Tuesday, November 28, 2017


 I love the concept of the urban/city chic style wedding happening around this time of year--October/November.  There's something about metro landscapes that compliment sophisticated dressing.  The TATYANA Dress actually is one of my most versatile pieces in the sense it can go country/vineyard as well as beach and bohemian.  Here we have it glammed up for a chic city wedding at the Crocker Galleria in San Francisco.  When we did The City Chic Wedding editorial, In the planning I knew accessories like the long opera gloves and tulle head pouf would set the theme.  The addition of the white satin belt added just the right touch to complete the look . . . . .

 The dress is allover tulle and bodice has a surpliced front of lace cut outs under slightly shirred tulle. There are 6 layers of lightweight tulle skirts over a silk habotai lining and separate petticoat of many layers of crinoline.   The Tulle Head pouf also available through Etsy
Photography by Dominic Colacchio
Dresses and Head Pieces by Amy-Jo Tatum
Dave's Tux by Magnoli Clothiers New Zealand
Flowers by Abigail's Flowers in The Crocker Galleria
Models: Dave and Natalie

Monday, November 27, 2017


Today's inspiration comes from The I Love Boho editorial we did a couple years back featuring the other worldly and hauntingly beautiful work of photographer, Lexi Moody.  She captures the waif/fairytale/flowerchild spirit like no other shooter can in my book.  Love, love love the mood . . .

Friday, November 24, 2017


Above is my blue book, page after page of renderings I keep each year for custom clients who have the courage and faith to develop the most important dress of their life from ground zero.  This handful of brides don't order from my existing collection but create a design from what's in their head. Boy, it takes a lot of trust to build a dress from scratch especially if you know zilch about fabric, silhouette, yada, yada, yada . . . which most of my brides can cop to.  Today I open up the books and salute all my one-of-a-kind brides through the year who trusted my expertise to bring their vision to life . . .
Above: We tracked down this embroidered silk dupioni in London for the bodice of Zoe's dress.  So gorgeous is the slightly dropped waist!  The full skirt is layers and yards of tulle.  I sometimes fall so much in love with the dresses that I put them into the collection with my own interpretations.  This designer's version will either sport a train or fall just above the ankles a la 1950s
Above: Elvie wanted a close-fitting all over lace dress that was simple in design sans a train (she wanted to move freely about on her wedding day).  She added drama and made up for the train with a single layer cathedral veil for the ceremony with a 5-foot extension . . . . .  
Above: Another all over lace dress only once the muslin test pattern was done Katie found this great eyelet and we swapped out the lace. Most of the work that went into making this dress truly couture was the handmade belt out of Schiffli lace cut outs, pearls and intricate bead work.   And look at me gilding up the lily with accessories!!! Suffice it to say, she didn't wear the hat and gloves.  A shorter fly away veil topped off her look beautifully.
Above: Alicia had an Autumn in NYC wedding, nups at sunset in a loft/art gallery/restaurant so we wanted to play up the cocktail wedding theme. She ended up going pretty much 1940s chic with her evening gown silhouette.  The bodice was pieced Alencon laces, part of my lace stash she couldn't pass up
(shown below).  The head piece changed a little from the pleats shown above to more of a netted cage pouf.

Above: When Dana came to me with this 20s-30s tango/flamenco idea I had only to show her I'd created something pretty close a few years back in red about 20-inches shorter.  Yes,  she wanted to dance at her wedding so she came to the right designer--who not only danced at her own wedding but comes from a ballroom dance background so I know how fabrics and certain styles are going to move.  We used ivory chiffon backed with a crepe and lined it in silk charmeuse.  I told her, "When you line a dress in silk charm, you'll never take it off. . . .". The ruffles are on the bias so with the weight of the crepe they have  an elegant float about them. 
Above: Another Autumn wedding (last week), this dress in silk crepe and chiffon is a gem of many, many, many yards of  fabrics so light, there's no bulk in spite of the multitude of pleats in the bodice.  Katie--I had two Katies this year--said she initially came to me because she couldn't find anything in the shops or online she thought was sophisticated enough to say 'bride' without shouting MOB!!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Like the Macy's parade come every 4th Thursday in November, it's become a tradition here--my posting about the Thanksgiving wedding and the many details that go with.  I actually love the idea of getting married on Thanksgiving Day. The days before as well as the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after are times family are all gathered.  And that's the bonus of a Turkey Day Wedding--the guests and menu are all pretty much assembled.  If you want cozy nups with just family go ahead and opt for Thanksgiving Day.  Extend that invite beyond family and your wedding might conflict with most of your invited guest's family dinners.  Overall, a turkey dinner with all the fixings for the bride and groom and family gathered is a great way to combine your vows with that great family institution.
Above: What could be more symbolic of Thanksgiving than the harvest?  This bouquet of wheat by JL Designs says it all//Photos by Stephanie Williams Photography from the Vintage and Rustic Shoot//Dress by Amy-Jo Tatum//Below: A medley of Thanksgiving table chic, decor and autumn fashion.  Dress by Amy Jo Tatum

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Just off the work table, a couple romantic and beautiful additions to The Forever Boho Collection.  Directly below, The CELESTE Dress is a light and airy confection of silk chiffon, tea-dyed tulle and lace with a hint of blush.  The flutter sleeves of tulle are like wings falling into a light back ruffle. The front panel in Chantilly lace is ideal for shorter brides looking to create an uninterrupted, cylindrical line and heavier bodies looking for slimming options.
Above:  Close up detail of the CELESTE Dress. Below: The OPHELIA Dress.  Silk, tulle and handmade floral dappled over the neckline and body of the dress.  
Both these gowns were inspired by movies from the 1930s.  While each can sport the waif/storybook/ earth angel look and be worn with a head wreath of florals, add a longer veil or hair jewels and you have a more elegant golden age of Hollywood bride.  Absolutely love the versatility . . . . .

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Most brides wait till the gown is ordered before making a decision on a veil.  In addition to complimenting your dress, you’ll need to zero in on your body type.  For instance, petite brides want to create the impression of height.  Yes, petites can wear pouf veils as long as the volume up top doesn’t imitate an Indian-headdress, dwarfing rather than extending height.  Also if you’re short, a cathedral length veil isn’t the best choice—even a dropped version with zero density.  You can get the drama and extension you need by scaling down to a waltz or chapel length to fit your proportion.  Heavier and/or thick-waisted brides look best in a one layer dropped veil tacked onto a bun, falling in a swirl down the back.  Try keeping your lines back and delicate, avoiding elbow length veils with lots of volume.  Ditto veils edged in ribbon; they can form lines across the waist, creating width.  If you’re tall you’ll want to keep the poise of your height intact without going over the edge.  Go ahead and wear that cathedral veil with your long-trained ballgown.  But realize even tall, sylph-like women have limitations.  Princess Diana who was a stunning 5’10”, over-volumized her height her wedding day when she piled layers of tulle atop a dress already screaming of über-pouf.  Face it, we all have to work on getting the symmetry right.
 Generally, more ornamental gowns look best with simple veils, like one layer of tulle with narrow edging or no edging at all; whereas all over lace veils or ones edged with wide borders require a simple gown with little adornment.  Your dress might have some exquisite back details you want to show off.  If this is the case select a shorter veil like a fly away or net pouf.  Want a more romantic look?  Try a layer of tulle— preferably in a dropped style that doesn’t fall in creases and folds across your back.  Tulle is the best fabric for this; it’s transparent enough without being so opaque to fog detail.  If your gown has no train, wearing a chapel or cathedral length veil can create one—especially elegant when bordered in wide-edged lace or there’s a concentration of lacework on the train portion.

 If you’re in a long veil and want to remove part of it for the reception, have your salon work out the fastening system with you and whoever is helping you.  Taking off the entire veil?  Exactly when during the reception is up to you; it depends on whether you want to be veiled in photos cutting cake, toasting, dancing, etc.  Some brides wear their veil the entire day.  And I suppose this is because there is nothing quite like a white veil that says . . .  Today is the only day I will ever be a Bride.

Veils and gowns by Amy Jo Tatum
Photography by Pixamage
Hair: Salon Kao Vey
Mua: Necia Whitmore

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


First off, in your search, think gown over dress.  Why? Gowns are long and lean styles. Always keep in mind those gowns that make you linger and look a little longer than the rest—the ones that really grip your attention.  Do you love that empire waist because the model in the editorial looks great in it?  Or do you go for the higher waist because you instinctively know it would look great on you?  My best advise here is this: learn to really accept and cherish the body you have then train your eye and thinking to embrace styles that compliment your particular assets.  Pass up any looks you could wear if only you were taller, bustier, lost twenty pounds, etc.?  Target your flaws then minimize or camouflage them; always, always heighten your assets.

* a gown with a panel or seam(s) running up the front.  The unbroken lines give you height.
*Empire waists are one of your best options considering you go floor length.  You want to keep that vertical line going.
* A V or U-neck, it gives the impression of a longer neck.
*A mermaid.  If you’re slim and petite consider this style.  It’s fitted like an evening gown up top and has all the bounce and swirl of a ball gown below.
*An A-line.  Think of it as your very own scaled down version of a ball gown.
*Sheath and evening gown silhouettes, long and columnar; they will flatter you.
* length over volume in your skirt
*Sleeves that are long and straight.
* Best proportion is a floor length gown with veil or train of the same length.
*prints and laces as well as any motifs should be scaled down and worn on the upper portions of the body.  Busy designs below the waist  (even small ones) draw all eyes downward.
*Soft and sheer fabrics like crepe and chiffon that drape to the body.
*any ball gown.  The volume in the skirts will consume you.
*heavy, elaborate fabrics like brocade or any print or design that is large.
*Wide belts, sashes and cummerbunds interrupt the vertical lines you want to create.  If you do wear a sash or belt go thin (1-1 ½ inches) and as close to the shade of your gown as you can get.
*any design with big puffy sleeves or shoulder pads.
*Any train longer than a sweep. 
 Header Photo: A modified mermaid style with a silk gauze front sash that ties under the bust line draws the eye upward. (photo by Sweet Light StudiosPhoto 2: Another empire style in lightweight fabrics, elongates. The lightweight fabrics help reduce bulk. (photo: Carlene ImageryPhoto 3: A chemise in lightweight silks and scaled down laces also has a wide open neckline to draw the eye up.  Photo 4: An A-line in  small patterned lace organza.  Think of this A-line dress as a scaled down ball gown, giving modified volume.  Photos 5 and 6: Sheath and evening gown silhouettes--long and columar. (photos: Scott Williams Photography//Vetter Photography

Monday, November 6, 2017


The neckline frames your face and is probably the feature you’ll most concentrate on when selecting your dress. It’s the part of your dress that gives your face some wow! Because there are almost as many neckline options as sleeve variations, think of mixing both components as an opportunity to really create that one-of-a-kind dress. Front and back bodices though aren’t always identical. For instance, the front could have a Sabrina neckline, the back a deep V; whereas another gown could have a scoop in front as well as back.

Clockwise: Photo 1: Halter Neckline (photo: Stephanie Williams Photography). Photo 2: Sweetheart Neckline (photo by John T Photo) Photo 3: Square Neckline (photo Lirette Photography) Photo 4: Scoop Neckline////Photo 5: Turtleneck Neckline (photo: Pixamage) Photo 6: V-neckline (photo: Samantha Brancato)


Turtleneck-Once a classic, the high neck or turtleneck can be a plain band of dress fabric or lace.  Especially popular in the Edwardian gown craze of the 70s when cotton ‘granny gowns’ reappeared.
Mandarin-Like the high neck collar only it’s notched in front
Cowl-draped either as an attached piece or integrated into the pattern.  Lots of retro styles of the 1930s use this effect.
Jewel-Aka crew neck, round and higher neckline.  Not seen too much these days except in an overbodice of all-over lace.
Bateau  or Sabrina-Straight across the neckline
Scoop-Low rounded neckline
V or U-These necklines point down just like the letters they are named after.
Off-the-Shoulder-Neckline extends horizontally across and sits below the shoulders.
Portrait-Wide band that extends from shoulder to shoulder
Square-One of my personal favorites, conveying a real open look, square necks look great on long and A-line silhouettes.
Halter-Straps either wrap around the neck or neckline is high with deep armholes.
Strap-Usually holds up a strapless bodice.
Asymmetrical-Neckline falls diagonally-one side strapless the other either with sleeve or sleeveless.
Queen Anne-High neckline curving into a sweetheart around the décolletage area
Sweetheart-Plunges into an open heart shape.
Keyhole-Open tear-drop.
Strapless-Either cut straight across or sweetheart shaped, the strapless is held up by boning inside the bodice.

Right to Left: Photo 1: Asymmetrical Neckline (photo: Strotz Photography) Photo 2: Bateau or Sabrina Neckline///Photo 3: Cowl Neckline (photo by Aura O'Brien)
All dreses by Amy Jo Tatum

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Believe it or not, the halter we see in so many bridal collections evolved from early 20th Century swimwear. Golden Age Hollywood designers popularized the look for evening, dressing stars like Garbo and Harlow. Actually the look was so radical and daring back then, tongues clucked as the etiquette police of the time declared, 'no nice lady wore such things out at night'. Ladies had different ideas though and wore the back-baring halter anyway. Halters once again made their comeback big time in the 1970s with the return of glamour and disco. During this time Cher's designer Bob Mackie took advantage of this look to bring out her best lines. Thanks to the ages, we have so many variations on this abbreviated neckline. Here are just a few stunning examples.
All Dresses and headwear by Amy Jo Tatum//Top photo: The MARILYN Dress//Photo 2-3: The FLEUR Dress and cocktail hat///Photo 4-5: The YOLANDA Dress