In the past few days, Mother Nature has made it crystal clear: Winter is on its way. And if you get goosebumps even thinking about taking outdoor photos in a strapless gown at your cool-season wedding, you’re in luck. Chic winter bridal apparel is in shops now, including at Miss Ruby, 522 N. Water St., #203. A slew of new cold-weather styles has just arrived there, and I stopped in to take a look.
“This time of year, we stay away from lighter fabrics,” says Erin Thull, co-owner of the Third Ward bridal boutique. The spotlight moves from frothy chiffon dresses to elegant gowns made from heavier satin, netting and lace, embellished with embroidery and appliques. The materials are taking on warmer shades of white, too: Designers have given them luxe-sounding names like Spun Gold, Blush and Champagne.
To combat the cold, a bride could choose a gown that offers a bit more coverage. Cap sleeves, higher necklines, illusion tops and wide straps are all trendy winter details in other parts of the country. And although they can be found at Miss Ruby, these styles aren’t as popular among Milwaukee brides, Thull tells me.
Instead, Wisconsin brides are turning to accessories to help them stay warm. The boutique’s faux fur shrugs are stunning, and would look especially at home at a vintage or sophisticated wedding. Want something a bit more sleek? Maybe you’d rather have a cropped satin jacket. Their lace boleros, on the other hand, have a decidedly romantic vibe (though they probably won’t warm you up, people looking at you might feel a little better).
“They’re nice because they give you that option to have sleeves when you want them, and then take them off,” says Thull.
Pashminas are another smart and popular option, Thull tells me. Available in an array of colors, these shawls—which are a wool/silk blend—are also quite affordable. She tries to keep them in stock so if the mercury plummets unexpectedly, pashminas can be purchased at the last minute.
The bridal fashion world hasn’t abandoned bridesmaids, either. Thull tells me the aformentioned pashminas are a hit with maids, moms and other special guests, but that some of their bridesmaid dresses fit the bill, too. Among the 75 new styles that came into the shop this season: frocks with sleeves of varied lengths (cap, three-quarter, long and even a single-sleeve design). Sometimes brides wear these too, she says, whether for the reception, or at a more contemporary or casual wedding.
“Our style is a little more simple and cocktail-inspired,” says Thull. But those of us who’ve been married awhile can remember, bridesmaid collections haven’t always been this way. “We spent tons of time editing down the collection,” she says.
When Thull was planning her own wedding, she had a terrible time finding bridesmaid dresses she liked in Milwaukee: “We needed something new so bad!”
And, thus, Miss Ruby was born. Five years ago, Thull and her mom, Pauline Ellington, opened the boutique exclusively for bridesmaid and special-occasion dresses “to give them the respect they deserve.” But then, Thull says, brides started coming in, looking for unembellished styles and buying white versions of the dresses they carried.
“At the same time, designers were noticing the need for simple, easier-to-wear styles,” she explains. So she and Ellington began bringing in bridal lines, as well, eventually expanding into a two-salon space, one for brides and the other for VIPs.
“We put a lot of work into the vendors we pick,” says Thull of designers such as Siri, Jim Hjelm and Alvina Valenta. “We’re sticking to the high-quality fabrics and constructions”—many of which are made in the U.S.
Inspired to warm up for winter at Miss Ruby? Until the end of October, you’re entitled to use their anniversary coupon, which will give you a bunch of benefits: money off bridal attire and bridesmaid dresses, plus a sweet (and I mean sweet) goodie bag from other local wedding vendors if you order a gown. Be sure to make an appointment first—they’re required so the staff can give you their undivided attention.
Thull is quick to point out that they couldn’t offer events like this without the support of the community: “After five years, we’re in a great place.”