Anna Rajdl wanted a suit for her wedding this September, but she’d never really liked the look that a lot of pants-wearing ladies go for: the white linen slacks and white jacket.
“I guess it’s fair to say that I have never been much of a dress wearer,” says the 30-year-old commercial photographer. “So a typical white dress was out of the question for me, but I feel like most suits look too boring and much too baggy. I wanted something more European, trim, sleek and stylish.”
She thought she’d have to go to one of the coasts to custom-order her outfit, but then a friend suggested King Brothers, a boutique tailor in northeast Minneapolis run by impossibly stylish twin brothers, Kenny and Danny King.
“They asked all the fine-detail questions and my suit is going to be one-of-a-kind, just for me,” says Rajdl. “They totally understood that I didn’t want to look like a woman wearing a man’s suit. And my suit jacket will have pieces of two of my dad’s ties stitched into it — behind the collar and along the sleeve buttonhole area.”
Rajdl’s outfit is an example of one of the emerging trends in bridalwear this season — and it’s not pants or separates or even custom-made. What’s “in” is what’s unique and personal — even intimate — to women on their big day. It’s the season of the bespoke bride.
“Brides are doing all kinds of interesting things,” says Twin Cities fashion designer JoyNoelle. “I had one client — a yoga instructor with a great body — who wore a bikini for her wedding. I made her this kind of sheer sheath thing that went over the bikini. Really, the options are just so open for brides to wear what they want and feel comfortable.”
That isn’t to say that some styles aren’t more popular than others this fall. (October is the second biggest wedding month after June, according to The Knot, and September isn’t far behind.) Minneapolis-based fashion stylist Carly Gatzlaff has noticed two trends in the Midwest this year: classic and fancy or rustic and distressed.
“I’m seeing a lot of traditional, subdued colors — navy, black and gray — and very classic, flattering silhouettes,” says Gatzlaff, adding that it’s a welcome trend after years of “strapless and poofy.” (“Strapless can work, but straps are often a lot more flattering,” she adds.)
Either that, or couples are “going outdoor, bohemian,” adds Gatzlaff, the founder of A La Mode Wardrobe Consulting. “Everything is rustic and distressed. That is huge right now.”
Rajdl and her betrothed are getting married on a rural farm outside Decorah, Iowa. Gatzlaff has friends tying the knot later this year in a boxing gym with a food truck parked outside.
Weddings have always been personal, a way for couples to express their love for each other and celebrate their unique story, but some brides today are taking personalization to new levels.
Another one of JoyNoelle’s bespoke designs (“One of my faves,” says the designer) was a super-short dress with a theatrically low neckline and parts of the sides cut out. “The bride had these amazing fake boobs that she was really proud of, and she wanted them to be on display,” says JoyNoelle. “It was the perfect dress for her.”
Lisa Hackwith got her start as a designer when she got married eight years ago. “I ended up making my wedding dresses because I couldn’t find what I wanted,” says the designer, whose eponymous studio, Hackwith Design House, is in St. Paul. “It was one of the first things I made.”
This spring, Hackwith designed her first wedding collection, featuring natural fabrics and some unconventional wedding styles, including a jumpsuit. “It seemed like there was a gap in the marketplace for a different type of gown,” says Hackwith.
The collection’s runway show at the Paikka event space in St. Paul starred dancers as models. They performed fluid, sweeping modern dance pieces in Hackwith’s flowy, natural designs.
JoyNoelle’s 2016 runway show at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis featured dresses in luxurious textured fabrics that layered and flowed in ways that evoked Tim Burton, Victorian England, and a photo shoot for Rock-n-Roll Bride.
And there’s another trend — whether brides go bespoke or off-the-rack — that shows no signs of slowing down: the ability to wear it again.
Getting multiple wears out of wedding outfits “is an ongoing trend,” says Gatzlaff.
“All my bridesmaids dresses were made with the hope that they can be worn again,” said Hackwith of her recent collection.
Whether a bride chooses a one-time dress with a severe mermaid cut and miles of tulle or an all-linen romper that looks as natural on the beach as it does down the aisle, she is increasingly making it her own.
“People who come to me want their outfit to look ‘exactly like me’ or ‘to fit my personality or body’ or they want to want to wear it again,” says JoyNoelle. They don’t want to walk down the aisle and feel uncomfortable.”
She chalks the trend up to an evolution in bridal intelligence.
“Women today are just smarter.”
Laine Bergeson is a Twin Cities writer specializing in health and fashion.