From advice on the most flattering shades and styles for mothers of the bride, grooms and bridesmaids, to guidance for brides on matching the wedding dress to your skin tone, Melissa Nicholson from Kettlewell Colours gives her top tips on how to look fabulous on the big day…
How does a bride choose the right shade to match her skin tone?
Is your skin tone warm or cool? You need to identify this first. Your natural hair colour and eyes are good indicators. You then need to check if you look better in softer shades or brighter, clearer colours.
An auburn haired bride with freckles and hazel eyes will look striking in gold, cream or oyster. Fair hair and light eyes look softer and prettier in ivory, whereas a pale-skinned bride with raven hair and bright blue eyes will look stunning in pure white. On such an important day, with the photos being shown for years, it is worth getting this right. I suggest you have your colours professionally analysed by a trained colour stylist.
What should you consider when choosing the perfect style?
Dressing for your shape or natural body architecture is the most important thing and then consider your personal style. Focus on highlighting your assets and working with the shape that you are rather than wishing for a larger bust or slimmer hips. For instance, if you have a large bottom, broad shoulders but a small waist – your dress must go in at the waist and fall softly over your hips into an A-line skirt and you must steer clear of any ruching on the shoulders.
Cristina Holm from My Shape Stylist will advise on how to dress for your shape, identifying the perfect cut and fabric for you. It’s helpful to identify with a cartoon or fairy tale character and then imagine dressing them, when working out your personal style. A princess in delicate, pretty lace; Peter Pan in a youthful, clean tunic style; fairy godmother in glamorous and glitzy dress; the witch in sharp and minimal; the queen in a classic, tailored and elegant dress. Which one are you?
What fabrics and styles work best for summer weddings?
I personally think you should forget the weather and focus on your personal style and looking the best you can. However, having a cashmere stole on standby whatever time of year it is, is always useful. If you suit pretty, floaty style then opt for organza, silk crêpe de chine and lace. If you suit structure then stick to tailoring.
How have styles changed in bridal wear over the years?
Fashion trends in general are so broad and versatile nowadays and the same applies for bridal wear, which means you can dress according to your personal style and shape. A less formal style has taken hold of the meringue and traditional dress.
Also, tousled hair and natural make-up is considered cool, a là Kate Moss and Keira Knightley. Although if a polished and structured style looks better on you, then definitely stick with it or you will uncomfortable and out of place e.g. Princess Charlene of Monacco.
Who are your favourite wedding dress designers?
I absolutely love Alice Temperley. Her dresses are so feminine and a touch Edwardian, which gives them a vintage feel. If you want to look like a princess then she’s the one.
Do you have any favourite pieces that you think work well?
If you are sticking to a reasonable budget, make an outfit work for you by choosing a simple shift or strapless dress and adding a little lace bolero or organza wrap or jacket.
What, for you, makes the perfect dress?
A dress that accentuates all your good bits and disguises the parts you want to hide. You also need to be comfortable and wear a dress that fits you well so that you’re not worrying about cleavage or fidgeting on the day.
When it comes to choosing your outfit as mother of the bride, are there any no-nos? What colours work best and what to avoid?
The same rules apply for mothers of the bride. Find out which are your best colours and choose a style that suits you, before you even start shopping. Choosing a colour that wears you rather than a colour that is complementing is a mistake that many people make.
You know you’ve got it right when people compliment you rather than your dress. Also you don’t want to see a mother of the bride with too much cleavage on display. This is where a camisole comes in handy. Not only can you ensure discretion but you can lift a neutral look with a pop of colour to match your shoes and bag.
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What would you say is the perfect going away outfit?
Take this opportunity to shine in a colour that looks a million dollars on you. From olive green, cobalt blue, geranium red or musk rose, it’s down to your body shape, colouring and personal style. A crisp, navy and white suit might look effortlessly elegant on one person but uninspired on another. Conversely, a natural linen dress might look charming and understated on one but crumpled and dull on someone else.
Cravats or ties; top hats or morning suits… What works best for men?
Which styles and colours suit them best, is something men need to consider also. Which grey: charcoal, silver or dove grey? White or soft white shirt? Soft and textured or smart and structured or? High contrast tie or tone-on-tone?
Unless you’re a theatrical personality and can carry it off with your stage presence, I personally think cravats and top hats look over the top these days. I love to see men in morning dress at traditional weddings but I also think a well-cut suit can look elegant in a contemporary setting.
Are there any current favourite shades for bridesmaids and flower girls?
The bride will quite often choose a colour that she likes but might leave one or two of the bridesmaids looking washed out. A soft white will generally suit more skin tones than a pure white. Other neutral colours to consider are light dove grey, taupe and mole or pebble grey.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the universal colours, i.e. those that sit in the middle of the colour spectrum and are neither too cool or too warm so therefore suit most skin tones. They are scarlet red, purple and turquoise. These are not traditional colours for a bridesmaid but you might consider introducing accents of one of these colours in the hair, shoes, flowers, jewellery, etc. Alternatively you could choose a softer shade of each of the universal colours, e.g., hyacinth blue, soft teal and coral red.
And finally, any tips for the big day?
Look the best you can but remember to look like you. If you never wear your hair up, I would suggest not wearing it up on the day. If you never wear make-up then keep it fresh and natural looking.
Melissa Nicholson is founder of Kettlewell Colours. For more information go to beyondbespoke.co
Main image: Alice Temperley