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The Truth Behind Wedding Dress Sizes

When you get engaged or are asked to be a bridesmaid, of course you are overjoyed with excitement! You set the wedding date and you decide that now is the perfect time to work toward that "size 10" figure you have been dreaming of. After months of hard work, you reach your goal and schedule an appointment at the dress bouquet. You feel happy, healthy, and like a new woman! You have found the perfect style, you are ready to be measured and just when you expect to hear the consultant tell you to order a 10, you cannot help but feel defeated – did she just say a size 14?!? Excuse me.

Here's to breaking down the toughest wedding questions of all time – why on earth are the sizes SO off?

Shopping for wedding apparel has caused frustration among brides and bridesmaids for years. Just one simple Google search of “why do bridesmaid dresses run small?” will pull up hundreds of forums with outraged women, confused by their need to order styles significantly larger than their everyday size.

“They just want us to pay for alterations!” or “Are they trying to make us feel fat?” After spending no more than five minutes reading through these discussions, you will quickly find that these are popular complaints among a vast majority of women.

Much like weddings themselves, the industry is based on traditions. Although trends and styles have evolved over the past 50 years, the industry as a whole has not.

They’re not just trying to make you feel larger than you are! This is your wedding day, designers and retailers, alike, want you to feel BEAUTIFUL! But unfortunately, based on European sizing, most girls would be required to wear up to two sizes larger than what they normally wear in American sizing. For instance, a girl who normally wears an 8 at a department store would need to wear a 12 in a bridal or bridesmaid dress.

The problem is not necessarily that the size charts reflect European fashion, but is the fact they were created based on body types from decades years ago. As women in America have evolved, the charts have not.

Basics on Measuring for Sizing:

BUST:
Measure across the fullest part of your bust; this measurement is not equivalent to your bra size

NATURAL WAIST:
Measure the slimmest part of your waistline—above your navel, but below your rib cage

HIGH HIP:
Standing with your feet together, measure around the top of your hip bones
(roughly three inches below the waist)

LOW HIP:
Standing with your feet together, measure around the fullest part of your hip area
(roughly nine inches below the waist)

TWO major points to avoid sizing stress are:

Do not order based on the sample size. In-store samples have been tried on hundreds of times and chances are, the one you have tried on, has been stretched out. You would hate to order the size 10 that you tried on in-store, only to find out that a brand new one is actually way too small. Same goes for our At Home Try-On samples. While we know you want to see how the dresses fit before purchasing, you should just use the samples as a guideline. After trying on your dress(es), we recommend using the measuring tape that comes along with your package and taking your bust, waist and hip measurements before deciding on your size. Take a peek at our Measurement Guide for some guidelines.

Get measured. Professionals will always suggest that you take your measurements and refer to that specific product’s sizing chart. Every designer/brand runs a differently so be sure that you are referring to the correct one. And when in doubt, order up! While we know alterations are a pain, it is much easier to take bridesmaid dresses in (ours can be taken in up to two sizes!), than it is to let them out (ours can only be let out about ½” on each side). You also don’t want to get a size that’s too small and not have enough time before the wedding to exchange it for a new one!