Bridal styles go back in time for inspiration

January 26, 2013 9:30:24 PM





Bridal fashions are breaking free of the decade-long fascination with strapless gowns and offering a new take on classic, romantic dresses. 


"Some people point to Kate Middleton's designer long-sleeved gown as a turning point, one inspired by Princess Grace of Monaco," said Charles Freeman, professor in the apparel, textiles and merchandising program at Mississippi State University. "The popularity of the British drama 'Downton Abbey' and major Hollywood movies such as 'Anna Karenina' and 'The Great Gatsby' are behind some of this season's anticipated trends. Long sleeves, elegant looks and vintage details are showing up everywhere." 


Mathiston-based designer Loren James said she is inspired by vintage couture. Her company, Mamie+James, specializes in custom-designed bridesmaids' dresses, bridal cocktail dresses and heirloom garters. 


"My dresses are carefully crafted with vintage details, yet they are fashion forward," James said. "I offer more than five fabrics so brides can get a fabulous design, but they can choose their price point based on the fabric choice. Each dress is made in Mississippi by local artisans from start to finish." 


James, who graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, spent time in France where she became obsessed with the idea of the perfect cocktail dress. This led her develop a line of bridal dresses in a wide range of bodice styles, skirt designs, fabrics and colors. 


"I wanted a dress that could be worn at a cocktail party or an art show opening and then travel over to a wedding," James said. "My fascination with the perfect dress is evident in my Mix+Match concept on the Mamie+James website. Every girl has her favorite dress in mind for an event, and now she can choose her ideal skirt, pair it with an equally fabulous bodice, and voila! 


"I truly want to create a classic dress that a girl can wear again after her friend gets married," she said. 


With her custom-made dresses, James said it is easier for brides to tailor the designs to their individual bridesmaids. 


"I wish every bride would remember that all of her attendants are not the same size and shape, and what works for one bridesmaid may not work for the next," James said. "Wedding photos last forever and trends don't, so pick dresses that complement each bridesmaid and keep it simple." 


Weddings are moving away from extravagant parties to more handcrafted, lovingly planned events, thanks in part to Pinterest, James said. 


"I think people want to hold onto some form of tradition and nostalgia, and garters are making a comeback," she said. "I offer a number of styles and make one-of-a-kind garters from a bride's family heirlooms, such as her mother's veil." 


James supplies each bride with a simple garter for the traditional toss at the reception, so they can keep the unique one she crafted. 


"This way, brides can cherish and pass on their garters in the future, and let's face it, a garter is much easier to pass down than a wedding dress," she said. 


Kayla White, a senior from Starkville in MSU's apparel, textiles and merchandising program, is interning at Mamie+James. She has been studying this year's wedding trends, which offer brides more options than ever. 


"Some brides will be hitting the aisles in a less traditional fashion with bolder looks that include colors, patterns, portrait backs and waist-defining peplums," White said. "Lace and sleeves inspired by Kate Middleton will still play a big role and bring a sense of tradition to bridal gowns. 


"Functional features will be available, such as pockets in wedding dresses, and removable skirts and trains for receptions. Dusk blue and emerald will be the hot colors for 2013," she said. 


Mamie+James dresses are available at Bella Bridesmaid stores and have been featured in Vogue UK. For more information,