Not all wedding dress fabrics are created equally. In fact, some textiles are better suited for structured designs, while others are great for airy looks or larger-than-life silhouettes. So before you completely jump into the wedding dress shopping experience, it may be helpful to have a general understanding of some of the most common fabrics used to create a bridal gown.
Ahead, with the help of Winnie Chlomin Lee, creative director of Winnie Couture, we break down the top six textiles brides can expect to find when searching for a one-of-a-kind look. Read on to learn more about these materials and why they each make an excellent choice for modern-day gowns.
Meet the Expert
Winnie Chlomin Lee is the creative director of Winnie Couture, a bridal brand founded in 2001 by wife-and-husband duo Winnie and Chris Lee.
Satin is one of the most common, versatile, and durable wedding dress fabrics out there. "Satin is a soft, lustrous fabric with a smooth finish. It flatters every frame and body type with its pliable and comfortable feel," says Lee. "Satin is ideal for ruching or draping, and it provides structure to a gown. [It] makes a sophisticated, clean, and formal statement." Another positive attribute? This material doesn't easily wrinkle if composed with a blend of silk and polyester, though most bridal satins are made with 100 percent silk.
Since satin tends to be a thicker fabric, it's also a good choice for cooler weather weddings, particularly duchess satin.
Charmeuse is a light, rich fabric with a lovely drape and a glossy sheen. It is usually made of silk, but can also be made from synthetic fibers. "Charmeuse is perfect for the bride looking for a light, comfortable, goddess-like gown. It moves naturally with the body and radiates a soft glow," Lee shares. "Charmeuse has a luxurious touch and compliments a vintage, Grecian-style wedding vibe." Most often cut on the bias (diagonally across the grain to encourage its drape) and used in column dresses, this material is incredibly luxurious and a go-to option for warm-weather dresses.
Sheer and lightweight, chiffon is a light woven material that is often used in layers or as an overlay for a more substantial fabric. "Having an outdoor wedding in the summer? Chiffon is your fabric!" notes Lee. "Its weightless quality provides a flowy, soft, and effortlessly romantic look. Chiffon offers movement and dimension, all while remaining incredibly comfortable. It screams ethereal, bohemian, romance vibes."
Organza is a sheer, lightweight woven fabric traditionally made from silk. According to Lee, "It has a stunning subtle shimmer that brings vibrancy everywhere you go. Organza is a great fabric for brides wanting drama and volume, without too much weight, as it is more structured than charmeuse or chiffon." However, this material is a delicate one so watch out for snags and pulls.
Tulle is a sheer material with an open weave that oftentimes looks like netting. "Feminine, romantic, fairy-like qualities all perfectly describe tulle," Lee shares. "It is used to create frothy layers in dramatic skirts, as well as elusive backs, sleeves, and modern bodices. Tulle is an airy and playful fabric for fashion-forward brides, and it brings whimsical and soft vibes to every setting." Ball gowns and voluminous dresses are often made with tulle, so consider this textile if you're on the hunt for a true princess-like moment.
Most often used as an overlay or detail, lace comes in a startling variety of styles. "Lace radiates charm and elegance, and its intricate details accentuate feminine grace. Lace comes in a variety of forms, from Chantilly to embroidered to soft knit," says Lee. "It can compliment any wedding vibe: rustic and bohemian with illusion back designs, vintage with charm, romantic spring weddings with floral pieces, modish and abstract with graphic, sleek, contemporary motifs, and more." More specifically, some of the popular varieties of lace include:
- Chantilly: a very detailed, open lace with a defined border.
- Alençon: a lace featuring bold motifs on the net, and trimmed with cord.
- Venise: a heavier and more textured lace that is often used in winter weddings.
What is the best fabric for wedding dresses?
Ultimately, when selecting a wedding dress fabric, it all comes down to your personal preference and what you'd like to wear. For example, satin is a thicker material better suited for winter brides, while organza is lighter and a great option for summer nuptials.
Do you have to match your bridesmaid dresses to your wedding dress fabric?
No, you do not have to use the same fabric for your bridesmaid dresses as your wedding dress fabric. In fact, having your bridal party sport a different material than your own look can add dimension to your photos and make your ensemble stand out even more.
Can I repurpose my extra wedding dress fabric?
Yes! Many brides repurpose their wedding dress fabric in order to create a veil or gloves. Get creative and work with your seamstress to design something truly unique with any leftover material from alterations.