Something Different

By Chandra Orr

April 17, 2009 5 min read

EDITOR'S NOTE: In the first sentence of the sixteenth paragraph, the capitalization format for the consignment boutique "white CHICAGO" is correct. Thank you for your attention. -- CREATORS NEWS SERVICE

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Short, colorful and used gowns are hot this season

Chandra Orr

Creators News Service

Something old instead of new, something short and something blue.

To stay on the cutting edge of fashion on your wedding day, forget traditional flowing white gowns. Hitch up those hems, don't shy away from color and get creative with consignment gowns. The season's hottest trends are all about letting a bride express her individuality.

"Brides are asking for funky and memorable gowns -- something different, not mundane. No one wants a cookie-cutter dress that has been seen many times before," said Catherine Fox Milian, owner of Chic Parisien, a trend-setting designer bridal boutique in Coral Gables, Fla.

NEW HEIGHTS

Forget the notion that your gown must grace the floor. From sleek cocktail couture to whimsical bubble skirts and baby doll dresses, less is definitely more.

"This is for the girls who are looking for style and comfort -- the bride who wants to wear a traditional gown for the ceremony, but also wants the luxury of a party dress to really enjoy the reception," Milian said.

With the traditional one-size-fits all approach to hemlines out the window, it's easier than ever for brides to find a fit that reflects their personal style and flatters their figure.

"Brides are really starting to think outside the box for garden weddings, destination weddings or for a reception dress," said Michael Shettel, head designer for top bridal retailer Alfredo Angelo, with stores nationwide.

As a general rule of thumb, hems that hit above knee accentuate and elongate petite figures, while taller brides look best in with below the knee and mid-calf lengths.

"It's really all about proportion and what makes you look your best without looking too girly," Shettel said.

BRIGHT DAY AHEAD

"Every season our brides surprise us with their creativity and self-expression. A lot more of their personality is coming out in the styles they choose, especially with the addition of color to their gowns," Shettel said.

From allover pastels to white and ivory gowns accented with just a hint of color, soft, romantic hues reign this season.

"Platinum will be huge this year," Milian said. "We see the splash of color reflected in sashes and accent beading."

Gray, silver, platinum, champagne and pale pink also add a touch of twinkle without overwhelming. The subtle shades offer a stylish, understated alternative to stark white gowns, which don't always compliment every skin tone.

"Ivory and other soft tones like seashell, silver frost and oyster look fantastic on a wide array of skin tones. They're not shocking over-the-top obvious colors, but they add a wow-factor to the gowns," Shettel said.

SECOND TIME AROUND

For those with a more creative streak, the burgeoning bridal consignment industry makes it easy and affordable to create a custom gown.

When shopping secondhand, brides can expect to save 30 to 70 percent off retail, according to Ursula Guyer and Stacy Senechalle, owners of white CHICAGO, the Windy City's preeminent bridal consignment boutique.

"The savings can be used for other things that might not have made it into the original budget -- extraordinary flowers, a great band or extra guests," Guyer said.

But creative types with an urge to express their individuality are using the extra cash to customize their consignment frocks for a couture-inspired ensemble.

"Brides should be open-minded. This is a chance to make their gown an original by restyling it," Senechalle said. "Aspects like the neckline and silhouette can be modified, and brides can always add or remove straps. Our consultants, who are great stylists, encourage brides to get creative and use their imagination."

And don't fret over small flaws -- think of it as inspiration for that one-of-a-kind look.

Shortening the gown easily rectifies stains or small tears in the hemline. Flaws in the skirt, bodice or shoulder are camouflaged with sashes, beads or silk flowers. And if the fit isn't quite right, most gowns can be taken in one to two sizes or let out with additional panels.

"Most designer dresses are made from luxurious silk fabrics and have hand beading and embroidery -- they are beautiful works of art to be appreciated more than once. You're giving another life to a beautiful dress that deserves another day in the spotlight," Guyer said.

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