The wedding gown bustle has been used for centuries with the sole purpose of lifting the gown's train off of the ground so the bride can move around more easily and keep the train clean. Modern-day train-saving bustle styles have changed from the original practice of gathering the train and simply carrying it over the bride's arm, or with a loop that was attached to the middle of the train and then the bride's finger. Today's bustle is also about style. The type of bustle should coordinate and accentuate the design, fabric and detail of the wedding gown. The attachments, or points, that are used to create each type of bustle are usually made by a bridal seamstress. Bustles can be simple, have more detail or be downright intricate, reflecting the cost of tailoring, from tens of dollars to hundreds.
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The over bustle is created with the train gathered and attached to the outside of the gown, usually with hidden loops connected to hooks or buttons. The simplest---and least expensive---over bustle has a one-point attachment. More points can be used---sometimes in the dozens---creating a smoother, flatter, more distributed bustle that gives the wedding dress the look of a ball gown. This type of bustle is best used for lighter fabrics and gowns with fewer embellishments. It also tends to be the least reliable with regard to staying together throughout the reception, depending on the bride's activities, such as heavy dancing.
The under bustle is formed when the train is gathered and tucked beneath the gown. It has more involved tailoring because the points are attached with ribbons that are carefully sewn---and hidden---into the underside seams, and then tied together. The French bustle is a type of under bustle, usually with more than one attachment up the back of the gown, creating layers from the train. The gown's skirt is much puffier then the over bustle. The under bustle works well for heavier fabrics or those that are more delicate, such as lace, that require more secure and reliable attachments.
The Australian bustle is even more intricately designed, and therefore, more expensive. A fabric drawstring-type of system---similar to an elastic hem---is sewn vertically to the underside of the gown. The bustle is formed when attached ribbons are pulled, and like drawing a window shade, the train is gathered into a tiered bustle, creating many softer layers for the train. This bustle tends to be much more reliable because of its construction.
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