2010 14/04

Bridesmaid Dress Shops – No Hidden Gems

By Elizabeth Zachry

How many of you have been out shopping for a bridesmaid dress?  I had the chance to experience the selection process first-hand, and it is not pretty.  I went to two shops, Bella Bridesmaid in Los Gatos, and Flair Bridesmaids in San Francisco.  The two stores are upscale and are light and airy inside, so I walked in hoping for the best.  However, they both let me down by their lack of selection.  To be honest, I am a little surprised that these types of stores even stay in business.

Photo By Liz Linder

Do not plan on coming out of a bridesmaid dress shop with a dress in your size.  Are you wondering why?  In most shopping situations you go into a store, try on clothes in different sizes and styles and make your purchase.  But, of course, at bridal salons they have to make it as hard as possible for you.  I consider myself to be an average size, but we had a really hard time finding anything in the styles that the bride liked that would actually fit on all of us so we could get an idea for how they fit.  It is so hard judging how a dress is going to fit when you are squeezing yourself into something that is too tight or clipping back something that is too big, and this happened at both stores I went to.

Once the bride picked a style, it was time to order the dress.  The largest size Flair Bridesmaids had on hand in the right style was a 6 (more like a typical size 4).  The bride shipped over a size 12 from Boston to have on hand for us to try on so we would have a better idea of how the dress would fit.  I think that was awesome, but why make it the bride’s responsibility and not just carry a few more sizes in each style at the store?

The woman at Flair Bridesmaids was kind enough (note the sarcasm) to measure me in front of their massive and uncovered window looking directly out to Polk Street and have me lift up my shirt to better measure my waist.  It was nice that she wanted the correct measurement, but was it really necessary for me to stand in front of the uncovered window and lift my shirt?? Am I really the only person this has happened to that was uncomfortable? After carefully taking my measurements she asked me what size I wanted.  Hmm, I thought her job was to help me choose a size?  Apparently based on my three measurements I am three different sizes so she was at a loss for suggestions.  This is where it got tricky…they did not have the two sizes I wanted to try on in the store so I had to guess which size would be best. The saleswoman recommended I buy the larger one to be safe (two sizes larger than I wear in my street clothes) and I could have it altered.

Do these people get paid referral fees for tailors? It seemed to me that I was almost surely going to need alterations based on her “recommendation”.  What do they really get paid for if they do not carry appropriate sizes for you to try on or assist you in picking the correct size?  When you are paying that much money for a dress, shouldn’t they make it available to try on?

What kind of experience did you have when picking your bridesmaid dress? Better? Worse?  I would love to hear your comments/recommendations for the next time I am in a wedding.

One Comment

  • I was recently the maid of honor for my sister’s wedding and encountered the same thing with the bridesmaid dress. I expected something like this with bridal dresses, but the amount that needed to be altered for the bridesmaid dress was ridiculous. Truly ridiculous. We finally went with something off the rack from a different store to avoid the other bridesmaids to go through the same pain.

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