Having worked in bridal shops for many years in the past, our policy was to order by the wedding gown manufacturers charts and our experience with the gown manufacturer itself. With some companies, their dresses ran smaller than specified for certain styles. And with dresses with intricate beading, and if there is little or now seam allowance, if there is any let out needed, you are screwed. Typically, the gown is ordered for the largest part of the body.
Street sizes and bridal sizes are different too. Bridal sizes are skin tight fits, with no “wearing ease”. Every day clothing has usually an inch or two extra for comfort. In addition, everyday clothing allows 1 1/2 inches to 2 1/2 inches inbetween each size. In Bridal, most of the companies only allow 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch inbetween each size.
Often times when a dress is ordered, the shop may have to decide between two sizes to order. A bride rarely fits perfectly with in one size of a size chart. Her bust may be in one size, waist in another, and hips in another. In street clothing however, there may only be one size difference, or because of the wearing ease, no size difference at all. So, rather than have a dress come in to small, we order the next size up. I have been in the uncomfortable position of ordering a size 10 for a bride who worked very hard to lose weight to get down to a street size 6. But when we tried on the manufacturers gowns in the size 10 they fit her well. The size 8 were too snug, and would have needed let out, which is a more expensive alteration.
Most bridal salons will tell you that they do not make much money on alterations. It is extremely labor intensive. And a lot of bridal salons these days have independent contractors that work within the salon for their alterations. Or, they underright a portion of the cost of the alterations to their customers that buy their gowns at the salon to keep the prices reasonable. Finding skilled seamstresses these days is difficult. So few women are sewing anymore. And to keep a seamstress, you pay her well. It is skilled labor. It is a rare skill that can do the intense work, handle the beading, fitting, and work with the fine fabrics. Ha ha, we have a high burn out rate at certain times of the year. Go into the back room of a bridal salon and you will see a lot of stress! I’ve been there! (we rewarded ourselves with lots of chocolate…not near the dresses of course)
Please feel free to contact me if you have any other fitting questions. I will be most happy to help! I am new to WeddingBee. I have over 25 years experience in the wedding business, as a seamstress, wedding gown designer, headpiece designer, buyer…I’m semi retired now making headpieces, veils and jewelry.