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5 ways to embrace the lace dress (without looking like a doily)

If we had it our way, the lyrics of Meghan Trainor’s smash hit would be changed to, "I’m all ‘bout that lace, ‘bout that lace…"
And given its enduring status as the go-to fabric for wedding gowns everywhere, there are plenty of brides and brides-to-be we could recruit as our back-up singers. Wearing lace on your big day is a beautiful choice for a whole bucketload of reasons: it's elegant, sophisticated and just downright pretty. But just like there's more than one way to rock a flower crown or say your vows, the same goes for lace: there are a bunch of options for what type you can wear, how you wear it and where it goes on your gown. Thinking it all sounds a bit overwhelming? Never fear, we here to demystify this gorgeous fabric and let you in on five ways you can add it to your wedding dress (and any other dress you have in your wardrobe).

The lace low-down

Have your heart set on incorporating lace into your wedding dress? On the search for 'the one', you're bound to come across a variety of different laces - there are a lot - so to kick your hunt off on the right foot, we're breaking down three types commonly used for wedding dresses. Look out Project Runway, here you come...
A favourite of designers like Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta, Chantilly lace is named after the town it hails from in France. A delicate, handmade bobbin (read: a fancy word for the braiding and twist of the thread) lace, Chantilly is loved for its fine and intricate pattern, so it’s no surprise it’s a go-to for designers – and brides. Use it for sheer sleeves, peek-a-boo accents, trims… or all over. 

Another French lace, Alençon is cottony and soft, with a raised cording around the pattern. Alençon is a needlepoint lace made from linen thread; some have an ‘eyelash’ or ‘bearded’ edge, which looks like a delicate fringe at the bottom of the fabric. There’s also one major perk to having Alençon lace: you can cut it pretty much any way you like and it won’t destroy or damage the lace (bonus!), so it makes a great fabric for appliqués, motifs and trims. You can even make headpieces from it, or use it to cover shoes. 

Guipure is another bobbin lace that’s heavier than its Chantilly cousin. The patterns on Guipure lace are stitched together with ‘bars’ or ‘brides’… (fitting, right?). The lace can have either a coarse net background or no netting at all; with no net background, the bars and pattern become thicker. A dress with Guipure lace can also make a sweet frock for engagement parties or your hen’s do. 

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When you want spectacular sleeves...

To follow in the footsteps of Kate Middleton and Grace Kelly, look to lace sleeves. Whether you go for a full sleeve or a cute-as cap sleeve, lace-covered arms are a style that wins us over Every. Single. Time. It’s also an on-trend option for brides that want or need to cover up. Chantilly lace makes a stunning sleeve, and the softness of the lace means it won’t scratch or itch (win!). We especially love a wedding dress with an illusion neckline, a dip in the back and long sleeves #swoon. 

When you want a little something-something...

If you don’t want to commit to long sleeves, or any sleeve at all for that matter, but are fond of a splash of lace, look for dresses embroidered with appliqués or motifs. These cuts of lace can be placed on the bodice or skirt (or both), and can be large and eye-catching, or small and petite. Appliqués and motifs are often made from guipure lace, and come in all shapes, sizes and patterns. Beaded options are also available for brides wanting extra bling-bling.
Nontraditional wedding dress Temperley
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When you want to look good from behind...

Fact: the back of your wedding dress can attract just as much attention as the front, so it’s the perfect spot to add a lacy flare. How you rock this detail can be tailored to your style: it looks amazing when it’s the only swatch of lace on your dress, when it’s a continuation of the lace already on your frock or when it’s a slightly different pattern. Yep, a lace back is set to stun anyway you wear it. And you don’t have to have a full lace back either; a mesh back with appliqués or motifs is just as pretty. 

When you want to keep it trim...

Not a lot, but just enough – that’s the approach you can take with lace trim on your wedding dress. Where you want the trim is totally up to you, but we think we can’t really go wrong whichever way you go. For a look boho brides will go giddy over, seek out a wedding dress with a tiered skirt, where each tier is trimmed with dainty lace; this works for A-line, ball-gown or mermaid-cut dresses too, but instead of trims on each tier, only the hem boasts lace. Trims can also be placed on sleeves (we love it on an off-the-shoulder-sleeve) or straps. 

When you want the whole shebang...

Okay, it’s time to pull out the big guns: head-to-toe lace. Some brides find a dress covered in lace, be it guipure, Chantilly or another variation, too overwhelming and that’s fine (if that’s you, see above), but for other brides, rocking a lace dress is a one-way ticket to ‘Sophisticated City’. Need more convincing? Just take a peek at the collections of heavy-hitters like Carolina Herrera and Monique Lhuillier, and you’re guaranteed to see an all-lace dress in every collection they send down the catwalk. Having a lace dress means you’ll also have just as many design options – short or floor-length hem, mermaid silhouette or ballgown, beaded or no embellishments – as other fabrics too, so you don’t have to worry about compromising on your dream dress.  
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