Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sample Sizes Explained

As promised, a quick explanation of sample sizes.

In most bridal stores, you will find that the majority of dresses will be available to try on in a size 10. This is an industry standard, and the manufacturers cut their samples in 10 first to accommodate the stores who have ordered them. In an earlier post I explained that bridal stores actually pay the manufacturer for every dress they have in the store (with some exceptions from up-and-coming designers, or struggling designers that will lend their dresses to a bridal store to test the waters, and the store can keep them and pay for them if they seem to be generating interest). This is why most stores only have one of each dress available, and since size 10's are the easiest to get, that is what you will mostly find. Stores are allowed, however, to order whatever size they want. Occasionally you will find that a store's owner will think that a particular style will appeal to a petite girl, and will order it in an 8 or a 6, or that the style will flatter a curvier figure, and it will be ordered in a 12 or 14.

The best stores, and the ones that are the most financially stable, will carry more than one of some or all of their dresses. They will offer a dress (like Fiorella!) in not only a size 10, but also a women's size, say, an 18. Since this store had to purchase each sample, this is an investment that should make a plus-size girl happy. Now she doesn't have to take the traditional route of ordering a dress that she has difficulty even trying on, but is now able to see the gown on her. In this age of such fierce competition I often hear from brides that have sought out my dressing room because of our large collection of dresses available to try on in women's sizes, that other stores they have visited have had few to no plus size gowns. Since some women will order a gown they haven't tried on, smaller stores are making the choice to spend their dollars on two different styles in a size 10, instead of two sizes on the same gown.

Keep in mind that these numbers are not the equivalent of traditional American sizing. If you go to the mall to buy a pair of jeans, and you find that you wear a size 10, be prepared that your bridal size is likely to be anywhere from 12 to 16 depending on your shape and the cut of the gown. Why is this? Many brides ask me in frustration why the sizes are so strange. I explain to them that these dresses are made and sold internationally, and since Europe, Australia and other locations use different sizing methods, it's kind of a blend.

Whether you are petite or more voluptuous, you should not expect to try on dresses in your exact size. A size or two in either direction is to be expected, and your consultant will help you to visualize the dress and how it would be in your size by holding it in the back for you. This, of course, does not apply to warehouse stores, like David's, that do not carry labels, but stock their own lines in most sizes. If you are a woman that knows in her heart that you cannot buy a dress you have not seen in your exact size, you either need to call the stores at which you are planning on shopping to find out how many dresses they have available in your size range (if you wear a size 20, ask what they have in a size 24, and also what they have in a 20-28), or you need to give up the dream of a made-to-order gown and buy at an off-the-rack warehouse store.

1 comment:

Madison said...

It is always frustrating when you can't try on your size, but at least you make it easy to understand why stores work that way. Sounds like a plus size only bridal store would be a good niche, especially here in America.