Fabrics 101

Chiffon, charmeuse, tulle, taffeta. There are more bridal gown fabric choices than ever these days. But with so many options, it can be hard to choose the material that best fits your style. To help, we break them down to the basics.

What it is...UpsDownsCosts


A soft, lustrous fiber obtained from the cocoon of the silkworm that is spun into thread and woven into cloth. It's the most popular gown material and is often woven to create different fabrics including satin, taffeta, organza, chiffon, lace, and tulle.

Comfortable, refined, elegant; many different optionsDifficult to clean, press, and steam
Varies depending on weave, but usually starts at $1,000


Woven from natural (silk) or synthetic fibers (nylon), this fabric has a high thread count (many layers of fiber are used). The most traditional choice, particularly in silk satin.

Popular; doesn’t wrinkle easily;      drapes well
Difficult to remove stains; heavy; can be hot
Polyester starts at $700; silk at $1,000

Duchess Satin

Similar to satin, duchess satin is also woven from silk or synthetic fibers but has an even higher thread count than satin, making it heavier

Silk duchesse satin is considered the most luxurious gown fabric with a high sheen; polyester duchesse satin (aka matte satin) has a subtle shine.Heavy; difficult to clean; stains easilyPolyester starts at $1,000; silk at $2,000


Woven from silk or synthetic fibers (such as polyester), taffeta looks slightly ribbed. 

Lightweight, so best for gowns with lots of material and pick-ups
Can look wrinkled and make a squishing sound when walking
Polyester starts at $400; silk at $3,000


This net-like, gauzy material is primarily used in the lining of the skirt and for veils.

Adds lots of volume, to create a Cinderella-esque, full skirt; popular for summer weddingsRips easilyNylon and rayon tulle start at $500, silk tulle at $1,000


Woven on a machine using either silk or synthetic fibers such as nylon, this fabric is often used as an overlay on the skirt.

Romantic, clings to the body, easy to move inCan shrink when
traveling in very humid weather
Polyester starts at $300; silk at $2,000


Woven from silk or synthetic fibers (such as polyester) in a plain-weave technique (fibers are criss-crossed together), this crisp, sheer fabric usually is used as lining and can come in a shiny or sparkly finish.

Lightweight, falls easily; best if bride wants a full skirt with sheer overlay; popular for summer weddingsWrinkles easily 
Polyester starts at $600; silk at $2,000


Made from silk or synthetic fibers, raised designs are woven into the fabric to create this stiff material.

Holds its shape well; popular for fall/winter weddingsHeavy
Polyester starts at $500; silk at $2,000


Charmeuse is machine-woven from silk or synthetic fibers, often used in lingerie and is lighter and softer than satin. It is usually shiny on one side and matte on the other and contours the body.

Best for women who want to show off their figures; tight and hugs the bodyVery clingy; not a good choice if you don't want to show off every curvePolyester starts at $500; silk at $2,000


Can be made with silk or cotton and available in various weaves, including Chantilly (embroidered).

Romantic; currently very popularTears easily
European lace usually starts around $3,000.




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