Talking Bridal Dresses With Justina McCaffrey

Ottawa is pleased to welcome back Justina McCaffrey with open arms. Justina is one of Canada’s most renowned designers for bridal fashion. I had a chance to chat with her about bridal dresses.

Courtesy Miv Photography
Courtesy Miv Photography

Justina McCaffrey is widely respected in the bridal fashion world for her dresses. Her collections are sold at Neiman Marcus and Kleinfeld in New York. The opening of her Atelier in her Gatineau Victorian home is highly anticipated.

When I talk to brides, I hear about their shopping experience and the number of dresses that they try on. To help brides find the best dress, I asked Justina about how a bride can tell if the dress fits right, how is it the right one?

She emphasized that for a dress to fit properly it needs to be made right. You are not going to find a well made dress for $900, especially from China, and will be pulling up the strapless dress all night.

In her view, any woman can look stunning in a strapless dress if it is correctly made and fitted. A strapless dress is fitted and designed around the waist. The corset must sit properly on the hips and hold up the bust. It is not just a matter of pulling the lace in the back tightly.

To get that kind of look and fit, Justina stresses that a dress be designed with proper boning architecture, fabric, and bust pads. The bust can be finished with beads or tatoo lace for an extra romantic look. I have helped my wife with making corsets and you can have 24 bones in them – not just a couple on the side. With proper architecture, it is guaranteed you will not be falling out, and the dress will find it comfortable to wear.

Justina is noticing that designers are bringing back the Big Ball Gown. She loves the romantic tradition from which they come. However, gone are the heavy satins and instead lighter materials like tulle is used. Add some tatoo lace and you have a modern dress that is light as a feather.

Example of lace ball gown wedding dress
Example of lace ball gown wedding dress

When it comes to shopping for a dress, Justina recommends that you choose a bridal salon that suits your personality and style. That way, the salon will be carrying your kind of dress and can offer you advice on whether a particular dress gives you the look you want. She feels it is very important that the salon have talented people not just on the sales floor – but also for alterations. Altering a wedding dress takes special care. You want it done the right way the first time.

We chatted about various bride experiences. We definitely agree that brides should not pressure themselves into a weight loss regime. There is already enough drama and stress going on in the wedding planning. Accepting and loving who you are, and getting a properly designed and fitting dress will make you glow on your wedding day.

It is great to have Justina back in our midst. Her energy and vitality are infectious. Justina hopes to welcome clients to a very different experience than the pressures of like Say Yes To The Dress or a store. “Clients can bring their friends, drink champagne and stay a while, like a bridal shower. It will be a retail experience as comfortable as purchasing online, but without restraints, as women will be able to touch and try on dresses… I welcome the women of the Ottawa area to join me.“

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