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The Truth Behind Why Wedding Dress Sizes Run Small

Kennedy Blue Wedding Dresses

Wedding dress shopping is an exciting moment that many dream of, oftentimes long before an engagement! Now that your appointment is on the horizon, you may be wondering how bridal sizing works. Being a size 10, you may be shocked when a stylist hands you a size 14 wedding dress. So, what on earth is going on? We’re here to explain the history of wedding dress sizing, and why many wedding dress sizes run small.

Do Wedding Dresses Run Small? Wedding Dress Sizing Explained

Long answer short is YES, many wedding dresses DO run small. This isn't to confuse you or make you feel insecure about your size. In fact, wedding dress sizing has a long history; one that hasn't really changed over time.

The History of Wedding Dress Sizing

Although styles evolve, the wedding industry as a whole is somewhat stuck on past traditions. Regarding the European size tradition, “Most leaders in the wedding industry have always been, or at least have started off, in Europe, and their wedding dress size charts run smaller than American ones. Even with the companies that are based in America, many of the designers are European, so that’s the bridal sizing they still use.” So, they’re not just trying to make you feel larger than you are! 

Taking Measurements Wedding Dress

Due to European bridal sizing, many women wear up to two sizes larger than their American size. So, don’t stress if your normal size seems snug in a wedding or bridesmaid dress. It’s not that European women are so much smaller than American women. These size guidelines are based on body types from decades ago. As women have evolved, the wedding dress size charts have not.

Wedding Dress Sizes Vs. Street Sizes

Your wedding dress size and street sizes can be very different. Street clothing sizes (clothes you wear on a daily basis) have evolved over time, but bridal sizing has not. This is why there's a discrepancy between the two. While you may wear a size 4 in jeans, you will likely be prompted to try on a size 6 or 8 wedding dress. Everyday clothing is also rarely altered, whereas wedding dresses are. Remember that when alterations are expected, a larger size is desired.

Bride Wearing Weding Dress

What Size Wedding Dress Am I?

There is no universal size chart when it comes to wedding dresses.  Since size charts are dependent on the designer, you may not know your dress size until you choose your wedding dress. However, if you know which designer you plan to purchase from, you can likely find their size charts online.

Typically, you can expect to go up at least one size from your everyday clothing. However, it is heavily dependent on the style of the dress and your unique figure.

Kennedy Blue Wedding Dress Size Chart

At Kennedy Blue, our wedding dress sizing reflects that of American sizing. Meaning if you are a size 8 in regular clothing, you will likely measure into an 8 for a Kennedy Blue wedding dresses. Why? We want to make the shopping experience that much easier, including for brides who shop online.

bridal size chart

By carrying sizes that reflect street wear sizes, you can feel more confident in your decision. Note however that American sizes are not universal, so we recommend taking your measurements just to be safe. Currently, we offer sizes 0 to 24. With styles and designs to flatter women of every shape and size, you can trust that we have something for you! 

How to Measure for Wedding Dresses

At most bridal stores, your size is dictated by the measurements of your bust, waist, and hips. Once you have taken all of the following measurements, we recommend ordering your size based off the largest of the three.

  • Bust: Wearing the undergarments that you will wear with the dress, wrap the measuring tape around your back and under your arms at the fullest part of your bust.
  • Waist: Stand up straight and bend to the side, the crease created is your natural waist. Wrap tape around the narrowest part of your natural waist.
  • Hips: Stand with your feet together, wrap the tape around the fullest part of your hips and seat.
Wedding Dress Measurements

    Wedding Dress Measuring Tips

    When taking your measurements, we recommend that you have someone assist you and use a soft, flexible measuring tape. If possible, seek help from a professional, like stylist at a bridal store. Be careful to consider the dress length (hollow to hem). Always remember, it 's easier to make a dress smaller than it is larger! If you are in doubt, order a size up.

    Wedding Dress Alterations: What to Expect

    With the wide variety of body types, it is rare to find an exact fit when it comes to wedding dresses. Therefore, alterations are typically recommended to achieve a perfect fit! In fact, you should expect to need alterations on your wedding dress. Note that seamstresses are becoming harder to find, so make sure to book well in advance. This will ensure that you look and feel your very best come your big day!

    How Much Do Wedding Dress Alterations Cost?

    If wedding dress alternations are a must, how much will it cost? It's important to think ahead and prepare your budget. Alteration costs will vary, depending on what exactly needs to be done and the skill level of the seamstress. If you need full alterations, expect to pay around $350-$600. If you don’t need a hem (length) alteration, you can expect to pay around $150-$350.

    Wedding Dress Alterations

    Before committing, make sure to get an estimate on your dress alterations. This way, you can have an idea of what you’ll be spending. However, we do not recommend skimping on alterations - it’s better to pay more for a knowledgeable seamstress than to risk ruining your wedding dress with a cheap and less experienced alternative.

    Tips for Wedding Dress Alterations

    Here are just a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to wedding dress alterations:

    • Hire a seamstress that alters AND presses the dress. Aim to pick your wedding dress up one week before the wedding. If you pick it up sooner, the pressing may not hold, and you’ll likely have a wrinkled dress.
    • Wedding dress seamstresses are extremely busy April through October.  If you need alterations during that time, book your appointment sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, alteration shops will slower in the winter months.
    • When should you get alterations? After you order your wedding dress and get a confirmed ship date, call your seamstress. Schedule your alterations to start 2 months before your wedding.  If you have an April wedding, schedule your wedding dress alterations for February.  If you have a May wedding, schedule your alterations to happen in March.

    Buying Wedding Dresses Online

    Looking for a more convenient way to find a wedding dress?  Searching for a wedding dress online isn’t as complicated as people make it out to be - especially if you know what to look out for!  Reputable websites, high-quality materials, and exceptional customer service are just a few things you should keep an eye out for. Check out our selection of online wedding dresses!

    Wedding Dress Appointment

    In addition, it's important to know how to spot red flags when ordering wedding dresses online. Look out for poor customer reviews, unprofessional responses from the business, and poor order communication.

    Online Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

    When ordering online, always take extra time to make sure you’re measuring yourself accurately. Without a professional stylist on hand, it’s more difficult to achieve accurate measurements. Consider having someone at home help take your measurements, and be sure to use a flexible measuring tape. If you fall in between sizes, don't freak. It's more common than you think! If or when this happens, order the size that fits your largest measurement.

    Start Shopping For Your Perfect Wedding Dress!

    We want to make every bride feel secure in her choice of a wedding dress! With a wide variety of styles, designs and sizes, we have something for everyone. We hope that by explaining the history of wedding dress sizes, and why wedding dress sizes run small, you will be able to make a more confident buying decision.  Let us know if this information was helpful!

    You can visit us at the store, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, or view our entire inventory online. Should you need assistance, one of our representative would be glad to assist you! Happy shopping!

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    Leave a comment

    cori Smith
    January 07, 2018 09:30

    This is so frusterating

    January 06, 2018 20:30

    This blog is so helpful in understanding how to order a dress that is right for your body type! Thanks for the information!!

    January 06, 2018 09:43

    This is interesting! I had no idea there was so much behind it. Definitely makes me feel better though!

    January 05, 2018 21:54

    I bought a bridesmaid dress yesterday for a friends wedding and it was two sizes bigger than my normal dress size and now I know why!

    Erika Lippert
    January 05, 2018 21:52

    I just got a bridesmaid dress yesterday and its two sizes bigger than my actual dress size! Now I know why! Very informative article.

    January 05, 2018 16:58

    I have had a great experience with Kennedy blue! I have worn their bridesmaid dresses in 3 weddings, and I found the fit true to size.

    January 05, 2018 12:55

    I was always curious why people always seemed to be sized larger than the size they normally wear. It’s not that they are “bigger”, just the sizes run smaller because of the size guidelines. This is great to know!

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