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7 Wedding Dress Terms to Know When Shopping for a Bridal Gown


Zuhair Murad Bridal Fall 2017. Courtesy of Zuhair Murad

Searching for the perfect wedding dress comes with its fair share of jargon, leaving even the most well-versed fashion aficionados confused. While straightforward silhouettes such as mermaid, ball gown and sheath are easily identifiable, wording such as basque, boning and Chantilly lace can sound confusing to the untrained ear. To help you brush up on your lingo, we have decoded tricky wedding dress terms that will have you equipped like a pro ahead of deciding on a bridal gown.


If you’re aiming for that hourglass look, search for dresses featuring a basque bodice. The waist detail, resembling a corset, hits right at the hipbone and dips down towards the center into a low V-shape. Creating the illusion of a cinched midsection and elongated torso, basques are often found on voluminous ball gown silhouettes. Speaking to Vogue Arabia, couturier Zuhair Murad shares, “A corset is the ultimate feminine piece that helps you hold your head up high and make a remarkable entrance.”


Boning detail works as a support system for strapless dresses. Characterized as a built-in corset made from stiff plastic rods that are sewn into the bodice’s seams, boning adds structure to a dress, provides a better fit and won’t allow the dress to droop or shift as the bride moves about on her big day.

Chantilly Lace

Named after the city of Chantilly, France, a small town located just on the outskirts of Paris, this lace dates back to the 17th century and was favored by Marie Antoinette. Fine and delicate with scalloped edges, this handmade silk features botanical motifs and florals that are connected by mesh materials. The feminine fabric is used to create wedding dress designs with illusion sleeves and necklines.

Guipure Lace

This is another type of French lace, notable for its floral and circular pattern motifs. Unlike Chantilly lace, where the patterns are connected by mesh, Guipure is notable for its heavy open threadwork, connected by bars.


Unlike train designs that are an extension of the dress hemline, a Watteau train features a panel of sheer fabric attached to the shoulders or backline of a dress, like a cape that extends to the floor. The Watteau train can lend a veil feel and serve as an alternative to the hair piece accessory. It can be found on Grecian style gowns or bohemian designs.


Also dubbed as the Sabrina (inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s namesake character in the classic film), bateau is a wide neckline that follows a scoop shape, extending to both shoulders. Grazing the collarbone and dipping across the back, the style draws attention to the neck and evokes a classic and feminine feel.

Mikado Silk

A popular wedding dress textile, this material is a blend of silks characterized for its heavy weight and smooth finish. Unlike regular silk, Mikado can lend a dress structure and clean lines, creating gathered, rippled folds.

Opening Image: Courtesy of Viktor & Rolf.

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