Since it's now officially alterations season, we've decided to start regularly sharing tips to guide you through the troubled waters of getting that "perfect fit" on your wedding dress. You know the not too loose, not to tight, touches the ground but doesn't drag, streamlined bustle, secure but lightweight beautiful fit. So, how does it happen?
Well, the great thing about wedding dresses is that they're designed to fit you the way garment "use to be made". That's right, the wistful longings of an era where off the rack didn't exist, everything was custom, and everything fit like a glove... it was a very different time with no numbers on the inside tag, and often no tag at all! So, how do we get there?
It all starts with the sample, that's what you try on first with us. Awkward, usually laughably huge or small, with clips, panels, and all kind of contraptions in the back to give you the best sense of what we're working with. This is the stage that requires the most imagination (and explanation) so you know what it'll ultimately look like on you. Most samples in a store will all be one size, and are really there to give you a sense of the big picture: fabric, shape, color, proportion. We talk through anything we see that won't be there on your dress (an off pucker or wear and tear) and help you visualize the end result. Once we've found the sample of the right style, we take measurements to find your size. Basically, we figure out the basic info to get a designer to give us a workable dress, a number size that coordinates with their patterns. That means nothing is too tight, the dress can hang naturally, line up on your body, and get its custom fit from there. Rarely if ever to dresses fit straight in from the designer, this is just to get us close so we can do the finish work with you.
Then, it's on to alterations. This is really when the dress takes its final shape. Now that a brand new beautiful dress is on you, we can start adjusting everything. Nipping in a bust line, shortening the hem, setting a bustle. This is the custom fit part of your custom gown. It's all an art as opposed to a science, so often there will be choices and decisions to be made: take the hip in or leave it, french or english bustle, cup or no cup? There's not really a right answer, except that you want the fit that's the most secure, makes you feel the most beautiful, and doesn't fight what the designer made. Our seamstress matches the natural lines of the dress with the natural lines of your body, to create something that works for you.
Things you should know: If certain elements are important to you in your dress, make sure they can be accomodated, and don't fight the design: low backs will usually mean less bust support, open backs definitely don't allow for a cinched waist. A light, floaty gown will not work skin tight and won't hold you in, a fitted gown will probably need to be hiked up a little to allow you to sit. Think of your seamstress as your guide through the wild world of custom garments, and let their expertise steer you in the right direction. And if something doesn't feel right, speak up, because they also won't automatically know if you need something just by looking at the outside of the dress. And in the end, you'll arrive with a beautifully cut dress that's truly been designed to fit you and only you.