I totally feel you. I am a chanel bag carrying type and I had no interst in those types of dresses either (not trying to insult anyone reading this it is just that it is true that without question the high end design market kind of skips over anyone in double diget sizing bridal). I did not really have a dress budget and was willing to spend whatever (except the $14,000 as mentioned below!!) Kleinfelds has alot of higher end designers in plus sizes, but not Monique main brand, but they do have Blush by Monique which is alittle less (like $4,500 and up) and they did have samples I tried on from those. They fit really well I must say but they were too plain for me. The key to Kleinfelds is ask to go into the stock room right away, know which dresses you want to try on (or at least your top) and say it right away. I operated like that and all was well. Like I said, the girls there are not from around here I would say and the families are somewhat obnoxious. I kind of cridge whenever I have to go there but the sheer volume was worth it.
I loved Esther..but found out she is over $12,000 or $14,000 (cant remember if total price was $14,000 or $14,000 plus) without tax or alternations. Although I had no real budget, I guess that was my breaking point!
I think because you have a smaller upper body you should be okay with most regular samples if ball gown (I went dress shopping with my friend recently who is basically your dimensions, small waist and bigger but/hips and she was able to get samples on over her head no problem), although honestly Amsale might be harder I swear my friend who is the size 6-8 could barely get some of the dresses on..no joke..VW told me they have samples in 12 and 14 for some types of dresses (so like 8-10 street size), so those you’ll be good to go. It is just nice to have the dress zippered when trying it on. I didnt think I cared about that until I saw the difference between the dresses I could try on for real, and the samples I couldnt.
I looked at Dalhia and Bresa from Christos…the thing that I didnt like was that there is an insane amount of fabric at the waist on those dresses and it was not flattering. I found that the natural waisted ball gowns are the most flattering. The ones with pleating or puckered skirts add bulk to waist, hips and but. I also have more of an apple shape and am 6′ tall though so they make work for you. Bresa can be worn off the shoulder, so so pretty. Also, there is this beauftiful ballgown that has a jaquard print (white on white so no actual color print) with this like side sash, I forget the name, but sooo pretty and very flattering. That was Amsale. They said they could take fabric out of all of these dresses and make it less bunchy, but I wasnt that comfortable remaking my dress that I couldnt try on! lol. It just became too much wonder for me.
Exq Bridal does have plus size samples. They had like two veras, some romona kervezas and at least one amsale ballgown. They have others too, I just dont recall. They only had a total of like 12 dresses though in plus size. Def they had lazaro but Kleinfelds has tons of Lazaro in plus size.
Hope this helps! As you saw from my last posts, there isnt that much info on the plus size high end designer market anywhere! lol.