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The alphabet of Wedding Dress Fabrics – 35 material types plus all the latest trends for 2018


How To Choose The Right Fabric For Your Wedding Dress

It’s the most significant clothing purchase you’re likely to make, your wedding dress! If you’ve just started thinking about what you’d like, it can feel like a lot of pressure to spend your budget wisely, but at Make Happy Memories, we believe wedding dress shopping should be the fun part!

While most of us have an idea about the style of dress we would like, when it comes to the type of fabric required to make the dress of our dreams, most of us have to start from scratch.

If you’re looking for the perfect wedding dress and are in the midst of your research then it will definitely help to learn more about the types of fabric that many wedding gowns are made from.

Your local bridal wear shop owner, tailor or dressmaker will probably be asking you all kinds of questions about the fabric and finishes you’re attracted to, so if you want to make sure you know what’s what, read on for our ultimate guide to Wedding gown fabrics.

From organza to tulle to lace and charmeuse, everything you need to know is explained in this handy guide!

Practicalities

When considering different fabric types, it will soon become clear that some fabrics are great for winter weddings, while others suit a summer wedding setting much better.

Some fabrics allow for easy movement while others can be more structured, so thinking about the type of wedding day you have planned is essential to choose the right fabric.

Before your decide on a much-loved fabric, talk to your dress maker about the following so that together you can decide on the best fabric for your wedding dress:

  • Type of venue
  • The season that you will be married in
  • The type of day you will have (active with lots of dancing or more relaxed with lots of sitting down? Some fabrics crease very easily)
  • The style of dress you would like

Now – onto the fabrics!

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Wedding Gown Fabric – A Glossary

Batiste

This is a lightweight, soft fabric that has a beautiful transparency. It is made of plain weave and can be very comfortable to wear.

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Brocade

Berta wedding dress brocade 2018Wedding dress by Berta S/S2018
 


Brocade is quintessentially elegant and is often a fabric that’s chosen for weddings during autumn and winter. It can be made from both natural silk or from synthetic fibres and it’s most distinctive feature is the fact it is woven with raised Jacquard designs. This adds interest and looks very striking when the designs catch the light. It is known as a stiff material and is an ideal choice for a more structured gown.

Queen Mary wore a wedding dress with a brocade bodice.

A-line ball gown from Berta S/S 2018 with brocade skirt, deep V-neckline and beaded bodice.

Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​ Silver Streak 

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Charmeuse

This comes from the French word for charming and Charmeuse is certainly that! This lightweight fabric is very soft and to the touch feels just like satin.

With a glossy sheen on the outer side of the fabric and a matt texture on the inside, charmeuse is often used to create beautiful drapery and works very well on gently flowing dress styles, particularly those with an empire waist.

Wedding dress designer Jenny Packham often uses charmeuse fabric in her gown designs.

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Chiffon

reem acra wedding dresses 2018 chiffon

Wedding dress by Reem AcraFall 2018 bridal collection
Chiffon can be used for accent details like transparent sleeves or overskirts, but it is mostly used in conjunction with another fabric choice which will often be used for the majority of the tailoring.

Chiffon is beautifully weightless but it can be subject to wear and tear, so ask your dressmaker if they know how to protect it from snags and fraying.

Kate Moss got married to Jamie Hince in a chiffon John Galliano wedding dress inspired by the 1930’s.

Chiffon wedding dress from the Reem Acra Fall 2018 bridal collection with a sleeveless bodice, a scoop neckline and thick straps in an A-line silhouette, and all-over floral embroidered detailing.

Wedding dress Trend 2018:  High-Low Hemlines

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Crepe

carolina herrera wedding dresses fall 2018 crepeWedding dress by ​ Carolina Herrera Fall 2018 bridal collection

Crepe is another beautifully lightweight fabric that has a gorgeously crinkled finish that makes it seem very ethereal. It is made predominantly from silk or a light rayon. It works wonderfully with dresses that require a soft silhouette. A very romantic choice!

Eniko Parrish was married in a crepe mermaid style dress.

Crepe wedding dress from the Carolina Herrera Fall 2018 bridal collection with an off-the-shoulder neckline with short sleeves and a timeless fitted silhouette.

Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​ Straight-Across Shoulders

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Damask

This is a very similar fabric to Brocade as it has designs woven into the fabric that can be caught in the light. It’s actually a lot lighter than Brocade but still provides a lovely structure to work with. 


Lots of celebrity wedding dresses are made by designer  who often uses Damask fabric in her designs.

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Duchesse  Satin

Monique Lhuillier FW18 dutchess satin Kingsley

Wedding dress by ​ Monique Lhuillier  Fall 2018 bridal collection

This is another type of fabric that is very light and comfortable to wear. It can be made of silk and rayon or even polyester and is woven to have a glossy satin finish that reflects the light gently. A glamorous and versatile fabric, this is used in a lot of wedding dress styles.

Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding dress was made with a beautiful duchesse satin. She bought the fabric with her saved up her ration cards.

Duchess satin wedding dress from the new ​ Monique Lhuillier  Fall 2018 bridal collection with a strapless neckline, a layered origami draping and an elongated bodice, in a modified A-line shape.

Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​​ So Fresh & So Clean

 

 

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Dupion

justin alexander wedding dress spring 2018 dupioni

Wedding dress by ​Justin Alexander bridal collection 2018

This is a silky fabric that is made by using very fine thread that is very tightly woven to result in a very lustrous finish. It resembles Shantung as they both have the same type of sheen. It’s a very durable fabric that is suitable for weddings in any season. It also works with the majority of wedding dress styles.

Silk Dupion Ball Gown with Plunging V-Neckline and Keyhole Back from Justin Alexander bridal collection 2018.

Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​ Watteau Backs

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Faille

oscar de la renta faille 2018

Wedding dress by ​Oscar de la Renta bridal collection 2018

This structured fabric has a striking ribbed finish and is a very strong fabric.  It can work well for A-line dresses and can be used to create volume and form.

Gwen Stefani wore a dip-dyed Dior faille gown for her wedding day, designed by John Galliano.

Ivory silk faille ball gown with twisted bodice from Oscar de la Renta bridal collection 2018.

Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​ Exposed Boning


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Gabardine

This fabric is very tightly woven which results in it having a firm and resistant finish, it often has single diagonal lines on the outer side and can be used to create structure and definition.


While not many celebrities have worn a wedding dress made from gabardine, lots of wedding dresses feature gabardine for details like stiff applique flowers and embellishment.

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Georgette

georgette wedding dress

Wedding dress by Zuhair Murad  bridal collection Fall 2018

This sheer blousy fabric is made with silk or even polyester and is finished with a crepe effect. It is perfect for adding an ethereal finish to a dress and can be used for billowing, soft sleeves and floaty trimmings. Very feminine!

Alicia Keys wedding dress by Vera Wang which was made from an ivory georgette fabric.

Sleeveless A-line wedding dress with georgette skirt intricate top and matching cape from Zuhair Murad bridal collection Fall 2018.


Wedding dress trend 2018: ​ Princess Capes

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Illusion

victoriakyriakides wedding dress fall2018 illusion

Wedding dress by Victoria Kyriakides  bridal collection Fall 2018

Illusion fabric refers to a sheer net material that is most often used for bridal veils. It has very fine diamond shaped holes and is a light material that drapes beautifully while still holding the main shape or structure it was intended to.

Aside from veils, Illusion fabric is used on details and finishing touches like necklines, sleeves and hems.

Kate Upton wore a beautiful Valentino wedding dress for her wedding. The gown featured an illusion neckline.

Beaded long illusion sleeves over a strapless sweetheart neckline and A-line silhouette, this blush gown from the Victoria Kyriakides Fall 2018 collection adds a vintage feel with oversized sleeve cuffs.
Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​ Pearlstiers and Shades of Pink and Nude

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Jersey

Stretchy, soft and easy to wear, Jersey is made from an elastic knit fabric that has lengthwise and crosswise ribs to allow for a lot of flexibility. It is often used on dresses that have a sheath silhouette but can also be a great choice for pregnant brides who need a comfortable fit.

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Lace

Lace is one of the most iconic fabrics for a wedding dress and it can be used in so many ways. From adding subtle or elaborate details, finishing touches and hems, it can really add drama and charm to an otherwise simple wedding dress style.

Effortlessly elegant, lace is mostly used as an overlay fabric and is actually quite a delicate fabric to work with. It most often needs to be combined with other fabrics to create the overall finished dress.

Other types of lace include

 

Alencon Lace

amsalevwedding dress fall2018 alencon lace

Wedding dress by Amsale bridal collection Fall 2018

This type of lace has bold motifs and patterns and has a cord trim. 

Alecon lace sheath wedding dress from Amsale bridal collection Fall 2018 with plunging sweetheart neckline, bows, and crystals.

Chantilly Lace

Wedding dress by Monique Lhuillier bridal collection Fall 2018

Very detailed lace with a defined border.

Chantilly lace wedding dress from the Monique Lhuillier Fall 2018 bridal collection with a high illusion neckline, a dropped waist, a sculpted skirt, and detachable long illusion sleeves.

Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​ Detached Sleeves and ​ Regal Behavior.

Venice Lace

Textured lace that has a heavier effect and is often used in winter.

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Moiré 

sachin and babi wedding dresses spring 2018 moire.jpg

Bridal Look by Sachin and Babi collection Spring 2018

This fabric has a wavy design and is often made from a heavy silk taffeta although it can be made from rayon or even cotton. The wavy design looks like watermarks and is known as calendaring. It is a brilliant choice for weddings taking place in colder seasons or locations and is a perfect fabric for creating depth and definition.

Bridal look from the spring 2018 collection of Sachin & Babi with a fully embroidered coatdress with dimensional floral appliqués and pearls in a Tree of Life layout, paired with petal pink silk moiré sash.

 

Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​ Capes and Capelets and ​ Wedding Pants

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Net

elie saab wedding dresses spring-2018 net

Wedding dress by Elie Saab bridal collection Spring 2018

Net is known by tailors and dress makers as an illusion fabric as it allows to add additional illusion details. It is a very fine fabric that can almost appear as invisible. It can be ruffled and layered for net underskirts to create volume or used in a single layer with lace detailing or sequin detailing applied to create a variety of striking effects.

Bianca Jagger’s elaborate wedding hat featured a net veil.

Wedding dress with a netted and jeweled bodice with long sleeves drapes over a pleated, tulle skirt. from  Elie Saab Spring 2018 collection.

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Organdy

This is a crisp, cotton fabric that is transparent and very stiff. It’s a great choice of fabric to create ruffles, rushing and illusion effects.

 

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Organza

inbal dror wedding dresses fall-2018 organza

Wedding dress by Inbal Dror bridal collection Fall 2018

This sumptuous fabric is often confused with chiffon, but it actually has a lot stiffer texture and can even resemble tulle. It is often used in haute couture dresses and makes an ideal choice for flowing details like overskirts, overlays, sleeve detailing and necklines. It provides structure while still seeming lightweight.

Margherita Missoni married Eugenio Amos in an organza wedding dress designed by Giambattista Valli.

Organza wedding gown from ​ Inbal Dror Fall 2018 collection with an off-the-shoulder neckline, sheer layered bodice, full skirt, and all-over feather embroidery.

Wedding Trend 2018:  ​Size Matters and Straight-Across Shoulders

 

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Peau de Soie

Known in French as ‘skin of silk’, this luxurious fabric has a dull lustre and a grainy appearance but it is actually known as a soft satin fabric.

Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding dress also featured ivory peau de soie alongside other luxurious fabrics. It was one of the most expensive wedding dresses at the time.

 

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Piqué

rosa clara pique wedding dress 2017.

Wedding dress by Rosa Clara bridal Collection 2017

This fabric is ideal for creating volume. The outside appearance has a waffle-weave and the underside is flat. It is often used for structured dresses and is a warmer fabric choice too.

Poppy Delevinge was married in an embellished custom made dress by Chanel but this beautiful gown could be replicated using a pique fabric with a more floaty fabric as a sheath on top.

Wedding piqué dress with boat neckline, knotted lace back and large tilted bow at rear of natural waist from Rosa Clara bridal Collection 2017.

Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​ Next-Generation Butt Bows

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Polyester

This choice of synethic man-made fibre is increasingly popular as it is often woven into other fabrics. It quite often is blended with duchesse satin and adds a certain resilience to other fabric choices.

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Rayon

Very similar to silk, rayon is a more affordable fabric choice and has the added benefit of being more elastic. It can made a beautiful choice for wedding dresses that fall close to the body.

 Julia Stiles married in a maternity wedding dress from Tiffany Rose. Her wedding dress was simple but beautiful.  It could be replicated using a rayon based fabric or blend.

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Satin

jenny packham wedding dress spring2018 satin

Wedding dress by Jenny Packham bridal collection Spring 2018

Satin is actually a fabric finish rather than a fabric in itself. It refers to the high sheen effect that is on the outer side of the material. It is used to create a more affordable option to natural fibre fabrics, and can help make a fabric less prone to creasing or wrinkling. It has a lovely smooth finish and works with a lot of ruched or ball gown effect wedding dress styles.

Miranda Kerr wore a satin dress at her wedding to Evan Speilgel.

Wedding Satin dress from Jenny Packham bridal collection Spring 2018. with an embellished illusion neckline, and a ruffle at the natural waist.

Wedding dress Trend 2018:​ All About Intimates

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Silk

bridal vera wang fall 2018  francoise silk

Wedding dress by Vera Wang bridal collection fall 2018

This luxurious natural fibre is very shiny and is one of the most traditional choices of fabric for a wedding dress. Made from the spun silk cocoons of silkworms, silk is a fabric that works well for both summer and winter weddings as it both cools and warms. Glamorous and sexy, silk never goes out of style.

Wedding light ivory A-Line gown from Vera Wang bridal fall 2018 with trapunto accent on a silk corset and garter peplum.


Wedding dress Trend 2018: All About Intimates

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Silk Gazar

silk gazar

Wedding dress by Angel Sanchez bridal collection S/S 2018

This is a four-ply organza silk.


Kate Middleton’s Alexander McQueen wedding dress featured 58 buttons made of silk satin gazar.

Macrame lace and gazar  Wedding dress with high-neck racer back and satin ribbon detail, from Angel Sanchez bridal collection S/S 2017.

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Silk Mikado

mira zwillinger wedding dress mikado spring 2018

Wedding dress by Mira Zwillinger Spring 2018

This is a blend of various different silks making it heavier than 100 per cent silk. It makes the fabric more durable and workable in terms of structure.

 South Korean film star Song Hye Kyo wore Dior to get married. Hye Kyo’s wedding dress was made from silk Mikado.

Ivory Embroidered Mikado Deep V wedding gown with Silk Organza Hand Cut Flowers from Mira Zwillinger bridal collection Spring 2018.

Wedding dress trends 2018: ​ ​ Petit Fleurs

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Silkfaced Satin

carol hannah 2018 silk faced.jpg

Wedding dress by Carol Hannah bridal collection S/S 2018

A smooth silk satin which has a glossy front and a matt underside.

Zara Phillips wore a silk-faced satin gown when she married Mike Tindell.

Wedding dress with a light silver silk satin faced organza ballgown with tulle overlay in oyster from Carol Hannah Whitfield bridal collection Fall 2018

Wedding dress Trend 2018:  Overskirts

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Shantung

jlm tara keely wedding dress spring2018 shantung.jpgWedding dress by Tara Keely bridal collection S/S 2018

Ideal for draped style dresses, shantung is a knitted silk-like fabric that skims the body and provides a very elegant effect.

 Katherine Jenkin’s wedding dress was made by Suzanne Neville and featured shantung fabric.

Wedding silk shantung dress with a deep V-neckline, embroidered lace bodice, illusion sleeves, and a full pleated skirt from Tara Keely bridal collection S/S 2018.


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Taffeta

amsale wedding dress 2018 taffetaWedding dress by Amsale bridal collection S/S 2018

Taffeta is a fabric that is ultra glamorous. It has a distinctive rustling sound and is made from a blend of both synthetic and silk fibres. It has a gorgeous sheen and has long been popular with brides for A-line dresses, but it works equally well on designs that are more figure hugging too.

 Grace Kelly famously wore a silk taffeta gown to marry Prince Rainier in 1956.

Wedding dress in a ballgown silhouettte, silk faille scoop neckline, pleated silk taffeta skirt and open back detail with bow from Amsale  bridal collection Spring 2018.

Wedding dress Trend 2018: ​ So Fresh & So Clean

 

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Tulle

tulle wedding dress vicor rolf 2018Wedding dress by Victor and Rolf bridal collection F/W 2018

Tulle is exactly what ballerina tutus are made of. Extremely stiff, tulle is made from nylon, rayon or silk, and is often one of the first choices for veils, skirts and adding extreme volume to a ballgown style wedding dress.

To look at tulle is a fine netting and can be used as an illusion fabric to add lace designs to a dress or can be layered to create lots of diaphanous volume.

 Pippa Middleton’s wedding dress featured a tulle filled train.

Wedding tulle gown from Victor and Rolf with slim long sleeved and a fitted bodice with jewel neckline. Sparkling embroidery adorns the neckline in combination with soft sheer tulle ruffles. Intricately gathered tulle heart ruffles adorn the A-line skirt.

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Velvet

A beautiful choice for adding glamour and character to a dress, velvet is a heavier fabric that has a soft, felt finish. It has a plain underside and adds warmth and drama to a dress.


British singer and 60s icon Cilla Black married her husband in a striking red velvet wedding dress. Jada Pinkett Smith also married in a velvet dress designed by Badgley Mischka.

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Voile

A semi-sheer fabric that’s ultra breathable, voile is a great choice of fabric for weddings in the sun or heat. It’s soft and floaty and can be used with a range of different dress designs from fishtail to A-line

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