Hemlines – Raising the Bar

dressUntil the twentieth century, hemlines worn by upper and middle class women were never shorter than ankle length, and it’s only since the 1960’s that hemlines were really raised. There are now some who swear that hemline fashions rise and fall in sync with the stock exchange.

What can be said is that it is pretty much up to the wearer to decide on an appropriate hemline these days, although there is still a preferencefor longer skirts for more formal occasions.

Hemlines come to mind when choosing bridesmaids gowns. Apart from the formality or lack thereof, you should consider body shape and height when deciding between long or
short skirts. Brides often opt for long gowns for formal weddings as they provide a clean, elegant line that in turn compliments the bride.

When not full length, bridesmaid gowns generally skim the knee giving a flattering line to the leg whilst not putting too much bridesmaid on display! Fabrics are often ‘floaty’, so this length works really well. Remember that bridesmaids are often bending down to attend the bride’s train and other needs,

so too short a skirt can pose a problem. I’m a great believer in that if you have a low back or strappy neckline, you really don’t need too much leg showing. Highlight one part of the body or the other! It just looks tacky for everything to be on show!

With a shorter hemline, bridesmaids’ shoes become a focus. They are very much part of the outfit so they have to be perfect. As colour matches are hard to find in the right style unless dyeing them (another story), a nude or metallic shoe works beautifully.

Brides, mostly, choose their venues before deciding on what to wear. It’s good to consider what you plan to do in the gown and the formality of the wedding first.

Whilst a full-length gown with a train is usually the preferred option, it would be just wrong in some settings! Having said that, you can make pretty much anything work if the style flatters the bride. Some of the bigger, romantic gowns may look out of place in a small setting unless the train can be put up and got out of the way.

If a bride has amazing legs, she may well want to show them off. A gown to the knee works magically and, coupled with some floaty fabrics, can be a fabulous look that’s fun and not too formal.

Another way to reveal a bit of leg (tastefully) is with a split either front or side of the gown. I like to mix it up with soft chiffon so the top layers sort of hide the split. This way, the leg is on show when the bride walks, but not all the time.

Another hemline I’ve been working with lately is sheer layers of fabric on the leg line, usually made with silk chiffon and soft embroidered tulle. Thus, technically the gown is long, but lightly sheer and gorgeous to wear especially in tropical locations. Brides who try this style often comment on how beautifully dreamy it feels to wear. It also makes the gown a little sexy, so is not for the shy bride!

Whatever you choose, if it flatters you you’re almost there. How you feel in the gown will reflect on the whole wedding. If a bride feels beautiful there’s usually a serenity and calmness about her, and with that comes the confidence and joy to make your wedding the best day of your life!

By Anita Turner-Williams