Monday, December 22, 2008


Hi Everyone and happy holidays! I'm Amy-Jo Tatum, editor of Bride Chic and I'm so happy to be guest blogging here at Weddings Fresh. Today we're talking fashion. Since my last visit back in Fall when we explored trends, so much has happened . . . We're going through changes in leadership as well as the economy that will influence everything we do from buying gas to getting married. One big change in the wedding arena is . . . Brides are searching for new ways to economize while keeping their 'chic factor' going . . .

More are opting for the simple budget-conscious gown then taking it to the dressmaker or designer to get it personally customized. So how is customizing your gown different than a custom made gown? A custom gown is made from scratch, that is, you and the designer working with a pattern and raw cuts of fabric to create it from the ground up. Customizing a ready-made gown is different. It involves remodeling and/or embellishing one already put together. It can be store bought, sewn or inherited as long as it's fairly basic and free of mass adornment. However you come by owning this gown, once it's finally delivered suppose you plan on adding a detachable train to the waist and heirloom lace to the bodice. Those two details if integrated, would make the gown ideal, distinctively yours. Customized.

Isaac Mizrahi for Target

Remember, the whole premise is you start with a basic dress and work from there . . . . . . . So where to shop for this basic dress if you don't have one? Check out the one above. I'd have to say Isaac and Target got this 100% silk Harlowesque number right on target (no pun intended) at a shocking $64.99."No way!" you say. But you heard it right: that's $64.99. Heck, and I thought it was a helluva steal at 129.00 before it went on sale. And admit it, accessorizing this little stunner would be a pleasure with its endless possibilities . . . which, my dear, is up to you now . . .
Below are some simple gowns in 100% silks by known designers that would make great starting points for a customized gown.

Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller
Nicole Miller
J. Crew

J. Crew has been on fire the past couple seasons, bringing out classically cut gowns in high quality fabric with lower than norm price tags. With a combo like that how can they miss?

J. Crew

J. Crew

J. Crew

J. Crew

Here's Ann Taylor's classic strapless A-line Deb Dress all ready to be adorned.


Finding how to integrate all the design details you want isn't all that difficult. If you're going through one of those decision dilemmas just log onto Etsy and shop for ideas. Their designers have developed some of the most beautiful accessory and design attachments beyond anything you'll ever run across in any salon or boutique. On Etsy you'll find boleros, shoulder swags, lace collars, detachable over skirts, blouses and-- believe it or not--these lovely angel wings?. . .

EPS Studios

Amy-Jo Tatum

Who says you can't have it both ways. This is a basic dupioni sheath under a full skirt of silk tulle that hooks on and off easily.

This gorgeous shoulder swag of pink rosettes suddenly turns this strapless bodice asymmetrical and

This lace over blouse is a beautiful addition to a strapless sheath. While lace is expensive, with the right designer, a little bit can go a long way . . . .

The above creation was a pleasure to customize. The gown is a simple sheath with criss-cross straps. The addition is a silk organza train dappled in rose petals and silk florals

Suddenly a strapless sheath becomes a portrait collar with this beautiful organza and rose shawl.


The biggest concern most prospective clients have is, "How and where do I find expert help?" Start within your own network. You've heard the best place to find someone is through word of mouth. Usually referals come from guests actually getting a close up look at the bride's dress at a wedding. Sometimes it's a tight network of friends passing info on, other times a friend knows a friend who knows a friend.
SALONS. Bridal salons and specialty stores sometimes employ custom designers or dressmakers either in house or as outside contractors. Depending on how they are set up, sometimes they’ll give a referral if it doesn’t interfere with the flow of their business.
There are a few salons, typically the boutiquey smaller ones,that will do some sort of customizing if you buy a gown there. My final words on this: Customizing is better left to specialists and sometimes a salon can recommend you to one. If you plan on customizing once your gown is delivered, get advise on whether the alterations should be factored in with the price of customizing

CONSUTLTANTS. Bridal consultants or planners are an excellent source of referrals and usually know who’s truly expert in the area by years of working with them. Some consultants are willing to work on an hourly basis or for a small referral fee.
FASHION EDITORS. Fashion or wedding section editors in regionals can be helpful if you reach them directly or run across their editorials on bridal wear. Most newspapers feature a spread on weddings twice a year. Here, private designers and dressmakers are sometimes featured or listed. Ask for back issues.
YELLOW PAGES. Before the internet, this used to be the first and last place people look. After word of mouth, this is the best and easiest way to find a dressmaker (not designer) in my opinion.

I wanted to get another designer's opinion on this and I'm glad I did. Lena Kanter of Kanter Fashion Design Studio in Chagrin Falls, Ohio specializes in formal and bridal wear. When I asked what she'd charge for a detachable train, she claims her price would depend on the type fabrics used and degree of complexity of the customization. Some are so intricate with rows of unusual pleating or say, layers of inside crinolines; the cost could run neck and neck with some higher end wedding gowns; others like the photo above that I've done are simpler, panels of gathered organza attached to a cluster of purchased silk florals. That particular customization cost my client about $375.00 (excluding fabric). Shoulder swags, lace overlays, gauntlets and collars run a little less, again depending on the detail of the customization.

Finally, once you're through customizing your gown, you'll get that first glimpse of yourself in the mirror. What you'll see yourself in is the equivalent of a custom made gown, one-of-its-kind and like no other in the world . . . yours.

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