5 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for Plus-Sized Brides
How plus-sized brides can feel comfortable at their bridal appointments and find the bombshell dress of their dreams.
Let’s be frank. Wedding dress shopping is both an exciting and vulnerable time for almost every bride. Bodies are different, and not every dress will look good on every body type. Most of us will have some parts of our bodies which we want to flatter, and other areas about which we feel uncertain. This makes talking about our bodies and what we do or don’t find flattering a personal and sensitive subject for all of us.
But most of us also don’t have the rest of the world regularly weighing in on what we should or shouldn’t be wearing. For plus-sized brides, a history of dealing with frequent and unsolicited advice on this front can make wedding dress shopping an even more challenging experience. It can even make searching for style advice more difficult, because so much of that advice is couched in language about “hiding” or “covering up,” and not about feeling beautiful and looking your best.
At The White Dress, we’d like to throw that vibe in the trash, where it belongs.
Our best advice to any bride—but especially to plus-sized brides—is to keep your focus off whatever it is that makes you feel insecure and on the things that make you excited. We also recommend that you set aside any hard and fast “rules” you may have heard about what types of dress are or aren’t off-limits to plus-sized brides. Too many of those rules are based in long traditions of body shaming (subtle or otherwise), and many do not take into account that there is more than one kind of plus-sized body, and that wedding gowns are not made like other dresses.
Few of us have the body confidence of Lizzo (much as we would like to!), but if there’s one day where we should be channeling that spirit, it is on our wedding day. Here are our top tips for plus-sized brides to help them find dresses that will flatter their figures so that they can walk down the aisle feeling like the stunning queens they are.
1. Wide waistbands highlight and lengthen the waist.
Many plus-sized women assume that their waist is something that needs to be covered or de-emphasized, but actually this couldn’t be further from the truth. It helps to know that the natural waistline for many women is higher than they think—below the bust but a few inches above the belly button. This is the narrowest portion of the torso, so drawing attention to it creates more of a visual hourglass effect, which emphasizes curves.
Our favorites for this look are Frieda, from Essense of Australia, and Liv, by Stella York. Frieda is full glam, with plenty of sparkling lace and a daring plunge neckline. We also love how the waistband is semi-sheer, which calls attention to the corset-like boning in the waist. Liv offers a simpler, sleeker look, with wider straps and gorgeous square backline.
2. Wide straps with a V neck to support the bust and elongate the neck.
Any bride with a fuller bust has well-founded reservations about going for a strapless gown. Fortunately, one of the current bridal trends combines wider straps with deep V necklines—a particularly flattering combination on plus-sized gowns as the straps provide support while the deep V creates the visual illusion of a longer neck.
Marcie by Stella York is a particularly good example of this trend, but we also love it for the illusion lace detail in the back. Emerson boasts an even deeper plunge neckline in the front, while illusion tulle cutouts on the side give it a flirty feel without sacrificing support.
3. Dresses with structure to show off curves.
If you’ve always dreamed of a glamorous, figure-hugging gown, we’re here to tell you that your heart’s desire is within your reach. In fact, the benefit of trumpet silhouettes or structured A-line gowns is that the close fit and added boning make these gowns an ultra-slimming choice for many brides. As is so often the case with plus-sized gowns, the instinct to cover up or hide is actually the exact opposite of what would be most flattering!
There could not be a better example of this than Iskra, by Justin Alexander. This ultra-glam trumpet gown pulls out all the stops, featuring a sweetheart neckline and a dramatic skirt of tulle and organza. For a simpler option, the all-over lace on Kenzie elevates the look and gives it a graceful, flowing quality. Finally, while the flared skirt on Val may not be as bold as Iskra, the delicate beaded straps bring plenty of romance.
4. To sleeve or not to sleeve? (We have options!)
So many plus-sized brides come into our boutique looking for long-sleeved gowns because they feel insecure about their arms. Now, we love a long-sleeved wedding gown as much as the next person, but we strongly recommend brides only go for this option if they actually like the look of sleeves. For one thing, sleeves draw attention to the arms, which is often the opposite of what a self-conscious bride wants. But more importantly, sleeves can be very hot in the summer and be hard to move in, depending on the cut of the dress.
Instead, we recommend an off-the-shoulder sleeve for brides who feel safer with something on their arms, but which isn’t as hot or constricting as a full sleeve. Even better? The off-the-shoulder neckline is stunning on almost every bride.
For brides who have their hearts set on sleeves, Hallie by Stella York combines tattoo lace with fabric-covered buttons at the wrists for an elegant finish. Halona, also from Stella York, comes in both sleeved and sleeveless versions, so you can see both and decide which you like better.
If you’re interested in the off-the-shoulder look, might we suggest Kateri? Don’t be fooled by the simple fabric. The plunge neckline gives it a sultry allure that has us head over heels. Or if you’re in love with the boho trend (aren’t we all?), Constance is an unforgettable gown which unmistakably channels Brigitte Bardot.
5. Your vision is not out of reach, but achieving it may take some creativity.
Finally—and this is true for all our brides—it’s never good to think too narrowly about your vision for a dream gown. For instance, we would always encourage a bride to have a general idea for the look she’s trying to achieve, but not to get too hung-up on the specifics. You should know whether you want a boho dress or a princess ballgown, for instance, but it’s best not to arrive with a long checklist, because you may inadvertently be cutting your dream gown from your search simply because it doesn’t have the long sleeves you thought you wanted.
For instance, a couple of our favorite plus-sized gowns include Cambry, from Essense of Australia, and Neve, from Lis Simon. Cambry combines a sweetheart neckline with the off-the-shoulder sleeves that we love, as well as a fitted bodice that provides support as well as flattering definition. Meanwhile, the straps on Neve provide just the right amount of support while the plunging neckline and low back will have you feeling like a million bucks!
Our TWD-ettes are ready to help you find the perfect plus-sized wedding dress.
If you’re ready to try on plus-sized gowns for your wedding, set up an appointment with us. We carry a selection of plus-sized wedding gowns in our store, in sizes ranging from 18–22, and can answer all your questions about how to style or alter your dress to achieve your perfect look. Schedule an appointment today to get started.