Practical wedding-dress shopping tips

Dress Sense

Practical shopping tips to find your perfect wedding gown.

Most women know what style of wedding dress they want. But have you considered the practicalities of finding your dream frock that have nothing to do with how it looks? Renowned local dress designer Janita Toerien lets us in on the little things you may overlook when shopping for your dress.

1. Wear the right underwear

You head into the changing area with a pile of gorgeous dresses; you try on the first one and it is just so … anti-climatic. Why doesn’t it look like you imagined? Well, for one, you’re wearing a bright blue thong that throws off the whole look.

‘Wear the right underwear so the G-string doesn’t make a shadow on the dress or you stress about panties that cut into your bum,’ says Janita. ‘Fitting consultants won’t judge you on your granny panties or boy shorts!’

Wearing undies that match your skin tone and shape, and suck in where necessary, help smooth out the silhouette so you can see exactly how the dress is meant to fit.

2. Factor in where you’re getting married

Janita says this is often forgotten: ‘Is the dress practical for your wedding? Consider the physical aspects of where you’re getting married and how your dress will fit into that.

‘For example, a heavy lace-trimmed train and veil will pick up any little twigs and dirt as you walk down the aisle of a forest wedding. Or a heavy duchess satin dress will be uncomfortably hot at a midday beach wedding.’

Choose a dress in the style you love, but that will still allow you to be as comfortable as possible.

3. Think about ‘the girls’

Don’t overlook the importance of your boobs! Too much cleavage can distract from your overall look; too covered up can look matronly, not to mention ensuring there’s no accidental spillage. ‘Big busts always look great in a lower neckline,’ Janita says, ‘but not too low – just enough to open up the chest and shoulder area. This can be a V-neck, off-the-shoulder or scooped neckline.’ But stay away from strapless, she pleads: ‘I could write a whole page about why, but for now just heed my advice.’

For our flatter chested sisters, your choices are much wider, but if you want your bust to appear larger, raise the neckline of the dress, she says. ‘Whether it’s a halterneck, V-neck, boat or round neck, simply lift that line a few centimetres.’

4. Walk, sit, crouch, bend, dance!

Standing in front of a mirror for 10 minutes isn’t going to give you the full effect of how a dress really wears. Does the top slip down? Do the straps fall off your shoulders? Does the bodice cut into your stomach when you sit? Do you trip on the hem?

Get a feel for the dress by sitting, crouching, hugging your mom and busting out a move with your hands in the air. If at any point you have to readjust it, imagine doing that a couple of hundred times on the big day. If it can be fixed with alterations, get them done. If not, it’s probably best to move on.

5. Ask about fabrics

Will it crease badly? Show sweat patches? Make you itch? Don’t assume all dresses are made equal.

‘Every kind of fabric has its own characteristics,’ Janita says, so a dress designer worth their salt will take the time to explain the different options and their pros and cons.

‘I take the bride fabric shopping to discuss exactly this. Does the fabric feel good on her skin? Does she perspire easily when under stress or does she have sensitive skin? Theses are all things to take into consideration.’

6. Buy for your current size, not your ideal size

Many brides go on a weight-loss mission before the wedding. If you’re one of them, it’s best to try lose the weight (or close enough) before you start shopping around. You never know if you’re going to lose the weight in time, so don’t buy around what might happen. The last thing you want is an ill-fitting dress on your big day. It is much easier to take a dress in with alterations than it is to let out (with much less risk of ruining the dress completely).

Close your circle

What dress-shopping mistakes does Janita see brides making all the time? ‘They bring too many people with them, and do far too many fittings in one day. Gurrrl, trust me – when you get to shop number three, you don’t want to hear any more opinions from your friends and family. Choose only two or three designers/boutiques to visit, and if you feel exhausted and overwhelmed at some point, take a step back, regroup and really think about what you want – forget everyone else’s opinions.’

What should you pack for the day of the wedding?
• Needle and thread
• Double-sided tape
• A pair of good scissors (‘Cut that train off if it gets in the way of dancing!’ Janita says.)

Originally published in Wedding Album 2/2018

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