We tend to think of white as not being much of a color at all, but wander into any wedding dress boutique (or paint store), and the wide array of whites can overwhelm. How can a bride choose the perfect white hue for her gown? Seek the advice of a professional style and image consultant. We asked Naples-based Cheryl Lampard, founder and principal consultant of Style Matters International, for some tips.
In regard to bridal wear, what can you tell us about white?
White isn’t just white, and there are several factors that should go into selecting the best shade for a certain individual, such as her complexion and hair color. I do color analysis sessions so that clients can make informed decisions. The look of a gown is dramatically altered by lighting, so the location of the wedding and the type of fabric are also important considerations. White can be very unforgiving. It tends to enlarge the look of someone, but there are ways to create the illusion of a slimmer waist, not just by sticking a belt on, but by choosing the proper proportions so that the gown follows the lines of the body. In general, bright white can look cheap and it’s very harsh when photographed.
Where should a bride start searching for a gown?
Always start with inspiration. Look through wedding dress examples in magazines or on the Internet. Expose yourself to the wide range of what’s out there. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a designer gown to look beautiful. I work with a variety of budgets, but to see a contrast, look at the glamorous and over-the-top designs of Vivienne Westwood compared to the simple, elegant styles of Armani. Have a feel for the overall personality of the dress you want, and consider not only shape and color, but particular details, such as cuff, neckline and back.
What’s a mistake you’ve noticed people make?
Style is not just about the clothes, it’s also about how you wear them. On your wedding day, you want to look comfortable and fresh. I always say less is more. I’ve seen people weighed down by a dress that has rich fabric and is heavily embellished, or one that does not fit perfectly and requires the bride to constantly pull on and fuss with. It looks like the dress is wearing them instead of the other way around. Avoid the temptation of combining too many elements and keep it simple. Also have in mind the 360-degree view of the dress. For example, if you wear something that is simple in the front, you can be more playful with the back, but allow there to be an emphasis on one detail instead of having several that detract from one another.
What’s a recent trend in bridal wear?
White dress with colored shoes. Women should be careful though not to be über-trendy with their wedding gown. It’s likely to be the most expensive gown you will ever purchase, and in that sense you want it to be timeless.
What are your top five tips for brides?
1. Plan well in advance by gathering images, photos, cuttings from magazines of dresses and outfits you like—even if it’s a sleeve from one, a neckline from another. This will help crystallize your thoughts and make it easier to explain your vision.
2. Take expert advice—and I mean expert advice! You’d consult attorneys, doctors, dentists, mechanics and other professionals for other areas of your life, so why not consult one for one of the most important days of your life?
3. Accessories, hair and makeup are just as important as the dress. Poor decisions in these areas can spoil the main event. Choose them carefully and, again, seek specialist advice.
4. Budgets have to be taken into account, but it’s also about balance. Don’t blow everything on an amazing dress if it means your groom or bridesmaids’ outfits suffer—remember they will be in the wedding photos too!
5. It’s your day, your wedding, your dress. Don’t let mothers, future mothers-in-law, relatives or girlfriends—however well-meaning—dictate how you’re going to look on your big day.