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What Is a Bustle?

You’ve chosen the perfect wedding dress and now it’s time to tailor it to fit your body. Along with shortening your hem to the proper length and fitting the bodice of your dress, your seamstress may ask you how you want your bustle to fall. If you have no idea what she’s talking about, don’t panic. It’s not a term you typically hear in conjunction with anything but wedding dresses. Before you decide on what you want your bustle to look like, it’s important that you know what a bustle is and what your options are. Brideside is here to answer any questions you may have about attaching a bustle to your bridal gown.



What Is a Bustle?

A large majority of wedding dresses are designed with a train. Whether it’s a cathedral train or a chapel train, the fabric that stretches beyond the hemline is stunning, especially as you walk down the aisle. But, what happens when the ceremony is over? Suddenly, the bride is left to deal with all of that additional fabric. Trying to maneuver through the dance floor with an extensive train could prove disastrous. That’s the beauty of a bustle.


A bustle allows a wedding gown to transition from a dress with a train to a dress without a train. By applying a series of hooks, buttons, or ribbons, the train can be tucked into itself in such a way that it still looks beautiful, but is no longer dragging behind the bride. Once sewn into the dress, the bustle can easily be drawn up or let down as the bride wishes.



Does Every Dress Need a Bustle?

If your dress has a train, we highly recommend having a bustle. Without it, you’ll be stepping on your train all night long. When trying to greet your guests, you’ll have to resituate your dress every time you move. If your train is long, you may even have guests tripping over it. That being said, not all dresses need a bustle. If your dress is short, or tea length, you won’t need a bustle. Those are the only exceptions. If your dress has any sort of train at all, you’ll want a bustle. Trust us.


Keep in mind that most dresses don’t come with a bustle already in place. It’s something that should be added during your alterations. While a bustle is meant to keep your train from getting underfoot, it’s also meant to be beautiful. Because of this, it should be attached to your dress in very specific places. This placement will vary depending on your height. Plus, there are a variety of ways the bustle can be sewn. Depending on your preference, and the style of your dress, a certain bustle may look better than the others.


The Different Types of Bustles

There are a few different types of bustles. Each one allows the train to tuck and fall in a specific way. The American bustle, for instance, is considered an “over bustle.” This bustle style includes several hooks that are carefully placed around the waistline of the gown or hidden along the back of the skirt. Depending on the look you’re after, there can be as few as one hook and as many as five bustle points. With an American bustle, the train is lifted and hooked into these bustle points, beautifully folding it up over the back of the wedding gown. This is a particularly great option for ball gowns as it adds more drama and interest to the skirt.


The Austrian bustle has become increasingly popular among brides due to the unique shape it creates. If you opt for this type of bustle, your seamstress will gather the fabric that falls down the center of the back of the dress. Ribbons are then carefully sewn through the back seam of the dress. Then, you simply pull the sides of the ribbon together and the dress train ruches beautifully up the back of the gown. It’s a simple, yet stunning, way to keep your train from dragging throughout the evening.


The French bustle, or under bustle, is perfect for wedding gowns that have a natural waistline. It’s the exact opposite of an American bustle. Instead of allowing the train to fold over the dress, hooks are fashioned in such a way that the train tucks under the silhouette. Numerous bustle points can be added to create increased interest.  This is a good bustle style for gowns that are a-line, fit and flare or trumpet silhouette.


The Train-Flip or Ballroom Bustle is a bustle style that gives the illusion of no bustle at all. The train is flipped under the dress and pinned into itself on the underside. This gives the illusion of a floor length gown that doesn’t have a train at all!



If you’re not sure which bustle style is right for your dress, your seamstress can help. During your first bridal gown fitting, ask her to show you what each bustle would look like with your train. Being able to visualize each option may help you to determine which bustle will best bring out the beauty of your dress.

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