Less poof and 'foof'

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January 24, 2005 // UPDATED 1:51 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Robyn Repya
Robyn Repya

Goodbye dated wedding portraits: simple and elegant is in

Sure, there's the bickered-over guest list, the much-debated hall or church, and the perfect-print napkins to choose, but for most brides-to-be, weddings are all about the dress. And while attire may not be top on the groom-to-be's list, however, selecting the right suit or tux is still a matter of careful consideration. After all, this is what you'll see yourselves wearing in those treasured wedding pictures, "'til death do you part."

According to several Downtown bridal and formal men's clothing stores, grooms and brides-to-be are straying from traditional long, white gowns and cummerbund-cumbersome tuxes. Elegance is in; poof and glam are out . . . Perhaps these simpler looks will better wear the test of time than your prom dress or homecoming suit.

Less is more

Dena Modica, owner of popular bridal shop Dena Marie Bridal, 933 Marquette Ave., said brides-to-be are going for simpler gowns, dresses where the eyes are drawn to the design and fabric, undistracted by sequins and such.

"They're coming in and wanting less - less poof, more fitted," Modica said.

Linda Dresbach, store manager and buyer at Rush's Bridal, 927 Nicollet Mall, said women at her store are also going for simple and elegant, not "fufu."

Long flowing trains, for example, are out. "The girls just don't want to be so encumbered," Dresbach said.

Dresbach said the increasing popularity of "destination weddings" might play a role in this trend. What bride-to-be wants to transport a traditional wedding-cake-topper getup to their exotic wedding location? Let alone bother with a heavy train as she walks down the "aisle" on a cruise-ship, tropical beach or other vacation-like environ. Modica said she too has noticed that many Minnesota brides are more than willing to drop their long underwear for an out-of-town wedding.

In addition to steering clear of monstrous, fluffy gowns, brides are also leaning away from virginal, stark-white dresses. "It used to be about 80 percent of brides bought white," Modica said. "Now 80 percent buy ivory." (There may not appear to be a big difference from afar, but put ivory and bright-white fabric next to one another, and the ivory appears much warmer.)

Modica said many brides are going even darker, selecting mocha-colored gowns, for example, which have a sort of antiquated look reminiscent of old sepia-tone wedding prints.

Fabric has also stepped into a star role, with more options than before. Modica said satin is no longer the norm; many popular dresses are now made from silk, linen-looking fabric or even rougher, nubby cloth, such as shantung.

For colder seasons, brides choose a thicker, weightier fabric, Modica said. However, no matter the season, strapless dresses are the most popular style. She said brides add stoles or capes for colder months. Dresbach agreed, saying 75 to 80 percent of brides at Rush's are choosing strapless gowns.

Although simpler in appearance, a good wedding dress still takes at least four months to make, Dresbach said. She urges brides to look early.

Rush's Bridal sells $700-$3,000 gowns from many well-known designers and in a wide variety of colors and styles. Modica's shop, Dena Marie Bridal, sells $600-$2,000 designer dresses, also in a wide variety of colors and styles. Dena Marie Bridal also sells accessories, shoes, jewelry, flower girl and bridesmaid dresses, and also rents tuxedos.

Trends for grooms-to-be

Whether grooms-to-be go for the traditional tux or a top-shelf suit, cummerbunds and bow ties appear to be going the way of dragging trains and poofball gowns.

Alex Zamfir, assistant manager at Men's Wearhouse, 801 Nicollet Mall, said 30 percent of the men's clothing store's business is wedding-related. Zamfir said a tux typically costs $500; so most grooms opt for rental. Men's Wearhouse rents tuxedos for about $120 each, Zamfir said, a package that also includes the vest and shoes. To outfit the best men as well, the store also offers a rent-five-for-the-price-of-four tux promotion.

Brad Sherman, vice president of Hubert White, 747 Nicollet Mall, said the high-end men's clothing store doesn't offer rentals. "Why rent for the most important day of your life?" he asked.

Sherman said grooms-to-be at Hubert White have been moving away from the traditional tux and toward dark suits with a dressy shirt, four-in-hand tie (a longer suit tie) and a matching pocket square.

Since the suit (which costs anywhere from $695 to $5,000) can be worn again, Sherman said this is a smart choice, especially since many wedding customers are at the age when many of their friends seem to be tying the knot, and they have multiple weddings to attend.

As for those who still go for tuxedos, Sherman said they're updating the look with four-in-hand ties instead of bowties and losing the cummerbund. Sherman suggested celebrities at the Academy Awards, who put a modern spin on formal dress, inspired this trend.

Zamfir said the most popular style at the Men's Wearhouse is the three-button tux with a "Euro" tie, which is more similar to a regular tie than a bowtie. She said vests seem to be replacing cummerbunds of old.

Most tuxes and suits for weddings are very dark colors or black. However, Sherman suggests a white dinner jacket for a summer wedding looks handsome, too.

If the men desire a colorful element, it usually comes in with ties, vests and pocket squares. Zamfir and Sherman said these are most often selected to match the bride and bridesmaid's dresses. Ivory is de rigeur, Zamfir said, as well as complementary pastels, such as pink. Sherman said purple, silver and powder blue are popular.

While men don't need to shop as early as brides, it can take still up to seven weeks to customize a wedding suit at Hubert White and an additional week for alterations. Men's Wearhouse employees suggest brides and grooms come in early, but they can handle rush orders up to a few weeks before the couple's big day.

Reporter Robyn Repya is herself a bride-to-be; her fianc works at Hubert White but was not consulted for this story.