Wedding Dress Fabrics: Your Complete Guide!

Not all wedding dresses are created equal and not all fabrics are created equal either. Do you wonder why some pieces of clothing are super soft, airy, don't make you sweat while other pieces of clothing feel claustrophobic, sticky and scratchy the moment you put them on? It's mostly because of the FABRIC!


Your wedding dress will be on your body for a minimum of 3 hours, if you're changing. If not, you will absolutely be wearing your dress for up to 8-10 hours. So it's important, if not VITAL to get the fabric right before even thinking about style.


Natural fibers are what you want to be asking for when wedding dress shopping. This may seem a little obvious, but don't be fooled! Man-made fibres look increasingly similar to silks and cottons but still don't have the properties like breathability and softness that are so important on your wedding day. Natural fibres, especially cotton or silk, are also hypoallergenic meaning those of you with sensitive skin are safe!


At Carte Blanche Bride, the French designers we carry are 100% committed to quality, comfort and doing things properly. All our dresses are made from completely natural fibres which mean you can be safe in the knowledge that you won't feel sticky, sucked in or claustrophobic on your wedding day.


I have put together a guide for you to read all about it! You will now be equipped to find that perfect look that feels perfect too.


• What tricky tactics to look out for.

• The different types of bridal fabrics that are the optimal choice for your wedding dress.

• Exceptions to the rule!


Be on the lookout for these tricky tactics:


• Silk outer fabric combined with Man-Made lining: This is a very common cost-saving measure that is used to make the dress "look" lovely, but in reality it doesn't work. The two types fabrications are not friends - they fight each other and can cause STATIC. The worst feeling at any event, let alone your wedding day!


• Using the word SATIN: This word can get thrown around a lot and generally the expectation is that it is silk. However, this is simply the "shiny" finish of the fabrication. Satin can be made up of many different fibres including polyester, viscose and silk. Always ask whether what you are looking at is 100% SILK satin.


SILK:

• CHIFFON

A very light, diaphanous fabric, Chiffon has a beautiful drape. It has a sheer, soft, supple, thin hand and is employed for special occasions, lingerie and lining. The lightest silk you can access.


• GEORGETTE

Made of crepe yarn, silk georgette has a grainy texture, a sheer feel, and a thin, very dry hand. It is heavier than chiffon, and is similar to silk crepe, but is not as soft or lustrous as crepe. It drapes very fluidly, and falls into soft ripples.


• CHARMEUSE/SATIN

Satin is smooth and soft to the touch, and usually quite lightweight. It has a subtle sheen, meaning it will catch the light slightly. Its close cousin, charmeuse has the same sheen and drape as satin, but is lighter and even a bit softer. Its sheen is a bit more muted and its drape a bit more liquid. Satins should be avoided for events that will be held in high heat, as it shows sweat easily


• CREPE

Silk Crepe is a luxurious fabric with a good sheen and a pebbly texture using high twist yarns. Silk Crepe has a beautiful drape, and is extensively used to make dresses, lightweight suits, bridal gowns, and evening wear.


• CREPE DE CHINE

French for “Crepe from China,” is similar to Silk Crepe, but lighter weight and less textured fabric. This luxurious silk has the additional virtues of great durability and excellent wrinkle resistance. Lightweight with a pleasing drape.


• FAILLE

One of the more substantial silk fabrics, Faille receives its characteristically ribbed surface from the calculated addition of a thicker yarn and a crisp, crunchy hand. It is easy to drape, but also holds itself and is used for gowns requiring volume or body.


•ORGANZA

Organza has a crisp drape, it is a sheer silk with a loose plain weave, mostly used to add volume and stance, undergowns or veils


LACE:


• CALAIS (or dentelle de Calais)

A superfine lace from a machine which uses mechanically controlled bobbins and is controlled by a jacquard mechanism. They produce fine delicate patterns that resemble handmade laces. Dentelle de Calais® is now a registered trademark to distinguish authentic Leavers laces made in France in Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. 90% of the world’s Leavers machines are concentrated in Northern France. Dentelle de Calais® became a synonym for authentic French lace.


• CHANTILLY

Chantilly lace is a handmade bobbin lace, originating from the region of Chantilly in France. It is known for its fine ground, outlined pattern, and abundant detail, and is typically made from silk or linen.


• GUIPURE (also occasionally called Venise)

Guipure lace is a type of bobbin lace, its motifs are connected by bars or plaits. Not by the usual connect of net or tulle. As it does not have the support of net it is a little thicker than other laces, but no less beautiful as it can hold structure and produce a more bold look while remaining feminine and soft.


• CORDED

Corded lace is a handmade bobbin lace. Its pattern is augmented by the addition of fine cording to increase the vision of the detail. It is available in varying weights from ultralight to a similar weight to Guipure lace.


TULLE

Originating from its namesake city in southern central France, Tulle is a lightweight, very fine netting – often starched – and can be made from a range of fibres including silk, nylon and rayon. This is one of the only situations I would advise going for a man-made fibre over silk. Silk tulle is incredibly delicate and can catch on the slightest hook or bump on the ground.


•POINT D’ESPRIT

Point d’esprit is a tulle with oval or square dots woven in an irregular pattern. It is an iconically French fabric that offers a softness in pattern.


•NYLON

Nylon tulle is stronger and more hardy than its silk cousin, and is available in many different weights. Predominantly used for underskirts to provide fullness and flare, the lighter weight option is often used as a replacement of silk tulle for wedding veils. Available in an extensive range of colours and finishes it holds itself better than silk tulle.


•SILK

Silk tulle is extremely fine and drapes very well. It is also very delicate and is used specifically for wedding veils of a luxurious nature.


Exceptions to the rule:


• When the Man-Made fibre is a trim

Often designers use additional trims like lace, ruffles, bows and other details as part of your wedding dress design. These trims don't make a huge difference to the wearability of your wedding dress, so it's okay that these may not be 100% natural fibres.


• Using Tulle

When incorporating tulle in your wedding dress, nylon is one of the stronger fibres in the category. Silk tulle is very very fine and can snag on almost anything - even the slightest hang-nail. It also doesn't have a lot of body to it and can hang quite limp. So silk tulle is typically used for super soft, romantic finishes. If you're wanting body and volume, nylon is your choice!


If you'd like to know more about tips and tricks to help with your wedding dress shopping, you can sign up here. Carte Blanche Bride offers beautiful, French-designed and made wedding dresses without the overwhelm and impersonality often synonymous with the bridal industry.