It’s coming to that time of year again when I get to go shopping! At the beginning of March I am heading off to visit one of our wedding dress designers to choose our next collection of dresses. I am so excited. Excited to see what they have in store, excited to see the latest trends, and excited t buy some gorgeous new gowns for 2015 and beyond!
However, it’s also one of the most stressful and pressurised parts of my job. My main priority is to find gowns that our girls will love, but I also have to spend funds wisely and not accidentally buy too many since our shop only has limited rail space. Being prepared, making plenty of notes and not making hasty decisions usually takes care of most of these challenges but it doesn’t always prepare you for hardest decision – what sizes to buy. Since we can only ever afford to buy one of each dress style, we have to make sure that the choice of size is the best possible for that dress silhouette – we have to know that the particular shape chosen will flatter and do both the bride and the dress justice.
Certain dresses are fairly universal and can suit lots different body types but there are definitely some silhouettes, necklines and features that can be awkward and unflattering on particular body types or dress sizes. There is little point in me buying a dress in a size 20 which could cut in at a very unflattering angle on a rounder tummy, but that very same dress could add just the right emphasis and illusion to an athletic sized 14 girl. Likewise a scooped almost square neckline can look incredible on a bustier girl, but a small busted girl can look lost in this shape. There is a whole lot to consider. Accidentally buying a dress in the wrong size can be awful for us; an unflattering dress will never be pulled off our rails for appointments, and it will end up being a waste of money – especially frustrating if it could have been a great dress if purchased in a different size.
We try to cater for lots of different sizes and tend to stock mostly from size 14 to size 20, but I always like to have at least one dress in every size so every girl is able to try on something that fits well. I try to have a variety of silhouettes in all the different sizes, even if some people think girls of a certain size shouldn’t wear a particular silhouette. For example a lot of girls tend to think that if you are curvier then you need to go for a dress that hides your body, but my preference is for curvier girls to go for much more fitted shapes and an exaggerating silhouette. One of my absolute favourite dresses for a curvy girl is a very fitted satin fishtail. Likewise a lot of people feel a petite girl shouldn’t wear a very full skirt for fear it will overwhelm her, but certain full skirted gowns can be wonderful on a shorter bride.
I’ve been doing this job for nine years now and I’ve developed a good eye for what works and what doesn’t. I have a good instinct for which sizes to go for in each dress. As I see the model walking towards me on the catwalk my mind is going through a list of questions: Do I like it? Is the dress within our price bracket? Does it look worth the money? What size and body type do I think it will flatter the best?
I also have to think about the stock we already have. Before I go on my shopping trips I take a good look around our rails, I make a note of all the silhouettes we have and in what sizes and concentrate on any gaps we might have. I’ll then take a flick through our recent order folders and see which dresses worked the best for particular sizes. I might even do a poll on Facebook and ask our followers what they’d like to see hanging on our rails. I do a lot of research and normally it pays off.