The Ultimate Dress Shopping Guide for Plus Size Brides

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Photo courtesy of Della Curva

So you wear a size 16 or up wedding dress. You’re not alone! Plenty of brides just like you are on the search for the perfect wedding dress that accentuates their curves and makes them feel fabulous. Here’s how to find yours according to the experts.

Find the Right Shop

Every bride should have a great shopping experience. “I have a lot of women who come in here feeling less than because they went somewhere that didn’t have dress sizes they could try on,” says Sara Ann Viola, manager of the California-based Della Curva, which sells wedding dresses sized 16 to 32.

Ensure your experience is a positive one by calling ahead and asking stores on your list if they carry samples in your size.

Don’t Get Caught Up in Numbers

You may be tempted to lose weight before you dress shop, but Viola says don’t wait to lose weight before dress shopping. “Someone loves you just the way you are. Feel confident about that and feel confident that you’ll look beautiful in the most important dress of your life,” she says.

Also be aware that you’ll most likely have to go up a size or two. “Most of these dresses are made with a bustier inside, so if you came in and told me that you’re a 42 DD, I’d probably have to go up a few sizes,” says Viola. “That’s exactly the way they’re made. Don’t get hung up on the size. Get caught up on whether it meets your expectations and makes you look and feel fabulous.”

Consider All Styles

Viola says that many curvy women assume they should wear an empire dress, but most end up choosing a fit and flare style. This type of dress is fit from the bust all the way down to the upper hip and then flares out to enhance curves. “This is a great choice because it makes you feel sexy,” Viola says.

“But fit and flare is not to be confused with the mermaid, which comes down and low. That’s for the girl who is straight-figured with no hips and no butt.”

For women who have larger hips, Viola recommends an A-line style, and for those with an apple shape, she suggests a lace-up dress to enhance the waist.

“You have to try on different styles and see what type of dress works with your body type,” says Viola.

Don’t Fixate on Fabric

While you might have heard that ruching or other fabrics are the way to go, Viola says fabric comes second to fit. “It’s not so much the fabrics, it’s all about the fit,” she says. However, “satin dresses are often heavy which doesn’t work well for curvy girls because you really want to be comfortable. The organzas and English netting tend to be lighter and more popular for our curvy brides.”

It’s OK to Show Skin

Skin is sexy, and there’s no doubt that strapless dresses can look youthful. “I’ve had so many women try on a strapless and forget all about their concerns once their confidence builds and they feel wonderful that their waist and bust are showing,” Viola says. “A lot of curvy girls will come in and say they want sleeves, but sleeves can sometimes make you look older and more matronly,” she adds.

Going with a three-quarter’s, capped or off-the-shoulder sleeve can be a great alternative. If you’re just not confident showing any arm, but fall in love with a sleeveless dress, Viola says some designers will add sleeves depending on the construction of the dress.

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