*Trigger Warning - contains talk on weight, size & mention of eating disorders*
Bridal dress shopping can be both one of the most exciting but also daunting experiences Bride's can face. We often get asked by Bride's if it's true that Bridal sizing can run small and my response is always that to a degree to ignore the size of the outfit we order and I wanted to explain my thoughts and feelings on this tricky subject.
I firstly wanted to lay my cards on the table as someone who massively felt the pressure to lose weight for their wedding day. I will be honest I come from a family with a history of eating disorders and as anyone will know in this position being measured or having a number thrown at you can be really triggering. When I was measured in the Bridal shop I was told she would be ordering a size 12. Immediately my reaction was 'oh I will be much smaller by my wedding' and my gosh if I could hear myself I'd never have thought this was something I would have heard so many times since owning a store myself.
Quite rightly the Bridal shop ordered the correct size for me at the time a size 12 and lo and behold when my wedding came round I had lost what I would consider a fairly significant amount of weight and my beautiful strapless dress was pretty gaping especially at the chest. I'd gone from a size 10 to a size 6/8 in the space of 6 months and suddenly I had to factor in my shape had changed but also now I was going to have costly alterations to a dress which fitted me pretty well the first time. I felt amazing in myself but also I did receive a lot of comments on how tiny I looked and I do look back now and realised my dress wasn't designed for such a petite frame. I tell this story often to my Brides because I think often immediately there's a hidden pressure or stigma to look your 'best' but in reality our partners love us and want to marry us just as we are!
You might be thinking ok so why is Amy sharing this with me - and the reason is because I completely understand and relate to how some of you might be feeling. In reality perhaps I was triggered by being told I was having to order a size bigger and went too far and if I'd actually understood some of the below it might have helped me realise how irrelevant the numbers actually are.
1) Sample shopping is definitely a pretty tough gig. But also very difficult to get around. Most Bridal shops will have to purchase their dresses in 1 particular size and it massively varies where you shop what sizes these might be. I've got to be honest I've tried to work hard to get a range of sizing in the store everything from 8's-26's and I try and base the sizing on the style of the dress and what I think would suit which figure. But most people the samples rarely fit people and being clipped or clamped is never the most amazing feeling is it. The one thing we do say is that this whole journey is a process and as I always say to customers - 'trust the process'
2) Bridal dress designers I promise are not trying to make dress sizes smaller. Most designers use older size charts which do tend to run smaller - quite frankly because women were historically smaller than we are now. Various factors attribute to this and we found a stat that 45% of British women are dress size 16 or more, while the average female waist has grown seven inches since 1951. So if a designer is using a 1940's size chart then of course we are going to recognise that sizing is slightly snug on us vs our high street sizing which stores have adapted over the years. You've also got to remember that designers are using the same size charts all over the world and as different nations of course we are all going to be slightly different.
3) So on sizing specifically the way we measure Bridal dresses is taking various measurements and because we are ordering a standard size we will always use the largest measurement when ordering your dress. It's very rare even if we have five people who are ordering a size 12 that they are the same measurement. So someone who has a size 12 hip might be a 8 bust. Or someone might be a size 12 bust but have a size 8 waist & hip. So these two people will look completely different. However in our usually everyday life we are often ordering the same size again and again....and I mean we all know from experience how that goes down and it's frustrating you order the same size sometimes from the same company and one thing fits and one thing doesn't and with your wedding dress this is one thing that we don't want to happen. So it's common that people will order the largest size and then have alterations to make them fit perfect.
4) So that leads nicely into alterations - quite simply why are we worrying about what a tag says when we are having it adjusted anyway. It's often transformed into a completely different dress and one that will fit you perfectly and look amazing on you! I can guarantee that on your big day you will be excited and saying cheers with a glass of fizz not worrying about what number is in your dress tag.
5) And to complicate it even more - not every designer will use the same size charts. So sometimes someone will come in and say oh yes I've been fitting perfectly into a size 16 and then suddenly they can't do up a size 18 in one of the designers. This again is not uncommon but the fabric will be the same no matter which designer is picked if that makes sense. Anything with a high back will usually need a size up also because we are usually broader up top than on our waist.
Bellammes top tips
- Don't worry about the sample sizing in stores - we usually have pretty good tricks and tips to help show how the dress will look
- The number inside of the dress does not define your wedding look
- Some dresses naturally look better in a slightly bigger size because of the fabric so bare that in mind.
- You want to remember you've chosen your dress style in the size you are now and loved it - you don't need to change that. Then hey if you stay the same size you are going to love it just the same!
- No one else is going to know what size your dress is - or care. Only me and I certainly will steer your focus away from that. It doesn't change the dress size you need.
- I will always encourage you to order the size you are now. Dresses can always be taken in but not out
- Ok - I get it you've taken in all this advice but it's still upsetting you. Let's cut the tag out and then it's gone and you are just left with your perfect dress.
- If you are someone who struggles with their weight, body confidence or an eating disorder then I am more than happy to discuss beforehand how we can ensure you will feel comfortable in your appointment. I have plenty of time and can for anyone offer a size sensitive appointment - whether that's me ordering your size and measurements without putting these on the order form for you to see and cutting out the tag before you come I am absolutely more than happy to do this. Then no one including you has that number staring at you.
- Everyone can wear anything that they want with confidence, and I am here to hold your hand every step of the way.
Any questions on this topic please reach out to Amy on 07792664234.