Empire waist gowns are gowns where the waistline starts not at your waist, but directly beneath your bosom. Depending on your personal style and mood, these types of gowns can be short and sassy or long and flowing. When it comes to a bustle, the waistline of the gown doesn't have a lot to do with whether you can wear one or not. That's because a bustle has everything to do with the train of the gown.
What's a Bustle Anyway?
A long, flowing train on a gown, especially wedding gowns, brings images of fairytale princesses to mind. But after the vows and kisses are exchanged, that fairytale train can turn into a nightmare as it hinders your movements, gets stepped on and gets just plain dirty during the reception. A bustle is a method of pinning, tying or sewing the train of your gown out-of-the-way so that you can dance and celebrate without restrictions (and without dirtying your beautiful gown!).
The Right Hemline
When it comes to a bustle, it has more to do with the hemline of your empire waist gown than it does with the location of the waistline. Empire dresses come in various lengths, so if you're wearing a gown that doesn't have a train, then you definitely can't bustle that particular style of empire waist gown. If you're wearing an empire waist gown with a long train in the back, get ready to bustle.
Who Does It?
If you're brave enough, or have a handy friend or parent, you can bustle your own gown without the help of a seamstress. A seamstress however, can go a long way in getting the perfect bustle. An experienced seamstress will know which type of bustle will best suit the particular style of empire waist gown that you have. She'll also be able to accurately pin the bustle according to your height (in heels) and the material of the gown. A seamstress is also best if your gown has a significant amount of beading or detailing.
There are several different types of bustles. The three main types are the over bustle, the under bustle, which is also known as the French bustle, and the Austrian bustle. Each of these types have variations that will alter the final appearance of the bustled dress. While the best type of bustle for an empire waistline depends on several factors, such as material and detailing, your personal sense of style will also play a big part in deciding which bustle is best. Certain types however may be more flattering on empire waist gowns. An under bustle (French bustle), for example is flattering on dresses that do not have a natural waistline.