The bustle enjoyed its heyday in 19th century women’s fashion, however, they can still be seen today in modern wedding dresses. Originally made of a wire framework to hold up heavy fabric, modern bustles are constructed of hooks, buttons or ribbon to lift the train of a dress after the ceremony. Bustles are needed with dresses that have a long train, but floor length dresses do not require a bustle. The two most common types of bustle are the French bustle and the over bustle.

Choosing a Bustle for a Lace Gown

Meena Lee-DePasquale, owner, designer and coordinator of a New York City based wedding consulting firm explains that with a lace dress, there will be two bustles needed. Lee-DePasquale explains, “One for the satin underlining of the dress and one for the lace itself. You could by all means have a different type of bustle for each layer of your dress.” Take care in choosing the bustle for your lace wedding gown, as the lightweight fabric is prone to tearing. Lee-DePasquale warns, “I have had plenty of brides decide they wanted a certain type of bustle and the fabric ends up tearing.” A seamstress should consult you on which bustle would work best for your lace wedding gown.

The Over Bustle and the French Bustle

The over bustle is also known as a ballroom bustle. When a bride chooses to employ an over bustle on a lace gown with a long train, the resulting look is that of an ordinary ball gown, which is how it earned its nickname. To create an over bustle, a skilled seamstress will sew buttons or hooks into the waist of the lace gown and loops throughout the train. When the loops are attached to the buttons or hooks, the train folds up and on itself. The French bustle is made from numbered or color coded ribbons sewn into the gown. The bustle is created by lifting the gown up and tying the coordinating ribbons.

One Point Bustle and Australian Bustle

The one point over bustle is recommended for lighter fabrics, such as a lace gown. The bustle is anchored to the bodice with only one point. This inexpensive choice creates a full bustle. The Australian bustle employs a drawstring rigging to raise the train. The bustle is created by a string and a series of loops. The final effect is a ruched look. This type of bustle is particularly suited to lightweight fabrics, such as silk or silk organza.

Tips on Choosing the Best Bustle

“Depending on the lace applique on the back of the train and where it lands, a bride can chose which type of bustle is best suited for their dress. You certainly wouldn’t want to do an under bustle (French bustle) if the most intricate part of your dress is in the center of your train,” explains Lee-DePasquale. Bustles can be designed with as many points as necessary to create the desired look. The design of the bustle will consider the weight of the fabric to avoid tearing the delicate lace. Seamstresses will also create a design that will not hide the lace work in the bustle.