Monday, May 24, 2010

Alternative dresses for alternative bodies

When I saw this list, I laughed out loud.  Because most of these dresses, with their total lack of a waistline and their drap-y flow-y swishy fabric, would make me look terrible.  I am aggressively pear-shaped, with narrow shoulders and large thighs.  I counted ONE dress on this list that would work for me.  (But I'm wearing my super-flattering cupcake dress, and I'm super psyched about that.)

This is not to say that busty, or hippy, or otherwise not-model-shaped women can't rock the alternative dresses, and there is no reason that you have to wear Spanx to do it. (Not that there is anything wrong with spanx.)  I think if I had seen more alternative dresses that would actually look good on me (am I the only one who thinks the entire J.Crew wedding line is designed for women who are shaped like toothpicks?) I think I would have given it more consideration.

Figure flattering alternative wedding dresses do exist - some of them come from the Alfred Angelo Little White Dress line and the David's Bridal Online line and other online retailers - because frankly, and I know it sounds hard to believe, wedding dresses are actually designed to flatter a variety of figures. (Except mermaid dresses, although if somebody was to make a "mermaid dresses for pear shaped people" line, I maybe would have gotten one.)  I have found that generally, I am disappointed by retailer's attempts to create a "wedding" line, in which the dresses cost far too much for far too little, yet are billed as "affordable" (not just J.Crew - White House Black Market and Ann Taylor did this too).  These dresses often lack any kind of structure and are made of lightweight fabrics, because when retailers think "alternative" dress, they apparently think, "only skinny people don't want to wear a typical wedding dress."

Does anyone else with an imperfect body ever feel similarly excluded from the alternative dress discussion?  Where have you seen alternative dresses that accommodate (and appreciate!) women of all sizes?


  1. Good thing I like the regular dresses, because all the alternative slinky dresses (that do cost way too much) would look horrendous on me!

    By the way, I disagree that mermaid dresses don't work for pear shaped bodies, they absolutely do. It's the apple shaped ones (people that keep their weight in their stomach, vs the hips) that can't pull them off.

  2. It's not just people without perfect figures. I would never claim to have a perfect figure, but I do have a good one, and most wedding dresses at least look OK on me. And I still couldn't pull off most of those dresses. They aren't just made for skinny people, they are made for anorexic-looking tall people...which is almost no one.

    I haven't spent much time looking at alternative dresses because I always knew I wanted a princess dress, but I agree that there is no reason there shouldn't be dresses for everyone. The only alternative dresses I have seen and really liked are from Medieval themed weddings on Those seem to be very flattering on all sorts of figures.

  3. I think there are way more options out there than you'd think. Pretty much every post at Offbeat bride features dresses of every color and shape (and brides for that matter) and in all ranges of budgets too. I'm not saying it's easy but it's completely attainable.

  4. my dress is being made by Chrissy Wai-Ching and omg, many of her dresses are flattering as HELL on a variety of body shapes! she'll also work with you to get a dress that will work with your figure. i really liked the look of a dress that looked horrid on me, so she's taking some of the details from that dress and adding them do a dress i did like on me.

  5. I went to David's Bridal and was PLEASANTLY surprised by 1.) selection and 2.) sizes and 3.) how NOT FAT the consultant made me feel. She was like, "oh, this is a little snug. If you get a 14W it will fit perfectly and you will look flawless." (HELLZ YEA!) MUCH better than hearing something like, "um, that's too small. We'll have to go a size up." EW.

    I'm horrible at this dress finding (still haven't checked out the places you recommended), but a follow up post to this with people's recommendations would be great!

    p.s. We're going to a fitting Sunday at the JCrew in Georgetown for Josh. He has the "perfect" body type for their mens stuff- tall and slender. Me? Not so much. I'm kind of dreading their dresses. Although they are pretty, they look too clingy.

  6. I think it's great that you know what silhouettes work for your body, and which ones don't. Far too many people have yet to learn that lesson.

    That's the trick with any dress alternative or traditional, just because you think it's amazing on a model, doesn't mean it's made to flatter your shape. I feel a little sad for all the woman who see a dress in a magazine, order it without trying it on, and then realize it's not right for them.

    As a combo hourglass/pear shaped lady myself, I've figured out that anything that emphasizes my thin waist is good. I've got big hips/thighs and a broad ribcage (for my size, thanks to swimming), so my shopping excursions are a little challenging. But I'm going with an alternative dress that I'm making, and I have confidence that it'll turn out well because I'm sticking to a silhouette I'm very familiar with.