NEW YORK – Sexy in bridal gowns isn’t new, but barely there looks have leaped off the backs of Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez and made their way from red carpet to wedding.
What about scandalizing your grandmother, priest or old Uncle Harry? Can you look good on your big day while quenching your thirst for ooh-la-la trends and appeasing the more demure gathered for your wedding?
Absolutely, designers and bridal experts said. Others are more pointed: Be yourself and to heck with what anybody else thinks.
Of course, we don’t all have the bodies — and lifestyles — of Bey, Kim and J. Lo at a time when attention to the body in bridal as opposed to the dress has increased.
“It’s more about the body now,” said Vera Wang, whose spring 2016 bridal lookbook is filled with sexy sheers that show all. “What we’re trying to do more is really capture a certain sense of intimacy in body language.”
So how do we adapt sexy illusion looks, sheers and cutouts to our shapes, as well as to any outside pressures for a more modest approach?
There’s strapless, for instance, and then there’s plunging in necklines and backs.
If you’re looking to make a statement up top but need a bit more coverage for certain relatives, or the church, mosque or synagogue, add-on pieces are plentiful and a lot more stylish than they used to be, said Anja Winikka, site director for the bridal world’s TheKnot.com.
“The idea that ‘it’s my rite of passage and I’ll translate a trend the way I want’ includes some pretty sexy styles,” she said. “You can add a stole or a cardigan without spoiling your look.”
Elle Strauss, fashion director for Brides magazine, urged brides who plan to plunge to pull back elsewher
picture: formal dresses
“If you’re going to do a plunging neckline, keep everything else really simple and chic,” she suggested.
“The hair and makeup. You’re not necessarily going to do a full lip or too much eye makeup. The plunging component is your statement.”
Designer Monique Lhuillier’s advice to brides in need of a little modesty is to think tulle.
“For a modern bride with a traditional ceremony, I would recommend a tulle wrap. It will keep her a bit more covered during the ceremony, but it’s sheer, so guests will still have a sense of the dress underneath and it can be removed for the reception,” she said.
Backless or barely there backs are also part of the new sexy in bridal. Winikka has a solution for that, too, if showing too much skin is a problem.
“Put on a long veil for the church to cover it up,” she said. “Veils can provide a lot of coverage.”
Keren Craig, co-founder with Georgina Chapman of Marchesa, said backs are just as important as fronts nowadays.
“It’s what your guests will see throughout the ceremony,” Craig said. “An illusion back with delicate buttons and vintage-inspired lace is a beautiful way to add interest to your dress.”
Chapman agreed that flourishes can help with more risque styles.
“Brides are becoming more daring for their wedding-day looks and opting for seductive silhouettes,” she said. “Keren and I like to balance these bold shapes with romantic details such as soft tulle, floral appliques and embroidered lace.”
Some brides now buy two dresses or more. Those who worry about wearing barely-there during the ceremony may want to consider a more modest look for the “I Dos” and then change for fun, fun, fun at the reception.
Convertible gowns are more plentiful. They include “infinity” looks with attached wraps and sashes that can be tied and twisted in different ways, offering more coverage for church and sexier scenarios for later. Other convertibles have detachable trains and transform into minis.
Since Kate Middleton’s grand nuptials with Prince William in 2011, sleeves on bridal gowns have picked up steam. A gown with sleeves can offer options for sexy without revealing anything at all.
“Try sheer sleeves if you want to be a little risque but worry about going over the top,” Winikka said. “Sheer with lace, that’s sexy.”
Strauss suggested going sheer at the bottom if legs are your best asset and you’re uncomfortable with reveals elsewhere.
Cutouts are also happening in bridal gowns. Winikka said placement is everything for body type when it comes to those little slices.
“Cutouts can create that hourglass shape if you don’t have it,” she said. “Make sure they’re placed at the natural waist if you want to achieve that.”
Sexy is one thing, Winikka said, but surveys done by TheKnot.com show that more brides respond to questions about their dresses with: “I just want to look like me.”
Ultimately, Strauss said, a bride has to be true to herself when choosing a gown.
“You should dress for yourself,” she added. “You shouldn’t be worrying about Uncle Harry. This is your red carpet day.”