The average woman in the UK is a size 16, so you’re neglecting a huge part of the market if you don’t stock bridal gowns for curvy, fuller-ﬁgure girls
Words: Jessica Brown
In the past, plus size brides have been perceived as a niche demographic, whereas in reality the average woman in the UK is a size 16. Until recently, the needs of fuller ﬁgure brides were poorly catered for. Thankfully in 2018 there is plenty of choice. Bridal boutiques, brands and designers only catering for smaller brides are missing out on an enormous chunk of the market.
“All brides want the same thing; to look and feel amazing. Curvy girls are no exception to that rule,” explains Lydia Sayles, creative manager at True Bride. “Women with fuller ﬁgures want the same trends and looks as those who wear a smaller size. Having said that, we ﬁnd curvier brides like to wear a sleeve or have some arm coverage, maybe showing slightly more bust and slightly less back. Just because a bride has been labelled as ‘plus sized’ doesn’t mean she wants to look anything other than incredible on her wedding day.”
So fundamentally, what are the diﬀerences in dresses for a fuller ﬁgure bride? “A curvy bride might still want to wear a super sexy, skin-tight ﬁshtail rather than hide her ﬁgure,” explains Lydia. “Our True Curves range aims to oﬀer girls the same options as our main collection, with technical adjustments to give our curves range an edge. We developed our Curves fabrics to ﬂatter and support a curvier shape, with extra boning to our corsetry and an internal construction to support a fuller bust.”
For boutiques looking to stock plus size gowns, what are the current styles and trends? “This season is all about a sexy, glam look with a nod to Great Gatsby style,” continues Lydia. “There is a dramatic ﬂair throughout the collections, incorporating key trends of waterfall sleeves, beading and oversized trains that are guaranteed to turn heads.”
Shawne Jacobs, Creative Director of Anne Barge, which has a stunning Curve Couture collection that epitomises classic bridal style, agrees that all brides want the wow factor. “Every bride should feel conﬁdent and beautiful on their wedding day,” says Shawne. “Boutiques with size inclusive styles allow women to celebrate their curves and ﬁnd their dream gown no matter what their shape or size.”
While it makes clever business sense for all boutiques to extend their collections to cater for curvier brides, some plus size experts believe this demographic still needs an element of specialist attention, with gowns that truly reﬂect each and every bride’s needs.
Michele O’Neill from Callista Bride, the largest dedicated plus-size collection in the world, reveals: “Whilst I do feel all boutiques should treat all brides, whatever their size, the same, I do understand that the size of the boutique may determine what the shop can specialise in.
They might not have the space to do plus size justice. And what I mean by that is – having just a few plus size dresses at the back of a rail is not good enough; brides needs to have choice and an expert in ﬁtting. Therefore she may feel more comfortable in a specialist boutique.” Like all bridal collections a plus size gown must cater for all wedding types, whether that is formal or informal, beach-style, grand or intimate.
There also needs to be gowns for every bride in terms of personality, size, or shape. Talking about their current styles, Michele continues: “Our gowns are always looking forward, giving the plus size bride fashion with expert construction and ﬁt. Our curvy brides are loving the same looks as regular size brides, dresses with shear yolks and tattoo lace placements, full tulle skirts or slim ﬁshtails, in pretty ﬂower prints and soft shades of champagne and ivory. Our most popular sizes are 22 and 24.”
Meanwhile Vivien Felstein, CEO of Veromia and its multi-award-winning Sonsie collection (which caters for brides up to a size 32) disagrees that there should be specialist plus size shops. Vivien believes all boutiques should extend their range and cater for today’s modern bride, whatever her size. “Women are more in touch with their bodies nowadays,” she explains. “When brides go into a boutique they expect to ﬁnd their size whether that’s an 18, 24 or bigger. All boutiques should cater for curvy brides, every brand should go up to a bigger size and they should do it properly.”
Vivien continues: “By that I mean don’t send curvier brides upstairs to a diﬀerent collection. Add plus size dresses into your normal collections on the main shop ﬂoor, support your brides, guide them, help them. All brides want to wear the same, they don’t want to be judged as petite or plus size, they just want to look beautiful. The styling is exactly the same; boutiques need a section so they can help every bride.”
If you loved hearing from Vivien, check out Episode 3 of our podcast where she and Marisa Rooney from Beautiful Brides Liverpool further discuss their opinions on labelling curvy brides as ‘plus sized’.
So it seems that more and more boutiques are going to need to up their game to cater for a fuller-ﬁgured bride. Bernard Kenna, from Special Day Bridal has been providing for plus size brides for the last decade.
Bernard concludes: “We have been really successful with plus size brides for over 10 years. If a bridal shop wants to get the most out of the market they need to stock plus size dresses... there are a lot of curvy girls out there. Our most popular dresses are ivory blush or rum pink with delicate laces and ﬁshtails, usually with a small cap sleeve. There’s an amazing gown in our collection at the moment that’s like a Disney princess style with lots of sparkle. It’s a fairytail tulle skirt with glitter underneath. Curvier brides want to make the same head turning entrance as any other bride.”