Sustainable Chic

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A loosely fitter dress is a boho bride staple. A detail at the neckline will make it stand out. Maria Burton Photography

Today’s brides are choosing gowns and accessories that can be worn later — or by future generations.

By Rebecca Chace / Newport Wedding 2021

Let’s face it, wedding gowns are expensive. Heck, weddings are expensive. So how do you stretch your wedding dress budget without sacrificing style?

Brides are shifting their views on wedding day looks. A dress that can only be worn once is becoming a thing of the past, as brides put more emphasis on finding pieces that can be worn again — protecting both their investment and the environment.

Nowadays, dressing for the venue is far less important than dressing for yourself. Brides are aiming to add individuality to their wedding day look by mixing extravagance with simplicity and incorporating personal touches and customized pieces that will become a great addition to their everyday wardrobe.

There’s beauty in the simplicity of a scooped neckline and cap sleeve. Alicia Anne Photographers. Gown: The White dress, Clinton, CT. Flowers by Sayles Livingston Design

Amanda Delahunt, owner of Lady Sycamore Bridal in Wickford, has noticed an overall move toward a more mindful consumption when bridal shopping. “Sustainability in fashion is a movement, not a trend. We’re witnessing brides choosing designs that are more easily incorporated into their existing wardrobe, [that they] will be able to wear beyond the Big Day,” Delahunt says.

In recent years, wedding dress styles have become all about the shape. Emphasis has shifted from the detailing to the silhouette, allowing the dress to transition to formal occasions outside of a wedding chapel. That’s not to suggest that less fussy means less interesting. You can still pack plenty of wow factor into a high neckline paired with a deep open back or a high slit. For brides who aren’t into crystals or sequins, but crave a little extra shine in their gown, pearls are a subtle and elegant embellishment that can give a dress that bridal glow. “The key to finding your perfect wedding look is to not be too matchy-matchy,” says Delahunt. Bringing some personality into the dress will help make it feel like your day.

Suits, coat dresses and separates are making a sustainable appearance this season. Brides can mix it up by choosing a piece that can be worn various ways, allowing for a seamless transition into your daily wardrobe. A suit jacket or coat dress can be worn with a pair of jeans. A tiered ruffled skirt can be styled with your favorite T-shirt. “Rather than having a tight, tailored suit, we’re seeing wide-leg trousers,” Delahunt says. “It’s more interesting than your typical tailored suit.” Suits, jumpsuits and other separates are not only sustainable, but also comfortable and flattering to the figure.

Chapel veils are imperative if you want to achieve a windblown look. Jana Williams Photography


We can’t talk about bridal fashion without mentioning veils. Delahunt has noticed an increase in custom veil orders at her shop. “Although longer veils are often more popular, length really depends on the style of dress the bride chooses,” she says.

In general, the shorter the dress, the shorter the veil. If you’re opting for a short or vintage-style dress, try a birdcage or short multilayer veil. A bride who has a simple dress and wants to add a bit of style without embellishments should consider a medium-length angel-cut veil. Those opting for a modern look might try a blusher veil, which is a short, layered and square-cut veil. A longer chapel veil is ideal for a beach or boho-style wedding, when you want to achieve that dreamy, windblown look with the veil floating behind you. If your gown is heavily beaded or embellished, or if it has a long train, a classic cathedral veil would be the most fitting choice. If your gown has a statement back, however, avoid a veil with multiple layers, crystals or other embellishments and opt for a sheer or lace veil instead, so the back of the dress can be seen.

But there’s more to a veil than just length. Brides are looking for a customized heirloom piece embellished with personalized embroidery like their wedding date, monogram or a secret message stitched into the tulle — something that can be passed down to succeeding generations.

Choosing a veil doesn’t stop there. “Instead of a white ivory or blush, a ‘ginger’ color is starting to trickle in,” Delahunt says. “It’s nontraditional, but people are going for colors.” Still not sold on a veil? Capes are an elegant-yet-whimsical alternative for those looking for a different approach.

A bridal cape will ensure you make a statement as you walk down the aisle. Alicia Anne Photographers. Cape: The White dress, Clinton, CT. Suit: Aldo’s House of Formals

Hair Trends

“At the end of the day, the hair and makeup should never compete with the wedding dress.” — Julie Rose, Julie Rose Beauty

Wedding hair trends, just like wedding fashions, come and go from year to year. It’s important to choose the best look for your face and style of dress. There is beauty in simplicity, and the trend this season is decidedly relaxed. “Predominantly a sleek look generally styled with a middle part,” explains wedding expert Julie Rose of Julie Rose Beauty. “Both the classic bun and cascading wave remain a go-to. There is something about a timeless look that will forever be on trend.” What is most important is that the bride is comfortable and confident in her look.

An encrusted headband can stand on its own or be worn with a simple veil. Photo by Move Mountains Co.

Wedding hair accessories are increasingly popular, perhaps because they are great for all different hair types, styles and lengths. With a wide variety to choose from, there is a hair accessory for every bride. To let your personality shine through the day, choose a bridal crown, headpiece or headband adorned with sparkles and pearls. “Headpieces and/or headbands tend to be a very personal choice for each bride,” says Rose. “If my bride loves sparkle, I am usually incorporating something very extravagant into the hairstyle. This can range from Swarovski crystal to a rhinestone bridal hair vine.”

As with veils, brides are shifting their focus to more personalized accessories, with hopes that one day their stunning crown or headpiece will become a family heirloom that’s passed down through the family. “I have also had a number of brides create custom pieces using family heirlooms, which I believe is truly special,” Rose notes.

When shopping for hair accessories, remember that you don’t want to take attention away from your magnificent wedding dress — you want to amplify it. “A bride’s wedding dress and her bridal hair and makeup should always complement each other,” explains Rose. She even recommends that a bride show pictures of her dress and wedding vision board to the hairstylist, to ensure a cohesive wedding day look. “At the end of the day,” Rose says, “the hair and makeup should never compete with the wedding dress.”

Add style to your ensemble with a hair comb or clip adorned with crystals and pearls. Katie Karlberg Photography.

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