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30 Apr '16

What is a wedding dress bustle?

Posted by Rebecca Rode

A bustle lifts the train up in a decorative fashion off of the floor so that you don't have to carry the train on your wrist or over your arms.

Very few wedding dress designers have a bustle built in the dress, so you will have to have your wedding dress alterations specialist add a bustle to your gown.

A bustle makes it convenient for you to walk around and dance without the train getting in your way.

It is held up on the skirt of your train by sets of hooks and loops or buttons and loops. One bustle style uses sets of ties or a set of ties and loops to hold the train up.

Do I Need A Bustle For My Wedding Gown?

If you have a chapel length train or longer you may want a bustle. As mentioned before you will be able to keep you hands free for the reception. You especially need one if you will be walking around and dancing in your gown for hours at the reception.

You don't need a bustle if you have a short sweep train. You also may not want a bustle if you only will wear your dress for a short time. Otherwise, it is worth the cost to have one added to your dress for the convenience of it.

What Are The Types Of Bustles I Can Choose From?


There are three basic wedding dress bustle styles that are popular now:    

- The American bustle: This style is also often called the "outer bustle" because your train is hooked up on the outside of the dress. To do this there are buttons or hooks placed on the outside of your gown with corresponding loops. Below is a 3 point American bustle


- French bustle: Also known as the European bustle. This bustle has ties sewn underneath the skirt and train to lift the gown. Once you tie up the ties, the outside forms a flap or a series of flaps for multiple tie sets.....see the under bustle below on a very full gown


-The ballroom bustle. Called a "flip under or "flip up" bustle. With this type of bustle the train flips up under the dress and buttons are sewn to the skirt and loops are sewn to the hem of the train to button up. Once bustled, this train looks like a floor length dress all the way around. Below is a ballroom bustle. 

Wedding Gown Bustle Tips

Who should you use to hook up your bustle at your wedding?      
Bring someone with them on pick up day so that they can also see how to do the bustle. Some use a bridesmaid, or honor attendant, and some use their mother.

I usually say it is best to have a bridesmaid or honor attendant do this because your mother may be too busy with guest to do it for you. Plus she may, because of nervousness, forget how to do it. She will have so much to do that day, so unless you just have to, it may be best to use someone else

If your wedding is out of town and no one lives near you to bustle your wedding dress, what should you do? If you have no one that lives in your area that will be at your wedding, then the seamstress can show you how to do it when your dress is hanging on a hanger.

To remember how to do your wedding dress bustle, you may want to have the seamstress draw a diagram for you. You can take pictures of how it is suppose to look after it is up. Also when you have a wedding out of town, once you arrive, take time to show the person who will do your bustle how it should be done while the gown is hanging on the hanger.

Can a bustle break? Well, this is something that can happen and does happen sometimes. Why? The weight of the train pulls on the dress fabric, button or hooks, and the loops or ties. So under the strain over a number of hours something may give way.

Think about it... the fabric of your gown is being used to do something it was not made to do, which is hold the weight of the train up.. So if for some reason there is additional stress (like someone stepping on the train) the bustle buttons, loops or ties will give way. It is better for the button to pop off or the loop to break when this happens. Why is this? Because the other outcome would be your gown having a hole ripped in it. And it is not much that can be done to repair a whole or tear in a way that isn't visible.

That is why seamstresses will sew the ties, buttons and loops on good enough to hopefully hold the train up all night. If it is sewn on too well & stress happens to hit those points the gown will rip. A wedding dress seamstress will try to come somewhere in between being sewn on too lightly or too securely.

Most of the time you will get through the day without a hitch. But prepare for a mishap because it can happen. Just in case one of the points break, have some safety pins handy to pin it in place. You can also use a broach on a one point bustle to hold it up while at the same time add a decorative touch

One more point. Sometimes you have to do both the French and the American style bustle on your gown. This happens sometimes with gowns that have a chiffon or lace overskirt on top of a satin layer. In some of these cases, it is best to bustle the layers separately.

Sometimes instead of doing the underskirt with the American wedding dress bustle and the overskirt the same type, you will do the underskirt in a French bustle and the overskirt in an American bustle. This way the bustle will lay flatter.

When you come in for an appointment with us we will show you what the different bustle types will look on the gown you are considering. It's something to keep in mind with your gown choice. If you want an American bustle then a lace gown would be a perfect choice. A French or Ballroom bustle will work well on any gown style.