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Cupar, Fife, United Kingdom
Aliya Rose is an award-winning bridal shop in Fife, Scotland. We have always been proud of our commitment to customer service, and our excellent range of styles and sizes. But we're also quite fun, or at least we try.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Does Size Matter?

Ok ladies. You’ve probably heard all sorts of things about sizing of bridal gowns. Some of it may have made sense, and some of it may have mystified you entirely. It can certainly be very confusing to find yourself buying a £1000 dress whose label states that it’s a completely different size from the one you’d normally buy from the high street!

But we all want to make sure that on the big day there are NO muffin tops or back-cleavages in evidence, and that your wedding dress is possibly the most flattering thing you’ll ever wear!

So how on earth does this mystical bridal sizing thing work?

Well, there isn’t really some kind of magical trade secret here. In actual fact it works very much like any other clothing manufacturing. Each manufacturer works to their own size chart, and each dress they produce will correspond to the measurements on their size chart. The confusion starts because:

1) As you will know from shopping on the high street, sizes can vary hugely from shop to shop. In Next you might be a size 10, but in Monsoon you might be a 12. Bridal designers are no different, because each designer or manufacturer will be working from a different size chart, so a Benjamin Roberts size 10 will not necessarily be the same as an Ella size 10. And just because you wear a Next size 10 doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be a size 10 in bridal gowns! Each bridal shop will have all the size charts relevant to the designers they stock, and they’ll all be trained in how to use them!

2) When you compare someone’s actual measurements to a size chart (ANY size chart, whether it’s Marks & Spencers or Maggie Sottero), it’s very, very unusual for anyone to be the same size on their bust, waist and hips. It’s far more usual for someone to be, say, a size 12 bust, size 14 waist and size 10 hips. In ‘normal’ clothes which have a bit of stretch in them (thank god for Lycra), this doesn’t really matter, and in fact a size 12 top wouldn’t feel too small on their waist at all. However, bridal gowns are not normally made from stretchy fabrics. Unlike most ‘normal’ clothes, bridal gowns are very tailored with heavily structured bodices. This means that there’s no give in them. And if your bust measures a 12 and your waist measures a 14, then you won’t get away with the 12 on your waist – that 2 inches of difference between the sizes might be the difference between you looking fabulously gorgeous, and bursting the zip, having spent the whole day being unable to eat or breathe properly.

3) A lot of bridal size charts come up small compared to high street manufacturers size charts. You may have found in the past that some shops are a little generous with their sizing (and we all like to be flattered!), and some manufacturers are becoming increasingly flattering with their sizes! Some bridal manufacturers (unfortunately for all of us who like to know the size on the label is a small number!) don’t tend to be all that flattering with their sizing. This can mean that when combined with the effect of point 2), when you compare your measurements to the size chart, instead of the size 12 you were expecting, your measurements fit more neatly into a size 16. Trust the size chart here. Ignore what ‘label’ they give these measurements and remind yourself that the most important thing here is that your dress fits whatever your largest measurement is properly. There is nothing worse than seeing a bride in a dress that is too tight.

4) Sample sizes can be incredibly deceptive. During appointments I’m usually bombarded with questions about what size this or that sample is. But my answer is always the same - the size on the label of a sample dress is largely irrelevant. Why? Because sample dresses are tried on over and over again, by people of all shapes and sizes. They have to be cleaned. And all of that can stretch the dresses. A well used sample dress in a size 14 might actually be an inch bigger than a brand new size 14 dress in exactly the same design. And that inch can really count! At Aliya Rose we rarely use samples as a true guide for size – we always take measurements once you’re ready to order a dress, and work from there.

5) Some designers use US sizes. Which are not the same as British sizes, even though they are called 10, 12, 14 etc. Again, the important numbers here are the measurements of your bust, waist, and hips. Don’t get hung up on the number that they give the size!

So here are my top tips for brides with regard to size:
• Forget the size you wear in ‘normal’ clothes.
• Try to leave your size vanity at the door. It can be hard, but remember at all times that you will NOT be walking down the aisle with the size label hanging out the back of your dress (I hope!), so no one needs to know what size your dress is. Cut it out if you want, and also remember that once your dress has been altered, it’s ‘you’ sized, not a size 14 or 20 or whatever the label said.
• Take the shop’s advice. At Aliya Rose we WANT your dress to be as much the right size for you as possible. We always show you where your measurements are on the size chart so that you can understand why we’re ordering the size we are. We hope that our customers leave understanding how it works, but we’re always open to questions if people aren’t sure! So don’t be afraid to ask if you feel you need clarification.
• If a dress is too small for you, it will make you look bigger. But if it’s the right size all over, you’ll instantly appear to lose pounds without making any effort. How can that be a bad thing?

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