Dressing in Layers: Functional Layering

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2000

Layers are not just the icing on the cake -- they are functional as well. A floor-length organza coat or a gazar stole can cover a bare gown during a religious service and also provide warmth at a breezy outdoor reception. A clingy charmeuse slip dress won't look wilted in humid weather when it is topped by a stiff, frothy overlay of organza. And the veil, the swirl of tulle that trails a bride down the aisle, is perhaps the most practical and symbolic layer of her ensemble. As it masks her face until the final moment she reaches the altar and her groom, it envelops her in a mist of magic and romance that turns her bridal fantasy into a wonderful reality.

Long-Sleeved Layers
An organza floor-length coat with transparent, bell-shaped sleeves and embroidered edges (above) gently envelops a silk matelasse dress. The bride, wearing a pearl-and-diamond necklace and beaded mules, looks like she stepped from an Ingres painting.

Long Layers
Rich silk satin forms the shape of this A-line gown; panels of dreamy silk organza will float behind the bride when she walks down the aisle. Two long necklaces -- one of diamonds, one of pearls and platinum -- are in keeping with the gown's simple design.

Draped Layers
A fairy-tale gown may look as if has been whipped up like meringue, but in reality it takes many layers of sheer French net over silk organza to create this dreamy confection, with tulle flowers at the bodice. Because the layers are so soft and pliable, they can be draped into a slender, strapless gown that curves around the bride's body. A necklace of swagged beads echoes the gown's design; a frothy tulle veil and bouquet of roses and ivy complete the perfect outdoor ensemble.

Head-to-Toe Layers
A voluminous white organza coat creates a romantic silhouette when buttoned over a sliver of a gown; remove the coat, and the bride looks ultramodern in a chiffon column dress with beaded straps.

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