Friday, January 15, 2010

Why do bridal sizes run so small?

Why do boutiques "make" brides order larger sizes? Is it true that they try to make money on alterations? This is always a touchy subject. Nobody wants to order a size 10 when they wear a size 4 in ready-to-wear.
I know a lot of us out there think that bridal boutiques are "making" you order larger sizes so they can make money off of the alteration costs. I can't speak for the other boutiques but since we do not offer alteration services I can promise you that is not what we are doing. And I can explain how the system works and why we encourage you to order the sizes that we do. That might shed some light on why bridal sizing doesn't always match up with what you typically wear in ready-to-wear apparel and why alterations are sometimes required.
Each wedding dress manufacturer has their own size chart. And they are all different! It would be great if there was a standard size chart used for all manufacturers...but unfortunately there is not. So you may find yourself ordering a size 10 from one designer and a size 6 from another.
Also, some of the bridal size charts are based on the standard measurements from years ago. Throughout time the fashion industry decided that they would use smaller sizes for vanity purposes. Let's face it...we know we do it...if we are fitting into that size 0 that we normally never would we end up buying it! So this is what many designers have done - it is called vanity sizing. And many bridal designers have not changed their size charts to reflect this. So in ready-to-wear what is now a size 0 for some designers used to be a size 4. But in bridal it is still a size 4.
Okay, so here is how the bridal sizing process works:
  1. You are measured - this usually requires measuring the fullest part of the bust, narrowest part of the waist, and fullest part of the hips.
  2. Your measurements are then compared to the designer's size chart.
  3. The boutique recommends the size that you should order based on your largest measurement.
For example, if Jane's measurements fall into a size 8 for the bust, size 12 for waist and size 8 for the hips Jane would probably require a size 12. If she orders a size 8 to fit her bust and hips the dress will be way too snug in her waist and will not zip up! Of course, this is if the style of the dress is fitted at the waist. The style of the dress should also be taken into consideration when determining the dress size. If the dress Jane was ordering had an empire waist she may be okay with ordering a size 8.

At Miss Ruby we want you to be comfortable with the size you are purchasing so we make sure to explain to you where exactly you fall on the size chart, what size we recommend and why and where you'll most likely need alterations. Since most bridal & bridesmaid gowns are made-to-order and non-returnable you definitely don't want to order a dress that is too small.

So here are a few things to keep in mind when ordering. If you take all of these into consideration when ordering you will know what to expect when being sized and what you'll get when the dress comes in!

Since everyone’s shape is different most girls don't fit perfectly within the size charts. That is why alterations are sometimes needed.
  • In most cases your dress is ordered based on where your measurements fall on the size chart - not custom made to your exact measurements.
  • All dress designers have different size charts.
  • Make sure that the style of the dress is taken into consideration when determining your dress size.
  • Be aware - ask to see your measurements as well as the size chart.
  • Ask questions - if you are unclear on why we are ordering the size that we are ask for an explanation.
  • Most respectable boutiques are on your side - they want the dress to fit you perfectly and want you to have the minimal amount of alterations possible. The staff is educated on how to size you appropriately - so have trust in them.
  • Make sure to listen – the consultant will explain to you why they suggest ordering the specific size. Listen up so that when your dress arrives and alterations are needed you are not surprised!


Meghan said...

This is a great topic, Erin! Thanks for educating Milwaukee brides on this touchy subject.

Rachel Travers said...

Thank you so much for the information...I've been having such anxiety after finding out that the dress size I had to order was a size 20! I almost passed out! I am normally a 14/16 and the woman at the store was very quick to try and explain it to me an not very clearly I might add. So thank you for the thorough explanation!