Accessorizing your Wedding Dress

Looking to dress up your wedding dress? Enhance your curves, sprinkle some sparkles, strategically sculpt with volume, lines and shapes. Today let’s talk about boleros, capelets, shawls, sashes, belts and fascinators.

The regal bolero.

bolero 3 via pinterest.jpg

A bolero is a short, fitted top with an open front that gently circles around your neck and tapers off just above the small of your back. A sensual, slimming staple, a bolero is masterful at presenting a woman’s body:

  • It emphasizes three main curves of the torso – the narrowing, inward slopes on each side and in the back. As the eyes glide down the shoulders, upper back and arms, a bolero counter-balances the eventual widening of the hips.

  • It shapes the shoulders and upper arms for a balanced look, and longer sleeves cover any dark elbows.

  • It introduces vertical lines and has a slimming effect.

  • An ordinary strapless dress is magically transformed into a regal Queen Anne, the neck appears longer, and your face and bosom become the focal point for the eyes.

Bolero short sleeve via Pinterest

Boleros can introduce a lot of visually interesting elements to your style: minimalist lapels, feminine ruching, playful lace or cozy fur. They are a popular choice to create a demure look for a church wedding and help you feel comfortable in extreme temperatures!

When you are looking at a bolero, check its color. As you know, not all whites are the same. Your dress and the bolero may be subtly tinted with beige, tan, or pink, for example. The bolero will touch and overlap with your dress, and the different colors may be visible in broad daylight, clashing or complementing each other. Staying with the same color is often the safest bet. For that, you will want to physically compare the two colors in broad daylight to be sure they match.

For a little more adventurous bride, choose a bolero in a slightly lighter or darker tint of the same hue. Alternatively, look for a pale and subdued color that goes well with your eyes, does not detract from the purity of your dress, and can be echoed in your flowers and jewelry. Lavender blue, pale pink, dusty rose, peach orange or mauve, taupe or light chocolate are great options.

The mysterious capelet.

capelet via pinterest.jpgA capelet is a small cape covering the shoulders and upper arms, often held together in the front with a button or fashioned like a small poncho.

Sheer, beaded or fur, capelets come in great variety that can be suited to the season and the look. Often a capelet will completely hide the chest area behind a much higher neckline, keeping you warm and demure-looking.

While it is similar to a bolero in length, unlike a bolero, it is not fitted. It is often an accessory of choice for tall, well-endowed ladies – it draws the eyes down and emphasizes the waist that stands out from its falling edges.

A capelet also touches your dress, so same color considerations would apply to a capelet as a bolero.

Versatile shawls.

shawl on wrist pinterest

A shawl is a supremely flexible, long piece of fabric that can be put around your shoulders and upper arms, slid down to your elbows and wrists, or artfully arranged with a brooch.

Gently gliding on your naked skin, easily shape-shifting between a bolero look-alike, a sash and anything else you want it to be, a shawl will show off the most delicious curves you want. Place it around your shoulders, and it will enhance the small of your back and the hourglass curves on your sides. Lower it to your wrists, and it will emphasize the curves of your hips. Wrap a sparkly shawl around your arms and tie it under your bosom, and it will shine up every curve your upper body has. Spread it around for more volume, and it will serve as a counter-balance to wider hips.

Because it is clearly separate from your dress, a shawl gives you license to splash some color around. Even if you are up to the challenge of a bold color choice, try to stay within the color palette of your eyes, jewelry and/or your flowers.

Centerpiece belts and sashes.

wide belt via pinterest.jpg

As you may or may not know, a sash is a long strip of cloth that can either hang diagonally from your shoulder or tie around your waist. With an artful bow, flowers or beads, at the front or the back of the dress, white or bright, there are so many ways a sash or a belt can take your look to the next level, we don’t even know where to start!

A sash or a belt draws attention to the gentle curve of the waist. If you are a fairly tall lady, if your dress is a sheath without much waist embellishment (or otherwise does not have other elements to draw attention to the waist), show off your hourglass figure with a nice belt! Of course, keep an eye to make sure that you do not over-embellish the look. You don’t want the belt to compete for attention with the dress,

How to choose a sash or a belt:

  • If it has metal in it, make sure it matches the tone of your bridal jewelry (ie, silver, gold, rose gold, or pearl).

  • Make sure its color does not clash with the color of the dress. In this case, it is safest to stay with the same tint.

  • For a slimming visual effect, go for a wider belt, attach it a little on the diagonal, or arrange the ends of the sash to fall down artfully. A thin belt around your waist is a strong horizontal statement that draws some attention to your width.

  • Speak with your seamstress about a custom-made sash!
Royal fascinators and dainty hair clips

fascinator with birdcage pinterest

A formal headpiece popularized by the British royalty, a fascinator has a large decorative design and may feature a net covering part of your head and face. A hair clip is a smaller equivalent, perfect for brides who are not mentally in the fascinator territory.

Attached with a clip or invisible headband, fascinators come with sparkles, feathers, flowers, geometric shapes, mesh and netting. These elements lend softness, curves, and ethereal movement to each gesture and each look of the bride, and are guaranteed to liven up your look and leave a lasting impression.

Somehow, the closer an accessory is to the face, the pickier we get. We want nothing to detract from our perfect face. There’s already lots going on there: makeup, hair, jewelry, precious porcelain of the naked skin. How do you make sure that the fascinator or the hair clip is the cherry on top?

There’s a basic fascinator rule, and a few fine-tuning principles.

Let’s start with a basic fascinator rule. More delicate facial features (think dainty cheek bones and slim noses) and lighter hair look best in more delicate decorative elements. And conversely, more prominent features and darker hair is enhanced by bolder shapes and wide netting.

The fine-tuning principles aim to make sure that the fascinator flatters the shape your face. darker fascinator via pinterest eloise couture

  • In what ways does your face look not oval? For example, is it square, wide, or very long?

  • In what ways does your hair make the face look more or less oval? For example, curly hair framing your cheeks widens it, an updo or long straight hair lengthens it, whereas hair tightly combed back shows off the shape of the face as it is.

  • In what ways does your jewelry make the face look more or less oval? For example, long earrings lengthen it, while rounded jewelry  lends more roundness all around.

  • Finally, how can the fascinator or the hair clip add to the look? A bulky fascinator or hair clip at the top of your head will lengthen your face. Any long vertical elements, such as stiff feathers, will, too. A curvy fascinator or hair clip with flowers or fluffy feathers will add roundness. A hairpiece behind your ear, or a wide netting veil covering your forehead, will visually widen your face. In terms of size, fascinators tend to be about one-third to a half of the size of your face (not including any sheer parts), while the hair clips are much smaller.

While you want to keep the color and the decorative elements of the fascinator or the hair clip in line with those of the dress, you should also consider how it looks on your hair. For example, if you have dark hair, consider choosing a fascinator in darker shade to reduce the contrast. Darker beige, tan or mauve – or even charcoal grey – will look good with a lighter dress.

Are you looking for advice on veils? Stay tuned for another post.

Looking for advice on selecting bridal jewelry? We’re working on it!



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