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Dazzle in a Strapless Wedding Dress

bride sitting on porch swing with bouquet

Choosing the perfect wedding dress can be overwhelming, especially when considering strapless dresses. While they have a magical quality that can make you feel beautiful, it's important to note that they also come with a frustration factor. It's essential to be comfortable in whatever dress you choose for your special day.


If you are not comfortable in strapless garments, it is advisable to avoid opting for a strapless dress. Your comfort and confidence on your wedding day are of utmost importance. It is essential to understand that all strapless dresses share a common feature: boning. Therefore, knowing how to assess the boning content of the strapless dress being considered for purchase is crucial for success. The placement and type of boning will determine whether the dress fits perfectly or causes discomfort. Regrettably, not all wedding dress designers comprehend the structural requirements of a strapless dress. A poorly designed dress may compel the bride to repeatedly adjust it, while a well-designed dress will remain securely in place, allowing the bride to enjoy her celebration without any concerns of sagging, biting, drooping, or shifting.


I have seen many strapless dresses that have insufficient or no boning. The best advice I can give you is: DO NOT BUY ONE OF THESE.


Here are the essentials you need to understand about boning.


How to identify boning in a dress.


Boning is a strip of stiff plastic that is sewn into the inside of a garment to give it support. Sometimes it's sewn into the lining or, as with many wedding dresses, there is an extra corselet designed inside the dress where the boning is set.


Boning comes in several forms. One is a solid plastic stick that is wrapped with a thin cotton fabric sheath. It is the sheath that is sewn into the garment and secured at each end, so the boning stays put. There are many other forms of boning, from other variations of the plastic strips to metal plates that go from super stiff to very flexible metal mesh strips that offer support while allowing the wearer a great range of movement.


For strapless dress's boning is sewn into the bodice to give it structure. Usually at seams, it can also be found placed strategically to add structure to other design elements of a garment like a heavily decorated bust line. It is usually sewn to the lining of a bodice, so it does not show any impression on the outside of the bodice. To find where boning is one must poke at the bodice until you feel the strip. This can be done while the garment is on or off the body. It's not difficult to feel the boning even if the garment is heavily beaded.

Wedding dress in bridal studio on mannequin

How boning works.


There is a popular misconception that a lady needs large breasts to hold up a strapless dress. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone tell me, "I just don't have enough to hold up this dress.” Proper strapless design has nothing to do with the women's breast size. Boning is used in a dress bodice to provide the structure to hold the dress up most of the time. Just as I have stated in other places, “your breasts don't get supported by the dress.” The reverse is also true - the dress is not supported by your breasts.


Boning is properly placed in a bodice vertically, running from neckline to the waist seam. Often boning is set past the waist to stop well into the hip area and it is sometimes found in horizontal strips in various places in the bodice. It is placed to the waist so it can push against the top of the hip up. The waist area of the bodice needs to be snug to support this pushing point. The neckline should not be snug, so it does not compete with the base of the boning or produce flabby flesh pockets at the top of the bodice. This not only feels odd but looks very unsightly in wedding photos.


In a wedding dress, the minimal amount of boning should be in each side seam and princess seams, front and back. That's 6 strips. Each strip should run from the neckline to at least the waist. It’s not unusual to find up to 16 strips in a bodice. Six strips are minimal but the more boning the better.


Strapless dresses with a low dipping back neckline have a difficult time staying secure even if they are generously boned.

back of low back strapless wedding dress

Another important factor in bodice security is the back neckline. Though very dramatic, low back necklines lessen the result of the work boning is trying to do to add structure to the bodice. The lack of fabric in the back shifts the boning's push from the waist and redirects it towards the front of the dress.


This gives the bride the unhappy feeling that her chest might get exposed if she tries to dance or give a hug to a loved one. Two activities she will be wanting to do often during her reception.


Looking good in a strapless dress is one-part dress design and one-part posture.

There are only so many things any dress can do to make you look good. Strapless dresses are designed in a special way to sit on a lady's body to show off her assets in the best way. Many a lady who puts on a strapless dress for the first time feels very odd if she has no idea that there is a special posture she needs to have to make the dress sit correctly. This has nothing to do with the way most woman normally sit or stand. It is also not that soldier stance that has you setting your shoulders ridged. It is a straight back stance where your shoulders are back slightly but softly. Think of it as squeezing your shoulder blades together and easing them down your back. Your bust does perk up and show more prominently, but it's not that sticking-your-chest-out soldier stance. Another way I tell brides to think of it is, maintaining contact with the bodice front. The skin of your breasts will be in full contact with the bodice front. Keep them in contact and they will be set into the design of the dress as they were meant to be and show off your figure to its best advantage.

bride holding spring bouquet of flowers

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