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A Homemade “Bridgerton” Dress Went Viral on TikTok

A designer from Lorton talks about her path to internet fame.

Step 1: Learn the basics

When Lama Ali was picking a major as a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University, she was surprised to find herself drawn to clothing design. “It wasn’t something I considered before that moment,” she says. “Anyone you ask at my high school, I was the least stylish person. I had no fashion sense.”

Step 2: Check out that sexy new Netflix show

Ali graduated in 2019 and moved back to Lorton, near where she’d grown up. When Bridgerton debuted in December, she was busy designing a new collection of handbags for a fashion brand’s spring/summer line. She found herself awed by the over-the-top Regency-era gowns on the TV series, even though her own design style tends toward the futuristic and unisex.

Step 3: Say yes to the dress

Lots of viewers marveled at Bridgerton’s costumes, but Ali decided to actually try to make one. She started working on a corset and—why not?—documented the process on TikTok. “The video was kind of a joke,” she says. “I didn’t know I was going to make an entire gown.”

Step 4: Give them what they want

Ali put that first video up in early February. Unexpectedly, views started to pile up fast, and commenters were asking about a part 2. So she committed to making a full dress. Using supplies bought from such places as Etsy and Amazon, she spent almost three weeks madly sewing, stopping only to eat and sleep. It was a lot of work: “There were about 50 eyelets I had to hand-sew. It’s kind of discouraging to be like, ‘I’ve done ten already, but I have 40 left.’ ” The fabric, lace, and embellishments ended up costing about $500.

Step 5: Enjoy your moment

In all, Ali made 14 videos about the dress, with the final installment showing off the impressive finished product. At the beginning of the project, she had about 48,000 TikTok followers; by the end, that number had jumped to 627,000, and her most-watched video—number 11—has garnered nearly 20,000 comments and 2.7 million likes. The numbers are a bit dizzying, she says: “I’ve had to pinch myself three times this week.”

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Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.