Your wedding is often viewed as one of the best days of your life, filled with confetti, cake, embarrassing relatives, and lots of alcohol. And for many brides, one of the most important details of the day is their clothes.
However, with an average dress size in the UK of size 16 and many bridal brands stocking limited (read: smaller) size ranges, curvier future brides may not be able to purchase their dream outfits. It’s something fashion blogger Callie Thorpe researched when she shared her own wedding dress shopping experience in various boutiques.
Now, with the rise of high street wedding dresses, there is hope that the more accessible price point that big brands are offering could also translate into more comprehensive size, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.
Not-so-fun fact: wedding dresses run small anyway, which means that if you’re a size 16 in jeans, you are likely a size 18 or 20 in terms of the bride. The thing is, even if you can find a place that fits your size, plus size wedding dresses are often “poorly tailored to a taller woman’s figure” or downright “unfashionable”.
Natalie is currently planning her wedding, but as a size 24, she’s struggling to find a dress that is both inexpensive and actually fits her. “The styles offered in my size often seem out of date and as if no thought had been given to the design for oversized people,” explains Natalie. “For example sleeveless bandeau styles, which are beautiful but may not be as comfortable for plus sizes due to body image issues around exposed arms.”
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“Every woman is different and has different levels of self-confidence, so it’s important that dresses are available to celebrate every woman regardless of shape or size,” explains Jane of Celebrating Curves Bridal. What works for one bride may not work for another. So it is very important to have different options. “The biggest misconception about curvy wedding dresses is that they all look the same and that every woman wants to cover herself up,” adds Jane.
The story goes on
This uninspired design approach has been spotted in oversized high street collections, with curve areas feeling like an afterthought, but it feels even more poignant for brides to shop for wedding gowns.
“My store specializes in plus size (16+) dresses, so every day I get feedback from brides who have been to other stores and have been disappointed with the choices and treatment they received,” explains Jane, who worked with started buying business after their own experience with retailers who were not suitable for their size. “I am amazed that oversized women are still being discriminated this way in 2021.”
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While you might argue that bespoke dresses are always the option, with bespoke cuts that cost a premium price compared to standard looks, many budgets just don’t allow it and lead brides to seek cheaper alternatives for wedding dresses.
Just because a bridal line on Main Street claims to be a tall size doesn’t mean it. Certain brands have described their ranges as “size inclusive” even though they only keep straight sizes in stock and in some cases stop at size 16. This performative inclusivity is seen as a form of “wokewashing” and must stop.
That being said, wokewashing inclusive of size is not just found in the high street wedding dress market, it is an epidemic that is being seen across the industry. In some cases, brands have even featured plus-size models in their campaigns when in reality they only stock up to size 14.
“It’s annoying to see brands claim to be inclusive and ‘diverse’ but don’t make clothes for people over 16, which I wouldn’t even call ‘plus size’,” explains Elizabeth, a recent PhD student from Belfast started looking for her perfect wedding dress.
Elizabeth is a size 18, slightly above the average dress size for women in the UK, but still feels isolated from the industry. “It feels like they’re using the term to take a look at their brand, but there’s nothing to back it up, just branding.”
The abuse of progressive buzzwords and false promises creates the impression that certain labels want to be considered inclusive without making the effort to make positive changes.
“It’s a joke, to be honest, but not at all surprising,” adds Gina Tonic, freelance writer and founder of The Fat Zine, who fights against tokenist plus-size marketing – it just feels meaningless, and it just is another example of how capitalism and fat liberation do not coexist. “
Push for meaningful change
Let’s not forget, we live in a time when the oversized clothing market in the UK alone is worth £ 5.08 billion and growing. So you’d think the fashion industry would be interested in making curvy women feel welcome and excited to spend their money on gorgeous wedding dresses instead of being stigmatized and excluded. But how can we help bring about change?
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“It shouldn’t be because of the oversized community to correct our sense of isolation, instead of a society that isolates us again and again,” emphasizes Gina, starting with the fact that the responsibility lies with the brands, the gap in treatment between pluses to close and heterosexual women in the bridal industry. “There is no answer to solving this feeling except brands that actually offer inclusive sizes.”
While the availability of wider, affordable wedding dress listings ultimately depends on individual brands expanding their bridal offerings, there is actually something you can do.
The brands make the difference
It must be said that there are still some brands that sell inexpensive curve dresses, there are just fewer of them. So why not help support these labels in doing their part to prove that it is financially viable to store bridal options for those with curves? Some of our favorite size wedding dress brands include ASOS Curve, Celebrating Curves, True Curves, Chi Chi, Monsun, Simply Be, Maggie Sottero, and Beautiful Brides.
Loud Bodies, Plus Equals, and Fashion Brand Company are also the ones that should be on your radar. They offer versatile plus size clothing that can replace (and then reuse) a wedding dress.
Check out the roundup of the best affordable plus size wedding dresses in our Contributing Curve Editor:
Where is that for us? In short, fashion has come a long way in terms of inclusivity with the rise of more accessible bridal price ranges, but the industry still has a lot to do to get to the point where the stigma against oversized people no longer exists. existent.
We, the buyers, need to talk about the lack of choice for oversized brides and also support the bridal dress brands (both high street and boutiques) with wide size ranges, which shows that there is a market here and we have refused to do so no longer ignored. Let’s move further into a future where anyone, regardless of their size, can search for their perfect dress.
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