Where to begin: Dress shopping

dress shopping

If you’re anything like me, when it comes to shopping, I love it but it can be so hard to find what you want or even know where to start, it can be overwhelming, especially if this is for a special occasion or your wedding day.

I’m indecisive to a point where going in one place (or looking online) about 5 times has become a normal thing. I have stopped doing this, mainly because I simply do not have the time, but also because it got a bit frustrating, as I would usually come out with nothing, other than being 4 or 5 hours down!

With this in mind, and if you are ready to begin searching for that perfect dress, I’ve created a list with advice, tips and where to begin.

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Have a price in mind

 

This is definitely the first one when knowing where to begin, noting down how much you’d like to spend as this will determine where to begin searching. It may seem like an obvious one, but it is easy to get caught up straight away, and if you do find ‘the one’, a price out of your budget is definitely not where you want to start. Your dress budget should include the cost of alterations if purchased from a boutique, bespoke dresses can sometimes have the alterations covered.

How to dress for your body shape

 

Even though this section is a tough one as it mainly goes down to what category shape you fall in, it’s useful to know and can be a good place to start. The most important thing is how something makes you feel at the end of the day, so we try and not take it as a strict guideline.  

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(Image credit: Camille Garcia. Decode The Wedding Dress: Necklines. https://camillegarciabridal.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/1726/)

Deciding if you’re hourglass, pear, apple, petite, tall, slim is where to begin. This could be balancing out your proportions, emphasising your waist, or highlighting the most flattering part of your body. We have found this article on Who What Wear a good read as it gives a comprehensive list and some examples on types of clothing, which can be translated to searching for your special dress.

Create a folder or mood board

 

It might be your thing or not, but it’s an idea that works well for me, mainly because there are so many options! With Instagram becoming more popular and Pinterest being the easiest app to spend hours on (for me anyway), you can start getting a bit side-tracked or overwhelmed with ideas.

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(Image credit: Dawn Jones 2017. I do not take ownership of all images shown on moodboard)

It’s a good thing to have a few ideas, but it’s where the stylists or designers will come into play, it’s just nice to have a slight idea on what styles you prefer too. This folder can just be on your phone, a board on Pinterest or magazine clippings.

Time scale

Ideally, you are looking about 6-12 months in advance at least for a bespoke dress, or to fit in for alterations at least 3 months in advance. Store bought gowns will vary, depending on if you are searching in high season, usually summer or not.  However, up to 2 years in advance in normal too! There’s no set timeline, even a few months in advance for sample dresses is fine, but the timing is definitely something to consider. This all depends on your budget too, as this can vary the time scale.

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(Image credit: Dawn Jones 2017)

These are the most important tips to have in mind, and once you are ready to begin shopping, a few other things are good to know too. I advise for the very first fitting to wear the underwear you wish to wear on your wedding day or occasion. The majority of the time, bras are not needed in wedding dresses as these often have inbuilt cups, corsetry boning or altered to perfectly fit you. I also always advise to wear your selected underwear to every fitting as this will change the shape.

Bring your accessories if possible, but sometimes this can’t always be done. Your seamstress or designer will advise you to bring the shoes you will be wearing on your wedding date to midway fittings, as this vital for hemming.

Before going ahead with a purchase, bespoke or store, always read the fine print and double-check everything is correct, including size, colour, number of fittings, pricing for examples.