Wedding Dress Bustles: A Comprehensive Guide

Wedding Dress Bustles: A Comprehensive Guide

Jul 27, 2023

What is Wedding Dress Bustle?

When selecting the perfect wedding dress, there's much more to consider than just the cut, color, and fabric. An often overlooked yet essential component of the wedding dress is the bustle. A wedding dress bustle is a traditional and practical feature designed to lift and secure the train of your wedding gown for the post-ceremony events. Bustling your dress allows you the freedom to move around, dance, and enjoy your reception without worrying about tripping over or damaging your dress.


There are several types of wedding dress bustles, and the best choice depends largely on the style and length of the train of your gown. It's important to familiarize yourself with the different bustle types to determine the best fit for your dress and your personal aesthetic. Knowing your bustle options can also provide a richer, more enjoyable experience as you consult with your dressmaker or seamstress.


Here are five of the most prominent types of bustles:

  1. American Bustle: The American Bustle, or over-bustle, is one of the most popular and versatile types of bustles. It works by hooking the train up over the outside of the dress. This can be done at one point for a simple look or multiple points for a more layered, elaborate effect. Its versatility makes it suitable for a variety of dress styles, from a classic sheath to a voluminous ball gown.

  2. French Bustle: Known also as an under-bustle, the French Bustle gives a more subtle, vintage feel. The train is neatly tucked and lifted under the dress, which can create a romantic, puff-like effect. This type of bustle pairs beautifully with dresses that have a bit more volume or intricate detailing on the skirt.

  3. Ballroom Bustle: For brides who want the drama of a long train during the ceremony but prefer the appearance of a train-less gown during the reception, the Ballroom Bustle is an ideal choice. It uses numerous bustle points to lift and hide the train completely. The result is a seamless look that can make it appear as if the dress never had a train.

  4. Austrian Bustle: The Austrian Bustle adds a unique touch to your wedding dress by creating a gathered or ruched effect across the back of the gown. This is achieved by drawing up the train with a system of loops or ties, typically on the inside of the dress. This bustle style can add a whimsical, romantic touch to your dress, especially when crafted in fabric like lace or tulle.

  5. Royal Bustle: The grandest of all, the Royal Bustle, also known as the Victorian or Cathedral Bustle, is a fantastic option for dresses with long, dramatic trains. The train is folded, arranged, and secured to create a multi-tiered effect, often resembling a cascading waterfall. This is a stunning option if you're aiming for a regal, fairy-tale aesthetic on your big day.


Now let's dive in and learn more about the different types of bustles!


American Bustle: The Classic Elegance

Also known as the over-bustle, the American bustle is the epitome of classic style. With this method, the train is neatly hooked up over the exterior of the dress, usually at one or more points, to create an elegant drape. The American bustle is often favored for its simplicity and ability to adapt to numerous wedding dress styles. The remarkable versatility of the American bustle sets it apart as a popular choice for a wide array of wedding dress styles. Its flexibility and charm lend a unique grace to different types of gowns, enhancing their individual features while adding a functional element that enables brides to move and dance freely during their reception.


Best Dress Styles for an American Bustle

One of the dress styles that pairs exceptionally well with an American bustle is the sheath dress. Characterized by its straight, fitted design, a sheath dress typically follows the body's natural line without flaring out. The simplicity of its silhouette is its strength, and the addition of an American bustle only serves to amplify this elegance. When applied to a sheath dress, the American bustle – often involving a single pick-up point – can effectively accentuate the dress's linear design. It gathers the train to a focal point, creating a cascading effect down the back of the gown that adds depth and interest. This cascading effect does not distract from the clean lines of the sheath dress; instead, it enhances them, adding a touch of sophisticated drama to an otherwise minimalist design.


In contrast, A-line wedding dresses are defined by their gentle flare. Starting fitted at the top and gradually widening out in a way that resembles the letter "A", these dresses are flattering on almost every body type. An American bustle complements an A-line dress perfectly, giving it a playful, yet balanced look. The bustle adds volume and visual interest to the back of the dress without overwhelming the gown's overall balance. The bustle can be created with one or multiple pick-up points, depending on the length of the train and the bride's preference, giving the back of the dress a layered look. This infusion of playful elegance ensures that the dress remains captivating from all angles.


Moreover, the American bustle's charm doesn't disrupt the cohesive flow of the A-line dress; instead, it seamlessly integrates into the dress's design, becoming a natural extension of the gown's shape and form. The bustle's effect on the train gives the dress an added element of surprise and interest, making the bride's every move a statement of grace and style.


French Bustle: Subtle Sophistication

The French bustle, also known as the under-bustle, is characterized by its subtle yet sophisticated aesthetic. It artfully tucks the train of the dress under the skirt itself, creating a delightful puff that brings a romantic, vintage-inspired touch to any bridal look. The beauty of a French bustle is that it pairs exceptionally well with a variety of wedding dress styles, particularly with those boasting voluminous skirts or dramatic silhouettes.


Best Dress Styles for a French Bustle

One dress style that is highly compatible with a French bustle is the classic ball gown wedding dress. Renowned for its fitted bodice and full skirt, the ball gown is synonymous with fairy-tale magic and timeless elegance. When a French bustle is added to a ball gown, it provides an extra volume that harmonizes perfectly with the existing fullness of the skirt. This seamless integration is one of the French bustle's greatest strengths. Rather than appearing as an addition or an afterthought, it blends into the gown's design, becoming an intrinsic part of the dress's silhouette. The French bustle further enhances the dreamy quality of a ball gown, creating an enchanting sweep and flow that adds to the drama and grandeur of the gown. The result is a romantic, fairy-tale aesthetic that looks both enchanting and regal.


On the other hand, the impact of a French bustle on mermaid or trumpet style dresses is equally as captivating, albeit in a different manner. Both mermaid and trumpet dresses are recognized for their dramatic silhouettes - fitted through the bodice and hips, then flaring out around the mid-thigh or knee. These dresses are designed to showcase and flatter the bride's curves, making a bold statement of style and confidence. The addition of a French bustle to these styles enhances this effect. It adds a flair to the dress that beautifully complements the flare of the skirt, amplifying the dress's drama without overwhelming its design.


Moreover, the French bustle in a mermaid or trumpet style dress provides a charming juxtaposition – the smooth, sleek lines of the fitted bodice contrasted with the intricate folds and soft puff of the bustle. This not only emphasizes the dramatic silhouette of the dress but also adds a unique point of interest, enhancing the dress's overall look and feel. The French bustle on a mermaid or trumpet dress creates a look of sophisticated allure, adding to the breathtaking effect as the bride makes her grand entrance or moves around the room.


Ballroom Bustle: The Train-less Wonder

The ballroom bustle, characterized by its multiple bustling points, is a perfect solution for brides who desire the grandeur of a lengthy train for their ceremony but prefer the illusion of a train-less gown for the reception. With this bustling style, the train is carefully lifted and secured in a way that completely conceals it, resulting in the appearance of an elegant floor-length gown. This makes the ballroom bustle particularly suitable for dresses that feature a moderate to long train.


Best Dress Styles for a Ballroom Bustle

Fit and flare gowns are one of the dress styles that benefit significantly from a ballroom bustle. These gowns are renowned for their signature silhouette — fitted from the bodice to the mid-thigh and then flaring out dramatically to the hem. This style, much like the mermaid or trumpet gown, is designed to accentuate the bride's curves while adding an element of drama and sophistication. When paired with a ballroom bustle, the fit and flare gown gains a new level of elegance. The bustle enables a seamless transition from the fitted top to the fullness at the bottom, enhancing the dress's dramatic silhouette while offering the practical benefit of a shorter, more manageable train during the reception.


The result is a visually striking, balanced profile that maintains the elegance and drama of the original silhouette, with the added benefit of improved mobility and comfort for the bride. Whether the bride is twirling on the dance floor or mingling with guests, the ballroom bustle ensures that the dress remains beautiful and practical throughout the event.


Drop-waist styles, which are characterized by their fitted bodice extending past the hips before flaring out into a full skirt, also work exceptionally well with a ballroom bustle. In this case, the bustle harmonizes with the drop-waist design by creating a seamless, uninterrupted line from the top to the bottom of the dress. The placement of the bustling points can be tailored to the specific design and detailing of the dress, ensuring that the bustle enhances the gown's design elements without detracting from them.


This well-incorporated ballroom bustle, paired with a drop-waist style, strikes a perfect balance between elegance and functionality. It preserves the aesthetic appeal of the dress's elongated, sleek lines and voluminous skirt while allowing the bride the ease of movement necessary for dancing and socializing at her reception.


Austrian Bustle: Romance in Ruches

The Austrian bustle is a unique and enchanting style that creates a ruched effect across the back of the wedding dress. This ruching is accomplished by pulling up the train via a drawstring, creating a series of graceful swags. This style brings a touch of whimsy and romance, making it a delightful choice for several wedding dress styles.


Best Dress Styles for an Austrian Bustle

One style that beautifully matches an Austrian bustle is the sheath gown. Known for its straight-cut, body-hugging silhouette that gently tapers at the hem, a sheath dress emphasizes the bride's natural figure in an understated yet elegant way. When an Austrian bustle is applied to a sheath gown, it adds an appealing contrast to the otherwise simple lines of the dress. The intricate ruching of the Austrian bustle brings depth and dimension, giving the back of the dress an engaging point of interest. This mix of simplicity and intricate detail creates a balance that's both stylish and sophisticated, ensuring the sheath gown retains its elegance while adding a touch of drama.


Similarly, slim A-line dresses pair exceptionally well with an Austrian bustle. These gowns, which feature a silhouette that's fitted through the waist and subtly flares toward the hem, offer a universally flattering shape that's often chosen for its balanced proportions and classic appeal. The addition of an Austrian bustle brings a new level of depth and volume to a slim A-line dress. The ruching from the bustle subtly enhances the flare of the dress, adding a dash of dynamism that enhances the gown's charm while keeping its balanced aesthetics intact.


Austrian bustles are also wonderfully suited for lace or tulle dresses. These delicate fabrics have an ethereal quality that's amplified by the romantic draping of an Austrian bustle. In lace dresses, the Austrian bustle highlights the fabric's intricate patterns, creating a visually stunning effect as the train is drawn up. For tulle dresses, the soft, airy nature of the fabric is enhanced by the Austrian bustle, resulting in a dreamy, cloud-like effect that adds to the fairy-tale aesthetic of the gown.


Royal Bustle: The Grandeur of Drama

The royal bustle, also known as the Victorian or cathedral bustle, presents a regal, elegant solution for brides seeking to manage a substantial, dramatic train on their wedding day. Named for the grandeur typically associated with royalty, the royal bustle is designed to handle long, dramatic trains by folding and arranging the train and securing it with several attachment points. This results in a multi-tiered or cascading effect that can transform the train into a stunning statement piece.


Best Dress Styles for a Royal Bustle

One of the best applications of a royal bustle is on a dress with a monarch train, which is one of the longest train styles. Named after Queen Victoria's daughter-in-law, the Princess of Wales, the monarch train extends a majestic 144 inches or more from the waist. When a royal bustle is applied to such a train, it creates an effect similar to that of a peacock's tail - full, extravagant, and show-stopping. The bustle ensures the train is carefully arranged and secured, offering a practical way to handle the train while maintaining its grandeur and elegance.


Cathedral length trains, which extend 60 to 90 inches behind the dress, also pair beautifully with a royal bustle. These trains are often seen in formal, traditional weddings, reminiscent of the regal elegance of historic cathedral aisles. With a royal bustle, the cathedral train's grandiosity is preserved, but the train becomes more manageable. This allows the bride to move freely during her reception, without sacrificing the opulent appeal of her gown.


Another wedding dress style that works exceptionally well with a royal bustle is the classic ball gown. Known for its fitted bodice and voluminous skirt, the ball gown is already dramatic and eye-catching. The addition of a royal bustle enhances these qualities, adding to the gown's voluminous appeal. When applied to a ball gown, the royal bustle creates a tiered effect that mirrors the fullness of the gown's skirt. This harmonious blend of design elements results in a cohesive and visually striking look that's both functional and fashionable.


The tiered or cascading effect of the royal bustle doesn't just add volume – it also brings a touch of classic elegance and luxury to the gown. Regardless of whether it's used on a dress with a monarch train, a cathedral length train, or a ball gown, a royal bustle ensures the dress remains spectacular and impressive from all angles.


Wrapping Up

Each of these bustles offers a unique look and functionality to match the various styles and needs of brides and their wedding dresses. They also provide an additional opportunity to express your personal style and ensure that your gown is as functional as it is beautiful. It's worth noting, though, that bustling a wedding dress typically requires the skilled hand of a professional seamstress or dressmaker, ensuring the chosen bustle not only looks good but is secure and supports the weight of the train without damaging the dress.


As you prepare for your wedding, take time to explore these bustle styles. Consider your dress design, the venue, your comfort, and of course, your personal style when deciding on the type of bustle you want for your wedding dress. Contact our Orlando bridal shop to schedule an appointment and find the perfect wedding gown!