Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bridesmaid dresses, love em or hate em, they happen

Bridesmaid Dresses,
Just a heads up.
So I always recommend that if you have girls who are "regular sizes" i.e. 0-14 or 0-16 that you are better off buying dresses off the rack in a department store. Here is why.

1. you are more likely to get a better bargain
2. the dresses are more likely to fit better
3. you are more likely to find a more stylish dress.

Here are the problems that I see most often with buying a true bridal shop bridesmaids dress.....

the sizing!

oh my gosh, your size 2 friend will be told to order a size 10, and then it shows up and is too big on top too small on the bottom and 6 inches too long.
The reality is that many bridesmaids specific dresses are sized awkwardly and are made in pattern sizes, which is the size pattern you would sew for yourself not the size you buy at banana republic.
Even I have fallen into the trap as a sewer, fashionista, and wedding coordinator. For a friend this year she was hellbent on having a specific color gown, the color of which was not in style this year so we bought bridesmaids dresses.
A very reputable bridal shop had me order a dress 4 sizes larger than my street size. I talked them down to 3 sizes larger, looking at the sizing chart. The dress came in and I could have housed my harem, 3 camels, and a league of Arabian horses in the dress, it was huge. It was so huge that I could barely get it cut down and still look normal. In addition, I spent a ridiculous amount on alterations.
This tale happens time after time in many bridal shops. And yet, if I had bought it off the rack I could have tried it on right then, paid Nordstroms a paltry sum to alter it perfectly and would have been a much happier camper not buying a tent.
So buyer beware, the sizing on many bridesmaids dresses is quite strange, the fit equally strange and it is very stressful not only on the bride but the bridesmaids.
Think about buying an off the rack dress instead and personalizing it with a sash, a pin, a flower, putting an underskirt with a flash of color or some other personalized touch on the dress. You are guaranteed better more predictable and sometimes more cost effective results.

Some great resources for bridesmaids dresses


J.Crew (basic but functional)

Neiman Marcus (check out last call, fabulous dresses at fabulous prices)

Saks Fifth Avenue (check online sale section) (check sales)

Barrie Pace (hidden gem, hit or miss but when a hit a real hit)

Dillard's (owned by Macy's but carries often different colors in same gown)

Macy's (love it but hate it... but it is a standby)

1 comment:

Molly said...

I found my bridesmaid dresses at the JCrew outlet, and got them for $40! I had to be flexible, i.e., I purchased three dresses for each of my three bridesmaids, to be sure I got the right size, and then returned the unused dresses. I also had a very simple dress in mind, so it was rather easy to find. We added sashes to them and they looked fabulous. I agree with Marlowe Berglund that you can find great bridesmaid dress options at non-bridal stores.