Wedding Alterations

So, you’ve got a special occasion coming up and you’re on the hunt for the perfect dress. But here’s the million-dollar question: is it better to buy a dress too big or too small? Well, don’t worry, because we’ve got the tips you need to help you choose the right dress size. It’s all about finding that sweet spot where the dress fits you like a glove, with just enough room to breathe and move comfortably. This means knowing your measurements and understanding that sometimes a little help from a tailor, seamstress, alteration expert, bridal tailor, or wedding seamstress can make all the difference. 


Is it better to buy a wedding dress too big or too small?

Finding the perfect dress that fits you like a glove can often be a challenging task. With so many different body types, sizing charts, and dress styles available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, with a little guidance and knowledge, you can navigate the world of dress shopping seamlessly. From understanding your body type to considering dress styles and budgeting for alterations, this comprehensive guide will help you choose the right size of dress that flatters your figure and makes you feel confident.


Consider Your Body Type


If you have an apple-shaped body, your midsection is the widest part of your body. The key to finding the right size dress for this body type is to draw attention away from the waistline and create a balanced look. Opt for dresses with Empire waistlines that cinch just below the bust and flow away from the midsection, creating a slimming effect.


A pear-shaped body means that your hips are wider than your bust. When choosing a dress, go for styles that accentuate your waist and help balance out your figure. Fit-and-flare dresses or A-line silhouettes are perfect for pear-shaped bodies as they cinch at the waist and flare out towards the bottom, enhancing your curves in all the right places.


For those blessed with an hourglass figure, where your bust and hips are well-balanced, the goal is to highlight your curves. Consider dresses that hug your waist and emphasize your hourglass shape. Look for styles like sheath dresses or mermaid silhouettes that will accentuate your figure and leave you feeling like a true bombshell.


If you have a rectangle-shaped body, your bust, waist, and hips tend to have a similar width. The aim here is to create the illusion of curves. Choose dresses that add volume or create the illusion of a defined waist. A-line dresses with cinched belts or ballgown styles with full skirts can help create a more dynamic silhouette.


Know Your Measurements


Knowing your bust measurement is crucial when determining the right size dress. Start by measuring the fullest part of your bust with a measuring tape held horizontally around your back. Make sure the tape is snug but not too tight. Note down the measurement, as this will help you find the perfect fit for your upper body.


For accurate dress sizing, measuring your waist correctly is essential. Take the measuring tape and wrap it around your natural waistline, which is usually the smallest part of your torso. Stand up straight and breathe naturally while taking this measurement. Jot it down to ensure you choose a dress that cinches in at your waist perfectly.


To determine your hip measurement, stand with your feet together and wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your hips, usually around 7-9 inches below your waist. When measuring, ensure the tape is horizontal, parallel to the floor, and neither too tight nor too loose. This measurement will help you find a dress that flatters your curves and falls smoothly over your hips.


Different Brands, Different Sizes

Know the Sizing Chart

One of the first things you should do before shopping for a dress is familiarize yourself with the brand’s sizing chart. Keep in mind that sizes can vary between brands, so it’s essential not to rely solely on your usual dress size. Take accurate measurements of your bust, waist, and hips, and compare them to the brand’s sizing chart to find your best fit.

Check Customer Reviews

Reading customer reviews can provide valuable insights into the fit and sizing of a particular brand or dress. Look for reviews from individuals with similar body types and measurements to get a better understanding of how the dress will look and feel on you. Pay attention to mentions of whether the dress runs true to size or if adjustments might be necessary.

Consult a Salesperson

If you’re shopping in a physical store, don’t hesitate to consult a salesperson for guidance. These professionals often have expertise in helping customers find the right size and style. Provide them with your measurements, body type, and preferred dress style, and they can suggest options that will suit you best. Their knowledge and experience can be invaluable when making your purchase decision.


Understanding Dress Sizing

US Sizes

In the United States, dress sizes typically range from 0 to 24, with different brands offering variations within this range. Keep in mind that these sizes are not standardized across all brands, and it’s essential to refer to each brand’s sizing chart to find your perfect fit.

UK Sizes

UK dress sizes follow a similar range to US sizes, but the numbers may differ. It’s crucial to again refer to the specific brand’s sizing chart to determine your UK dress size accurately.

European Sizes

European dress sizes use a numerical system ranging from 32 to 60. This sizing system is not consistent across all brands, so double-check the brand’s sizing chart to ensure you select the right European dress size.

Asian Sizes

Asian dress sizes use a numerical system but tend to run smaller compared to US, UK, and European sizes. If you’re purchasing from an Asian brand, it’s advisable to size up or consult the brand’s sizing chart and customer reviews to find your best fit.


Try Before You Buy

Visit the Store

If possible, visit a physical store to try on dresses before making a purchase. Trying on different styles, sizes, and silhouettes can help you determine what flatters your figure and makes you feel comfortable and confident. Take the time to experiment and choose the dress that accentuates your best features and makes you feel amazing.

Utilize Fitting Rooms

Fitting rooms are your best friend when it comes to finding the perfect dress size. Don’t hesitate to bring multiple sizes into the fitting room, even if you think you know your size. Trying on different sizes can help you identify the ideal fit for your body. Pay attention to how the dress feels on your body, whether it’s too tight or too loose, and how it flatters your figure. If alterations may be needed, take note of them and discuss them with a tailor later.


Consider the Dress Style


A-line dresses are a versatile and forgiving style that flatters most body types. This classic dress shape cinches at the waist and gently flows outwards, resembling the shape of an uppercase “A.” Whether you prefer knee-length or floor-length, an A-line dress is a safe and comfortable choice that can be dressed up or down for any occasion.


If you’re looking for a show-stopping and formal dress, a ballgown might be the perfect choice for you. This style features a fitted bodice and a full skirt that flares out dramatically. Ballgowns work well for special events, such as weddings or galas, and can accentuate your waist and create a princess-like effect.


Sheath dresses are characterized by their slim silhouette that follows the contours of the body. These dresses are perfect for showcasing your figure and creating a sleek and elegant look. A sheath dress can be appropriate for both casual and formal occasions, depending on the fabric and design.


If you’re ready to embrace your curves and make a statement, a mermaid dress may be the perfect choice. This style is fitted throughout the bodice and hips, then flares out dramatically at or below the knee, resembling the shape of a mermaid’s tail. Mermaid dresses are often chosen for formal events, as they exude glamour and confidence.

Empire Waist

Empire waist dresses feature a high waistline that falls just below the bust, creating a romantic and ethereal look. This style is perfect for those who want to draw attention away from the midsection or accentuate their bust. Empire waist dresses are versatile and can be worn for both casual and formal occasions.


Gauge the Comfort Level


When choosing a dress, pay attention to the fabric used. Opt for materials that are breathable, lightweight, and comfortable against your skin. Fabrics like cotton, silk, chiffon, or jersey can provide flexibility and ease of movement, allowing you to feel at ease throughout the day or event.


Consider how the dress allows for movement. Lift your arms, walk around, and sit down in the dress to gauge its flexibility and range of motion. Ensure that the dress does not restrict your movement or cause discomfort when engaging in regular activities.

Breathing Space

It’s crucial to choose a dress that allows you to breathe comfortably. Avoid selecting sizes that are too tight, as this can restrict your breathing and cause discomfort. Opt for a size that allows for enough breathing space and leaves you feeling comfortable and at ease.


Consider Body Changes

Weight Loss or Gain

If you’re currently undergoing or planning for significant weight loss or gain, consider how it may affect the dress size you choose. Keep in mind that alterations might be necessary if your body measurements change significantly. It’s advisable to consult a tailor for advice on how to accommodate potential weight fluctuations when selecting a dress size.


If you’re pregnant or planning to be in the near future, it’s essential to consider how your body will change during this time. Maternity dresses are specifically designed to accommodate a growing belly and provide comfort throughout pregnancy. However, if you choose a non-maternity dress, consider selecting a size that allows room for your expanding belly.

Proportional Adjustments

Some individuals may have different measurements for their bust, waist, and hips, making it challenging to find a dress that fits perfectly in all areas. In such cases, altering the dress to achieve a proportional fit may be necessary. A tailor can help adjust the dress to your specific measurements, creating a customized fit that flatters your figure.


Consult a Tailor or Seamstress

Professional Expertise

When in doubt about the right dress size or fit, it’s always a good idea to consult a tailor. These professionals have a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to dress alterations. They can guide you in selecting the right size, offer advice on which styles will suit your body type best, and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.

Accurate Measurements

Take your accurate body measurements to the tailor and communicate your specific desires and concerns regarding the dress fit. They will take precise measurements of your bust, waist, hips, and any other relevant areas to ensure the dress flatters your figure and highlights your best features.

Alteration Recommendations

Based on your measurements and the dress’s design, a professional tailor can recommend the necessary alterations to achieve the desired fit. Whether it’s taking in the waist, shortening the hemline, or adjusting the bust area, their expertise will help ensure the dress fits you perfectly, accentuating your figure and enhancing your confidence.


Budget for Alterations

Additional Costs

When budgeting for a dress, it’s important to consider the potential additional cost of alterations. While some off-the-rack dresses may fit you perfectly, others may require some adjustments to achieve the desired fit. Keep in mind that alterations can vary in cost depending on the complexity of the changes needed and the expertise of the professional performing them.

Discuss with the Seller or Designer

Before making a purchase, it’s worth discussing potential alterations with the seller or designer. Some brands or stores may offer complimentary or discounted alterations, especially for wedding dresses or formal gowns. It’s always beneficial to inquire about these options and negotiate pricing to ensure your dress fits your budget.

Plan Ahead

If you know alterations will be required, make sure to plan ahead. Alterations often take time, and it’s important not to rush the process. Start shopping for your dress early, allowing ample time for alterations to be made before your event. This way, you can avoid any last-minute stress and ensure your dress fits perfectly.

In conclusion, choosing the right size of dress involves understanding your body type, knowing your measurements, considering different dress styles, and taking into account the potential need for alterations. By following these tips and consulting professionals along the way, you can find a dress that not only fits you perfectly but also flatters your figure, boosts your confidence, and makes you feel incredible for any occasion. So go ahead, embrace your unique body shape, and choose a dress that celebrates the beauty within you.