Having your wedding dress altered is a necessary part of wedding planning, and it is quite an undertaking in itself. Wedding and formal gowns are not made from the fabrics that we are used to wearing everyday. These fabrics are not typically "stretchy" so they need to be altered to fit your shape. All gowns are structured differently and each woman has her own contours that are unique to her, the key is to mold the dress to your body shape while keeping the integrity of the gown design. The good news is that most formal gowns are made with alterations in mind, the bad news; this takes time and multiple fittings.
The most common misconception that I see with alterations is that people don't understand why it takes more than one fitting, or why the dress is not perfect at the second fitting. Depending on the dress, the person, and the type of alteration it can take several fittings to get a dress just right.
"Show up with an open mind. It may take more than one appointment to get a perfect fit, so don't despair if the dress puckers or pinches." Randy Fenoli - Much Ado About Alterations
If you are in the alteration process, please be patient with your seamstress, remember she/he is trying to mold this delicate, unforgiving fabric to the shape of your body, and that is not an easy task. Everything that is done to one part of dress can affect another part, which it is not always predictable.
For more information on this subject please read; Much Ado About Alterations, a must read article about the alteration process based on an interview with Randy Fenoli of Say Yes to the Dress.
· Begin your search for your prom dress early. You may not have a date yet, but you will want to start looking at fashion magazines and stores as early as three to four months before your prom.
· Make sure you don't pick one that everyone else will have; you should be different. Just be yourself.
· Plan your budget for your prom dress and begin saving as soon as possible. Be sure to allow extra cash for small accessories like hair clips, shoes, and jewelry.
· Watch some celebrity red carpet events and take notes on your favorite styles. You may just be able to find a similar prom dress in your local boutique.
· Try on dresses in a variety of different styles and cuts to find the one that works best for your body. If you have a slim figure, you may look best in a sheath-style dress that shows off your silhouette. If you are curvy, you may want to consider an A-line dress that will highlight your waist and minimize your hips and thighs. Don’t be afraid to try on something that you hate on the hanger. Some dresses are just not hanger dresses, but they look great when you get them on a body.
· Start shopping for shoes and accessories at least 2 months in advance of the Prom. This way, you can try on your shoes, bag, and dress all together at the dress shop. Most dresses will need to be hemmed to the right length and having your shoes prior to making alterations is a must.
· Plan to choose and purchase your prom dress at least four to six weeks before your prom. Most formal gowns (including prom dresses) require alterations for a perfect fit, and you will want to allow enough time to complete these alterations.
· A couple of weeks before your prom, try on your dress with your shoes, jewelry, make-up, and hairstyle to be sure you like the finished look. Walk and move around in your prom dress a little to give it a comfort check and to make sure there will be no wardrobe malfunction. Even the most well made garment can loose a hook or pop a zipper.
· On the night of your prom, make sure you wear a button-up or large neck shirt that you can remove easily once your hair and makeup are done. This will prevent any make-up smudges, or heaven forbid, pulling you hair down before the big night.
Knockoff dresses being sold online are a huge issue in the formalwear industry right now. This has been a problem facing us for the past few years and as prom season approaches I would just like to remind everyone of the dangers of shopping online for your prom gown.
Overseas manufactures are actually counterfeiting gowns from the actual designers which, is an illegal practice. One of the best ways to tell if you are looking at a knockoff is the price. If the price online is much cheaper than the authorized retailers price then most likely you are going to receive a very cheaply made version of the original dress. Remember, if it's too good to be true it probably is.
Problems associated with buying a gown online:
These are all problem that we have encountered personally with customers who chose to order online thinking they were getting a great deal. In the end not so much, they wind up spending more money than they would have to begin with if they had purchased the dress from an authorized retailer.
This article is geared more toward the prom customer, but it does happen to brides on a regular basis as well. There is nothing like having a bride come in the week of her wedding to get a gown because the one she ordered online did not arrive or it was a disaster when it did arrive.
Remember that retailers do have affordable options if you are on a tight budget and for us personally we have payment plans and will work with you so you can have the dress of your dreams. These are special moments that do not happen very often in a lifetime, we should be creating good memories. Do you really want to look back and say; "Man, my special occasion was a complete disaster."?
This is the third and final part to our Boutique vs. Big Box series. If you missed any you can read part one here and part two here.
The second myth I would like to talk about is price. I really believe that brides think that the only way to pay a reasonable price for a wedding dress is to go to one of the big box stores. Again, not true. There are numerous small bridal shops that have very reasonably priced merchandise in their store, ours being one of them. We have the most amazing gowns and not one gown in my store is over $965 at present. I make it a goal to seek out the designers who produce good quality merchandise without the hefty price tag. Most often they are lesser known designers and companies who do not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising each year, but that does not affect the quality of their designs. It allows them to put more focus into manufacturing and designing while passing the savings on to the end consumer.
We all know about the fabled gown sales that draw tons of brides through the doors. If you are one of the lucky ones that finds a gown, great, only keep in mind the selection you have on those gowns are not usually what they're cracked up to be. All small bridal boutiques will also have a clearance rack, so if you are on a tight budget, make sure you check those out as well. There are great deals out there to be found sometimes it just takes a little digging.
Finally, if you do wind up spending a little more money at a smaller boutique, I can just about promise you, that the service received will more that make up for it. For most of us this is not only our lively-hood but also our passion in life. We are not just trying to make a quota, get the first bride back out the door so the next one can take her place. We spend time with our clients, get to know them and their families. We laugh with them and cry with them. You are a name, you are an individual, not just another number.
I had the opportunity to visit one of the "big box" bridal & prom stores a few weeks ago. It was certainly not my main mission to go to this store, but I was in the area, so of course I had to stop in to see what it was all about.
I was there for at least 15 to 20 minutes, walked by 3 sales associates, and not one greeted me or asked if I needed any help. I also observed a young girl shopping for a formal dress. Based on how young she looked, I am assuming it was the first time she had every purchased, or tried on anything formal. She was walking aimlessly around the store, in a dress that was completely wrong for her, followed by her mom and a friend. I felt so sorry for her because I could see the frustration mounting on her face. At no point did I see a sales associate offer any help or advice to this young girl, who was so completely and obviously out of her element.
Shopping for formal-wear is much different that shopping for ready-wear clothing, and when you don't have someone who knows about formal-wear to guide you it can be a very frustrating experience.
I know that big box stores have there place and that we all shop at them for one reason or another, myself included. I also think that small stores have a lot of stereotypes that get placed on them that are not fair or true. We really have a lot more to offer than people might think.
Stayed tuned for part two of this series where I will begin to discuss common myth's about bridal boutiques, how they can compete with the big chains, and give the consumer a better experience to boot.
There is this huge misconception that there is SUPPOSE to be or HAS to be some big emotional display when choosing a wedding dress and it's just not true for everyone. I see brides begin to question their decision because someone else thinks (and says) there has to be tears involved. For some people that is the case and that is perfectly fine, that's why we keep the tissue box close at hand. But for those of you who are not prone to emotional display it is also perfectly acceptable that you DON'T cry when you choose your dress. Don't let someone else tell you how you need to feel or how you should behave. Only about 10% of our brides are actually brought to tears when they find "the one", another 30% dance and giggle, and the other 60% just can't get enough mirror time. The world is made up with people of all different personalities and we all handle each situation differently. Some people choose things based solely on the emotion of how it makes them feel while others are more methodical about their selections. Neither way is wrong they're just different, and that's OK!
Please! Do not let someone else talk you out of saying yes to your dress because they say you are suppose to cry, jump up and down, faint, cut cartwheels or any number of other silly notions that people sometimes have. You will know when you have found your dress and no one else. Except maybe your bridal consultant because we have become pretty good knowing ;)
We are offering two new services to outside customers that we have not offered before and made some changes to our current in-house services.
1. Alteration Appointments
If you purchased your gown with us you can make an alteration appointment free of charge. All you pay is our contract seamstress for the alterations. Bridal Traditions never profits from the alteration work.
For outside customers we will be happy to schedule an alteration appointment at the store with our contract seamstress for a small appointment fee. We use the same professional alteration expert for all appointments whether you purchased your dress here or at another location.
2. Gown and Dress Steaming
We are now offering to press or steam dresses that were not purchased at Bridal Traditions for a steaming fee. We have also changed our steaming policies for dresses that were purchased at Bridal Traditions. We still include a free steaming with any regular price dress purchase, but going forward there will be a discounted fee for steaming a clearance or discounted dress.
3. Gown Preservation
This is not a new service to us but we thought we should mention it again. Bring your dress in after the wedding and we can have it cleaned and preserved for you for one low fee. We do accept gowns that were purchased elsewhere, but if you do buy from us you receive a significant discount on your preservation cost.
Please visit the website for more details and a list of fees for any of these services.
None of us want to go into a store and think that we are 2 sizes larger than we are, but that is exactly what happens when you shop for formal attire. As a general rule most formal dresses are going to be about 1 to 2 sizes smaller than our regular clothes. Unless you shop for formal attire on a regular basis, which most of us don't, this can be an upsetting discovery. But, I have good news! It happens to EVERYONE. Whether you are a 2 or 22, (in most cases) you will need a larger dress size than street clothing. It's just a fact, and I don't think manufactures are going to change that any time soon. You have to remember that you did not magically grow the moment you walked into the store, you are still the same size you were. So, my advice to anyone shopping for formal...Don't look at the size tag, look at yourself in the dress and pay attention to how the dress makes you feel. If you feel like a million bucks does it really matter what the label says?
Thank you to our beautiful model Jordan for helping us with our comparison.