Wedding Shopping Myth: Choose the Dress that Fits Perfectly in the Store

To continue our Wedding Shopping Myth series, we’re going to explore the expectation that the bride should choose the dress that fits perfectly in the store. Here’s the truth: it is rare for a dress to fit perfectly in the store. Even if a bride is a size 4 and the dress they try on is a size 4, further alterations will need to be made to flatter the bride’s figure. So to dispel today’s myth, we’re going to explore various expectations with shopping for a dress, trying on a dress, and altering a dress.

Shopping for a Dress

When we typically go shopping for clothes, we are visiting shops that carry one piece in every size available. If we’re at Nordstrom and they don’t carry the dress we want in our size, what happens? Nordstrom will typically ship our size to our door at no cost. Unlike traditional shopping, bridal stores offer a different shopping experience.

Traditionally, bridal stores carry what is called “Stock Pieces.” This mean that they carry a gown in sizes 8-12 and they utilize their stylists to help pin a dress back to show the bride what it will look like. As a result, a size 2 bride will be covered in clamps and pins while feeling like she is swimming in a gown. Since bridal gowns are made to order, bridal shops will have larger sizes on the floor, pin them back, and then request for the bride’s gown to be made.

Recently bridal shops began carrying more varied sizes in styles that are more popular. This means they will carry a 4, 8, 14 or higher so that brides can get a better idea of how they will look in that dress. At Epiphany, we bring in certain styles and silhouettes in multiple sizes. If we know a dress will work on multiple figures, we will bring in multiple sizes. We want our brides to be able to try on as many styles, whether she is a size 2 or 22.

Trying on a Dress

Since bridal stores carry stock pieces, brides need to expect that there will not be a gown that fits them perfectly in the store.

It’s rare for the stock piece in the store to fit someone perfectly. Brides have to understand that the dresses can be altered or ordered to fit them truly properly. Part of finding a wedding dress is to trust the process.

This is where the stylist steps in. Stylists help brides find the dress every day, so they are familiar with what silhouettes look best on what body types, and, more importantly, they are there to assist you. You can trust the stylist to give you the look of a dress; they will pin it, clamp it back, and help you accessorize as you try each dress on.

When you’re trying on dresses, this is the most important idea:

Find the dress you MOST love with MOST of the elements you want and alterations and design changes can take care of the rest.

Altering a Dress vs. Design Changes

Altering a dress means that we are taking the existing dress you have on, ordering your size, and then altering it to further flatter your body type. Designing a dress means we are taking an existing dress and making design changes.

For example, here’s one dress with a lace topper vs. strapless:


One of the main requests we’re getting right now are making design changes to strapless dresses. Brides love the look of strapless dresses, but they also want to add a “shoulder treatment” to a dress. In this picture, a detachable shoulder is added to a strapless dress:


One more note about alterations is that there are a lot of stores that sell you a dress and then give you a list of local places that do alterations. What we recommend is to shop at a store that services you from beginning to end. At Epiphany Boutique, that is exactly what we do. We help you make an appointment, set you up with expert stylists that will help you envision what the dress will look like on your wedding day, make alteration suggestions, work with you on any design changes, and be the ones to do all of the work on the gown with their own hands. We are so happy to offer this service because we believe it is the best service we can give a bride.

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t expect the gown to fit you perfectly when you try it on at the store.

  • Be open minded to alterations and design changes. Bridal gowns need to be tailored to you.

  • Find the dress you MOST love with MOST of the elements you want and alterations and design changes can take care of the rest.