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  • Writer's pictureClaire Ingram


  • ILLUSION NECK / BACK – when the upper neckline or back of a dress is covered in a sheer, usually stretch tulle that you can mostly see through. Often decorated with lace or beading.

  • KEYHOLE BACK – an opening at the back, giving a glimpse of skin surrounded by fabric. Can be single or double.

  • PLUNGE NECK – a very deep v cleavage, sometimes covered in sheer tulle, or softened by lace for a slightly more modest look.

  • SWEETHEART NECKLINE – slightly dipped in the middle like the top of a heart shape.

  • STRAIGHT NECKLINE - goes in a straight line across the bust, without a dip.

  • BARDOT NECKLINE - usually a slightly higher neckline that carries across the tops of the arms to give an off-the-shoulder look.

  • CATHEDRAL TRAIN – 22+ inches from where the dress hits the floor – so it's long!

  • CHAPEL TRAIN – 12 to 18 inches from where the dress hits the floor, and the most common and popular length.

  • SWEEP / PUDDLE TRAIN – a small, barely there train, less than 12 inches.

  • SPAGHETTI STRAPS – very thin shoulder straps, which often come with a strapless dress as a detachable option.

  • CAP SLEEVES – Short sleeves that just cover or ‘cap’ the shoulder.

  • FLUTTER SLEEVES – made of wider fabric or pleats to create a full, ‘fluttering’ effect, often seen on more boho dress styles.

  • NATURAL WAIST – where there is a join or seam between the bodice and the skirt that sits where your waist is naturally on your body.

  • DROPPED WAIST – where the join or seam between the bodice and the skirt sits below the waist, often on the hips.

  • NO WAIST – a dress that has no join or seam between the bodice and skirt so that the dress appears to flow as one piece from neck to hem. Can still nip in at the waist, but has no obvious seam-line.

  • CORSET / LACE-UP BACK - a dress back that is closed up by a system of loops which are pulled together by a ribbon / tie. Usually with a 'modesty panel' to ensure that nothing can be seen through the tie back.

  • RUCHING – gathered fabric, often to the waist to create a more flattering shape. A technique often used to hide tummies that aren't as flat as we would like!

  • APPLIQUE – decorative pieces, often lace or embroidery and sometimes with beading and sequins, the can be sewn onto the top of a fabric to give it more detail.

  • BONING – plastic strips that are sewn into the bodice of a dress to give it more structure / support. Can be in the dress initially or added by a seamstress afterwards.

  • BUSTLE HOOK / LOOP – a way to hook up your train to make it easier to wear, so called as it resembles the bustles on Victorian dresses once up. You don't have to have anything around your wrist.

  • EXTRA BRA CUPS – bra cups that can be sewn into the front of your dress giving you support without a separate bra.

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