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A Wedding Dress for Now and Later

Tips for those who want their dress to eventually be something borrowed

By Christina Tiberio

“You look beautiful, but why you wanna go and get married lookin’ like a fish?” These were the last words my aunt heard before she walked down the aisle. With that horrifying phrase leaving the flower girl’s mouth, my aunt thought, “A fish? This dress is modern and gorgeous! It’s 1987 and fashion is so strong that this will definitely become a new classic, she’ll see when she grows up.”

28 years and three daughters later, there is a slim chance my aunt will ever see that dress worn again. Now the outfit quietly hangs in the closet as a strong momento to the ’80s. My aunt, along with many other women, now have mixed feelings about their gowns. Sure it looked great at the time, in fact it was the epitome of style, but now people giggle when they see the wedding pictures.

That can sting.

Of course looking and feeling beautiful is a bride’s priority on their wedding day, and she should wear anything that makes her feel that way. But it can be tricky for modern brides who want a gown that showcases their personality yet remains classic. Avoiding trends like a high-low skirt and cut outs are a start, but here are some tips on how to not compensate your style and modernity when searching for your elusive frock.

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COLOR CONTROL

Away with the idea that a bride must wear all white. Color allows brides to stand out and express their unique style. Strong colors like red and black are different, but due to the length of the dress the bride risks looking like she is going to prom. Dresses in shades of sorbet were popular on the Spring 2016 Bridal runway and are a great alternative to strong colors. Peach and blush are great starting colors, but to be extraordinary try a baby blue wedding dress like this Monique Lhuillier gown at Divine Designs.


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LIGHT ON THE LACE

Lace remains a popular fabric for the occasion. As usual, the textile dominated Vera Wang’s runway. However, lace is a difficult and expensive material that needs to be done just right to create an elegant look. Try on a dress with touches of lace. The small textured details won’t overwhelm the dress. This vintage Pride and Prejudice dress from local boutique Urchin Re.Design is a perfect example of a sophisticated dress with hints of lace.


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SHORT AND SWEET

Brides who like a nontraditional look can revel in the various choices of short length wedding dresses. Since the custom is to have length, a shorter hem gives lots of options because it can range from tea length to mini skirt. That’s why it appeared on Oscar de la Renta’s runway multiple times.

Those who want to show a little leg should be weary though; these dresses can look like the bride is an attendee and not the guest of honor. To prevent this, stick with shades of white, cream, and ivory; consider wearing a longer gown for the ceremony and changing into a short frock for your reception or after party. We love this chic and flirty cocktaik style by Project Runway alum and former Portlander Leanne Marshall.


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BEAUTY IN ASYMMETRY

Every designer made an asymmetric wedding for their collection this year. When it is not too extravagant, asymmetry can create originality along with a classic charm. Instead of covering up in the front and back, try a dress that exposes the back. Dresses that frame the back are popular right now, but might not hold up in the style department over the coming years. Look for an exposed back dress with a light layer of lace. Another way to create asymmetry is in the skirt of the dress. This bubble skirt style by Portland bridal designer Sunjin Lee creates enough intrigue that the eye is not bored with the design despite its classic look.

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