Wedding dress fabrics

The fabric you choose for your bridal gown depends on the style of the dress, your wedding venue, and the season

laceMost fabrics can be made either in manmade fibers such as polyester or in natural fibers like silk, and the fabric you chose will depend on your budget. Silk is more luxurious and hard-wearing, but is harder to care for and is much more expensive.

If you are buying your dress from a bridal shop, there may be different choices of fabric type as well as color, so ask for swatches. If your dress is going to be made for you by a dressmaker, it is difficult to imagine what the finished dress will look like, so try on dresses in different fabrics in a bridal shop to see which fabrics you prefer.

You may come across the following fabrics in the search for your dream dress:


Chiffon is a lightweight fabric with a translucent appearance. It drapes beautifully and looks soft and floaty. Dressmakers use it to make the whole dress, or for sleeves and drapes to cover arms and necklines. Chiffon is perfect for a destination wedding as it is light to carry on the plane and any creasing falls out when the dress is hung up.


Crêpe (or crape or crêpe de chine) is a light fabric with a slightly crinkled feel.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway chose a silk crêpe dress for her royal wedding.


Dupion (or Dupioni), raw, shantung and Thai silk are textured silks which have natural imperfections and a "slub" in the fabric. Dupion has a heavier texture than Thai silk. They are medium to thick fabrics which are perfect for simple gowns, and are also ideal for bridesmaids’ dresses. They are easy to sew but crease fairly easily when worn. You may also see the terms shantung and raw silk, which are similar to the above silks. Silks are often embroidered or quilted for stunning effects.


Duchess or duchesse satin is one of the heaviest and most beautiful fabrics, often the fabric of choice for couture gowns. It has a rich finish and lustrous sheen, but may be too heavy for a midsummer wedding. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden wore a stunning gown in duchess satin at her royal wedding.


Georgette is a light, floaty, slightly transparent fabric that is similar to chiffon, only slightly stiffer. It can be added as a top layer to the skirt of the dress, as it drapes beautifully. It is sensual to the touch and gives the gown a soft silhouette. Georgette is perfect for a destination wedding as it is light to carry on the plane and any creasing falls out when the dress is hung up.


Lace can be used as the top layer of the dress over a layer of satin or crêpe, or to make sleeves, overskirts or collars. It is also used to make or edge veils. Crown Princess Mary of Denmark wore a duchess satin dress with antique lace panels in the skirt for her royal wedding, accompanied by an antique lace veil.


Organza is a thin, stiff transparent fabric with a sheen. It is often used as an overskirt for bridal gowns and is also the perfect fabric to make bridesmaids’ dresses for little girls. It is suitable for beading and embroidery.


Satin has a silky look and feel; it can be made in polyester or in luxurious silk. It is usually resistant to creasing. Three types that are used in bridal wear and bridesmaids’ dresses are: Charmeuse satin which is fluid and soft, and usually cut on the bias; bridal satin which is somewhat stiffer and easy to sew; and crêpe back satin which is a reversible satin fabric with a crêpe side and a satin side, used to create contrasting elements in special occasion wear and bridal gowns.


Taffeta is a traditional fabric for elegant and dramatic ball gown-style wedding dresses and evening gowns. It has a lustrous sheen and a fabulous swish when it moves. It can be made of silk or artificial fibers.

Princess Diana's iconic dress was made of silk taffeta.


Tulle is a kind of netting that has varying levels of stiffness. It can be made in either silk, cotton or nylon. It is used in petticoats to give volume to the dress, or to make the full skirt on a ballerina-style dress.

It is also used to make bridal veils, such as the veil worn by Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, pictured above.


Velvet and devoré is a plush material with a plain underside. It is ideal for gowns and cloaks for winter weddings and historical themed weddings. It is often used in combination with other fabrics to create a sumptuous effect. As well as white, popular colors are red and black for brides who are looking for something unusual. Devoré is a patterned version of velvet.

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