Hustle Your Bustle

Since my first fitting is looming closer and closer, I’ve started thinking about bustles. My dress doesn’t have a long train—I’m pretty sure it’s just chapel length—but regardless, it would be pretty impractical to leave it as-is the entire reception if I plan on dancing the night away. If your dress has a train, this alteration is pretty much a given.

There are almost as many different types of bustles as there are styles of dresses! When choosing your bustle, consider your train length, dress materials, budget, and—of course—aesthetics. I mean, what’s the point if it doesn’t look pretty, right?

First, you’ve got your over bustles, also known as American bustles. These are super simple, and they are typically the least expensive to create. Your seamstress adds a loop and a hook or button, you pull your train straight up and hook it onto the dress, and it’s that easy. One point means that there is one hook, two points means that there are two hooks, and so on. The more hooks, the more secure your bustle is—definitely something to consider if your dress is a heavy fabric and/or you have a long train.


(One point over bustle via Mrs. Ladyfingers)


(Two point over bustle via Secret Diary of a Dressmaker)


(Three point over bustle via hive member iarebridezilla)


(Over bustle on a trumpet-style dress via hive member blondiegirl)

A twist on the over bustle is the ballroom bustle, which is perfect for ball gowns (duh) or dresses with really long trains. Several anchor points are placed along the bodice so that once the dress is bustled you get a perfectly seamless look, like there was never a train at all. All the anchor points make this bustle very secure.


(Ballroom bustle via hive member littlemrschatterbox)

Another option is an under bustle, also known as a French bustle. In this style, the train is pulled under the dress and tied with ribbon. Since the bustle is tied, rather than hooked or buttoned, it tends to be more secure than an over bustle, so it’s a better choice for dresses with long trains or heavy fabrics. This style of bustle can have a lot of anchor points (I’m talking 10 or more on a complicated bustle), so a good seamstress will color-code the bustle ribbons to make your bridesmaids’ lives easier.

mhairi m bustle

(Under bustle via Secret Diary of a Dressmaker)


(Under bustle via Mrs. Ladyfingers—same dress, but the different bustle creates a whole new look!)


(Under bustle via hive member LavenderBride24)

A variation on the standard under bustle is adding two or three layers to create a double or triple under bustle. For good reason, these are also known as “whipped cream bustles”—the layers really are reminiscent of a dessert!

Cathedral train 1 (6)

(Triple under bustle via Elegant Designs by CandiceLouise)

An unconventional option that is seriously gaining popularity is the Austrian bustle. This could not be any easier to bustle—all you do is pull a ribbon or cord enclosed in a casing, and your train is cinched up and bustled perfectly. If you can pull up a window shade, you can do this bustle. It’s really secure, and in my opinion, looks absolutely gorgeous.

austrian bustle

(Austrian bustle via Secret Diary of a Dressmaker)

I can’t write a post about bustles without including the Nacho/train-flip bustle! In this style, the entire train is flipped underneath the dress, creating a sort of bubble hem effect. In order to pull this off, your seamstress needs to create a lot of anchor points, so it can get expensive, but it’s incredibly secure and doesn’t add bulk to your backside the way more traditional bustles do.


(The Nacho bustle, via Mrs. Nachos)

So those are your basic bustle types, but there are endless variations of these! For more inspiration, I highly recommend checking out Leanna Studios. She’s got photos of every bustle configuration under the sun, as well as detailed explanations as to why they suit a particular gown. If you have no idea where to start researching bustles, this is a great resource.

Do you plan on bustling your dress? If so, how? Was your bustle secure enough to last the entire reception?


Mrs. Filly

Boston, MA
Wedding Date:
April 2014
Going with My Gut
Gallery of the Day: February 6, 2014
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  1. Hostess
    MsGinkgo 9856 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 1:10 pm

    I’m dreading figuring out my bustle. When I bought the dress the seamstress started talking about a 12 point bustle – that seems excessive. I think I’d rather drag it around all night instead of bustling…

  2. Member
    smg5281 627 posts, Busy bee @ 1:34 pm

    Mine is actually a little different in that it bustles to the side! 🙂

  3. Member
    mrswhitemtn 365 posts, Helper bee @ 2:09 pm

    This is a great bustle recap. I didn’t realize there were SO many kinds. I had a French bustle because it worked perfectly with my dress. It had 5 different ribbons and my seamstress made a mark on each so my girls knew exactly where to tie it off!

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Mrs.December Moneyhan, Guest @ 4:15 pm

    I had mine bustled……. Never held! I still had fun anyways 🙂

  5. milkcow Bee
    Mrs. Milk Cow 216 posts, Helper bee @ 4:33 pm

    I just learned so much! I’m definitely leaving this decision up to my mom and seamstress, although I’ve seen enough fall out that I know I need several anchor points. My sister had the under bustle and the seamstress numbered each ribbon for me to tie – it made life so much easier!

  6. Member
    gvivster 31 posts, Newbee @ 4:41 pm

    Oh my goodness, thank you for this! I’ve actually found it really hard to find compendiums of bustles! I thought I HATED bustles, and have been seriously considering getting a floor-length gown for the reception just so I didn’t have to deal with an big ugly bustle all up on my bum (especially since I have kind of a trumpet–shaped dress) – but some of those pictures are so flattering and have got me possibly reconsidering… hmm!

    Not to thread-jack, but does anyone have experiences as to how feasible it is to dance all night in a bustled trumpet-shaped dress? Feel free to forward me to threads where they are discussing this…

  7. Member
    LadyJenks 53 posts, Worker bee @ 11:37 pm

    Same as GVivster! Until just now I had pretty much settled on getting a second (much cheaper&shorter) dress for dancing. Two main reaons: (1) Two friends broke their bustles while dancing, resulting in at least one ruined dress, (1a) I plan on dancing my booty off during our reception, no exceptions, and (2) I have a tulle dress with lace edging and couldn’t imagine how the bustle could possibly be done in an attractive way. (Apparently I’m only aware of American bustles.) Super informative post!!

  8. msfilly Bee
    Mrs. Filly 85 posts, Worker bee @ 2:50 am

    @FutureMrsRusaw: WOW. That is one serious dress. I bet the bustle turned out absolutely spectacular!

    @Miss Parisian: Well, you did a fantastic job – I loved how Mrs. PT’s bustle turned out.

    @Mrs. Bicycle: So pretty! Glad it worked out for you.

    @melizabe: Oh no!! Sounds like nobody noticed, though, so you’re off the hook on that one 🙂

    @whitemochi622: ME TOO. I had no idea there was so much to choose from, and of course, my personal favorite (the American) is the least secure, so I’m totally second-guessing myself.

    @Oxfordnerd: Good call – thanks for the suggestion!

    @Mrs. Rucksack: I think your bustle was absolutely perfect for your dress! And the fact that it was super easy doesn’t hurt either.

    @kristen182: I LOVE the Nacho bustle! It’s like the anti-bustle, if that makes sense 🙂

    @Meghan: Consider this a note to myself to stock up on white safety pins – thanks for the tip!

    @Miss Pyramid: I had no idea what I wanted for my first fitting. I liked the first bustle she pinned, so that’s what we’re going with, although when I go back, I’m definitely asking her to add some more anchor points … all the bustle breaking horror stories came out of the woodwork after my fitting!

    @MsGinkgo: Actually, she could stick a loop on the end of your train so you can literally carry it around if you want to! Probably the easiest method of all 🙂

    @smg5281: So cool! I bet that looked gorgeous!

    @Miss Milk Cow: Ooh, numbered ribbons sound super helpful! I only started hearing bustle horror stories after my first fitting, so when I go back, I’m DEFINITELY asking for more anchor points. I want that sucker to stay put.

    @GVivster: Bustles can be gorgeous as long as you choose the right one! My friend had a trumpet dress for her wedding, and the train was a pretty decent length, and she ended up with a Nacho bustle. She was on the dance floor all night, so clearly it didn’t get in her way!

    @LadyJenks: I’m definitely dancing my booty off, so I need a super secure bustle. I think tulle + a French bustle could look amazing, and it would definitely show off the gorgeous lace edging too!

  9. nachos Bee
    nachos 1721 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:42 am

    I love that my bustle has become known as the “Nacho bustle”…you can actually Google nacho bustle and it comes up in searches like that now, haha. Thanks for the shout out!

  10. mspalmtree Bee
    Mrs. Palm Tree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:42 pm

    I was so, so stressed about my bustle. Thank God for @Miss Parisian and her mom. I couldn’t tell you what my bustle was called but it looked great and natural. I am forever grateful to them!

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