Everyone who has ever been a bridesmaid knows two things about bridesmaid dresses; you hardly ever wear them again and they run small.
For the average size 10 woman, she will need to purchase a size 12 or maybe 14 bridesmaid gown. The rule is that you always fit the biggest body measurement since the gown can be taken in everywhere and rarely let out anywhere. But, when your best friend in the world is a size 24, what do you do? As the size 24 bridesmaid do you tell the bride you are uncomfortable wearing the dress she picked? Is it fair to ask the largest woman, who is probably the least secure about her physical appearance to wear the same dress as everyone else? Do you ask her to lose weight? Do you find a similar gown for her to wear? Trust me, I have seen every angle of this debate and it never changes, and it is near impossible to make everyone happy with your choice. So what do you do if you love your friend and you really want her to look and feel her best? The first step is to have an open conversation about the topic. She will be so relieved that you are sensitive about this topic that you may have to pick her up off the floor!
Different gowns –Offering the bridesmaids gown choices of the same color and different styles dates back over two decades. It works beautifully then and it is still by far the best option for bridesmaids of all sizes. Here is how it works: each bridesmaid has a different style of gown but in the exact same color and length. If you can find the same fabric, that’s even better – but don’t let this tiny detail deter you when selecting the dress.
Custom gown– If the bridesmaid gown you have chosen does not come in larger sizes, many bridal salons have the capability to make a custom gown of the exact same style and fabric for a larger bridesmaid. Same fabric, same style, same everything. The upside is that the gown will almost always be exactly the same as the others, the downside is that it will probably double the price. Other factors are that (as the bridesmaid) you will not know how you look in the gown until it is in production and all sales are final. Sometimes this is the absolute best option and everyone is ecstatic with the outcome.
No matter which option you choose as a bride or bridesmaid, consider these tips:
Fit – Most women do not want to be squeezed into a dress like a tube of toothpaste regardless of their size but it is especially important if you have an ample figure. Leave a little wiggle room by ordering the larger size and you won’t regret it.
Style: Find a gown that has an empire waist, fuller skirt or other components that are not too restricting. Plunging necklines can sometimes bring the eye away from trouble areas and enhance the face but, remember that a bigger bustline has disadvantages, too. Make sure everyone is comfortable with how much cleavage is exposed as this could be a personal catastrophe if there is not enough coverage. Absolutely avoid strapless.
Fabric – Avoid super-shiny satin and stiff taffeta. Find fabrics that move like chiffon, crepe and charmeuse. After you sit down in a tight satin dress you will stand up to a wrinkled mess.
Undergarments– Girdles are a thing of the past! However, Spanx and other similar undergarments can provide not only some help smoothing out trouble areas but also help the dress fit better. If your bustline is the bigger problem, make sure you get a suitable bra that offers comfort as well as support. Better yet – find a one piece bodysuit that has the bra built in! Comfort and support are the key elements. The right undergarments will vastly improve the way you look and feel in your bridesmaid gown.
Designers finally figured out that beautiful bridesmaids come in all sizes and offer gorgeous gowns in every shape, size and price range. You don’t have to break the bank and you don’t have to settle for anything less than fabulous!
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago