Original story by Gwendolynne posted via Polka Dot Bride here!

"Recently, I’ve wanted to create awareness for women of all sizes, in particular the curvy woman, that they can wear a couture gown. Upon researching beautiful imagery for this genre, I couldn’t find many images that I believe reflected a beautiful curvy woman in a couture gown. This spurred me on to create this “Renaissance Curves” shoot to help get an important message out… curvy women can be sensually stylish and subtly elegant in a beautifully crafted gown.

“The curves of a woman really compliment the form of a dress despite a world of fashion that doesn’t always cut or design a gown to suit a woman’s shape.”

As a designer with almost 30 years in the industry, I have created gowns for so many different shapes, sizes and personalities ranging from Size 3 to 25. Our gowns at Gwendolynne are all made to measure, so that each one of our clients ends up with a gown that is perfectly fitted for them. It is so fulfilling to see how happy a client is with a gown that fits her well and is flattering, particularly for women with fuller proportioned busts and those who normally struggle to find a garment.

We welcome everyone and make every effort to make the experience comfortable and enjoyable for our clients. It is disturbing when we hear women walk into our shop who have been told elsewhere that they have nothing for her because of her size. I have personally ranged from a Size 8 to Size 16 with a D bust and a tendency to constantly fluctuate, so I have a good understanding of the frustration that can be associated with finding garments that fit me properly.

It’s all about what is most flattering for you and finding someone who can direct you with their expertise and experience. Our Made to Measure gowns evolve over a six-month period with an initial measure, three fittings, a fit check and then a final pick up where any issues can be resolved before the dress leaves the salon. Everyone works differently but expect a few visits for made to measure and leave plenty of time!

Hopefully this post helps you with how to approach buying a gown and why Made to Measure is such a great option for clients. ‘Plus-Size Bride’ is not a term I like to use and I have noticed that many social media platforms are getting on board with this debate with the hashtag #notplussize. We’d love to hear from readers what resonates with them the most when seeking a gown for the not so ‘standard’ body shape.

So to help I’ve created some tips and advice when searching for your perfect gown:

Undergarments

I have MANY clients insist on not wearing a bra but we show them how a bra makes the bust line look flattering and narrows the waist thus refining the silhouette. Undergarments play an enormous part in creating a flattering effect. If you find things difficult to visualize, make sure you wear shapewear and a nude bra when viewing collections –  it really will make the process so much easier and pleasurable for you.

Call or E-Mail Ahead

Ring ahead and have a chat about what you are looking for and perhaps ask if there are styles that could be recommended for you. We often do this for clients and then list the styles we think best relate to the client’s needs so they can decide if is their taste and also budget.

Ask What The Sample Size Is Prior To Your Appointment

Unfortunately due to economics a unique and independent bridal store often can only budget to carry so many sample gowns and to have every size in stock would be impossible. Remember if the label is made to measure they can do any size but you may have to use your imagination when trying on samples. Be prepared that most shops only carry samples in a Size 12/14. Some will do larger samples but they are very limited in style. Although the dress may not fit exactly, this is better than trying to imagine from a sketch or a photo of it on someone else.

Look For Experience

What you’re looking for is someone who’s informed with experience. It takes a lifetime to master pattern cutting and fitting gowns.

Things Can Be Changed So Use Your Imagination

You can alter a dress to have sleeves, to be shortened or for support to be added. Don’t be afraid to ask if changes can be made, and don’t be afraid to ask how much it will cost. Having a dress custom-made doesn’t mean breaking the bank, it just means doing some research and utilizing the experience around you.

Remember There Are Limitations and Trust In Experience

Unfortunately some things are not possible but if you work with someone experienced they will be able to guide you to a happy medium point.

Sales Staff vs. Fitters

Unfortunately it is impossible for designers or/and fitters to see every client that comes through the shop door. So remember sales consultants aren’t necessarily the ones making your dress, however they are your resource. When you go into a store, part of what you’re paying for is your salesperson’s expertise. Find someone who’s excited to work with you and put them to work. Ask questions, ask for recommendations, and ask for opinions. You know your body and personality; they know the collection and dresses they offer. Put that together to find something great. It’s YOUR dress so it is about working together!

Have Fun – It Is Part Of The Journey

Our intention is for you to have fun…we want to create a dress that you love and look and feel amazing in!

Be Your Confident Self

No body shaming allowed! We’ve all heard horror stories of sales people, who say they have nothing for you and ask you if you’re going to lose weight for your wedding. My goal is to make a beautiful gown that is flattering for you.

If You Are A Little Shy

No matter how self conscious you are, please tell sales staff that you’d prefer to dress alone or be away from other appointments. Sometimes it is better to organize an appointment over a less busy time such as a weekday as weekends tend to be very busy…therefore it is more of a private experience.

Too Many Opinions

Start shopping for your dress alone and then bring your friends or family in once you have narrowed down the styles you like. Too many opinions can be confusing!

And Remember Your Fiance Asked You To Marry Them The Way You Are!

The goal is to make a beautiful gown that is flattering for you; your dress is out there waiting for you and the one you love.

Gwendolynne xx