@jen1021: I know this is too late now, but for the sake of any others who read this thread:
Here are 2 things the salesperson told me that was totally FALSE:
1) order the size that matches your “biggest measurement” (NOT TRUE!)
2) That’s a simple alteration, if the seamstress can’t alter that in, then they are not a seamstress. (NOT ALWAYS TRUE!!)
Here is what you need to consider:
1) which PART of you has the biggest measurement,
2) how EASY would that be for someone to alter,
3) and would that matter given the STYLE of the dress?
For example, if your hips are the biggest part of you, but the dress is flared, then that won’t matter. You should size it based on the OVERALL best fit for your bust/waist.
Here is my personal example/experience.
My measurements were 28.5 bust, 24 waist, 36 hip. I am usually a size 0. The rep wanted to get me a size 4 in the Bill Levkoff 167 dress which would fit a 36.5 hip. I asked her why my hips would matter when that dress has a flared skirt and is not fitted on the hips. She said “well the under-layer would be fitted.” Well, I have never heard of a flared dress that had a tight-fitted sheath underneath (and I was right, as I later found out the dress was flared as I expected and did NOT have a fitted sheath underneath).
So I diplomatically voiced my doubts, and then she conceded that I should order a size 2, because it fits a 24.5 waist. Now, the size 0 was only 0.5″ smaller than my 24″ waist and had a smaller bust which is what I needed. So why not go for the 0?
But she said that the waist measurement is my ribcage and I won’t be able to breathe if the dress is too small at the waist. Even though the size 0 is only 0.5″ smaller than my waist, it is safer to go with a size 2. She also said that I would have to alter the bust in anyway, even for a size 0.
So I asked, wouldn’t it be harder to alter a size 2 bust instead of a size 0 bust which is closer to my size? Well she assured me it was a simple alteration and a size 2 would NOT be harder to alter than a 0, which turned out to be FALSE as I later found out.
Later on when we received the dresses, my sister had ordered a size 0 and me a size 2. Obviously the 2 was too big for me. When I tried on the 0, guess what? It was perfect. The ribcage was JUST FINE. No alterations needed! But I had ordered the 2 so I now had to pay $70 to get it altered in. And the tailor apparently couldn’t do it because of the padding, ruching, cut of the dress etc. So he pinched the sides in which made the bust look lopsided and ugly, the armpits were now uncomfortably tight, and the waist was tight so that I had trouble breathing!
I hope this cautionary tale will aid anyone else who is buying a bridesmaid dress for the first time – DO NOT LISTEN TO THE SALES STAFF! Use your own brain, your own knowledge of your body and what fits. You have clothed yourself your whole life, and you know your body better than any sales person with a measuring tape. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS instead of the salesperson’s “advice.” Oh, and follow my advice too