Offbeat dress advice for plus-sized brides

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This is the Twilight dress, custom made by Uptight Clothing in the UK. Thanks toPlumage for the heads-up on this one!

Um. Yeah, so I have only one question.Ok — it's more a comment and plea for resources to be added than anything else.

There aren't a lot of resources out there for plus size brides, let alone plus size offbeat brides.


I haven't spent a lot of time talking about dresses for plus size brides because my advice to y'all is the same as my advice to everyone: HAVE YOUR DRESS CUSTOM MADE.

I don't care if you're a size 2 or a size 18, apple body, pear body, or cucumber body — a custom dress made to your exact measurements is going to fit you better than anything you could buy off the rack and will cost less than 90% of the dresses you'll find at any bridal salon.

Remember Angela's red wedding dress? Custom made.

What about Bree's stunning pin-up style dress? Custom made.

Honestly, I don't know why anyone even bothers with the demoralizing hell of bridal shops.

Regardless of your size or shape, you'll get the best fitting dress if you have it made for you.

My best advice? Start looking for a good local dressmaker. And if you're looking for plus-size inspiration, click here!

And if you're looking to buy a plus-size dress in-store, READ THIS POST ASAP!:

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Comments on Offbeat dress advice for plus-sized brides

  1. This isn’t the most budget-friendly bridal suggestion to ever be posted. How much does a custom dress even cost?

  2. Being off-beat doesn’t mean not spending gobs of money. I was under the impression that most people are here because of the non-traditional things they want at their wedding, not necessarily because of their budget.

    How does one find a good dressmaker? What should one look for?

    • Hey there!
      (As a seamstress who is currently in the middle of a wedding gown) a good dressmaker will work with you to find what works best for you as far as materials, style, and budget. They should have a good understanding of how fibers interact with heat/sweat/sunlight/water/other fibers, how to alter styles to flatter individual body types, and how to cut cost corners without compromising on quality.
      Example: The bride is on a budget, so we decided the underlayers for the dress are synthetic (poly satin and poly organza), whereas the visible layers are more luxurious (cotton chiffon and re-embroidered laces) , and has a detachable layer accenting the bodice instead of attached sleeves. The waistline was also raised to hit at the narrowest point and be the most flattering.

  3. Sien: I don’t know what your standards for “budget dress” are (it’s all relative), but compared to a bridal salon, having your wedding dress custom made is absolutely the budget route. My custom-made dress cost $400, in part because I ordered materials off of eBay.

    OBT members like Jada and Katelin have ordered custom dresses in the $200 range from offshore vendors. Compare this to the THOUSANDS that many bridal salons charge for dresses.

    I’m in the process of building a list of great custom dressmakers, going off of recommendations from forum members. You can follow along on the OBT over here.

  4. Ariel I hope it’s ok that I’m posting this, I posted it in the plus size bridez group on OBB:

    I’m getting my wedding dress custom-made and I’m so glad I went this route. As a size 16 and after watching my size 14 sister struggle to find places who even had things in her size to try on, and then settling for something at David’s Bridal, I knew I was going to get a custom dress. Things NEVER fit me off the rack anyway and I did not want to deal with the aggravation!

    Luckily, I have a lady who lives & works in my neighborhood who owns an alterations/custom gowns shop and she is making me the exact dress I want for $250 plus fabric! So cheap! I can’t believe more people don’t do this.

    My dress is mostly based on this design:

    I went and tried it on Saturday and it’s coming along perfect! I have a few more fittings to go but I’m so excited about this. Here are my tips:

    1. Know what styles work on your body. I’m extremely pear-shaped so I knew I wanted a low neckline, ruched waist and lots of structure up top to emphasize my small waist and bust and a more flowy bottom to de-emphasize my wider hips and butt and bring everything into proportion. Take a brutally honest friend and go to a store that has dresses in your size and try on different styles, don’t even think about wedding gowns. Find a garment construction that works for you and go with that style of dress. What looks good on me is going to look not as good on an apple-shaped girl and vice versa.

    2. Once you find a style you like, shop around for a seamstress. Lots of people make custom gowns, ask to see some samples, pay attention to quality, look at the seams, ask to see photographs, etc.

    3. Once you find the one you like, bring in as many photos as possible to show garment construction, color, style, fabric, etc. Your seamstress will probably have her own opinions on what will work fabric-wise (my dress would work in silk or satin but wouldnt have a chance of holding up in charmeuse). Settle on what you need and go fabric shopping or take her with you to do so.

    4. Turn it over to her. Be brutally honest at the fitting, if you don’t like the way something’s fitting, make sure she does it your way. You have to live with the dress!

    5. Have fun! Designing your own wedding dress is awesome.

  5. Ohhh! Resources! Ariel, you are a dream come true. I’m starting to work on this angle myself, and I’m finding that the problem is that people who say they do “custom wedding dresses” mark up their prices to double what they should be. Sadly, since I want a white lace dress, not a sassy red dress, I can’t really pretend it’s just for a “party.” GAH! Tips??

    Also: I think custom can be budget, in many ways. What if you have a friend or loved one make it? What if you make it yourself? What if you find a seamstress on etsy? Honestly, I’d rather know that whatever I spend is going into the pocket of a crafty go-getter, rather then bride-salon-o-rama that paid a overseas seamstress $0.50 a day.

    Annnddd… because I can’t quite resist… some of us feel, I think, that *not* spending gobs of money on our wedding is our offbeat statement, as much or more then wearing a red dress.

  6. If you’ve never tried to get something custom-made before, the idea can sound daunting. But it won’t be that hard, and it shouldn’t be that expensive. Expect to pay for the fabric and for the skills/time of the dressmaker. The cost of the fabric is within your control, and if you don’t have much money to pay a dressmaker, choose a simple dress style without lots of intricate details.

    Some tips on finding someone to make your dress/wedding outfit:

    * If you already go to a tailor for alterations — which I do, and no, I’m not rich, just shaped differently than the “average” size 20-22 — ask the tailor if he/she does custom work or knows someone who does.

    * Is there a university in your area that has a fashion major or a theater costuming major? If so, see if you can find a student who has experience with dresses/skirts/whatever it is that you want. I went to college with someone who was an engineering major but had lots of sewing experience and worked in the college costume shop; she made her own Renaissance garb and later made me my first Goth outfit. I’m actually having my wedding “outfit” — a corset and skirt — made by a friend of mine who is studying fashion at the local university. She chose her major after spending a few years designing and making corsets for a burlesque group, so I know that she’s qualified.

    * If you don’t know a tailor (or know someone who does) and there aren’t any students nearby, poke around online to find a message board where these questions have been asked for your area. I am mostly annoyed by, but it’s had the best information about venues in my city that I’ve been able to find.

    * If not of the above work for you, try the Internet. My partner and I are planning a Goth-ish wedding, and I’ve found several Web sites with custom Goth clothing that will work with our look — and I believe I found them through the Offbeat Bride discussion boards. I’ve also gotten some good information from LiveJournal’s Wedding Planning community.

    The bride who asked the question sounded frustrated, and I agree that it’s frustrating. Someone else commented here that you need to know what shapes look good on you, and that’s absolutely true — I look best in a corset and skirt if I’m not wearing pants; hence I stopped trying on big dresses that made me look bigger and realized that I need to play to my already known strengths. I think it will come to you if you look at a LOT of photos online and do a lot of thinking about what you’re wearing when you feel like a million bucks.

  7. Sien, lots of custom-made wedding dresses are way less expensive than even the least expensive of the dresses you can get in bridal salons. A friend of mine is designing mine and her current estimate is $300 plus fabric (and I’m making her charge me full price!). Of course, more complicated dresses in more expensive fabrics will be more, but still nowhere near what you’d pay for something similar in a salon.

  8. I found my dress shopping experience to be rather pleasant. I went to David’s Bridal on a Wednesday afternoon during a snowstorm and was one of three brides in the place. I explained to the lady that I didn’t have a date, venue, or style in mind. I just wanted to look. She left me alone and I ended up finding a dress for $350 that fits me perfectly.

    • lucky you; when I went, they wouldnt’ let me look at anything until I had filled out more paperwork than it took to apply to college. I finally got rid fo all the extra emails I got from them, after 3 months! (Although I must say, everyone at the store was super sweet and very very helpful)

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