Nontraditional dresses gaining popularity

The days when brides wore only billowy white dresses have passed.

"Anything goes this year," said Gale Loveitt, a custom dressmaker at Sew What in Steamboat Springs. "There are a lot of tans, off-whites and colored waist bands on white dresses. Anything is fair game this year, so it's pretty interesting."

One thing, however, remains constant.

"If you are trying to think about a dress, think about what you get the most compliments on and what you like best," she said. "Spend some time trying dresses on."

Most women have a piece in their wardrobe that is flattering, beautiful and special. Find a dress with a similar look and feel.

"There are a lot of girls that want something nontraditional," said Barbi Johnston, manager of Kali's Boutique in downtown Steamboat. "We are starting to see more brides because our dresses are nontraditional."

Nontraditional can mean different colors, different fabrics and different styles. Brides getting married on beaches often go for a more fun and floral look, Johnston said. Brides getting married outdoors select a dress and color theme to match the seasons.

"One dress I'm working on, she's not sure what color she wants, but she is going to have a fall-colored cummerbund on her dress and match her flowers to that," Loveitt said. She also made a dress on which a bride added red trim.

"For folks looking to have their dress made, whatever their ideas and whatever they thought of when they were 6-years-old is going to be fine this year," she said.

Loveitt isn't sure what the driving force is behind the switch to more non-traditional dresses and colors. Her job is to work with the bride to make the wedding dress perfect. Johnston is in the same position. The store has found bridal or bridesmaid dresses for every season and location.

"We get dresses in all the time," Johnston said. "Our silk dresses and skirts can be ordered in a variety of sizes and colors. We carry some real high couture lines."

After a bride selects the dress and has it altered - Loveitt suggests leaving at least six weeks for alterations - it needs to be cleaned and pressed. Brides need to check with dry cleaners about how long it will take to clean and press a dress, making sure to have it back in time for the wedding but not too far in advance that the dress needs to be stored.

"You could probably find a safe place for a week," Loveitt said. "Once you get it back, put it somewhere where it's not going to be looked at by your sweetie, if you like that tradition, but somewhere where you can give it some room. Leave it hanging up."

After the wedding, Betty Barnes of Loyd's Cleaners in Craig recommends having the bride's dress immediately cleaned.

"There may be stains that aren't visible," she said. "Here, so many people get married outside, and the dresses are totally trashed. Air oxidizes stains. That's what causes yellowing."

Loyd's follows a standard process for preserving dresses.

"It is cleaned," Barnes said. "It is sealed in an acid-free cardboard box with acid-free tissue paper. We basically seal the air out of the box. We give you a certificate for pressing of the dress if someone wants to wear it down the road."

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