A long-neglected segment of the bridal market is finally coming into its own: Plus-Size Wedding Dresses.
It's about time!
Designers and the wedding industry at large have realized that the average woman may not be model-thin, but she IS fashion savvy—and confident enough to show off her curves! It's great that today's plus-size brides have a variety of on-trend options when shopping for their dream gown, but there are a few considerations unique to her experience.
- Rethink the strapless. Illusion necklines, cap sleeves that accent the shoulders and collarbone, and spaghetti straps that—oops! fall down coquettishly can be even sexier then the ever-popular strapless dress. Plus, you won't be tugging up your bodice all night long (or risk a wardrobe malfunction during the bouquet toss!).
- Structure is your friend. Start with a properly structured bodice, and almost anything else will work from there. Well-crafted corsetry lifts and cinches in all the right places, and adds a bit of retro sex appeal. A-line gowns are a fashion classic for a reason—they provide a universally flattering silhouette that slims the waist, without creating the volume of some ball gowns. Feeling a bit more daring? Flaunt your curves with a fit & flare dress or even a more dramatic mermaid style (especially complimentary to balanced full-figure women).
- Comfort is key. Even though a boned bodice is going to help you look your best, you'll want it to deliver on comfort, too. Gowns of the highest-quality craftsmanship ensure that you'll both look and feel amazing throughout your entire celebration, and not just in front of the bridal shop mirror.
- It's all in the details. Feminine details like satin ribbons or sparkly belts help define your natural waist, while strategically placed fabric weave, lace, and embroidery move the eye along your body in a way that detracts from perceived imperfections.
- Beware of bright white. While it's unlikely you'll want to wear a slimming all-black bridal gown (though that would be awfully chic!), steer clear of bright white, which is actually challenging for many brides. Instead, opt for a softer shade like ivory or off-white—or even color if it's flattering (Vera Wang's 2019 collection is in a regal gold!).
Dresses For The Curvaceous Bride – The Designers We Love:
Some designers actually specialize in creating glam gowns for real women, rather than simply "sizing up". You want a designer that understands and appreciates your body type! Some of our faves:
- Allure Women
- Graceful and confident gowns in sizes ranging from 14W–32W.
- Essense of Australia
- Exquisite details and curve-hugging silhouettes with built-in bustiers in sizes up to 34/36.
- Justin Alexander
- This popular bridal designer recently launched a plus-size collection sizes 18–32 that includes shapewear mesh right in the lining!
- Morilee by Madeline Gardner Julietta Collection
- Feminine and traditional with lots of embellishments in sizes ranging from 16–32.
- Theia Curve Collection
- Theia's designer has dressed celebrities like Oprah and Rebel Wilson, and this new collection in sizes 18–24 makes full-figured brides feel like stars. (Sold exclusively at Lovely Bride.)
- Wtoo by Watters
- Affordable, feminine, fun, and versatile in sizes up to 32W.
When it comes to shopping for a plus-size wedding dress, size matters! It usually comes as a surprise to brides that bridal salons don't typically carry all dresses in all sizes. In fact, the majority of bridal "samples" (the gown you'll try on in the store) are stocked in sizes 8, 10, and 12.
To make matters more complicated, bridal gown sizes do not correspond to regular clothing sizes (they're generally smaller), so your best bet is to ignore the number and focus on the fit and feel. Bottom line: You won't necessarily be trying on the actual dress—or even the actual size—at your dress shopping appointment. What's a curvy gal to do?
- Look for a shop that carries a wider selection of plus sizes. A little advance research can save you from disappointment. Don't just ask if a shop carries a certain designer in a size 22 (many designers will let you ORDER a gown in a larger size). Instead, inquire about the selection of plus-size gown SAMPLES (i.e., "I want to actually try some dresses on, not have the salesgirl hold them up to me in front of the mirror!").
- Ask the right questions. If you've filled up your Pinterest board with styles that appeal to you visually, then you'll have a short list of designers that you resonate with. That's useful in a couple of ways:
- When you contact stores to inquire about their plus-size sample selection, you can dig a little deeper to find out if they carry plus-size samples of, say, Stella York's Boho collection—thus curating your shopping experience.
- This also communicates your fashion dreams to your consultant, who might then suggest similar gowns that she actually has in the store.
- Measure for the size you are now. You may be following a nutrition and/or fitness regimen so you can look and feel great on your wedding day, but don't buy your dress expecting to have achieved your goal. It's always easier to take in a gown than to let one out.
- Shop with the right partner. Bring along a friend or relative whose judgment you trust, and who you can count on to (nicely) tell you the straight scoop. The salesperson may ooh and ahh, but your true bestie will give you their honest thumbs up or down.
- Don't forget the foundation. Whether it's your most reliable pair of Spanx or your go-to strapless bra, what you wear underneath the gown can drastically change how things look on the outside. Even if you end up purchasing specialty lingerie for the final ensemble, be sure you're dressed for success underneath when you shop.
- Don't shy away from sample sales. Sample sales are a great way to get a designer gown for less, and they're also the best solution for brides with a short planning timeline. But wait, aren't most samples in bridal sizes 8 to 12? Yes, but the salons that typically stock plus-size samples will include these dazzlers in their blowout sales, too! And it's okay to ask their size range ahead of time. BTW, more and more designer trunk shows that embrace larger sizes are popping up, so keep an eye out for these exclusive opportunities.
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