Bustles, Trains, Hems, Oh My!

by | Jan 30, 2023 | Alterations

The perfect wedding dress can be so many different styles from A-line to Trumpet, Sweetheart to Halter, or white to anything else! But what happens when the perfect dress, be it whatever style, the dress of your dreams, has a train too long for the hustle and bustle of your joyous reception? Or even pictures with the family? That’s where we come in!

At Montrose Tailors & Bridal, our seamstresses and bridal alteration specialists strive to make your wedding experience the most magical time of your life. And for that to happen, we know all too well that a perfect dress can make or break the big day. So when you’re thinking about what to do with your show-stoppingly gorgeous yet slightly too long train, we can help provide you with a couple of bustle options before you decide to hem or shorten it.

What is a Bustle?

This is a question we get as often as the day is long, so don’t be ashamed if you don’t know yet! Looking up a wedding dress bustle’s definition online doesn’t really bear much fruit, so we’re happy to help. Our definition of a bustle is any type of fastening accessory designed to shorten your train without cutting any of the precious material away. By fastening accessory, we mean anything from snaps, buttons and elastics, hooks, to even ribbons! Our expert tailors attach these to any area of the material on your dress depending on design, and once fastened, these devices will serve to fold your train in such a way that it no longer drags along the ground as you walk but instead sits nicely behind and/or beside you. How? That brings us to the next important topic.

Bustle Styles

There are probably dozens more styles of wedding dress bustles than we have listed here, but anything beyond this comprehensive list is really just a variation of what we’ll show you. So without further ado, the most popular 4 bustle styles are as follows:

  1. American Bustle or Over Bustle
  2. French Bustle or Under Bustle
  3. Bowl Bustle
  4. Hand Bustle

These different styles will dictate what everyone sees when you’re dancing the night away, and while many brides like for their bustle to blend into their dress naturally, some brides prefer to make a statement with their choice in train shortening alteration. Wherever you fall on the scale of bridal fashion, we promise we can help you make sure the dress of your dreams doesn’t interfere with the night of your dreams.

American Bustle or Over Bustle

The American Bustle is the most common dress bustle we get requested here at Montrose Tailors & Bridal, and it is a very popular style as of late. Essentially, it consists of your choice in fastening accessories attaching to some point on your dress and being brought first to the center lining at any height behind you, depending on dress style. Following that first bustle centered behind you, depending on how much fabric needs to be brought up and where said fabric is concentrated, our seamstresses will attach all the next bustles either to that same center accessory or spread out from the center at the same height level. Here is an example of  a wedding dress with an American Bustle style where all of the bustles are attached to the same middle accessory.

And here is an example of a wedding dress with an American Bustle style where all of the bustles are spread out from the center.

This bustle fits almost all different styles of wedding gowns, and it is one of the easier bustles for your helper to apply on the special day. Though we know it can be daunting to bustle a wedding dress for a newbie, our bridal alteration specialists are more than willing to teach anyone the ins and outs of your specific dress’ bustle in person or through an individualized instructional video.

French Bustle or Under Bustle

The French Bustle is one of the more pricey options we offer, but when applied to the right dress, it can make an already spectacular gown even more magical. While the American Bustle takes a point and brings it over the other fabric to attach, the French Bustle brings that point underneath instead and creates a flap of fabric that makes the overall dress seem to cascade rather than smooth out. For wedding dresses with stiffer fabric or dresses with cathedral length trains, this may be the best option. The American bustle only holds material at the top and is prone to making stiff fabric puff out too much, and in the case of cathedral length trains, it may not have enough height to shorten them to floor length. For brides with neither of those specific types of bridal gowns who are just considering all of their options, this bustle has lots of personality and our expert seamstresses make certain that from every angle, your dress is just as fabulous as the special day itself.

Depending on the attaching accessory you choose, this may be the easiest to apply on the day of. There is an option for this bustle that only requires that you tie strings with the same number label together inside of the wedding dress, but should you choose a different fastener, we are happy to show any helper you bring along exactly what your dress needs.

Bowl Bustle

This is among our less commonly requested wedding bustles, but still one that we have much experience with. The determining factor in getting a Bowl Bustle is usually when the train is just a bit too long for dancing, but just short enough not to warrant one of the above dress bustles. For this bustle, our seamstresses tuck the excess fabric inside of itself at the bottom and attach it. The result is a slight ballooning or “bowl” effect of the fabric near your feet. Otherwise, the dress of your dreams remains relatively the same. Lots of brides will also prefer this train because it doesn’t alter the true back of the dress they chose. With the American Bustle or the French Bustle, they each add a new look to the back of your wedding dress, however subtle, but the Bowl Bustle keeps the back of your dress looking like it did during the ceremony, just magically shorter!

We should mention, this dress bustle may not be ideal for thinner or transparent fabrics because of the way the layer folds inside. Otherwise, this bustle is moderately easy to apply for helpers, but we highly recommend you bring someone along or allow us to take an instructional video so application can be as smooth as possible.

Hand Bustle

Lastly, we have a bustle typically reserved for brides with venues set in nature or physically demanding terrains such as the beautiful boho beach weddings or the adventurous mountain nuptials. This wedding dress bustle starts from any point on your train and then attaches to an accessory you can choose for your wrist. The effect is having the material drape from your hand gracefully beside you and out of the way for dancing or moving; hence the name: Hand Bustle.

This bustle is probably the easiest to apply because you don’t necessarily need to depend on a helper. Just attach it to your wrist and let loose!

We hope this list was helpful on your bridal journey and if after reading all about these different bustle options, you’re still not sure you want to keep your train at all, we can definitely help you to shorten it, or as we in the tailoring industry call it, “hem”. For details on hemming your wedding gown and other alterations we can do to help you prepare for the big day, check out our post 10 Bridal Gown Alterations in Houston We Can Perform.

Our bridal gown tailors are the best in the industry, and they can’t wait to have you in for an appointment, so give us a call at (713) 637-4089 or click the Book Now tab on our website to schedule one. We also take walk-ins, so stop by our shop, Montrose Tailors & Bridal, when you can to achieve your perfect fit!

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