6 Jaw-Dropping Wedding Dress Bustle Styles Every Bride Needs to Know

You’ve done it. You’ve chosen your dream dress and are eagerly anticipating your walk down the aisle.

If, however, you’ve chosen a wedding gown with a train of any length, you seriously need to consider adding a bustle to your dress. Not only does this make it easier for you to move around at your reception — especially on the dance floor — a bustle can add a lot of visual interest to the back of your dress.

Photo by Heidi Tuisku

What is a Wedding Dress Bustle?

A bustle is simply a way to make your train even with the hemline of your wedding dress so it doesn’t drag on the floor. Whether you have a lot of fabric or a baby train, it can be bustled by having your seamstress add buttons, eyes, hooks, or ribbons to your gown.

And while it’s not a product you can buy like wedding shoes or a veil, it’s a huge part of any bride’s overall look on her big day.

Now that you know why bustles are so important, let’s take a look at all of your wedding dress bustle options so you can determine which type is right for you.

Wedding Dress Bustles

Few wedding dresses come with a bustle despite the fact that most gowns need one. Why? Bustles need to be created based on your height to ensure the folds of your dress fall properly.

Wedding dress bustles are also a matter of personal taste, so designers leave it up to brides and their seamstresses or stylists to choose the one that best suits them.

Let’s take a look at the most popular types of bustles:

1. American bustle

Best suited to ball gowns and dresses with long trains, the American bustle, or over bustle, is gathered and fastened over top of the skirt of your dress. Popular with modern brides, this style provides lovely flowing folds of fabric for a dramatic back view courtesy of several bustle points being sewn into your wedding gown. Your seamstress can use buttons, hooks, or eyes to act as your bustle points and will likely choose the method based on the weight and fabric of your dress.

2. French bustle

Also known as the under bustle, this style works best on a-line, sheath, trumpet or mermaid dresses. This gathering method is the exact opposite of the American bustle. Instead, hooks lift the train and tuck under the silhouette of your gown. Ribbons can also be attached at numerous pick-up points both to secure the fabric of your dress and to add visual interest. 

3. Ballroom bustle

The ballroom bustle hides the train completely by fastening it up beneath your skirt. Your seamstress will add several attachment points to ensure a smooth line. While this bustle style is ideal for ball gowns, as its name suggests, it can also be used on most other wedding dress silhouettes. Brides who don’t want the appearance of a bustle often opt for this style.

4. Victorian/royal bustle

The most elaborate bustling option, the Victorian or royal bustle, gathers the train at multiple points down the back part of the gown to create stunning folds. This style works best on a full ball gown (think Disney princess) or a cathedral-length train and looks amazing at formal and black-tie wedding receptions. You’ll also love this look if you gravitate toward more dramatic fashions.

5. Train-flip bustle

Much like the ballroom bustle, this method hides the train altogether by flipping the fabric up and under the dress. The extra fabric is pinned into itself offering the bride a full, floor-length gown for the reception. This ballroom-style bustle works best on full-skirted wedding gowns.

6. Bow bustle

The bow bustle is a classic way to add a little bit of romance to your wedding dress. This type of bustle attaches over the top of your gown, much like the American bustle but, instead of a hook or eye bustle point, a ribbon or sash is used. This style of bustle is one of the most popular types for a-line wedding dresses.

How to Choose the Right Bustle for Your Gown

Whether you have a small sweep at the back of your gown or an ultra-long cathedral train, there’s a lot to consider when choosing a bustle look that you love. 

Your seamstress or stylist will be able to recommend the best bustle style for you based on:

  • Your height and body type
  • Length of train
  • The style of your dress
  • Gown fabric 

Bustling Tips

Now that you have a handle on the types of bustles available to you, here are a few handy hints to help your bustle look fabulous on your big day.

1. Choose someone to help

No matter what type of bustle you choose, make sure that you have someone to help you with the bustling process. Not only is it impossible to do yourself, you’ll want to ensure the back of your dress looks its best — and that extra pair of hands will help with that.

Whether you choose your maid of honor, mom or sister, make sure your helper can attend your final dress fitting appointment with you. This will give your helper a chance to ask questions and learn the proper technique from a professional stylist.

2. Do a test run 

Have you ever heard the old saying practice makes perfect? This adage is certainly true when it comes to bustles. Have your helper practice hooking or tying your train up at least a few times beforehand so you’ll be picture perfect on the big day.

3. Be prepared

Wedding dresses can be pretty heavy, and no bustle is bulletproof. If the hooks or ribbons you’re relying on don’t hold up to the rigors of dancing and mingling, you need to be prepared. That means having safety pins, a sewing needle and clear fishing line on hand in case you need to do some emergency repairs.

Solutions for Brides Who Hate Bustles

We get it, not everyone is a fan of bustles. But with most wedding dresses having at least a small train, you’ll still need a way to deal with the extra fabric or risk tripping.

So, if you need a way to deal with your train, but don’t want a traditional bustle, here are a few other options to think about:

1. Train loop

A great option for brides who want to be able to hook up and let down their train with ease, the loop requires no sewing. Instead, two pieces pin through your dress and hook together enabling you to lift your train off the floor for dancing or walking. It can be released at any time. 

2. Wrist loop

This old-fashioned solution for walking with a train remains one of the most popular ways to avoid a bustle. Rather than adding hooks or ties to your dress to put your train up, your seamstress simply attaches a loop to the end of the fabric. Then, whenever you want to dance or walk any distance, you simply pick up your train and slide the loop over your wrist for a simple yet elegant look. Not only is this something you can do without help, it will also be much less expensive than sewing in hooks, ties or snaps for bustling.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose a ball gown, a sheath dress or a mermaid silhouette, a bustle — or a bustle alternative — is a must-have if your dress has a train. Now that you know all there is to know about bustle types, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the one that will work best for you and your gown.

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