Brides have specific and challenging needs," she said. "There's not as much lace embellishment as there used to be, and dresses are more form-fitting, streamlined and made of body-hugging stretch fabrics. The bride needs smooth underpinnings to make sure everything fits neatly beneath the wedding gown. She needs invisibility."

Nethero said the strapless and halter top gowns that are popular now require special attention.

"Without the dimensional stability of straps, cups can splay east and west," she said. "She wants to uplift and center her bustline within her body frame."

If the rest of your figure isn't perfect -- and whose is? -- a torsolette, merry widow or bustier can provide supportive boning to smooth a larger midsection all the way down to the hips and accentuate the bust. Spandex shapewear helps mold curves, minimize problem areas and create a graceful silhouette -- ideal if you've chosen a trumpet- or mermaid-style gown that requires a seamless look underneath. Invest in a good pair of pantyhose that will help slim and shape your bottom and be sturdy enough to last through a night of dancing.

"The right garments are uplifting," Nethero said. "They promote good posture and make you feel taller and thinner."

If your dress has a full skirt, a slip will be another consideration. Styles are available to complement and contribute volume for every design from slightly flared to ball-gown bouffant. Look for petticoats fitted with a band to minimize the midsection. Those that can be adjusted for slits in the front, back or sides of your gown.

Both experts advise scheduling a fitting for lingerie as soon as you have selected the dress. Bring it with you. Comfort and confidence are of utmost importance. If anything bunches, scratches or pinches, this will give you time to have it repaired or make another choice.

"You don't want to be uncomfortable and fidgety on your wedding day," said Wiley.

While you're there, pick up the traditional garter. Buy two -- one to toss at the reception and one to keep.

And don't forget your attendants. Nethero's Intimacy boutiques around the country (www.myintimacy.com) host "Cupcakes and Cleavage" events where you can bring in your entire bridal party to be fitted while they sip on champagne and munch on cake.

"There are all shapes and sizes in a wedding party," Nethero said, "and this is a way to make everyone feel special, beautiful and proportionate."

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