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Choosing the Right White Wedding Dress

There’s no other tradition as synonymous with marriage as the white wedding gown. But white is never just white—there are varying shades to choose from. What’s important is choosing the shade of white that looks best on you. The easiest formula to follow: The darker your skin tone, the brighter the white you can wear well.

Stark white

The brightest, crispest white you can get. This whitest white is best achieved with synthetic fabrics (satins, taffetas, polyester blends). This color looks stunning against dark skin. Fair-skinned beauties should stay far away -- it’ll wash you out.

Natural white

Also called “silk white” or “diamond white,” this is the whitest white for natural fibers—a shade off stark white. It looks pretty much the same in photos but is much more flattering to most skin tones (especially skin with yellow undertones).

Ivory

Also referred to as “eggshell” or “candlelight, some ivory dresses have yellow undertones, making them look creamy, while others are just a “quiet” white. Fairer skin tones and women with pink undertones in their skin look best in yellow-ivories.

Champagne

Has pink and gold undertones, but looks nearly white in photos, so it’s great for dark complexions or yellow/olive undertones.

Colors

There’s no rule that says you must wear white at all. In recent seasons, designers have created dresses in soft shades of lavender, rose, even blue, or with color in the details: embroidery, lace, bands of satin. If your complexion gets totally washed out by white—no matter what shade—send up the white flag and try a color.

See More: Wedding Dress Shopping