Fabric can really make or break a wedding dress. Each type of fabric has different qualities: the way it hangs, the way it catches the light, the way it moves, and so much more.

Brides sometimes start shopping for their dress with a specific fabric in mind, not realizing that some fabrics are better suited to certain silhouettes than others.

Here’s everything you need to know about popular wedding dress fabrics before you start searching for your perfect dress.

Let’s Talk About Fibers

Fabrics are either made from natural fibers or synthetic fibers.

Natural fibers

Natural fibers are made from naturally occurring materials, like cotton seed fibers or silkworm filaments. Generally speaking, natural fibers are breathable and better for the environment. They’re also typically less likely to trigger allergic reactions.

The downside is that natural fibers are usually more expensive and less resilient, making them more vulnerable to stains.

Common natural fibers used in wedding dresses include:

  • Silk
  • Cotton
  • Vegan (hemp) silk
  • Linen (flax)

Synthetic fibers

Synthetic fibers are human-made, usually from petroleum. The fibers used to make synthetic fabrics are light-weight, resilient, and customizable – they can be manufactured to be thick, thin, dull, shiny, and virtually any texture a designer could want.

Synthetic fibers are inexpensive to make; however, as a petroleum product, the manufacturing process does have an ecological impact. The fibers are essentially plastic, which means the fabrics don’t typically breathe as well as natural fibers.

Popular Types of Fabric

Crepe

Crepe is a drapey woven fabric with a slightly rippled texture. The texture gives the material a uniquely matte finish.

Crepe is very light and flowy, making it an excellent choice for:

  • Sheath gowns
  • Fit & flare gowns
  • A-line gowns

Crepe can be made of natural or synthetic fibers.

Satin

Satin fabric is usually characterized by its shine. Most satins have a shiny side and a dull side. Satin can have a high gloss or a very soft shine depending on the fiber and satin type. Evening wear is often made of satin because it drapes beautifully.

Satin is an excellent choice for:

  • Sheath gowns
  • Fit & flare gowns
  • A-line gowns

Satin can be made of natural or synthetic fibers.

Velvet

Velvet is soft and luxurious. Fibers stick straight up from the fabric in what’s called a pile, making it sort of fuzzy to the touch. Velvet is quite heavy, so it tends to hang relatively close to the body without supporting garments. It’s also quite warm, making it a toasty option for winter weddings.

Velvet is an excellent choice for:

  • Sheath gowns
  • Fit & flare gowns
  • A-line gowns
  • Ball gowns

Velvet can be made from synthetic and natural fibers.

Chiffon

Chiffon is a light and airy fabric that is usually sheer. This fabric is not heavy and is usually worn as a top layer of a garment. It is not particularly stiff, so chiffon is not the ideal choice for structural elements.

Chiffon is an excellent choice for:

  • Sheath gowns
  • A-Line gowns

Chiffon can be made of synthetic and natural fibers.

Taffeta

Taffeta is a crisp woven fabric that has a distinct sheen to it. The material itself is typically quite lightweight, but it tends to hold its shape quite well. Taffeta is known for the rustling sound it makes when rubbed together.

Taffeta is an excellent choice for:

  • Sheath gowns
  • Mermaid gowns
  • A-Line gowns
  • Ball gowns

Taffeta can be made of synthetic and natural fibers.

Jacquards

Jacquard fabrics are woven in a special way that makes them look like they’re printed or embroidered with elaborate shapes and patterns. Some jacquards are all one color while others incorporate different colors, sometimes including shades of gold and silver.

Jacquards are an excellent choice for:

  • Sheath gowns
  • Mermaid gowns
  • A-line Gowns
  • Fit & Flare Gowns
  • Ball Gowns

Jacquards can be made of synthetic and natural fibers.

Tulle

Tulle is a type of netting that’s often used in veils and wedding dresses. The netting varies in terms of stiffness. Some types of tulle are soft and flowy, while others are coarse and rigid. Tulle is traditionally used under ball gowns as a structural garment, adding volume to the skirt. However, recent wedding dress styles have used tulle as an outer layer.

Tulle can be used in:

  • Fit & Flare gowns
  • A-line gowns
  • Mermaid gowns
  • Ball gowns

Lace

Lace is a particular type of mesh that includes intricate patterns of swirls, flowers, and more. There are many different types of lace, all of which vary in texture, finish, weight, and stiffness.

Lace can be used in:

  • Sheath gowns
  • Fit & Flare gowns
  • A-line gowns
  • Mermaid gowns
  • Ball gowns

Remember Your Venue

When looking at wedding dress fabrics, remember the setting of your big day. Some materials lend themselves better to certain environments. For instance, velvet or jaquards would likely be too heavy for a beach wedding. On the other hand, Chiffon and crepe are light and flowy enough to look right at home at the seaside.

Considering your wedding dress fabric can help ensure you feel comfortable and beautiful on your wedding day.