The nifty thing about bustle techniques is that many of their names are pretty self explanatory. An over bustle (as you may imagine) refers to when you lift the train of your dress and attach it on the outside of the gown. The train can be hooked in one or more spots (several attachments is the most sturdy way to secure your train). This technique is good for light-weight gowns, as it’s not as secure as other bustles – you don’t want to constantly reattach the train throughout the reception.
Another pretty obvious name, the under bustle refers to when you tuck the train beneath the rest of the dress. The attachment is covered by the gown, and the bustle creates a sort of pillow effect. Brides choose dresses with under bustles for a lot of reasons, one being that it can give the gown a very full look (of course, a slim sheath dress won’t appear voluminous even with this technique).
OK, so now the bustles get a little more obscure sounding. A royal bustle also goes by the names double and triple French, and “whipped cream.” Picture an elaborate Victorian ballgown and you’ll be in the ballpark of a royal bustle. The train is gathered in several points on the back of your dress and attached in an under-bustle fashion. The gathers aren’t as large as with the under bustle, creating a a more layered look. This technique is great for heavy fabrics and long trains, as it’s very secure.
Think of Austrian (also called gathered) blinds when you imagine this bustle because they work on the same principle. An Austrian or gathered bustle uses a ribbon or string that is either inside or outside of the dress. The train is pulled along the ribbon to create gathers.
The ballgown bustle is the simpliest choice. The train of the dress is attached at the hem of your bodice so that it appears as though there was never a train at all.