Dress Shopping Tips from A Plus Size Stylist

Shopping for your wedding dress should be one of the most fun parts of planning a wedding, but for a lot of plus brides working with boutiques can be disappointing. As a plus size woman and a bridal stylist I always want to make the shopping experience for my plus brides as fun and easy as possible. Here are a few ways to make sure your search for the dress is a good one!

Prep Yourself for the Appointment

Give the boutique a call before your appointment to ask about their size selection. Let them know your average dress size, keeping in mind most bridal sizes run about 2 times smaller than most ready-to-wear lines. (For example, I’m a US size 18 in most department stores and anywhere from a 20 to 24 in bridal). If there are specific styles or silhouettes you want, don’t be afraid to ask about what options they have in store.

Bring only your A-listers to the appointment: two or max three people. I pinky promise you will be so happy to be able to focus on what you like and not have to manage a whole group’s opinions. You can always include a larger group in another way- accessories appointments, venue walk thru, etc., if you need to make your certain folks feel included.

The Big Bride Club’s own  Abi Menzies  at one of her dress appointments. This  Rebecca Schoneveld  gown turned out to be the one!

The Big Bride Club’s own Abi Menzies at one of her dress appointments. This Rebecca Schoneveld gown turned out to be the one!

Trying On Gowns

Tell your stylist what you’re looking for, and if it’s your first time try on a variety of silhouettes. Try on that sultry fit-and-flair as well as that Cinderella ball gown- so often brides are convinced that a certain style will not work on them, but when they try it on it’s love. Be honest about your budget too, and keep in mind some designers will charge a fee for plus gowns (it is dumb and terrible but it does happen).

When you’re trying on, do not expect perfect fit with the samples, it’s always going to require some imagination, for brides of all sizes, before alterations. A good stylist will know how to clip you into a dress so that you can see something close to the actual fit of the gown once you’ve had it altered.

Focus on the dress. If you don’t like the way you look in the dress, that’s the dress’ problem, not yours. Try to focus your comments on the dress itself, and not on you or your body (“I’m so short” vs “this dress doesn’t make me feel my best”). It’s a little thing but it can help keep you feeling good throughout the appointment!.

Lastly- forget any fashion “rules.” If you feel good in something that’s the only rule you need to listen to.

You’ve Found the Dress!

YAY! CELEBRATE! If you need a moment to think about it the boutique will understand. My advice though? Once you find a dress you feel incredible in and keep coming back to, you are done. Stop trying on gowns or else you will just confuse yourself and risk over-shopping the dress.

Measuring time!  You are probably ordering this dress around  6-8 months out from your wedding, and maybe worried what will happen if your body changes between now and then. I always order for the body a bride has right now. The alterations process will not start until about 7-8 weeks before your wedding, and at that point most dresses can be taken in or let out enough to account for any fluctuation in size. And do not stress out about what size you are. Remember it’s just a number.

You got this

Never settle. You deserve to feel amazing on your wedding day and all of your days after.

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Bridal stylist Alysia Cole talks sanity-saving wedding hacks, unpacks wedding traditions and helps listeners navigate their own wedding planning problems with help from her industry besties on her new show: Wedding Wonderful Podcast.