Like most brides, my dress took center stage in the wedding planning process -- I spent months and months browsing magazines, designer lookbooks and beautiful boutiques. But what most women don't think about -- and should -- is beyond the dress of their dreams: what to wear underneath it, how to play up your natural assets, and tips and tricks to ensure you look and feel fabulous on the big day, regardless of what dress you choose. Here's my advice:
First, don't be married to your dream dress. What you imagined would be "your dress" is often not the one that looks the best on you. I had always imagined walking down the aisle in a beautiful backless dress but what I came to find out was that it would not support my bosom and actually widened my shape. Take the time to try on dresses that may not be what you initially had in mind. You will be surprised at what ends up being best for your shape.
Some style tips for going strapless: If you are curvy up top and choose to go strapless, make sure the dress has a slight dip along the neckline, otherwise you may end up looking wide in the chest. A graceful décolletage is about getting the right kind of support, so try a strapless longline plunge back bra that fits snugly and allows for inserts. Some pads tucked or sewn into the dress are also a great way to add a little cleavage for those who need it. And if you're wearing a backless dress instead of strapless on the big day, make sure you take off your bra several hours prior to wedding to ensure you have no lingering strap lines.
The foundation fundamentals: I can't stress enough how important it is to pick the right foundation garments to ensure you are comfortable and chic under your dress. Here are the essentials I recommend for every bride -- make sure to take them with you to your dress fittings early on.
The right bra. Pulling up your strapless dress every few minutes is not the best look and gets annoying. Most dresses have a built-in structure, which helps, but for support and lift it is key to have the right fitting bra. Make an appointment with a bra fitter so you know your correct strapless size -- back and cup. Look for a strapless that is snug enough without creating a bulge and is low enough in the back to be unseen. It can instantly lift the girls and can make you look slimmer. In my experience, for larger busted girls stick-on bras don't work, so avoid them and opt for a wire boned corset or strapless with silicone instead.
A high-waisted half slip that won't ride up or down is great for highlighting your hourglass figure. We have all heard stories about shape wear that cuts off your circulation, is unsightly to look at and most importantly flattens your natural curves in the wrong places. Choose an undergarment that is going to breathe, be smooth and give you the confidence you need without making you faint.
Mesh or seamless panties: It is possible to find sexy ones that flatten the stomach without leaving visible panty lines. If your dress is like a second skin, a lace panty, although perfect for the bridal suite, may show through.
Other accessory must-haves? A blue garter to double as your "something blue," a little bit of sparkle, and your husband's favorite scent, applied to key pressure points such as your neck and wrists. And of course, confidence is key. Looking good in your dress is one thing, but feeling good in it will ensure a day full of happy memories.
Kiana Anvaripour is the designer and founder of dMondaine, a luxury shape wear brand carried by premium department stores and fine specialty boutiques around the country.