(Closed) DRESS SHOPPING – why do stores bring in small sample sizes?

posted 9 years ago in Dress
Post # 17
6458 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

It doesn’t make sense to have a lot of different sizes because they cost a lot of money.  They have to choose which to have in the store.  I believe the stores have to pay for each gown they have in stock.  I think they try to go for sizes that the majority of customers can fit into.

Post # 18
1348 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

I’m a street size 4/6 and a lot of the samples were too small on me because of my broad top half. My gown was a size 10 and really tight.

Post # 19
118 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

This issue is a pain both ways. I am a street size 6, but my wedding dress is a 10. I tried on (or tried to try on!) dresses that were either way too big or too small to squeeze over my hips. Neither were flattering and I am pretty sure that influenced my eventual dress selection because the one I chose was an Allure that the store had a sample of in my size. 

Post # 20
356 posts
Helper bee

It is really frustrating I’m sure.  It’s bad enough for the petite brides who have only size 14s to try on, swimming in everything.  Hard to get a good idea of how something will look.  But it’s got to be worse for the larger brides if they can’t even fit into the dress to begin with.  I’m a street size 4, wedding dress is also a size 4, and i went to a boutique that had all size 14s.  Probably one of the reasons i didn’t buy there is because nothing looked good on me at 5 sizes too big, no matter how much they clipped it.  David’s Bridal had my size or close to it in everything, so that was a point in their favor.

Post # 21
797 posts
Busy bee

Unfortunately, like many bees have pointed out, there is no winning in this situation. I wen’t to three stores (including Kleinfelds) and none of the samples I tried were smaller than an 8. Being a 2, it was very hard to see how the dresses would look, even clipped. The sample of my dress was a 10 and I’m just praying that I made the right decision, I kinda took a gamble. You may be better off trying a larger store with a wider selection.

Post # 22
24 posts
  • Wedding: August 2013

This is a frustrating situation for sure, and it’s sad really, because every single bride wants to feel beautiful in her dress, and not walk out of the salon dress-less and with new body-image issues! I agree with what most of the other ladies are saying, there is no easy solution here, but I think that the amount of sensitivity with which the bridal consultant deals with the problem, makes a major difference.


The salon I went to had exactly one dress in my correct size (US size 2/UK size 6), and that one was too short for me (sigh). BUT they did have at least one example of each type of silhouette in size 6, size 12 and size 18. So while still not ideal, most of their customers can at least get into something that is the type of dress they want, even if not the exact one. Also, if there is a dress a customer really likes, they try to source a sample close to their size from other retailers of that designer in the region – and they do this free of charge 🙂


I think salons should also bear in mind that they stand to lose more than just their tiny and plus size brides if they don’t have tactful consultants who make a genuine effort to assists them. A colleague got married last year and at the first place she went to, the staff were so rude to her that she was still in tears about it the next day. And now none of her friends would even consider going there, regardless of the sizes the have!


Post # 23
40 posts
  • Wedding: August 2014

I think I have an idea what size those sample dresses were made for. I’m 5’10”, size 10-12 in street clothes. The sample dresses all seemed to be made for my size and height. Most fit well without a single alteration. Even the length was perfect. Except, that is, for the fit-and-flare that I couldn’t even pull over my hips. Ouch, my pride! If this sounds like bragging, it’s probably because the voices that told me “Your height means you’re going to have a very hard time finding a husband! Smaller women have their pick of the men, but you don’t.” are still ringing in my ears. Well, I did not have a hard time finding a husband OR a dress. So there! :p

Post # 24
17 posts
  • Wedding: November 2012

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! 🙂

Post # 25
1320 posts
Bumble bee

Also, they’re saving $$$$. Smaller sizes = less fabric and less money (in addition to all of the stupid size discrimination that goes on).

Post # 26
622 posts
Busy bee

I can see it from the other side. As a super-tiny size 2 bride who tried on nothing but 10s and 12s, it was difficult to get a good idea of what the back of dresses looked like because they were SO incredibly clipped up and deformed. I still don’t know what the back of the dress I bought will really look like on me until my own dress comes in. I think what they are trying to do at bridal shops is find the middle ground.

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