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How to Bustle a Wedding Dress

The colors, the type of dress, the venue, the flavor of the cake, to bustle or not to bustle . . . The wedding planning process is full of decisions. If you’re unsure of whether or not you want to bustle your dress, let alone which type of bustle you want, keep reading. To help make this one decision a bit easier, we’ll discuss the different styles available and how to bustle a wedding dress. Anyone can bustle a wedding dress if they know the layout of the hooks or ties, so make sure to pass along the info to the members of your wedding party who will be assisting you on the big day.

A bride facing a window, wearing a gown with a bustle inserted in the back.

How to Bustle a Wedding Dress

What Is a Bustle?

In the 18th century, a bustle was a pad or frame worn under a skirt to puff out the back of the dress (think lots of wire and extra material). However, the modern-day bustle is quite different and actually serves a functional purpose. A bustle is a series of hooks, buttons, or ties that gather up extra fabric or a train. Not every dress needs a bustle. If your dress has a short train or no train at all, you can go ahead and move on to your next wedding decision, like choosing bridesmaid dresses. On the other end, if your gown has a train comparable to Meghan Markle’s, you’ll want to get a bustle so you can move freely during your reception. A seamstress will need to work with you to attach the hooks or ties for the bustle, and he or she can also help you figure out which bustle complements your frame and dress.

Types of Bustles and How to Use Them

The French Bustle

The French bustle is perfect for A-line dresses with a natural waistline. To use this type of bustle, simply attach the hooks or ribbons that pick up the bottom of the train and tuck them under the silhouette. To add some extra flair to your gown, you can ask your seamstress to include multiple pickup points that add intricate layers. Just like French fashion, this hidden bustle is subtle yet chic. Don’t forget to ask your seamstress to show you and members of your wedding party how to bustle a wedding dress with a French bustle. 

The American Bustle

While the French bustle hooks material under a dress, an American bustle hooks on the top of the dress. The result is a dramatic yet sophisticated look. While one pickup point can be simple and stunning, including more pickup points is an easy way to add detail to your dress with interesting layers. This bustle is straightforward and easy to hook since the pickup points are less hidden than other bustles.

The Austrian Bustle

This type of bustle is less common than the French or American bustle, but it has been gaining quite a bit of popularity in the last few years. The Austrian bustle gathers material into the center of the dress, which creates a look similar to ruching. To attach this bustle, start near the waist of the dress and work your way down, attaching hooks along the way. This bustle is perfect for those flowy, bohemian wedding dresses.

The Ballroom Bustle

For brides who prefer not to alter the look of their wedding dress, the ballroom bustle is a great option. This bustle is even more subtle than the French bustle. To achieve a no-bustle look, a seamstress adds multiple bustle points around the bodice of the dress so the fabric can fold into itself. Unfortunately, this style is usually more expensive since it requires more sewing time, and it can take longer to hook or tie together. When hooking this bustle, work your way from left to right.

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Hopefully, now that you know how to bustle a wedding dress, you can make a decision with confidence. 

Are you still looking for the perfect gown? Normans Bridal, a full-service bridal salon located in downtown Springfield, Missouri, carries an enormous selection of bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. Our knowledgeable bridal stylists love what they do and look forward to helping you select the perfect wedding dress. We also have a wide selection of accessories and bridesmaid gowns to make your wedding day planning a little easier. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment or fitting, please call us at 417-866-9800 or contact us through our website.

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