Wedding Dress Lingo 101

Wedding Dress Lingo 101

Wedding Dress Lingo 101. Mobile Image

Mar 15, 2024


Congratulations, you’re engaged!! Now it’s time to schedule your wedding dress appointment—but it can seem daunting. You don’t know the first thing about wedding gowns, or what your consultant means when she says you can order a different lining or add a bustle, or what the heck an empire waistline is. Never fear! Here are some of our most commonly used words and phrases at Pritchétt, to help you go into your first dress appointment with confidence. We’re here to help in more ways than just finding your dream dress!




Your consultant will be the first to let you know that almost every single bride will need alterations on her dress (alterations are changes you make to your dress with tailoring, to either customize it or make it fit you more perfectly). These are some alterations-related words that our consultants and seamstresses use a lot to explain what sort of changes you can make to your gown.




If a dress is already “built up,” or your consultant says it can be “built up,” it means it can be altered to be more modest. In Utah especially, it’s customary for our brides to want dresses that follow specific guidelines, and lucky for you, we’re pros at making and providing “build-ups” on our gowns. For example, if you come across a dress with tank-top sleeves and a low back, your consultant will be able to tell you how it would look built up, or even show you an example of a
similar dress that already has a built-up version, with sleeves and a higher back. Our in-house seamstresses are incredible at making build-ups on gowns that look like they were always made that way.


In-House Alterations


Pritchétt is one of the only bridal shops in the area that provides in-house alterations! That means that we have an entire group of master seamstresses available for all of our brides to get their alterations done—right here in our store. We make it easy for you so you don’t have to find your own seamstress after you say yes to the dress.


Seam Allowance


The seam allowance is the amount of extra fabric in a dress where two parts are sewn together. Your consultant will use this term most frequently when they’re talking about having a dress “taken out” on the sides. The more seam allowance there is on the side of your dress, the more you’ll be able to take it out. The seam allowance on every dress is going to be different—some will have a lot of extra fabric, and some will have very little, depending on the designer and a number of other factors.


Taken In/Taken Out


When your consultant says a dress can be taken in or taken out, she means it can be altered to be made smaller or bigger. The most common way to alter a dress to be taken in or out is by using the side seams, which will typically run from under the sleeve to the waistline or the hem. It’s also common to have a dress taken in on the shoulders to fit the length of your torso. Keep in mind, it’s always much easier to have a dress taken in than let out (“let out” is another
way to say taken out). You can always make a dress smaller, but you can’t always make every dress bigger—because of the seam allowance (look at you, you’re a fast learner!). Your consultant will most likely advise you to size up and have a dress taken in if you happen to be between sizes.




The hem of your dress is the very bottom of the skirt, where it hits the floor. To have your dress “hemmed,” or to get a hem on it, means to alter it to be shorter. Almost every dress is made for taller brides, so a hem is the most common alteration. This is for all you short brides—don’t worry, we got you covered.







Wedding gowns are very elaborate and complicated; they’re more than just a dress you can buy at any store. Here are some words our consultants use that refer to different parts of the gowns you’ll be trying on.




The silhouette of a dress is the shape of the dress. When your consultant uses this term they’re referring to the shape of the skirt, more specifically. There are so many different wedding dress silhouettes, from fitted dresses to ballgowns.




The underlay of a dress, or the lining, is the layer of fabric underneath the other layers. For example, if you have a lace dress, it will most likely have a different lining or underlay beneath the lace layer. Some dresses will have a tan or nude underlay to make the layer on top stand out more. Your consultant may ask you if you like the color of the lining, and if you don’t, a lot of designers will have the option to order the same dress with an ivory underlay instead.




The bodice on a wedding gown is the “shirt” part of the gown; basically, it’s the top part of your dress that’s attached to the skirt.




The waistline on your dress is exactly what it sounds like—where the bodice of the dress and the skirt are sewn together. There are so many different kinds of waistlines, but the most common is a natural waistline, where the smallest part of your body is. An empire waistline is when the bodice and the skirt come together right beneath your bust (think Bridgerton dresses); a drop waist is when the bodice and skirt are sewn together lower on your body; a basque waist
comes together at a point, and it’s typically slightly lower than a natural waistline on a dress. Some dresses don’t have a waistline and just fall straight down from the neckline to the hem.




The neckline of a dress is the very top of it, where the bodice ends. There are endless options for necklines, and for dresses with sleeves, the most common ones we see are square neck, scoop neck, V-neck, mock-neck, boat neck, and so much more. An illusion neckline is a see-through mesh material with lace applique or beading sewn onto it to give the illusion of floating materials.




Applique is usually a type of lace or 3D material like flowers or beading that has been sewn onto a dress. It differs from regular lace because it has been added to the dress rather than being part of the original fabric that the dress is made of.




The train is the long part on the back of your skirt that drags behind you. Trains come in many different lengths, and the longer the train the more likely you will want a bustle on your dress.




A bustle is something you can add to your dress to pin up the train. There are different kinds of bustles you could add to a dress, like an English bustle that pins up on the back of your gown, or a French bustle that tucks up underneath. Bustles are great for when you’re walking around and dancing at your reception!




The boning on a dress is the structure that has been built into the bodice to help it hold its shape. Boning is usually made of metal or plastic, and can either be hidden or accentuated in a dress. It’s most commonly affiliated with a corset-looking structure. Not every dress has boning, and different brides will have different preferences when it comes to boning in a dress.




When most people think of a corset, they think of the old-fashioned kind that laces up in the back and makes women swoon from lack of air; in a wedding dress, that usually isn’t the case. While some dresses have that typical corset look, many of our dresses have hidden, built-in corsets underneath, which are much smaller and a lot more comfortable than the old-fashioned ones. They clasp in the back like a bra and lie beneath the zipper, right around your waist.




Crepe is a popular fabric that many of our dresses are made of. It’s most commonly seen in fitted dresses because it’s slightly stretchy and flattering to a lot of body types (and comfortable!). There are a lot of different fabrics that wedding gowns are made of—don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never heard of!







Here are some other terms we use at Pritchétt that you’ll hear at your appointment!




Your bridal consultant is the person who will be with you throughout your whole appointment; they’ll show you through the store, pull gowns for you, help you into each dress, answer all your questions, and do everything in her power to help you find your dream dress! Our consultants are specially trained experts on all things wedding dresses—and she’s your built-in bestie here at Pritchétt!


Dressing Room


Your dressing room is where you’ll be changing into all of the dresses you want to try on. Your consultant will be with you in the dressing room helping you in and out of dresses, zipping you up, and eliminating dresses as you go. It’s where the magic happens!


Bridal Suites


Our newly renovated bridal suites are where your mom, sisters, in-laws, and friends will be sitting while you’re in the dressing room. Each suite is complete with luxury seating, a huge mirror, professional lighting, and privacy curtains. Your bridal suite is where you’ll say yes to the dress! Don’t worry, they’re all equipped with tissues too.





Now you’re a little bit more of an expert on wedding dress shopping! You’ll be prepared to go into any appointment with confidence. Remember, if your consultant says something or refers to something and you don’t know what it is, don’t be afraid to ask! It’s our job at Pritchétt to answer all your questions and help you have the best appointment possible. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we want you to enjoy it! We can’t wait to see you and help you find your dream dress.


See you soon girlfriend! xo