Cleavage & Neckline Issues
Like Bodices, necklines are a big focal point for brides and rightly so. There are many issues involved here, modesty being a biggie. With many Churches setting rules about bridal modesty, brides have to care even if they normally don't. Some brides want more exposure, some less. Either way the alterations that need to be done can be tricky.
added May 2011
I bought a wedding dress and have decided I hate the neckline. I think it would look much better for my shape with a sweetheart neck. My concern is the beading at the top. I understand it will be very difficult to resew the beading in the exact location as previously, but I am wondering if you think it will be too difficult for a seamstress to even attempt? I have attached a picture and I appreciate your help! You are a life saver for brides with questions!
added February 2011
added June 2010
My fingers are crossed that you still have time to provide advice to brides!
My daughter is getting married next month, and has purchased a Maggie SotteroJD 8102. The gown is lovely, but the bodice is a little too small and shows too much cleavage for my daughter's comfort. The seamstress at the bridal shop would only hem the gown, and said that the bodice could not be adjusted...though she didn't check the seams to see what was possible. Do you have any suggestions that would reduce the amount of cleavage that is showing?
I hope this picture works...googling Maggie Sottero JD 8102 does provide a picture of the dress.
Thank you for any help you can provide,
Just to let you know that the seamstress wound up using the trip from the hem to make a modesty panel(doubled it to make it heavy enough) to reduce the cleavage and it looked great. Since it is the same material, it looked like it simply belonged there. I am glad I thought of asking the seamstress to keep the hem strip, this would be a good standard practice (if not done automatically already) by seamstresses, I think.
added April 2010
A sweet heart neckline can not be raised. The fabric of the dip is clipped underneath so of you attempt to raise it there, the cut will show in the outside. The only way to straighten a sweetheart is to add fabric in the dip. If there is lace on the bodice this addition might be camouflaged by artfully adding lace to the seam and added fabric so that no one will know it was there.
added February 2010
I have purchased my wedding gown that is a halter style wedding gown. While we were deciding on the gown, we discussed with the sales person that I would like to make it into a strapless gown. I will have my first fitting in March/April and would like to be prepared for what options the seamstress will have for me. I understand if completely strapless may not be possible. However I do think that maybe straps, just not halter straps would be possible. I have attached photos of me in the dress with the halter straps tucked into the dress. I will also attach the original picture of the gown on the Maggie Sottero website.
Do you think strapless would be possible?
Do you think I could get a little more lift on my bust. In this photo I have no bra on.
Do you think just straps would be possible.
Where is your studio located?
Thanks a bunch, Carly
I have converted gowns to strapless. The gown needs to have good boning in the bodice or you have to add it to support the strapless design. It looks like your gown has some in there, but maybe not enough.
To get lift in your bust you need a bra. Support for you and support of the dress are 2 different things. Adding boning to the dress does not usually help your bustline, it just supports the dress. It may be difficult to find a bra that will work with the plunging neckline but not impossible. Victoria's Secret has options that might work for you.
If you are going to add straps you might as well just keep the halter. Straps won't support like the halter does. IMO they destroy the mature strapless feel. It's what they do for junior brides maids who aren't old enough to go strapless. Just my opinion.
I am south east of Cincinnati, Ohio.
added April 2009
That could work depending on the circumstances. I have often used thin elastic or elastic thread to tighten a neckline. I have also used bridal wire, that you often see in deep plunging necklines.
added February 2009
I’ve purchased a wedding gown that is a regular straight across strapless. I’m considering having it altered to a sweetheart neckline. I think it’s more flattering to my body type. I’m a 42 D with a defined waist. There is a lot of beading and design on the top. Would you recommend for or against changing the neckline?
Thanks in advance,
I have done this type of alteration for many bust sizes. It's up to you if it will look good or not on your body. You need to really want it before you do it for it is not reversible.
added January 2009
First, I want to say thank you so much for your wonderful and informative website!
I have a slight dilemma with my wedding dress! I feel in love with a dress online, but it became discontinued before I could get to a salon to try it on (the nearest Jasmine retailer was across the state). Well, recently my dress turned up on ebay for a mere $40 and in my size range too! I bought the dress, but there was a part that I knew might be an issue: the dress is low cut in the back and I'm a C cup. I know from experience that my girls need support! I have a low back bra, but it's not low enough and you can see it when I try the dress on. Some of the pleating in the back has also come a bit undone, but I think I can get a cleaner to press them back in.
Are there any bra solutions to a low cut wedding dress for the C cup or larger bride?
Though it's the dress of my dreams, I've already come to terms with the fact that I might not be able to wear it. Besides, I only paid $40 for it (it was a store sample, but it's in amazing condition.) so it wouldn't be a huge financial loss.
Here's a link to the dress:
I've also attached a larger image of the back of the dress if it helps.
Thank you so much for your time!
You are not alone. It is very hard for larger busted ladies to deal with the low back gowns though they are so very beautiful. The only thing I have found with some of my brides is to use very large safety pins to secure the lowline bra to the back of the neckline. This does have a tendency to ride the neckline up your back, but if you can manage the odd feeling it can be a solution.
added August 2008
I have done this a lot and it is very hard to do it without creating the pointy breast look. You have to taper it a bit longer than you think and use a very gentle curve.
added May 2008
added February 2008
Hi Leanna--thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us brides! I was hoping you could expand on answer you gave earlier about modesty panels for low cut bodices. I tried on a halter style gown I loved, but the front is too low-cut for me. I was thinking of having some type of lace or silk panel sewn in, but I saw that you said these often look cheap. Is there anyway to make a low-cut halter dress more modest without looking cheap? Thanks for any ideas!
If you do not wish your cleavage to show it is best to select a gown design that already covers this area. In my opinion, anything that I have seen done ends up looking tacky.
added November 2007
I have been on your site and very much like your feedback. I am really hoping you can help me.
Style of My Dress: Satin split-back A-line with beaded cuff, hem, and inset. It is White with Apple Red as the Trim Color. (Pictures of the 1st gown fitting- Prior to Alterations are attached)
My issues are as follows:
(a) Bodice not laying flat across bust line.
(b) Bust look saggy, but there is a horizontal crease running along under my bust.
(c) If I pull tightly on it this (either upwards or downwards) it disappears. The seamstress says it is because the boning ends under the bust and there is nothing she can do.
(d) It is a strapless A-line. My problem is that I feel it doesn’t fit me properly in the bodice. It makes my breasts appear pointy. The dress is flush with my skin at the top, then it “peaks” right over the breasts and there is actual space there where it does not touch my skin. Then, it becomes flush with my skin again lower down.
It's hard to see anything in the pictures but I can give you
(a) The red band at the neckline may make it difficult to fix this. It probably does not have seams in it so taking this area in may make the band look odd. I would try to do this under the arm so any oddness won't show.
(B&c) Lack of boning will do this, but there is something that can be done. It might be that your lady just doesn't know how. Boning can be added to the front to support the gown. You have not said what kind of undergarments you are using. If you are a C or larger cup, you may need some support for yourself. Both the gown and you need separate support. Ladies smaller than a C can often get away with not wearing a bra, but in most cases a larger cup size needs to be supported separately from the gown's needs.
(d) This could have several reasons and fixes. Adding a bra may fix this and the above. Adding a little padding to the gown to fill in the space may fix it, but some brides don't want to do that. The princess seam that runs right through the bustline can be taken in but it is a very tricky operation that may leave puckering even when done with much care.
I can't see this in the pictures, but another reason for all this may be your posture. I say in several places on my site that wedding gowns are designed for ladies to stand with straight posture. The reason is so you will look your best in the gown. Most ladies do not do this in normal life and feel it is odd that designers would purposefully make the gowns so that they have to stand in a manor that is difficult to impossible for them to maintain all through their wedding day. When I try to tell brides that the easy fix is for her to stand with better posture she will often sulk at me and complain that she just can't do that. It is a very difficult thing to alter a gown to fit a slouching body, not to mention expensive. And besides, no one looks good slouching. I can't tell from your pictures if this is part of your situation or not, but it is a common factor for many brides.
I hope some of this helps you.
added October 2007
I am ordering a Pronovias gown. In the picture attached, I am in a size 10. It was on the tight side and it give me more cleavage than what I'd like. My measurements are bust 37 and waist 28.5. The size 12 that was recommended is a 37/28 and the size 14 is a 38/29. Although this was suggested, I want the dress to fully cover my bust line and felt like the 14 would allow for me to do that and to just take it in. I am normally a 32DDD and with the 12, I was afraid that it would just cover me and wouldn't leave any room to remove the cleavage that I do not want to show. Would this drastically change the look of my gown? What size do you suggest?
Trial 13 is me without a bra and Trial 12s are those with a bustier. Would you recommend wearing one?
I'm not sure what the ladies at the store are telling you, but
a larger size usually won't make the neckline higher. I think you look wonderful
in the 10! It's sometimes hard for brides to understand how folks are seeing
them because when you look down on your own cleavage you see more than a person
standing in front of you does. This style really does give you less coverage
than most strapless gowns. Like I said, I think you look simply perfect, but
you also have to feel good about how you look.
Ordering the 12 probably won't raise the neckline but it might let your breasts settle into the bodice lower than they are in the 10. If the cleavage is still to much, you can raise the whole bodice by taking in the waistline at the side seam a little lower than it is now. BUT - this may also push the breast flesh up a little more and create more cleavage. Am I making sense?
Another common problem with the larger sizes is that the neckline gapes above the bustline. This can be fixed at the side or princess seams, but it's not always easy. It's best to solve this problem by taking in the princess seam that runs directly over the bustline, but I doubt your design will allow that. SO - - - I would encourage you to get the 10. Did I say I love the pictures of you in the 10?
You do not need the bustier, but if it feels good do it. Many C and larger ladies have trouble fitting into a bustier well. The designers of them just don't seem to know how to accommodate the situation.
Thanks so much for your reply. I'll have to order the 12 because with the 10, I had to take short breaths and the boning was digging...very uncomfortable. I actually ordered it in a 14 yesterday, but I'll see if they can change that for me. Is there a way to minimize the cleavage? Can the alter the very top to lay down instead of my breasts rising up and gaping?
For a gapping neckline I take in the princess seams. If I remember correctly, this would be very difficult and complicated for your gown because of the way the bodice is designed, but not impossible. You will need a seamstress either very experienced or very brave to tackle such an operation. But, it might not have the result you are looking for. It will draw the fabric of the neckline closer to your body, but it will not move it higher to cover more cleavage.
About the only thing I can think of is to buy lace that matches the lace at the top of your bodice and add it to the neckline to raise it.
added August 2007
I bought this dress for really cheap at J-crew to wear at my wedding
it is going to be a very simple wedding with a very short ceremony.
I like the dress. it actually is little long on me(which is alright) and need to do something about my tummy(tips appreciated). My biggest problem is the cleavage. I am a B cup and it kind of feels not appropriate to show that much at a wedding.
is there any way i can conceal it. I was thinking i can buy some very high quality lace, cut a little triangle and with tailors two sided tape attach it to the V..Will it look alright? Do you have any other ideas? Professional opinion, please
Thank you very much.
What you are thinking of doing is typically called a modesty
panel. You can certainly do this but do not tape it in, sew it in. You would
be very embarrassed if the tape lost it's sticky in the middle of your ceremony.
This is a valid solution to your question, but personally, I think modesty panels look cheap. A short jacket would look much better. The best solution would be to buy a dress that already has a neckline that is more appropriate to your situation.
added June 2007
The simple answer is yes, but it's a matter of finding an Alterationist
who will know how to do it nicely. This is a major design change that might
end up looking really bad if the person doing it doesn't have the experience
I always advise against design changes, but if I were doing this for you I would design the cut to curve along the bustline to the beading instead of simply cutting a straight line across the top of the bustline. Anyway you make the cut will result in creating a problem with the dress falling away from your body in the cleavage area because you will be loosing the pull in that area that the halter top was designed to do. You might be able to position the spaghetti straps to provide back some of this function, but not all of it. You can also use body tape to get the neckline to not show your breasts but this too has drawbacks. You might not like the feel of the tape and your skin might be allergic to the adhesive and create non-flattering red patches.
You have other options.
1. Have the alteration done for fitting the top. This should be doable and less drastic than the design change. You did not say if you had it looked at by a seamstress.
2. You didn't say if the dress in the store was the same size as the one you ordered. If it is, you can try to ask the store to exchange the dress you have with the one you tried on in the store. They will not want to do this but they should.
As far as how much this will cost, you will have to ask that of the person you get to do it. My prices are not the same as other sewing specialists and I don't presume they should follow the way I set my prices. I would need to see you in the gown to give you a price anyway.
added December 2005
My daughter just purchased her wedding gown (December
for wedding in May )and needs alterations in the bodice and the hem. I do
not live in the same city as she, so will not be able to accompany her to
fittings with an alterations seamstress. The bridal store does not do alterations
but gave her a brochure with referrals for seamstresses in her area. I have
advised her to contact them immediately for an initial consultation.
I am concerned about how the bodice will be altered to make it lay correctly at the neckline. The neckline is wide, curving down a bit at the center front. It is sleeveless and about an inch wide at the shoulders. Satin bodice with crystal beading. Laces down the back bodice with flat satin "laces" Skirt is organza over a lining with a short train. there is a band of organza that covers the waist seam, lies in folds and crisscrosses in the front. She tried it on originally with a boned corset. The cups of the corset showed above the neckline a bit and the boning showed through the dress. She she tried it on again without a bra. The bodice adjusts some because of the lacing, but the neckline gaps and I am concerned about it being altered correctly so as to lie close to the body. Also what do we do about a bra/undergarment? Sewn in? Another style of corset? I don't want it to be too revealing! Also she needs something to smooth her like the corset did.
I sew, but would not attempt this for anything - no experience with this type of garment.
Thank you for this website! Such helpful information.
Jan in Missouri
I can't give you much good advice without seeing her in the
gown, but I can try to give you a few general ideas.
Most sleeveless or off the shoulder gowns have boning and many layers of fabric in them. You do not have to wear a bra with these unless your bust needs the support. If you are concerned about modesty you can sew in cups.
Sometimes a neckline will gap because the bride is not standing with proper posture. Many young women who have never worn such a formal gown don't realize that you have to stand tall for them to fit right. I tell brides to think about squeezing your shoulder blades in the back and setting your shoulders down. It's not like you are sticking out your chest out like a soldier, but squeezing the blades sets the chest at a better angle to fill out the neckline.
It sounds like she really wants the corset. You can sew the top of the corset to the underside of the neckline so it won't peek out.
Lastly, I really think choosing an independent sewing professional is much better than going with the bridal store lady. Now, I used to be "the bridal store lady" so it's tough to judge, but generally, the bridal store lady is going to be more concerned with what the store wants her to be, not what you want. Call several ladies on that list and ask lots of questions. Most will not want to see your daughter until the gown is in. They do not have time for consultations, but they should be willing to talk to you on the phone and answer your questions with patience.
It's hard for moms who are not in the same town. I encourage brides to bring a friend with a camera so pictures of the fitting can be e-mailed to mom. It's not the same as being there, but you can at least see that it's going well or not.
Thank you so much. I feel like I have a better grasp
of how to go about this part of the preparation.
My daughter has her gown. What I called a consultation would actually be the first visit to the alterations person for her to advise what needs to be done to the dress.
Thanks again for your help. I am so glad I happened onto your website!
Oh, I totally misunderstood. When someone says they bought a gown it usually means they ordered a gown that will come on a later date. If you already have the gown it might be a good idea to get in for a meeting with a seamstress - or two. I normally don't want to start work on a gown earlier than 8 weeks before the wedding date. Bride's bodies can't change to drastically much in 8 weeks. Whether they are dieting or not, often the stress of wedding plans can result in weight loss or gain. I don't mind meeting with brides sooner than 8 weeks if they have special concerns, but I will then make a date for a first fitting at 8 weeks.
added October 2002
I just bought my wedding dress from a reputable dress shop? It was too big and they assured me they could alter it to fit. They charged me $150 for the alterations and I left very unhappy. The problem is that the dress has a very wide, low scoop neck. I had expressed my concern about the neck being too loose as it would have a tendency to fall away from my body and expose my chest.
After 3 fittings (rushed fittings) they told me that that part of the dress could not be fixed. Because I am small busted they told me I would just have to make sure that I stood tall with my shoulders far back and the shoulders of the dress as far apart as they can be. The only problem with pulling the shoulders apart is that they hang on the tip of my shoulders and if I am not careful they will fall off.
Am I destined to be horribly uncomfortable on my wedding day. I have a feeling that the dress shop rushed me through the fittings because they are closing for renovations and a change of management and did not want me coming back after the new owners had taken over. Can this be fixed? I do not want to spend any more money but at this point I am willing to do almost anything to make sure I have the dress of my dreams on my special day. Any suggestions. Can I tape myself into the dress?
You may think the taping idea is silly, but it is done regularly. There are also spray glues that you use on your skin to hold things like necklines in place.
Can your dress be fixed? Maybe. Without seeing it I have a hard time answering. But I can tell you a few things that may or may not help.
First, most fitting problems can be fixed, but if you are wanting to change a design element you have another story. The dress you picked had a large neckline opening as a design element. This is not easily changed. You can take in the shoulder seam, which is often needed anyway. You can also try hand sewing elastic along the inside of the whole neckline. This will help it cling to the body, but might also make it pucker depending on the type of fabric and trims at the neckline. You can try threading a nylon strap or thread along the back of your neck from shoulder to shoulder to create an invisible stay to help you feel more comfortable with the wide opening. This is done in dance and skating costumes all the time.
I would also suggest adding some padding to your bust line. Are you wearing a long line bra? Many brides opt for bra cups that are sewn into the dress instead of a bra that can pinch and make you more uncomfortable if you are not used to wearing one. It sounds odd, but this might help the dress hang better and help the neckline opening set on your chest like it should. If you are a little smaller than the dress was designed for this will help smooth it out.
Next, it does not matter if you are small, medium or large busted, most nice wedding gowns are designed to fit properly when you are standing with good posture. That's chest lifted, shoulders set back and down slightly, back erect but not overly straight, butt tucked under your hips slightly so it is not sticking out. Your head may have to be shifted back also like you pushed on your chin with a finger. This will bring your ear in line with the center of your shoulder. If you feel like you are giving yourself a double chin, you've gone too far. Don't stand so stiff as a soldier would stand at attention, but you will feel that way if you are not accustom to it. The designers do it on purpose so you will look good on your special day. They did not do it to make you uncomfortable, but if standing with good posture is not a habit you have than it's not going to be easy. BUT - it is designed to make you look good. Many young ladies think their standing posture is not bad until they put on a bride's gown or maid's gown and see that the gown seems to make them look bad. It's just that thinking about posture is not an important thing in life when your clothing choices don't force the notion.
I have the feeling you are right about being rushed. It's so very easy for a bridal store to neglect taking the proper time to explain the options to you. I don't think they meant bad. I do think it a little odd that they charged you a flat rate for alterations. Most good places charge by what the dress needs done to it. Some need much more than others. On average, $200 is normal, but using it as a base for every bride is strange to me.
If I were you I would get a second opinion. Most good sewing professionals will see you and evaluate your gown without charge. Than you can decide if you can handle the added expense. There is a lot for you to think about here. Spending the added money may not be your best bet. If you are willing to send me your city and state, I can post a question for you on my professional sewing list and see if I can find you a good lady to meet with.
Once you have meet with her and gotten some advice from someone who can see the gown on you here are some things to think about:
1. Can I stand comfortably for my pictures? Pictures are very important to how you choose to alter the dress. They are your memories that will last long past the time you will forget how uncomfortable you were wearing that gown for all those hours. Standing still in a dress is very different than moving in it. Dancing, hugging, sitting, walking - all these things you will do and the dress has to do them with you. At times you may be not as comfortable as you would like, but you have to weigh that with your desire for the look you want.
I put a lot of value on comfort when it comes to wedding gowns. If you don't feel good, than how can you look good? I often advise ladies to let me make the dress a little less tight to add comfort. They always want a tiny waistline, but the risk of popping seams is not worth it. But this has to be weighed with your options for altering things you don't like about the design or fit. You may have to accept a degree of discomfort for the sake of the look you want or the inability of the dress to be changed.
2. Am I going to be dancing, eating, etc.? The activities you plan for the reception may change the way you alter the dress. If you are not dancing, you may opt for a tighter fit because you don't need to move so freely. Hugging is a big activity you will want to be able to do, so arm freedom is a biggie. Many design elements in gowns today restrict arm movement. Your wide neckline is one. Giving someone a nice view when you only meant to show familiar affection may not be your idea of a good thing. Than again, many brides do obsess about this. A wide neckline does not equate with guests staring at your cleavage. You have to force yourself to see it as they do. You looking down at your neckline are getting a much different view than someone standing in front of you is getting. Put your dress on a dress form and stand back to look. You will be amazed at the difference you see, even than looking in a mirror.
3. What is my budget? You have to weigh this added expense - that could be a lot - with the other things you could use this money for. Sure, the wedding gown is the most important item to spend money on in making your wedding plans. When the gown is right everything else just seems to fall into place. But there is a point when you have to ask yourself if you aren't going overboard about it. Only you can answer that.
Well, have I babbled enough? I didn't mean to be so wordy, but you got me to thinking about so much that I feel is important about how wedding gowns fit. I hope my thoughts have helped you some. It is really hard to give advice without seeing the gown in question. Who knows, if I did see you in this gown I might say you look simply beautiful and you should not change a thing. I do hope your wedding day is a bit off so you can have time to think about all this though. Rushing your decisions is a big taboo. After all I say about moderation and honestly asking yourself if you might be making a bigger thing out of this than it is, I do still hold that the decisions you make concerning your special wedding gown are the most important. Don't let anyone rush you.
I wish you all the best ;)
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