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Top tips when shopping for plus-size bridal gowns

Published: 
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Kenthol Solomon and Melissa Pierre joined in the sacrament of holy matrimony on August 30. Photo: Sunita Jahgroo-Pulchan

Plus-size bridal gowns generally start at size 16 (American sizing) and can go up to size 40. Bridal gowns are also usually two sizes more than your everyday size—for example, if you usually wear a size 14, you may wear a size 16 bridal gown.

Many more bridal designers now have plus sizes in their collections—some of the more well-known ones are Maggie Sottero, David’s Bridal, Alfred Angelo, Morilee, Paloma Blanca, Wtoo and Allure.

The most important thing when shopping for plus-size wedding gowns is to get the perfect fit and silhouette for your shape. It’s one thing to have your plus-size gown look fabulous in the mirror but quite another if you can’t move, bend or dance in it!

Here are some tips:
• Call the salon in advance—Call ahead to ensure the salon carries your size. Also, ask about the experience of their in-house bridal consultants. You want to be comfortable explaining your style and preferences to your bridal consultant. You want to avoid a consultant who is overly critical or who wants to “body shame” you. If that’s happening, select another salon!  

• Go for it—Avoid preconceived ideas and be open to trying on gown styles you never considered. You might be pleasantly surprised, since the more gowns you try the easier it will be to spot the details that flatter you most!

• The confidence factor—It’s best to start trying on dresses with the right body-shaping undergarments. Bodysuits work well for shaping the tummy, hips, thighs and butt, all in one. Having proper undergarments will boost your confidence as well (remember that you will be trying on gowns in the presence of a bridal consultant). Also, be sure to select undergarments based on the type of gown you’re after, for example, if you want a low-back gown, wear a long-line bra to your fitting.

• Accentuate your good points—Every woman has body parts she would like to highlight and others she would prefer to downplay. Have a look at yourself and decide what features you would like to highlight: is it your hourglass figure? Do you have beautiful shoulders or an elegant neck?

• Styling tricks—If you prefer more arm coverage, you can opt for sheer sleeves or lace sleeves. Even if you’ve fallen in love with a strapless gown, sleeves or straps can be added to give you more comfort and support. An hourglass silhouette can even be “created” by cinching your waist with a beautiful sash or jewelled belt. If you’re self-conscious about your bottom half, you can draw guests’ eyes upwards with a strategically placed brooch, cold shoulder or shoulder embellishment.  

• Sometimes “less is more!”—Just because you’re plus-size doesn’t mean you have to cover every inch of your body with fabric! On the contrary, a low V-neckline or a low back will be more figure-enhancing than, for example, a high neckline with long sleeves (unless this is required by your religion).

• Look for flattering fabrics—Stiffer fabrics or thicker fabrics such as Duchess satin, tafetta and blended silks are good options for plus-size brides. Softer fabrics like crepes, silk and charmeuse will tend to be clingy. Chiffon is a fabric that floats away from the body, so this can also be a good option. Try as much as possible to get the best quality fabric for your budget.

• Decide on the dress style—Two-piece gown options are popular now and will continue into 2016, and are ideal for the plus-sized bride especially for getting the right size of the top and the bottom.

A modern A-line gown will complement most plus-size brides. Corseted bodices, halter necklines, asymmetrical waistlines, basque waistlines (which dip to a “V” shape at the front) and straps are also body-enhancing options.

A sheath dress, which is form-fitting against the body, from neckline to hem, is also an elegant choice. If you want to minimise larger hips, it’s best to avoid low-waisted bridal gowns.