Alterations 101: The Basics of a Bustle

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We love walking brides through finding the perfect wedding dress AND customizing that perfect wedding dress! The best part about working in bridal is that we work with the most self-expressive garment anyone will ever wear, which can only mean one thing – it has to show off your personality! So – one way to add some flair to your dress, and make it more practical for the reception dance floor, is the bustle! There are lots of different types of bustles – so we will walk you through a few options! Always work with your seamstress to find what works best for your wedding dress and your vision!


What exactly is a bustle?


a bustle on a wedding dress vs. no bustle


Almost everyone loves a train; it’s dramatic, gorgeous, and classically bridal! But, how do we make that practical after the ceremony? You don’t want to drag the train around all night because this can cause damage to the dress. The bustle is a sewing term that shortens the back of the dress to take away the train and lift the back! It refers to the process of transitioning the dress to look as if it has no train by adding buttons or hooks to position it up and out of the way. It’s important to note that dresses come without bustles because they’re custom-made to fit your dress, height, and look!


Our two favorite types of bustles:


a bride on her wedding day in her dress that is bustled


The American Bustle (aka the Over-Bustle):

The over-bustle has hooks placed around the waistline or throughout the skirt of your wedding dress. The train then hooks up over the dress! An American bustle adds drama to the back of the dress because it gives a cascading illusion down the back as the fabric gathers and folds over the rest of the skirt.


The French Bustle (aka the Under-Bustle):

The under-bustle features attachment points underneath the dress where the fabric folds in to connect. The French bustle is usually a little cleaner and sleeker of a look!


Things to remember:

  • ALWAYS find a trusted seamstress!
  • Talk over the options with your stylist when you choose your dress.
  • Come with your shoes picked so they can determine the perfect placement.
  • Remember, the more bustle points you add, the higher the cost.
  • Bustling a dress by yourself can be next to impossible, so you want to hand this task over to someone you trust. Have this person come with you to a fitting so the seamstress can show them how to do it, so it is perfect for your big day!
  • Enjoy every step of the process!


Bridal alterations are something a lot of us have never experienced. It’s not uncommon to panic when you go into your alterations appointment and hear all of this terminology that you’ve never heard before. It’s our goal for our brides to feel comfortable and confident every step of the way: through your appointment, alterations, and entire wedding planning journey. Hopefully, this blog gave you a little insight into bridal alterations! Keep following our blog for all the bridal tips, advice, terminology, inspiration, and more! See you soon with more bridal content.




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