Deck the Gown
When it comes to accessorizing a ball gown, less usually is more. “As these dresses are often works of art, you want them to be the focal point,” says Jennifer Burton, of JBStyles, a Chicago-based wardrobe-consulting firm. To make sure bridal accessories and flowers enhance rather than compete with a statement dress, here’s what the pros recommend.
Veils and headpieces
“Since long veils are most dramatic I often recommend them for ball gowns, which often dictate a formal feel,” says Kerrie Rourke Hileman of The White Magnolia, a designer gown boutique in Jacksonville, Fla. Whatever the length, the simpler the veil and headpiece, the more the gown stays center stage. Consider that Kate Middleton went with a discreet Cartier tiara borrowed from the Queen, and a silk tulle veil with flower embroidery limited to the trim. Neither tiara nor veil detracted from the beauty of the rich lace appliqué of her Alexander McQueen gown. With elaborate skirts, Cait Courneya, bridal consultant at Monique Lhuillier’s flagship store in Los Angeles, recommends fingertip-length veils “so you can see the detailing.” For long veils, Courneya says she’s a minimalist, preferring simple styles with a soft lace edge.
Whether for weddings or black-tie events, Burton says if you go all out with the dress, do less with the jewelry. “Choose smaller pieces. A statement earring or bracelet will suffice.” Cait Courneya likes a clean-lined look, particularly with elaborate bodices. “Forgo the necklace,” she suggests.
“They shouldn’t compete with a statement gown,” says Emily Candee of Vine Floral & Event Design in New York. “Let the dress steal the show.” For flowers to serve as a beautiful accent, Candee recommends bouquets made from one flower type. “‘Poofy’ flowers such as peonies or garden roses work well, so do calla lilies or orchids,” she says. “The type of flower doesn’t matter as much as the simplicity of the bouquet.” Candee says bouquets should be small to mid-sized, “elegant and understated, with a very simple, neutral wrap.”
Hair and makeup
“Long hair is fine for a ball gown dress,” Burton says. “I think it helps soften the look of a strapless bodice.” Burton also likes the half-up, half-down demi-chignon Kate Middleton wore on her wedding day for a fresh and modern look. “Even hair that’s a bit tousled, with a sort of windblown feel. What you want to avoid is anything severe, 90s-style, and lacquered,” she says. As for makeup, Burton recommends a light makeup touch when wearing a ball gown. “Keep it clean, natural. A bride should look relaxed and approachable, even though she’s wearing a knock-out dress.”
[Image: David’s Bridal]