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Looking the Part

Wedding trends come and go, but one priority never changes: finding the perfect dress

by Era Bushati on January 30, 2014


Every wedding-minded woman has an idea of what she hopes her wedding dress will look like. Somewhere in a scrapbook made in middle school or on a Pinterest board titled Wedding Dresses, there exists an image of the perfect dress.

Eliza DeRocker is in the business of helping women find their dream wedding gown: She runs Bride & Gown bridal shop in Glens Falls. After 10 years of working in the fashion industry in New York City and also having been a corporate fashion stylist for Lilly Pulitzer, DeRocker knows a thing or two about style.

One of the most important factors to consider while dress shopping is your body type, she says. If you’re curvy, DeRocker suggests an A-line style dress.

They’ve got the perfect dress for you: Neitzel and Breitenbach, photographed by Erin Pihlaja

“I would look for a very supportive gown that has boning inside the gown and a corset back is definitely excellent as you can tighten or loosen the back of the dress the day of the wedding,” she says. “If you’re a size zero and have no hips, I would go with a gown that can make you to appear that you have curves—lots of rouching and something lacey, a ball gown or mermaid style.”

While body type might determine what style of dress you choose, one thing that brides seem to all have in common is their dress color. DeRocker says that 70 percent of her brides choose ivory over any other color, including white, champagne and blush.

Skin tone also plays a big role in deciding what looks best on a bride.

“Darker-skinned brides look amazing in white, and I love the color blush on my pale-skinned brides,” she says.

Fabric-wise, lace remains a favorite, and the most popular dress details right now are jeweled necklines, lightly floral details, Swarovski crystals and pearl details, lightly beaded sequins and beads all throughout the gown.

Additional accessories include a sash over the gown regardless of dress style.

“Crystal beaded gorgeous sashes are huge right now, as well as sashes that are colored to match the bridesmaids’ dresses,” says DeRocker.

Store-bought gowns are very “You get what you see,” but small adjustments are always possible.

“If a bride finds her dream dress and it is strapless, straps can be made by a seamstress to match the color and material,” says DeRocker.

But that’s not the only thing a seamstress can do. Sometimes nothing in the store will satisfy a bride on the quest for the most important dress she will ever wear. In these cases, having your wedding dress custom designed may be the right choice for you.

Jessyka Neitzel and Danielle Breitenbach are two local fashion designers who can turn the idea of a dream wedding gown turn into reality.

Neitzel and Breitenbach, both 29, joined forces two years ago and created two brands, Duchess (everyday and formal wear) and Bacon Handmade Neckwear (custom neckwear such as neckties, bow ties, necklaces and women’s neckwear with embellishments).

The duo bring a variety of skills to the table. Neitzel triple majored in photography, graphic design and art history. Breitenbach studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has been sewing for 20 years. Together they create fun, unique clothing.

“We’ve been doing it a long time and we’ve seen a lot of people in a lot of things. [Clients] choose to trust us because we know what we’re doing,” says Breitenbach.

At times, brides need a special and familiar touch added to their big day. Breitenbach once had a client request alterations made to her mother’s dress so that it would fit her body and complement her own style.

“I feel like people are very interested in going back to their roots and at least using a piece of something from their family history,” says Breitenbach.

Another bridal client asked that a piece of lace from her grandmother’s wedding dress be incorporated in her husband’s neckwear. Another popular and creative idea the duo have helped facilitate is  to embroider personalized initials of all the groomsmen on their neckties along with the wedding date.

“It makes a really good groom’s gift because you’re trying to find something special, but it’s also part of their outfit and it’s a gift. Everybody wins,” says Neitzel.

Breitenbach and Neitzel have designed a handful of dresses for mothers of brides, staying away from frumpy or ordinary and making classic dresses with a modern twist designed to complement the wearer’s personality.

“There’s not a lot of cute stuff out there,” says Neitzel. “They don’t just want to be put in a giant sack. They want to look age-appropriate, but still want to have fun and feel attractive. People can look attractive if something fits right. It’s all about the fit, it doesn’t matter what size you are.”

“Fashion is supposed to work for you, not against you,” adds Neitzel.

This rings true for brides searching for the right dress and coming out empty handed. For those with the time and patience, custom making a wedding gown might be the best option to design a dress exactly the way they envision.

“I think custom is great for the person that wants something different and wants to be a part of the process,” says Breitenbach. “It’s a fun process but it has to be something that you find fun.”

Besides knowing that in the end you’ll be happy with the dress you helped design, there are added securities to custom designing your dress, such as knowing you won’t have a malfunction.

“The dress is going to be engineered to the ninth degree,” says Neitzel. “Nothing is going to be slipping or popping.”

Between designing and scheduling meetings and fittings, the process is not a quick one. A dress could take anywhere from two to six months and even more. Brides willing to go this route need to plan it in advance.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the person in the clothing feeling and looking great,” says Neitzel. “We want to make clothes that make women feel like a million dollars.”