Having been a plussize girl at one point in my life, when I started working at a bridal shop, I brought in a new perspective from that group of ladies, and our shop started to get a few more options in larger sizes. I can only speak for our customers, in our area, and our designers, but here’s some things I’ve learned.
1. Most of our customers who need a larger sized dress come in 3-4 months before their wedding. I’m not sure why it works out this way, but ordering takes 6 months, so we try to help them find a dress they can buy off the rack. Plenty of smaller sized brides come in that short timeline as well, but when we sell 4 dresses out of stock and there are only 10 to start with in that size range, the selection in those sizes feels inadequate right away.
2. The designers do not send us samples for free, nor do they send them to us faster than the dresses we order for our brides. If we sell one of our highly prized plus sized dresses out of stock, then we have to pay for one to replace it, and it still takes 6 months for us to get it.
3. We can choose what sizes we order our samples in, unless its part of a new season’s package. Because peoples timelines for weddings are getting shorter, we need to guess what percentage of off-the-rackers will be which sizes and order dresses in those percentage of size options.
4. I really wish more sample dresses came with corsets so that we could fit more brides in a way they could really get a good idea of how a dress will look fitted to them. However, we have to pay the 250$ custom change for a dress that starts out with a zipper, just like a bride does…. so our store tends to go with what is original to the design.
Some things I have seen plus size brides do as part of their shopping experience that seemed to help them:
1. Call ahead. We will be as honest as we can about what dresses we have in what sizes, and styles and colors, and what the delivery times are. We certainly don’t want to schedule an appt. and make you drive all the way across town when you need a lace ball gown in an 18 off the rack,and we only have a 14.
2. Bring a friend with a similar body type to you, but perhaps a smaller size and see if she’d be willing to try on any dresses you’re in love with that are not sampled in your size. I had a bride do this, and then try on a correctly sized dress by the same designer to make sure the designers size would be right, then just ordered the dress she saw on her friend and loved. It takes a brave soul, but it might work for you.
3. Try holding different dress skirt styles (with the bodice folded over) in front of the skirt of a dress that is in the right size, and has a bodice you love. It might help you visualize the look of the other dress, or even come up with your own custom combination. Make sure though, that the designer is willing to do such a change.
Above all. I’m SOOOOOOO sorry for the feelings these problems create! I’m not in anyway saying its ok for a shop to make you feel bad for being whatever size you are, or that the dress industry makes things smaller than the numbers we’re all used to. My hope is that some of these details will take the pressure off you to be anything but what you are. Find a way around a messed up system, and still enjoy your experience! 🙂