Perhaps more than neckline, train, and even silhouette, nothing really affects the way a wedding gown moves and falls over the curves more than its fabric. From the float of tulle to the cling of jersey, the light reflecting properties of satin to the texture of lace, here is an explanation of some of the most common textiles used in bridal couture. But the most important thing to remember is, no matter what fabric you choose, natural fibers—usually silk, but occasionally cotton or wool—are best.
Alencon Lace: An often-handmade French needlepoint lace with solid designs on a sheer net background outlined with heavier silk thread or "cordonnet." Dress by Vera Wang. Available at L'atelier Couture, 493 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-602-9492
Chantilly Lace: A delicate and fragile-looking bobbin lace that usually features scrolls, branches, or flowers, and often features scalloped edges. Dress by Lela Rose. Available through L'atelier Couture, 493 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-602-9492
Cotton Crochet Lace: This lace-like fabric is made from a continuous series of loops of yarn made with a single-hook needle. Dress by Claire Pettibone. Available at L'atelier Couture, 493 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-602-9492
Re-embroidered Lace: A lace outlined in embroidery stitching and often embellished with beads, tiny pearls, and ribbon. Gown by Monique Lhuillier. Available at Monique Lhuillier, 3928 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-929-0747.
Peau de soie: A heavyweight satin with a fine ribbed effect on the reverse side and a dull luster, most often made of silk. Dress by Judd Waddell. Available through The Bridal Salon at Macy's, 700 Nicollet Mall, 4th floor, Mpls., 612-375- 2162
Silk Chiffon: A sheer, lightweight fabric made from crepe (or tightly twisted) yarns with beautiful drape and a matte finish. Dress by Jenny Packham.
Silk Duchesse satin: A lightweight and lustrous silk satin fabric with a high-gloss face and matte back. Dress by Jenny Lee. Available through The Bridal Salon at Macy's, 700 Nicollet Mall, 4th floor, Mpls., 612-375- 2162
Silk Taffeta: A crisp, structured fabric with a lustrous, dull, or moiré finish. Dress from J.Crew
Tulle: A fine sheer net fabric with tiny hexagonal holes. While it is often used unstarched in wedding veils, it is also seen starched in wedding gowns for a ball gown that literally floats down the aisle. Dress by Oscar de la Renta
Organic: Made from sustainable plants like cotton, bamboo, and hemp, and grown sustainably and without pesticides or chemicals, more and more brides are looking for this option, and designers, including Adele Wecshler, are creating entire collections using organic fabrics. Organic hemp and silk dress by Adele Wechsler. Available through The Bridal Salon at Macy's, 700 Nicollet Mall, 4th floor, Mpls., 612-375- 2162