Plus-size snowflake seeks last-minute bridesmaid dress
July 3, 2014 9:58 AM   Subscribe

As of last night, I've been drafted as a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding. Problem: the dress she picked for her bridesmaids is going to be...difficult...for me to pull off. Snowflakes within!

So, yeah, I'm kinda freaking out a little for a number of reasons. She's going through David's Bridal for her dresses, and their size range tops out at 26. At the moment I'm a size 28, and furthermore a very very busty one at that, so a bra is non-negotiable.

My question is twofold:

1) How magical are the alterations people at David's Bridal? Can they somehow make a 26 work on me? I've been given leave to pick any dress, so long as it's knee-length, not satin, and comes in the "Regency" shade of purple.

2) If option 1) fails, can you point me towards any royal purple 4X/28W dresses that meet those general requirements?

Other pertinent details: the wedding is in mid-August, and my budget is $150ish.
posted by Vervain to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here are all of the Regency purple bridesmaid dresses for everyone who wants to help you shop.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:01 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

First question: have you actually measured yourself against their size chart? Most of my friends have found that they are much larger than the standard off-the-rack sizes, ostensibly so they can be tailored in as needed. It's harder to let out a dress than it is to nip it in where needed.

Here's the size chart for the dress linked in your question. I'd figure out if you're close to those sizes before moving onto step 1.
posted by barnone at 10:02 AM on July 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah definitely look at the size chart, but in contrast to barnone's take, I usually wear an 8 in dresses and I needed a 14 in the bridesmaid dress I wore a few weeks ago. And it was a near thing and I sort of wish I had gone with the 16. (This was NOT David's though - going by the chart David's sizing seems at least a bit closer to off-the-rack sizing.)

I would look at the size chart, and if, say, your bust is WAY outside the range, you may be effed. But if it's only an inch or two out of range, maybe give it a shot and look for a dress that looks looser where you need it. Take your measurements while wearing the most aggressive shapewear you can stand. Also, don't ignore the long dresses. You can always get a long dress shortened if it fits better than the short styles.

Ugh! Bridesmaid dresses! The worst! I never want to do it again! Also I know brides think they're being nice when they let you pick your own dress but really it doesn't make it much easier.
posted by mskyle at 10:21 AM on July 3, 2014

I have seen people have terrible experiences with David's Bridal's alterations people -- it's very location-dependent, but we had one bridesmaid whose dress was taken in a size instead of let out. (And they chopped off the extra fabric, so it couldn't be altered back very well -- they were picking out the fabric around the zipper. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when her dress's zipper survived the full wedding.) I would ask around for a local alterations shop and see if that is an option. (Bonus: it will likely be cheaper, as well.)

Beyond that, I agree with checking based on the sizing chart rather than off-the-rack sizing.
posted by pie ninja at 10:22 AM on July 3, 2014

Yow, that is a difficult dress to wear.

If you have trouble finding alternative dresses off-the-rack, you could also consult with a seamstress to see if s/he could make you a dress. I think you can still remain in your $150 budget (depending on the fabric you get), and if you shop for the fabric yourself it'll be easier to match the color to the other bridesmaids' dresses.

If you go the custom-dress route, I personally wouldn't tell the bride, as she might insist that you have the exact same neckline as the original dress.
posted by homodachi at 10:23 AM on July 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

First, I can't seem to find evidence of it on the website, and perhaps something has changed that I don't know about, but David's Bridal definitely used to carry up to size 30 in at least SOME dresses "in-store." The "in-store" dresses are more expensive than the online ones, but that may be worth exploring.

Second, due to medication, I had the unfortunate experience of gaining 50-60 pounds in between picking/purchasing a bridesmaid's dress at David's Bridal and the wedding that I was in a couple of years ago. The alterations cost way too much, but they were able to adjust the dress from a 22 to something closer to a 28. To accomplish this the seamstress: 1) used extra fabric from the drastic hem that was required (the dress was long, and I am short, so they cut several inches of fabric off the bottom), and 2) had me purchase extra fabric, in the form of satin wraps. They basically split the seams on the side and added extra fabric to make the dress larger. They tailored the bust and hips appropriately.

I hated the style of dress for me, and to this day call it "The Manatee Dress" but that's not David's Bridal's fault. It was ridiculously expensive between the extra fabric and the alteration fees, but absolutely doable. I was in the same dress as everyone else and no one could tell that my dress had ever been the wrong size. In fact, mine was better tailored than some of the other girls, who'd tried to skimp on alterations altogether.
posted by terilou at 10:25 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd go in and ask someone to help you try on all the bridesmaids dresses that come in Regency and into which you can fit your rack. Any of them can be hemmed to tea-length to match the other women.

Optionally, you can go into DB and order/buy a Regency colour swatch, get a dyeable true to size dress, and hope for the best, or match the fabric and have one made. This Etsy seller (and many others!) will make a dress for which she has a pattern to your specific measurements with fabric you provide.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:27 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

1) Check the size chart and see where that puts you.

2) Try on each of the dresses at David's Bridal to see which seems the most workable (I'm guessing something like this would be your best bet so you can wear a bra).

3) If there aren't going to be any dresses at David's that work for you, I would find a tailor that you trust (not at David's). I'd go in and talk to them about your dilemma and ask if they could take the extra fabric from the bottom of a long David's Bridal dress like this and form that extra fabric into back or side panels to get you extra room. With the tailoring, that'd go over your budget, so see if you can find the dress on Ebay - lots of people sell of David's Bridal dresses there.

Good luck!
posted by leitmotif at 10:28 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah...looking at the size chart is why I started panicking. I order dresses from eShakti a lot so I do know my current measurements: 59 bust, 57 waist, 63 hip.

It's nowhere near that dress.

I'm still going to call David's Bridal up to see what they can do. The local branch has been pretty helpful so far, according to the bride.
posted by Vervain at 10:29 AM on July 3, 2014

For the bra portion of your question, I think you'd be able to do a reverse racerback thing. Use one of those converters or a safety pin or ribbon to pinch the straps in the front (like this, but in the front). Or, you could switch out the straps for convertible ones (an easy alteration) or get a strapless. Strapless will work in any size range, but you have to make sure the size is right. Check out /r/abrathatfits to make sure you're in the best size and shape for your frame. You could also have the bra sewn into the dress.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:30 AM on July 3, 2014

Best answer: Definitely check the sizing chart. I had to be a bridesmaid back when I was plus size and I basically was no where NEAR the size I normally wore, their sizes were insanely smaller than what I got off the rack. And there was a way higher price for the "larger sizes". And then there were still alterations.... It was extremely expensive for me.

Aside from that...

Honestly... I'd talk to the bride. And I am saying this as a woman who got married just last year. Planning a wedding is frustrating, and changing plans sucks, but personally as a bride I would MUCH RATHER have my friend wear a different dress they feel comfortable in and can fit in, than force them to spend a ton of money way outside their budget on a dress that they look terrible in. So tell her the dress doesn't come in a size that will fit you, and ask if she would be okay with wearing a different dress of the same colour/similar style. If she is concerned about your standing out/not matching, I'd say something along the lines of "I know, but I think I would stand out a lot more (and in a bad way) in a dress that doesn't fit and looks terrible on me." If need be make it out as a "I would end up taking attention away from you.".

I seriously seriously feel for you. I've lived this and it sucks. And, dead serious, if she won't budge at all then I'd be prepared to step down as a bridesmaid. You aren't required by law to accept every person's request for you to be a bridesmaid, nor are you required to spend money you don't have or look terrible in a dress you hate, just for them. Sometimes the "friendliest" thing to do is to just step down, let them have the look at their wedding they want while not forfeiting your dignity.

( I wish more brides would consider the individual body shapes and sizes of their bridal party when picking out dresses...)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:37 AM on July 3, 2014 [12 favorites]

According to their website, they do sometimes have items in 28/30, though I see no evidence of those sizes online.

As the destination for the entire wedding party, David's Bridal's fashion-forward options for bridesmaids, mother-of-the-bride or groom, junior bridesmaids and flower girls are available in a variety of figure-flattering styles and coordinating colors in sizes 2-26, with select sizes available in 28W and 30W.
posted by megancita at 10:39 AM on July 3, 2014

Another random idea, since you can pick your own dress from their site, is to get a long dress, have it shortened and then use the fabric to add a panel on each side when taking out the bodice. You would want to find an experienced seamstress to do this (NOT David's bridal).
posted by melissasaurus at 10:40 AM on July 3, 2014 [9 favorites]

My suggestion was going to be close to melissasaurus's. (If you're in the Bay Area I know a great seamstress, btw.)

I'd talk to the seamstress first and see what she recommends. She'll have a better idea of what dresses are the best and cheapest for cannibalizing purposes.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:43 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah also voting that David's in-store sizes run big - the size they fitted on me for my dress and bustier thing (this was 2006, granted) were way smaller than what I was "normally" wearing, and it fit just great and looked awesome once they chopped a couple inches off the bottom since I'm short. Good luck!
posted by agress at 10:48 AM on July 3, 2014

Even if they don't have that exact dress in size 28/30, it might be possible that they have other dresses in the same fabric in that size, so you could still coordinate (this is what I did for my sister's wedding as the only plus size bridesmaid).

Another option is to buy the largest size, and then get a smaller one "for parts", as it were, and to take both to a talented seamstress. This is essentially what my sister did in order to wear my mother's wedding dress: my grandmother had also bought the sample dress from the store for specifically this possibility, and so the sample was cannibalized so that my 5'11" sister could fit into a dress that had been originally tailored to my 5'4" mother.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:48 AM on July 3, 2014

Yeah, ugh, I feel you and am so sorry :-(

Two possibilities:

1) Talk to the bride, and let her know what's going on. Has everyone already selected their dress? Would she be open to something where all of the bridesmaids have somewhat matching dresses but not identical? She might not have thought of that option, and there are many ways to do it -- you could all be in different colors of purple and mauve, for example.

2) If that's not an option, then talk to a seamstress and see which dress might work out to be cannibalized. You can get a longer dress and have the hem used as side panels to extend the bodice.
posted by barnone at 10:49 AM on July 3, 2014

First I'd call your local David's and see if they'll sell extra fabric (sometimes they have it for making wraps etc of the same color).
Next, I'd buy a long dress and have it cut short; the extra can be used to make extra panels if you need.
Third, I'd ask the other bridesmaids-- particularly if one of them is not standard sized (e.g. if she's very busty but skinny otherwise), you might be able to take their extra fabric.
Last, I'd buy an extra dress. Actually before that, I'd call every David's number I could looking for extra fabric-- my mother had to do this for a dress (from a different company) that was just too short for me (and I'm only 5'8"! sheesh!).
posted by nat at 10:55 AM on July 3, 2014

Your measurements are similar to mine, though I have slightly less waist and slightly more hip than you. What's your bra band size?

Of the options I can see on the David's Bridal site, I'd consider this one. The cinching point on that dress is really at the underbust, rather than the waist, which is narrower on most people, so more likely to fit you, and the surplice neckline will likely expand a bit to accommodate some of your cleavage. Plus, straps for hiding your bra.

It'll might end up being kind of epically boobtastic, depending on your specific bra. A lacy modesty panel might be easy to add, though. Or wear a gauzy wrap over it and pin it in place with a shawl pin.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:07 AM on July 3, 2014

If you are busty, a neckline in this shape is probably your best bet. The trouble is that that thing is very ruched and tucked around the bust, which will add bulk. You want something with NO additional details-n-stuff around the bust.

I also find it annoying that none of the dresses have sleeves, except cap sleeves, which are exactly what you should stay away from. Ideally they'd have a sleeve to the elbow at least. Sigh.

As for the bra, I have no idea how you're going to fit one into a predefined dress. My best suggestion is that you get them to sew in some loops that hold a bra strap in place. This never works because the straps creep out the sides, but, oh well. As for the bra itself showing around the neckline, sigh. This is what's wrong with imposing strictly defined dresses on bridesmaids.
posted by tel3path at 11:16 AM on July 3, 2014

Also note that if you need extra fabric, you can get DB dresses in the Regency colour starting at like $20 on Ebay or Tradesy or etc.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:22 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can get the fabric, it'd be easy to add some sleeves to anything with a cap sleeve on it.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:22 AM on July 3, 2014

If your friend will let you wear a shrug of some sort with the dress can hide not only bra straps but alterations if needed.

They have a bunch of different style shrugs, boleroes and wraps that come in that purple. Also remember length is the easiest thing for someone used to doing alterations to fix so pick a dress that fits everywhere else and let the alterations people get the length, heck a long dress gives you extra material to work with if it is needed.
posted by wwax at 11:32 AM on July 3, 2014

i had a David's Bridal dress not fit me - I found their sizing to be one size smaller, actually. The dress in question was being phased out and so they didn't have anything bigger. What I had to do was buy another dress (luckily since they were being phased out, I got it on clearance haha) and use that fabric to alter it - I had a seamstress do it actually. The dress was patterned and it still looked great. It may be an option for you.

As far as that neckline? Yikes.
posted by kerning at 11:46 AM on July 3, 2014

I'd be surprised if you could not order just the fabric by the yard from David's. If it is ordered at the same time as the other maid's dresses, it will even be the same dyelot. Then you could find your own seamstress.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:50 AM on July 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

That is so difficult! I think Twinbrook8 has the right idea.

I checked the Marina Rinaldi website, and they have so many great styles this season (sometimes they are really frumpy). But they don't seem to ship to the US? Or maybe I just can't open their US site? Whatever, I think if you could buy the fabric from David's and then use the MR site as inspiration, you could find a good solution with a local dressmaker. A lot of people are a little scared of going to a dressmaker, but it is really the best thing if you are plus-sized, and it will cost less than you imagine.
posted by mumimor at 12:15 PM on July 3, 2014

Response by poster: Update: I sounded out the groom (who I've been friends with for 20+ years) about how particular the bride is about these dresses. According to him, as long as it's royal purple/Regency, it should be fine. This gives me hope!
posted by Vervain at 12:29 PM on July 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you have a David's Bridal near you, I would go in and say "I need a Regency Purple bridesmaid dress by August that fits me, whaddaya got?" With any luck, the people who work there will know their stock, know their timing, and know their options, and they will be able to solve this problem for you with as little agita as possible.
posted by KathrynT at 1:55 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Alfred Angelo has bridesmaids dresses up to size 30, in just about every color you can imagine.
posted by candyland at 4:21 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Alfred Angelo Purple Storm colour may be a match for the DB Regency. There are also Special Occasion options there, too. Wedding Way shows all of them with prices and offers swatches if you want to compare to the Regency colour. The Alfred Sung Majestic colour maybe, too? They go to size 28.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:46 PM on July 3, 2014

Response by poster: Final update on the bridesmaid dress saga: Everything turned out better than expected!

As suggested, I called David's Bridal and explained the situation to them. They said that while their sizes do only go up to a 26 on the website, they can order some dresses in a 28 or a 30 in-store. Well, what the hell. I set up a time for Friday morning and prepared for the worst...

...and THEN, literally fifteen minutes before my dress appointment at DB, the bride called me up and said that the backup dress I ordered on deep discount from Kiyonna would be just fine. Furthermore, the other plus-range bridesmaid wants to get one too, so I won't stand out in the lineup.

posted by Vervain at 10:38 AM on July 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

Beautiful dress! Have fun at the wedding!
posted by ocherdraco at 10:55 AM on July 7, 2014

That's awesome!! Hurray for flexible brides and beautiful dresses and co-conspirators in the wedding party! And big bonus -- you can totally wear that dress again for another occasion. The dress would even be awesome in the winter with some nylons/leggings/tights and different shoes. Totally great outcome - so glad for you. Have fun!
posted by barnone at 10:59 AM on July 7, 2014

« Older How can I pick a key colour in an image file in an...   |   Some car doors can never be unopened. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.