You’ve heard of the LBD, but what about the LWD? It turns out the little white dress is starting to make the trip down the aisle—or at least out onto the reception dance floor—in a big way.
Thank everyone from reigning bridal-gown queen Vera Wang, who recently introduced knee-length styles, to Carrie Bradshaw, who chose a short vintage number for getting hitched to Mr. Big in Sex and the City 2. Once relegated to beach weddings and low-key ceremonies with a justice of the peace, shorter styles are gradually starting to replace long, formal gowns—or at least serve as a second dress for the rehearsal dinner and the reception.
At Blush Bridal & Special Occasions Wear (1403 Bellevue Avenue, West Vancouver), owner Lorna Paterson says short styles are coming on strong—so much so that one of her main designers, New York’s Amsale Aberra, has launched an entire subcollection called the Little White Dress. Paterson is mostly seeing it used, though, as a “second dress”—especially for brides who love to bust a move.
“They’ll go more formal for the ceremony, wear the gown to the reception and dinner, and then change into the short dress for dancing,” she says in a phone interview. “You’ll also see the rehearsal dinner has become a much bigger event now”¦so often we see them buying for that as well.”
Over at Frocks Modern Bridesmaids (2306 West Broadway), co-owner Catherine Staveley is seeing a wave of new marketing for the “reception dress”, but she’s also seeing steady growth in the number of women choosing shorter styles for the wedding ceremony itself—and not just for small weddings.
“I think a lot of it has to do with moving away from the traditional wedding,” Staveley tells the Straight over the phone. “It’s kind of coming on the heels of a trend toward destination weddings, which again has been a trend away from the traditional.”
One of the short style’s biggest draws is the way the bride can have fun accessorizing it.
“I can’t tell you how many have done bright red shoes, some with peekaboo toes,” Staveley says.
She also reports that short wedding dresses, which often have retro touches, look great with a short, early-’60s-style cage veil or white gloves.
At Blush, Paterson is seeing two strong trends in short looks, which in her store can run anywhere from about $800 up to $1,600. The first is 1950s-inspired silhouettes, “really cute Jackie O dresses”, she says. Then there are others with more of a Sex and the City feel, with fuller, flirty skirts. Amsale Aberra includes both in her collection: strapless numbers with satin tops and frothy tulle skirts that wouldn’t look out of place in Carrie Bradshaw’s walk-in closet, while white-silk shifts with a little bow at the waistband are elegantly Hepburn–esque.
Almost as telling is the fact that even Blush’s line by New York’s Romona Keveza—who’s known for her glamorous princess gowns—is showing short styles with late-’50s silhouettes, fuller skirts, and sometimes touches of exquisite lace.
At Frocks, the short dresses have a noticeable retro appeal too, with lengths, Staveley reports, that range from around the knee to mid-calf. She says strapless numbers are the most popular, such as Jenny Yoo’s gorgeous Ella dress in shimmery shantung silk, with its full bell skirt, wide empire waistband, and cool cocktail length. Boasting even more of a classy vintage vibe is Yoo’s shantung-silk Jocelyn, sleeveless with a boat neck that has a small keyhole, and with a big, pleated bell skirt. The Jocelyn looks spectacular with Breakfast at Tiffany’s–era gloves.
Ivy & Aster, also exclusive to the store, skews a little more cute and contemporary, with strapless numbers that feature silk-chiffon sheared bodices, multiple ruffles, or bubble hems. (Prices for short dresses at Frocks run about $500 to $800.)
Of course, another enticing aspect of all these short styles is the idea that you could conceivably wear the dress to another event afterward. And that’s probably not something Kate Middleton is going to be able to do with her couture gown.