Wedding Dress Sizes Explained!

Following on from last month’s blog about how bridal boutiques operate differently to normal shops, I want to address the issue of sizing in bridal gowns.

Most of the brides-to-be I meet are already made aware by sisters and friends that are already married, that the size on the label of their wedding dress can be a completely different number to the size they wear in everyday clothes. But knowing in advance that the size 12 you are used to wearing might suddenly be a size 20, doesn’t make it easier to live with, so I thought I’d explain a bit about why your size will be different.

It is really important to know that wedding dresses are made according to size charts that are very different to normal clothing. Some of the size charts are the same as they were in the 1950’s when the exaggerated hourglass figure reigned supreme! This means that most wedding dresses expect a fairly curvy figure, with a waist that is significantly smaller than the bust and hips. In reality most of us are either thicker in the waist, smaller busted or pear shaped, meaning that you do not fit into the pre-set mould of the designers size chart. It also means that your wedding dress is probably going to need alterations to achieve a perfect fit. Most of us will fall between a few sizes on a size chart and might find that one particular measurement might put us in a much larger size than we usually wear. So if you usually wear a 14 but find that your wedding dress needs to be an 18 so that it fits your waist, don’t be upset or annoyed, it doesn’t mean the same thing as a high street 18, and no-one else needs to know.

These designers don’t understand how delicate us girls are about this number – they’d make us feel so much better by making the sizes incomparable to normal clothing size labels. I often think they shouldn’t even be sized by number, calling the sizes by letters would make much more sense and wouldn’t cause half as much upset or confusion. I’ll never forget the bride who stormed out of our shop after discovering the dress of her dreams would need to be ordered in a size 20 – she was disgusted at the number the designers size chart was telling her she needed. We tried to get her to focus on the measurements, and explained that this size 20 was the same as a size 14 from Next, but the number 20 was not something she was prepared to tolerate on her wedding dress, and in the end she walked away from her dream dress simply because of the number on a label that no-one else needed to see.

After all its only a number!

One response to “Wedding Dress Sizes Explained!

  1. another thing I’ve noticed Catherine is that the gap between high street sizes is much larger from one size to the next. I’m between sizes, and sometimes when that size 10 is a little snug, the size 12 is massive!! There’s definitely a bigger ‘jump’ between high street sizes – the gap between bridal dresses sizes is much smaller to ensure a better fit.
    So what happens is that when we get to larger sizes, the difference gets wider, and wider. and wider!!! So a high street size 10 girl might need a size 12 bridal………. a size 14 girl might need an 18 in bridal. and a size 22 girl will need a size 28 or thereabouts!!
    Plus, sizes on the high street are getting more generous. I used to wear size 10 clothes that were a perfect fit when I used to be about 7 stone back about 18 years ago. I’m now over 3 stone heavier, but guess what? Size 10s on the high street are now much more generous and I can fit into a lot of size 10 clothes!!!!!!!! The size 10s in my wardrobe would have been hanging on me 18 years ago!!! In traditional size charts, Marilyn Monroe was a UK 16. She’d probably fit into a size 12 on the high street now. The high street have been making clothes more and more generous to make us feel better about ourselves. Maybe bridal manufacturers need to join in at this game too!!!!! lol!!!!

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