Top Wedding Dress and Bridal Gown Trends of 2012

The latest wedding gowns offer unique touches that help a bride personalize her look

Traditional bridal wear styles take on a modern twist for 2012. According to the forecasted wedding-dress trends, it’s all about individualized style. Whether the bride-to-be prefers an elegant and classic look or something a bit more edgy and glamorous, one thing’s certain — she won’t soon be forgotten.

“Fit and flare styles have been big the last few years, but ball-gown fits are suddenly becoming more popular — just not in a typical way,” says Heather Graham, owner of Rhinebeck bridal boutique Chamonix. “They’re slightly different now; it’s a modern take on tradition. Designers are doing different things with the fabric, and a bride’s preference usually depends on the wedding location. If it’s to be outside in the summer, silk and organza fabrics flow nicely. In winter, a lot of women love the look, feel, and formality of satin. Usually when you think of ball gowns, you think of Cinderella with tons of beading on a fitted bodice then a wide skirt, but there are many new options.”

Last year’s royal wedding sent designers back to the drawing board to create designs that include the Kate Middleton-inspired “illusion” neckline (the dress fabric ends above the bust, but a sheer or lace overlay continues across the upper chest, sometimes to the collarbone). The look is both romantic and comfortable, giving the appearance of a strapless gown while holding the dress up on the shoulders.

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The top trends:
ball-gown fits • illusion necklines • lovely lace • soft feathers • vintage Hollywood glam • subtle color

Not limited to the illusion neckline, eye-catching lace is being used on every part of a gown — bodice, skirt, hemline, sleeves, and veil included. “Lace is tried and true,” Graham says, “and there are many varieties to choose from: crystal decorations and floral designs are big.” Feathers, however, are fast becoming a favorite for designers, given the unique texture they add. “Soft feathers are showing up on more and more dresses,” she says. “They’re used on bodices, without standing out too much; they can be seen flowing down skirts, or in hair barrettes and cage veils.” While small, fluffy feathers offer a hint of drama to even the most classic gown, glamorous marabou feathers add a vintage, Old-Hollywood feel that’s catching on as well. Runway looks in bridal wear for spring 2012 often resembled the styles of actresses from the early 1920s and ’30s: burnished sequins, vintage lace, dramatic makeup, draping fabrics, and the much-sought-after cage veil. “They’re still popular,” Graham says. “We tend to sell more fingertip style veils, but almost every bride at least tries one on.”

Brides in the market for a gown that’s uniquely modern might want to look into colored dresses. For spring weddings, ballet pinks, nudes, and soft lavenders are sweet and playful; during the winter, elegant black-and-white combos are striking. “There are always a small group of brides looking for a colored gown; it’s something different for the bride who wants to stand out,” Graham says. “And if they’re not choosing colored gowns, we’ve noticed that they’re adding color with shoes. Most brides want to wear a shoe they love, that fits their personality, rather than matching it with the dress. It adds a perfect pop of individuality.”

Chamonix, which opened in 2007, also offers dresses for the wedding party, alterations, tux rentals, and accessories. And for the bride on a budget, the shop is hosting a large sample sale Jan. 20-22, with gowns, bridesmaids’ dresses, flower girl outfits, veils, and other items at discounted prices. For more information, visit

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