Wedding dress shopping and can't understand a word coming out of your bridal stylist's mouth? Not to worry — we're here to lay it all out for you. There's a lot to consider when picking the right wedding dress, and knowing what kind of fabrics you like — or at least the difference among them — and how they're best worn, can make the process less overwhelming. Behold, an alphabetical glossary where you can finally learn the difference between batiste and damask.
Batiste: Lightweight and soft, this transparent fabric is made of plain weave.
Brocade: Known as an elegant fabric, brocade can be made from silk or synthetic fibers and is distinguished by jacquard (raised designs) woven in the fabric. Full of great body, the material is stiff but lighter than satin, a perfect choice for a structured gown in fall or winter.
Charmeuse: Lightweight, rich, and delicate, this luxurious fabric is characterized by a glossy sheen on the outside and a matte inside. Its soft drape makes it popular for flowing styles, such as an empire-waist dress.
Chiffon: One of the lighter fabrics, chiffon is often used as an overlay, in layers, or as an accent detail due to its sheer and transparent style. Made from silk or rayon, it has a floaty and ethereal vibe.
Crepe: Made of a soft silk or lightweight rayon, crepe is gauzy and crinkled, perfect for soft silhouettes.
Damask: Similar to brocade in that it has raised designs, damask is of a lighter weight. The pattern, in dull jacquard, is the same color as the fabric.
Dotted Swiss: Lightweight and breathable, dotted swiss is fashioned out of muslin fabric with an evenly dispersed playful dotted motif. This is ideal for a spring or summer wedding outdoors.
Dupioni: Slightly rough, this fabric of coarse fibers does a good job at keeping its shape.
Faille: Woven fabric of silk, cotton, or rayon this fabric features a structured, ribbed finish with a crosswise rib effect.
Georgette: Sheer and lightweight, georgette is spun from polyester or silk and has a crepe surface. Its soft silhouette makes it a perfect top layer in wedding gowns.
Illusion: Growing more popular these days, illusion fabric is a fine, sheer net fabric often used as sleeves, on the neckline, or in cut-outs.
Lace: Woven from silk or cotton, lace can take the shape of many different kinds of weaves, including alencon, chantilly, embroidered, eyelet, guipure, honiton, knit, and venise. It's often used as an overlay or as detail.
Moire: Typically made of polyester or heavy silk taffeta, moire gives the illusion of glistening water when seen in light. It's characterized by a subtle, wavy design.
Organza: While sheer and lightweight like chiffon, organza holds a more structured silhouette, making it ideal for warm weather weddings. A delicate fabric, it's woven from synthetic fibers and has a shiny finish and crisp drape. It's often used for layered gowns to add fullness, ballgowns, trains, and veils.
Point D'Esprit: A polyester net, this material is sewn together in the creation of a diamond pattern. Elegant and feminine, it's known for its texture.
Pique: This knit fabric is characterized by a waffle-weave exterior.
Polyester: Inexpensive and synthetic, polyester can be woven into almost any fabric. Polyester satin is a very common alternative to silk in that it's more wrinkle resistant and less delicate.
Rayon: A smooth fabric similar to silk, rayon is more elastic and affordable. This semi-synthetic fiber is lightweight and breathable, perfect for a summer wedding. While a plus in that it's inexpensive, it does wrinkle easily.
Satin: A popular material, satin is heavy and smooth with a deep sheen from silk and nylon fibers that create a high thread count. Silk satin is one of the more traditional wedding dress fabrics. It's available in a variety of styles including Duchess satin, Italian satin, slipper satin, and peach satin.
Shantung: Plainly woven silk or cotton, shantung features a subtle weave that results in a rubbed texture. Its medium light weight gives it a nice drape, allows it to hold volume, and looks and feels rich.
See More: Our Favorite Dresses From Real Weddings
Silk: One of the most traditional fabrics, silk is not only timeless but versatile. It's durable, comes in different textures and styles, and is suited for all seasons. Spun into thread and woven into cloth, silk is distinguished by its muted shine. Variations include silk gazar, silk Mikado, and dupion.
Taffeta: Available in different styles, taffeta is made from silk or synthetic fibers. The stiffer the taffeta, the higher its quality. Rich for winter and light for summer, this versatile fabric can come in almost any color and sometimes appears iridescent due to the weaving process.
Tulle: Characterized by a sheer, gauzy open weave similar to netting, tulle has an airy vibe but can maintain structure by ruching it. Very delicate, it's often used as a gown's lining. It comes in different weights and stiffness.
Voile: Lightweight and breathable, voile is made from cotton or wool and is semi-transparent. Its casual look makes it perfect for informal weddings.
Velvet: Soft and thick, velvet has a felted face. Its heavy weight makes it suited for a winter wedding.
Zibeline: Zibeline is woven in a single direction from straight fibers for a shiny finish.