Let me offer you this advice right off the bat: none of the dresses you try on will fit perfectly. They are sample sizes.
All the dresses I tried on had to be clamped onto me, despite my "ideal hourglass figure." But, that is not why I'm writing this post, instead I offer you this wisdom: if you have a large bust, be aware that the bridal market is not created equal with regards to it. Apply your clothing knowledge here as you would elsewhere.
My big no-no list:
- Heavily beaded tops that sparkle like crazy - because the ladies don't need more attention than they already get.
- Straight across necklines - go for a sweetheart or v-neck, usually shows them off better. However! necklines can be altered. So if you fall in love with the cut of a specific dress, but it has a straight-across neckline, ask about the possibility of altering the neckline. Also, for all I know you look fabulous in a straight neckline. Use your good judgement!
- Empire waist seams - I don't care what your fitter tells you, that empire seam will most likely sit part way up your breast tissue even in the correct size and tailored to your body. It is the one thing I cringe the most about when I see it in wedding photos and bridal portraits. Two exceptions to this: if either the dress can be custom made to your measurements or if you know the shoulder to underboob measurement will match your measurement.
- Low-dipping backs - You need support from a band. Sewn in cups will not cut it if your dress has a very low back and no straps. (I broke this one. I went and bought a low-backed wedding dress. Whoops!) There are several ways to accommodate droopy boobs in a low-backed dress, but they require lots of extra work on your part, but hopefully less stress than I went through. When I have the blog entry on how I dealt with my own wedding dress posted, I'll put a finely crafted link in here.
Other bits of wisdom:
- Bring your own well-fitting, strapped bra that gives your breast tissue the shape you want people seeing on your wedding day. The actual bra you wear may or may not be that one, but you want to put your best breast shape forward. I strongly recommend a strapped bra because if the dress has to clamped onto your bra, a strapless bra may sit weird as it bears the weight of a heavy dress, causing your breasts in the dress to look funky or even pop out (voice of experience here.) Also, droopy boobs look very different in a wedding dress than perky boobs. HOWEVER, if you already have the bra and undergarments you plan to wear, bring those!
- Your fitter usually has their own agenda and ideas, which may or may not agree with yours. I preferred the stores which had open stock and labels still on the dresses, as compared to the closed stock, un-labelled gowns I tried on at others. I felt like I had power over my dress choice, and therefore my body. In the end, the dress I bought was one my fitter picked for me, and I LOVE it. But, I felt more comfortable in my final choice because I had seen all the stock the store offered in person.
- Also, your fitter probably doesn't understand issues surrounding large cup small back fit. Hence avoiding empire waist seams, often there is not enough fabric for the empire waist to sit underneath all the breast tissue once the waist is taken in.
- Not all wedding dresses fit the same. Some dresses are made for honest-to-goodness hourglass figures, others are made for apple shapes, and some are meant for waifs. So check the size charts! There is a huge difference between having to take 6 inches or more off the waist of a gown that fits your bust/hips versus only taking 1 or 2 inches off.
- Try on lots of different styles. Seriously, do.
- Half-muslins and full-muslins are your friend (toiles to all you non-US peeps.) If you fall in love with a particular style that will be difficult to impossible to alter properly to your body, ask if the designer offers customization of the dress through a half or full-muslin. Essentially, they make a muslin (a type of inexpensive fabric) copy of the top of the dress to your measurements, fit the cheap fabric properly, and then use that as a pattern to make your custom gown that fits your boobs. This choice allows larger chested women to wear an empire waisted style that sits properly.
- Your wedding dress should make you feel like you want to feel on your wedding day. I don't know what that means for you, but trying on dresses, planning your wedding, etc. should help you pinpoint the feeling you want to evoke in yourself when you put on that dress and commit to the person you love. Your dress should show off the things you love about yourself in a way you are comfortable showing them off.
Anyone else have wisdom to hand down from the ages when dealing with a large bust and wedding gowns? Specific styles that worked well for you? Styles or designers to avoid?
Also, did any of you buy the support garments you wore on your wedding day before you bought the dress? And if so, did you wear those garments while trying on dresses?
Part 2: My Experience Trying On Dresses (with pictures!)