When your wedding has been 20 years in the making, you’re allowed to go over the top with the fashion. Such was the case at the nuptials of Jennifer Lopez, 53, and Ben Affleck, 50, where Lopez opted to wear three — yes, three — custom-made wedding dresses by her go-to designer, Ralph Lauren. Looking for inspiration? There are a few takeaways from her design choices that are applicable to the lives of us mere mortals.
To walk down the aisle, the singer-actress opted for a stunning custom twist on Lauren’s iconic turtleneck gown. According to a post shared by Ralph Lauren, this version required “more than 1,000 hand-cut handkerchiefs and 1,640 feet of fabric” to be “cut into ruffles and attached by hand.” The short-sleeved column dress cut a dramatic silhouette, thanks to the sleek tailored lines that ran from the elegant turtleneck through to the voluminous skirt made up of a cascade of ruffles starting at midthigh and descending to the floor. To complete the ensemble, Lopez wore a cathedral-length veil, adding a regal air.
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Youthful and flattering
J.Lo may not need it, but a turtleneck style is a great way to highlight a jawline, draw attention to the face and create an elegant and elongated silhouette that is flattering on most body types. The choice of short sleeves added a youthful twist, making the dress feel young and fresh. “Any woman who might not be as ripped as Jennifer and is concerned about showing upper arm ‘flab’ might consider a similar flutter sleeve this length or slightly longer,” says style consultant Andrea Pflaumer, author of Shopping for the Real You. “It drapes over the highest part of the arm and is just a very feminine look.”
The ruffles also added a splash of femininity. While they are typically seen on the Easter attire of young girls, Lopez showed how to incorporate them into an adult wardrobe by pairing them with a slim-fitting top and otherwise minimalist look. The front of Lopez’ dress was surprisingly demure, given her penchant for barely-there looks (remember the jaw-dropping Versace gown she wore to the 2000 Grammy Awards?), but the back had a sexy surprise: a low-cut peekaboo mesh, daintily held together by a row of buttons. Looking to amp up the appeal of an outfit and not reveal too much skin? Try lace panels on a dress, sheer covering over a V-neck or peekaboo cutouts on a shirt.
Simple accessories paired with an ultra-glam dress
Following the ceremony, Lopez changed into a floor-length backless gown draped in swaths of pearls and Swarovski crystals, to give its namesake chandelier look. Harper’s Bazaar reports that it took 30 artisans some combined 700 hours to hand-embroider the pearls and crystals onto the slim silk tulle dress.
While this was a dramatic look, there is inspiration to glean from it. Once again, the dress had a slight turtleneck, giving Lopez that elongating line. It also had an open back, which broke up the incredibly intricate pearl and crystal pattern and served to highlight the craftsmanship. Her shoulders were also draped in cascading pearls, giving her coverage, but not too much. Because her dress was so intricate, she kept all the other elements minimal. In everyday life, this is a great example of breaking up patterns with solids (or skin, if you wish) to give the eye a place to rest and to let your statement pieces sparkle. Additionally, simple hair and accessories can truly highlight a piece, instead of detracting from it.
If thousands of pearls aren’t in the budget, a small string will do, too. “Pearls, in any amount, are a perfect wedding accessory,” notes Pflaumer. “They lend sweetness and sophistication. A single, double or triple strand over a simple sheath style would work beautifully, as would pearl studs or slightly dangling pearl earrings.”
Get the perfect fit
The bride’s final look was a white gown cut into a mermaid silhouette with a keyhole neckline, highlighted by Swarovski crystals, and an open back. “Less-body-hugging satin slip dresses are a huge fashion statement right now,” says Pflaumer. “That style, worn either with pearls or with a little bit of rhinestone bling in earrings and/or a single diamond on a chain, would be lovely on any older bride. You could add a lacy shrug or capelet to complete the look.”
J.Lo’s fits-like-a glove dress was a good reminder: Never skimp on expert tailoring. A perfect fit elevates every outfit — especially three one-of-a-kind dresses.
Melissa Locker is a contributing writer who covers lifestyle, home and garden, and arts and culture. She has also written for Southern Living, Time and The Guardian.