Bustling 101

A question that every bride asks while looking for her dream wedding dress is, how does bustling work? This blog post is here to answer that question! Whether you have a sleek silhouette or a voluminous ballroom gown, your train will need to be tucked up and out of the way for the reception. Your seamstress will be able to do a fantastic job of actually creating the bustling, but here are some different types to get your ideas flowing!


What is bustling?

Bustling is the method of transforming a wedding gown with a train into a train-less dress. The extra fabric that trails behind you during your ceremony is tucked or lifted with hooks or buttons to create a seamless look for your reception. Bustling prevents your hem from getting dirty, stepped on, or just generally out of the way. By bustling your dress, you can leave the worry of your train behind, and focus on your gorgeous pictures and celebrating your Big Day on the dance floor!


You may be asking, “Why does the gown not come with a built-in bustle?” There are two main reasons, the first being height. Just as the hem of your gown has to be altered to your specific measurements, you need the bustle to be custom to you! Second, just as there are many different kinds of dress styles, there are many different kinds of bustles, which give you the ability to choose which is best for you and your reception. While you should definitely consult your seamstress during alterations to see what bustle they recommend for your specific gown, we have listed the three most common bustle types that can work for a variety of dress silhouettes for you here to help get the ball rolling!


The Over-Bustle or American Bustle

This fit-and-flare is perfect for the Over-Bustle style!

The over-bustle, or American bustle, is a bustle that is created with buttons or hooks that are sewn on the outside of the skirt, which allows the train to be lifted up and buttoned or hooked over the dress, hence the name. Depending on how long your train is, you can have one or multiple pick-up points, each of which creates small tiers of fabric. These allow for the gorgeous detail you may have on your train to remain visible, while giving you extra volume in your skirt.

The detailed skirt of this sheath is great for the American bustle.

It’s a fantastic bustle for ballgowns, fit-n-flares, or dresses with detailed skirts, but will work well for most gown styles.


The Under-Bustle or French Bustle


This bustle gathers under the skirt, which is where the name under-bustle comes from. It’s created by using hidden ribbons that gather the skirt from underneath, which tie each layer up and create a tiered effect on the outside of the skirt. Since these ribbons will need to be tied together, make sure your seamstress labels the ribbons, either with letters, numbers or colors, so that your designated “bustler” will have an easier time matching the ties the day of.

The satin fabric works fabulously for the Under-Bustle, really complimenting this fit-and-flare.

A dramatic version of the Under-Bustle is Belle’s gown in Beauty and the Beast, which has multiple pickups and a dramatic layered look. Many people choose this bustle for their A-line or fit-and-flare gowns, but this is something that your seamstress can help you decide.


The Ballroom Bustle


The ballroom bustle is a great style if you want to create the illusion that your dress never even had a train to begin with. Multiple pickup points are sewn into the back waistline of the dress so that the fabric folds delicately into itself, essentially making the train disappear. It is more expensive than the first two bustle types listed, as more pick-up points are needed than the first two. However, if you have a dramatic ballgown or an intricate hem, then this elegant bustle style could be perfect for you!


This has the option to be more dramatic, with more pickups strategically placed throughout the skirt. This is often chosen for ballroom gowns or an intricate hem, as it is a stunning look for these silhouettes. The bustle style is elegant and could be perfect for your style!


Regardless of which bustle style you choose, keep in mind that someone other than yourself will need to learn how to bustle the dress. Whether it’s your mom, maid-of-honor, aunt, etc., make sure that they come with you to your final alterations fitting so that your seamstress can show them how to bustle your dress step-by-step. This is the easiest way to ensure that your bustle is done correctly (and hopefully quickly!) on your big day.

While these three bustle types are the most common, there are countless others out there, but at the end of the day, they all have one job in common: to make sure that your train stays tucked away. Ask your seamstress any questions you may have, and you’ll be sure to figure out which bustle will work best for you and your dress. Whether you choose a French Bustle, Over-Bustle, or a new hybrid that we haven’t even heard of, we know that your bustle will look as fabulous and gorgeous as the dress it’s on and the bride wearing it!