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Common Bridal Shop Terminology

Updated on March 20, 2018
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Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

Common Bridal Shop Terminology
Common Bridal Shop Terminology | Source

Nothing is worse than calling a bridal shop to ask questions, or showing up to choose a wedding dress or bridesmaids’ gowns, and finding yourself in a sea of words and terminology with which you’re not familiar.

If not just for the sake of knowing what the consultant is talking about and being able to ask for what you truly want accurately, here is a list of all the common terminology I could come up with to help you sound, and be, more educated when choosing wedding attire.

  • Bodice-The part of the wedding dress that determines the shape of the torso.
  • Body Shapers-An undergarment like a corset that women wear under their dresses to shape their bodies.
  • Bustle-What is done with the train before the wedding reception to keep it off of the floor.
  • Garter-A garter is simply the elastic frilly band brides wear around their leg underneath their dress. It is meant for luck, but some brides choose to have it removed by their groom during the wedding reception during the garter toss.
  • Off-the-Rack-These are the sample dresses shown at the bridal shop that brides try on during their appointments. Brides can purchase them right there on the spot without having to order them.
  • Ring Bearer Pillow-This is the small pillow that ring bearers carry during the wedding ceremony with the wedding rings (or fakes) ties onto the pillow.
  • Train-The fabric that extends beyond the back of the wedding dress and typically drags on the ground behind the bride.
  • Trunk Show-When bridal shops or dress designers showcase their dresses for much lower prices in an effort to get rid of overstocked merchandise.


  • Ascot-A broad silk necktie men can wear with their suits for a classier look. It ends up looking more like a scarf tucked into the suit jacket.
  • Bow Ties-One older option for ties men can wear for a unique look. Specifically tied to look like a bow.
  • Cummerbund-A sash or thick belt typically made from silk, meant to cover the top of the pants and where the shirt is tucked in for a cleaner look.
  • Cutaway-A longer, formal jacket where the front gently tapers down to a tailcoat in the back.
  • Dinner Jacket-A less formal jacket for men to wear in the evening, similar to a sports jacket in the daytime. Traditionally white in color.
  • Double-breasted-A formal dinner jacket with six buttons, and only three that actually close. For more formal events.
  • Euro tie-A mix between a thick flowy ascot tie and a standard flat thin tie. Softer material that ties at the neck and hangs longer than most normal ties.
  • Four-in-hand-A traditional tie worn with suits that is secured with a slip-knot.
  • French Cuffs-A thick fold of extra fabric at the wrist of long sleeved suit shirts.
  • Long Jacket-An extra-long suit jacket that serves as an overcoat.

  • Pocket Square-A handkerchief fold in quarters and tucked into the front pocket of a suit jacket.
  • Single Breasted Coat-Overcoat with three or more buttons that overlaps just enough to button.
  • Stroller Jacket (Walking Coat)-A suit jacket cut longer than normal, worn for semi-formal evening events.
  • Studs-Used in place of buttons on tuxedos, for shirt buttons, jacket buttons, collar buttons, and sleeve cuff buttons for a more formal look.
  • Suspenders-Elastic bands that clip onto pants and are worn over the shoulders to keep pants up.
  • Tailcoat-Very formal suit jacket cut away in the front with two long “tails” in the back.
  • Tie-Literally, a piece of fancy fabric tied around the neck when wearing a suit. Several styles include an ascot, a bow tie and a four-in-hand.
  • Turned-down Collar-The traditional collar on a suit shirt.
  • Tuxedo-The fanciest of formal suits (with jackets) that men wear to the most formal of occasions.
  • Waistcoat-The formal vest men wear over the suit shirt by under the suit jacket.
  • White Tie-While black tie events are formal, white tie events are super-formal. Men traditional wear a literal white bow tie with their tuxedos.
  • Winged Collar-Traditionally accented with a bow tie, this collar, instead of completely being folded over like a traditional collar, just has the front tips folded over. A high collar for suits.


  • A-Line-A skirt that starts more fitted around the waist and gradually extends out in an A shape to the floor.
  • Ball Gown- A skirt that blooms out from the waist creating a large, full skirt.
  • Mermaid (Trumpet or Fit-n-Flare)-A very fitted skirt all the way down to the knees that then flares out to the floor.
  • Princess Cut-A skirt made with 6 pieces of fabric (3 in the front and 3 in the back), that is fitted to the waist and then flares out at the hip to graze the floor.
  • Redingote-A long cat-like dress that cuts away in the front and grazes the floor.
  • Sheath-A dress that is body hugging all the way down to the floor.

Common Bridal Shop Terminology
Common Bridal Shop Terminology | Source


  • Bateau-A neckline that runs straight across from shoulder to shoulder across the bottom of the bride’s neck.
  • Bib Front-A neckline that has thin spaghetti straps but a square front like a bib.
  • Bertha (Cape)-A neckline made with thin, translucent fabric to completely cover the front of the dress along with the bride’s arms.
  • Court (Square Neckline)-A neckline literally shaped like a square dropped into the front of the dress.
  • Cowl-A neckline with draped fabric in the front.
  • Halter-A neckline with both sides draping around the neck to attach.
  • Queen Anne-A neckline with a partially open front and a high neck in the back. Think Snow White.
  • Queen Elizabeth-A neckline that features a high neckline in the back ending in a V in the front.
  • Portrait-An off-the-shoulder neckline.
  • Sabrina-Neckline that begins on outside of shoulders and curves just slightly down.
  • Scoop-A neckline that dips low into the dress to reveal a bride’s cleavage.
  • Strapless-A neckline with no straps.
  • Sweetheart-A neckline that leaves a heart shape over the breasts.
  • Vee Neck-Neckline that dips low to a point into the bustline.
  • Wedding Band Collar-A neckline that starts at a band or collar around the neck and extends around the bust.


  • Antebellum-A waistline that starts at the natural waist and dips to a point in the front.
  • Basque (Bosk)-Waistline that starts just below the natural waist to elongate the torso, and dips down slightly in the front to a point.
  • Curved Basque- Waistline that starts just below the natural waist to elongate the torso and curves slightly down in the front.
  • Empire-A waistline that starts just under the bust.
  • Peblum-A waistline that starts just below the natural waist with an extra overskirt attached.
  • Shirred (sherd)-Waistline with gathered fabric in the middle to create a more slimming look.


  • Bishop-Ballooned sleeve that is gathered with elastic at the wrist. Almost like a poet sleeve.
  • Capelet (Bell)-Sleeve that is full all the way down to mid-bicep or to the elbow.
  • Dolman-Sleeve that is very wide at the armhole but tapers.
  • Gibson-Sleeve that is full at the shoulder and tapers quickly to tight sleeves at the wrist.
  • Hug the Shoulder-Sleeves that literally hug the shoulders and fall free from there.
  • Leg-o-Mutton-Sleeve that has a large puff at the shoulders and tapers quickly to tight sleeves at the wrists.
  • Off the Shoulder-Sleeves that fall off the side of the shoulders.
  • Peek-A-Boo-Puffed Sleeves with skin or fabric showing through from beneath.
  • Poet-Sleeves that are fitted all the way down to the elbows and then flare out.


  • Brush-Train of dress that barely brushed the floor.
  • Capulet-Train of dress that begins at the shoulders and flows back from there.
  • Cathedral-Train that extends about 2 ½ yards from the bottom hem of the dress.
  • Chapel-Train that extends about 1 ½ yards from the bottom hem of the dress.
  • Court-Train that extends about 3 feet from the bottom hem of the dress.
  • Monarch (Castillion)- Train that extends about 3 ½ yards from the bottom hem of the dress.
  • Panel-Train of dress that is simply a single panel of fabric that is attached at the waist.
  • Semi-Cathedral- Train that extends just slightly shorter than the cathedral train at about 2 yards from the bottom hem of the dress.
  • Sweep-Train that not only brushes the floor slightly, but is just a little bit longer, sweeping the floor by about 8 inches or so.
  • Watteau-Train made of transparent fabric starting from the back neckline of the dress.

Common Bridal Shop Terminology
Common Bridal Shop Terminology | Source

Veils and Headpieces

  • Ballet Veil-A veil that falls to about the bride’s knees.
  • Birdcage Veil-A veil that only covers/surrounds the top of the bride’s face. Typically work attached to a fascinator.
  • Blusher Veil-A veil worn over the face during the walk down the aisle to be lifted either by the father of the bride or the groom.
  • Bouffant Veil-A veil that is simply a pouf on the back of the bride’s head; could be only a few inches long to about 10 inches.
  • Cathedral Veil-A formal veil that extends 3 to 5 feet past the bride on the ground.
  • Chapel Veil-A veil that falls to the floor and can range from barely sweeping the ground to about a foot behind the bride.
  • Comb-A decorated hairpiece that is worn in the hair with a comb.
  • Crown (Tiara)-A decorated metal tiara that is traditionally worn with a veil attached.
  • Elbow Veil- Short veil that falls to about the bride’s elbows.

  • Fascinator-This is simply a headpiece worn alongside a wedding veil or in place of it. Fascinators comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be made with just about any materials, such as feathers, fabric, sequins, flowers, and more. They usually clip into hair with a large barrette, a hair clip or can even be on a comb.
  • Flyaway Veil-Very short veil that only falls to about the bride’s shoulders.
  • Fingertip Veil-Medium-length veil that falls to about the bride’s fingertips.
  • Juliet Cap Veil-A veil that drapes from a cap of lace on top of the bride’s head.
  • Mantilla-A floor-length veil trimmed in heavy lace. Typically for Hispanic themed weddings.
  • Pouf Veil-Tulle the gathers high into a headpiece creating a poofed look on top of the bride’s head.
  • Russian (Fishnet) Veil- A veil of a single layer of fabric draping from a fancy headpiece and falling unevenly across the bride’s face.
  • Tiered Veil-A veil made with several different layers, including a blusher and two or more additional veils.
  • Tulle-A transparent fabric used for veils, wedding gowns and décor.
  • Waltz Veil- A veil that falls to about the bride’s ankles, just off of the ground.

This should be the most comprehensive list you can possibly find on the internet of bridal shop/menswear terms in the wedding industry. I hope you enjoy!

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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness


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