Thursday, 30 September 2010

Knicker Diva Sarah Wells talks Wedding Day Undies!

Business woman, cupcake lover and most excellent bra fitter, Sarah Wells of Elizabeth Wells Lingerie, shares her expertise with me after one of my clients contacted me with a few of her own wedding day undie dilemas. I've also had the pleasure in meeting Sarah a few weeks ago just before she launched her online boutique.

Sarah works alongside many Bridal boutiques and has a fabulous reputation of having pretty things, bigger sizes, having a choice, quality, and giving practical advice.

Basically, Sarah is honest and all she is interested in is getting the customer what she wants.

So, I decided to ask a few of my own questions and here's what she told me.

When should you begin to look at wedding day underwear?

As soon as you like! That is looking. By doing this you’ll have a good idea of what you like, what you don’t and where to go when when its time to purchase. This early ‘looking’ is useful as it means you’ll be less stressed than if you started looking with no idea whats out there and not finding anything you like.Once you know your chosen dress you can begin to narrow down the list above, tailoring the lingerie to the needs of your dress - plunge front, strapless, thin material, corseted - these are important in the search, the underwear needs to sit properly under the dress!The key thing people mean when they ask when should I start looking is when can I buy it! Many brides want to slim down before the big day, so you don’t want to buy the bra too early (you may not loose any weight from the bust, you may loose it in the cup or loose it round your back). I recommend my brides to purchase in time for their first fitting - many dress boutiques ask brides to bring their underwear with them to the first fitting. By having your underwear at the fitting you also minimize stress - if you buy the bra last minute you may not be able to find the perfect underwear. Many dream dresses are impractical (sorry to sound a bore) so it will be a nightmare trying to find lingerie to go under it. The best thing to do in this case is to remember that you need something to under the dress (it may not be the most sexy thing in the world, but you can get something special for the night); go to an independent boutique who knows their stock, they may also know other styles they can bring in for you - bigger stores are often unable to do this and this is where Elizabeth Wells comes into her own - personal, understanding service.

I’m having my dress made and my seamstress says the gown could take up to 6 months to make and she requires my underwear at my first fitting. What would you say to this?

The answer to this is above, if you can get the underwear do it! You’ll save yourself time and stress in the run up to the big day. If you are planning on slimming down the thing to do is buy something you can adjust - a corset is perfect, you can pull it in & slight shape changes won’t affect its fit. You should buy underwear so that you do it up on the last clasp (thus being able to tighten it as it stretches), make sure you do this so if you loose weight you can tighten the back of the bra. The other thing worth remembering is your dress is being made - you have a seamstress! She can bring the back of the bra in & dart the cups if needed - make sure you check with you underwear expert where & how to do this on the bra though!

My gown is heavily corseted inside. Will I need a strapless bra or separate corset?

I deal with this issue a lot! A lot of the time brides come into the shop wanting a basque under their dress. Under a corseted dress you may not need anything - corsets are designed to shape & hold you. If you put underwear on you may affect the shape of the dress. More practically wearing a basque under a corset dress is going to be hot (in the summer or abroad), a pain to go to the loo in and not very maneuverable in sitting down, dancing etc. If you really want something go for a bra - the problems above will be minimized. I recommend you let your dress do the hard work and instead of a lingerie set treat yourself to some really gorgeous silk knickers instead! A sexy lingerie set can then be packed in your overnight bag...

I’m having a very slinky wedding gown. What type/style of underwear would you recommend?

I would recommend an all in one - not the most glamorous thing in the world BUT it will leave your dress sitting perfectly - no lumps, bumps and your curves will be smoothed out & looking awesome! At EW we have some that don’t look too scary; the dress shaped ones would be great under a wedding dress as they are strapless and easy to go to the loo in!

My wedding gown has a low back. I’m not too keen on a full corset. Is there something in between which is sexy yet supportive?

Depending upon how low the back of the dress is the answer may be no. However, again a seamstress is making your dress, she could customise the back of a well structured basque.We do have some excellent strapless, backless bras but these do not give enough support for bigger breasts.If you do have to compromise on your underwear - treat yourself (and the groom) to something slinky for the night!

Spanx and how can those 'hold me in pants' look anything but sexy?

Shape wear - say that and all you can think of are massive horrid nude coloured garments (garments is a kind word). EW is all about feeling good, and lets face it whos going to feel good in a giant flesh coloured monstrosity!?
We felt it would be hypocritical to have gorgeous lingerie and then unattractive shape-wear so we’ve done our best for you! Our favorite find is the hold in thongs. Rather than the knickers, which run the risk of VPL, the thong will sit under any dress or trousers perfectly. The collection is known as ‘slinkies’ slinky on the outside (clothes just float over the top) and a grippy texture on the inside.
Other best buys are our dress all in ones - an all in one slimming suit which is strapless and has easy access for going to the loo!
We also have an all in one with the thighs in which is multiway in terms of straps and quite a light material thus you shouldn’t get too hot in it!

Hestia basque

Hestia basque

You can contact Sarah for all your undie dilemas. Elizabeth Wells website

or contact her at

Thank you Sarah. It's been a privilidge.

A Mix of Tradition.

In the age of quickie marriages which can lead onto just as quick divorces, it makes good sense to Handfast. Handfasting is as forever as you want it to be, a binding commitment between two people yet needing no licence to begin with and no laws to undo.
Handfasting is seperated into two ceremonies. The first signifys the betrothal for a year and a day. If the couple are still in love after that time the second handfast binds the young lovers
forever, heart, mind, body and spirit for as long as love remains. The only thing that can undo the betrothal is the lack of love. How utterly romantic
(and of course, far less stressful without the need for solicitors!)
Jodie's wedding was full of colour and although originally a Celtic tradition, she mixed the modern and vintage theme perfectly into her day by way of floral china and cupcakes to her top hat fascinator!
I was commisioned to make her gown, something she had fallen in love with but was not readily available to buy.
So, without further ado, I am proud to introduce Jodie and her wonderful wedding day.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Where's My Kleenex?

Normally I would be saving the best for last and in this instance you could almost say I have. But, I'm reaching for my kleenex as I speak after looking at the photographs of my client, Jill after her recent wedding to Michael Hunt at the Red Hall Hotel.
Jill commissioned me to make her bridesmaids gowns, 3 sassy strapless numbers with matching handbags (and shoes from Coast!) and a flower girl in a sumptious turquoise silk dupion.
However, just looking at this beautiful bride, I just have to share her with you first.

A very radient bride which happens to be my absolute favourite shot.

Lancashire scenery at its best.

Fabulous detail to the back of Jill's gown

Colour co-ordinated sweetie table.

My handy work

Big sister cuddles.

Thank you Jill, for the honour of sharing your most special wedding day. It has been the most absolute pleasure and I shall miss you all. xx

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Someday My Prince Will Come.

Please note there are a number of links in the text below as most of the pictures are subject to copyright law. It is an offence to use them without permission.

When I was a child, I dreamed of being a princess in a castle. I'd swoosh around in my Aunt's wedding dress, picking up the skirt just like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. Even my Barbie doll was a princess except her prince wasn't Ken. It was an old 'Action Girl' doll which I cut short her hair to make her look more like a boy!

I still love all of the classic fairy tales, the beautiful princess who's prince will carry her away and live happily ever after and then hope he wouldn't turn into a toad!

I guess for me I am living the fantasy. My prince charming is still very much the prince charming and to be among beautiful wedding gowns with my work must be every big girls' dream.

I'm sure, even in our adult lives, we still have those dreams. The fairytale with the happy ending and I still feel the wedding gown plays an important part in making that childhood fantasy come true. Afterall, having the fairytale gown is the magical touch that finishes your wedding day.

Katie Price fullfilled her fantasy when she married Peter Andre in a pink tulle gown complete with Cinderella glasss carriage. Of course, they did it all over again, this time Katie opting for something much more traditional!

Again, when Katie married Alex Reid, her gown was less of the fantasy chosing something of a classy look for her day.

Her gown was created by Amanda Plester who has been creating couture gowns for more than 25 years!

I suspect the most famous fairytale to come true would be that of
Prince Rainier III of Monaco marrying the American film actress Grace Kelly.

Of course, not every woman wants to be the princess.

Some are quite happy to be Prince Charming!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

From Design to Original outfit.

I love it when I get to make something a little off the norm, so when Sarah contacted me with a sketch and asked if I could make it for her September wedding, I jumped at the chance.
The design, a wide leg trouser with attached bodice, was based on an outfit Sarah had many years ago. She loved it she told me and desperatly wanted to re-create it for her very special day.
Sarah wanted something completely backless, but I feared there would be no structure to the bodice which could end up looking like a pair of dungarees, so suggested a low scoop back to keep the support in the bodice.
The fabric used was a super 100% silk double crepe moroccain. The bodice was made in a corset style with boning for definition. The crepe was backlined and then lined with a super 100% silk Habotai lining.

The crossover straps were finished with some fabulous crystal embelishments which continued across the neckline and hip.

The little crepe bolero complete with crystal trim completed the look.
I have to say, for anyone looking for something totally different, this is just the ticket!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Buying your dress online.

Following on from my recent blog UK Dressmakers. We're really quite good and a recent feature by Vivianne of Holloway on Rock 'n' Roll bride, How to buy your wedding gown online there were a few little things I thought it well to mention.

I have talked about this very topic, Vanity measuring,

Many ladies are opting to have their wedding or bridesmaids gowns custom made offshore.There are a few important things to remember when filling out your measurement forms.

1. NEVER vanity measure. This means, don't be tempted to nip in that tape measure by even a centimeter. That seeemingly minute adjustment could mean the difference between zipping up or not! You may know your true measurement, but the dressmaker doesn't.

2. When dealing with a company with a language barrier, make sure your measurments are concurrent. Don't switch from centimeters to inches! Check and re check to make sure everything is written in what the company asks for. If they ask for inches, give them inches and take extra care in the placement of decimal points. Compaines such as the offshore custom made folk don't have time to double check measurements. (something I would immediately query) If you've written on your form your bust is 28cm and your waist is 30 inches, you're going to get a rather oddly shaped gown!!

3. If you are going to wear a corset, measure in a corset. This applies to a new bra. Boobs will have a different shape in a spanking new bra than the grey old faithful.

4. Height. Always important and sensible to measure in your 4" heels. Don't measure flat footed and then expect to wear the heels.

I have a few 'distance' clients I am currently working for and one thing I can guarantee.

As my good friend Jane recently and so eloquently put it.

"The pure unmitigated joy that what you pour your love and soul into actually is liked and wanted by other people and by your peers who are in the same industry. That and you know it's not mass produced it's made with love and imagination for people you actually care about."

Yes, Jane. I actually care about each and every one of my clients. Which is why I check and double check, something the offshore companies simply do not have time to do!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

UK Wedding Show Harrogate

And more importantly, a meet up with Jane Hardman-Ferris of HF Couture Accessories.
Wow, what a total awesome lady and what totally awesome pieces Jane had on display. I just had to try them on.
The intricacy of each piece is amazing. Many of the headband detail could be removed and used as jewellery pieces, a brooch for example.

Jane takes much of her inspiration from
Miriam Haskell, Stanley Hagler, Dior and Schiaparelli and others. A few of the pieces took my eye, especially the dragonfly headband. It looked like something from the early 1900's.

The intricate dragonfly.

Another favourite piece although my ultimate favourite, Eva, was out on loan for a photoshoot. (You'll have to visit the website to view that one)

From intricate tiara's and headbands to the ultimate in flamboyance.

Jane, I love your stuff, now would someone like to invite me to an event so I can treat myself?