07 March 2016

How altering my wedding dress changed the way I saw myself.

How altering my wedding dress changed the way I saw myself. Pic: lady in wedding dress, green shoes


I've been having my wedding dress fitted and altered. My dear dressmaker friend Jo is altering it - I've had about four appointments so far, with hopefully one more to go. We joked that I would be spending more time in the dress while it's been altered than on the wedding day!

I'm very short, you see, and about 30 cm of material has been taken off the several layers. And I'm also big busted, so the bodice has had to come out - to help me breathe properly and to minimise my cleavage. It's not always a blessing to be blessed!

The first time we met, she was politely honest with me, saying the dress doesn't fit as well as it should. I couldn't breathe with the dress zipped up, and at one stage, I felt a bit faint! My hour glass figure looked amazing - but it wouldn't look amazing if I was slumped on the floor on the big day, would it?!

We both panicked a little - six weeks from the wedding and my dream dress might be a disaster! I worried that I would need a new dress, and would waste the money I'd spent on the dress I have and that there wouldn't be enough time to find a new one!

I've stood in front of the mirror in my wedding dress for hours. At first, I grimaced, worried that my arms were too wobbly, that my back was rolling over the dress and that my boobs were enormous. I worried that the fit of my dress would stress my skin and I'd be even more uncomfortable on the day.

I couldn't see my size 10-12 figure in this dress - despite my reflection staring back at me. I couldn't love my body when I felt so uncomfortable and was supposed to be feeling my most beautiful. Jo's husband (who, along with Jo, I've known since my early teens) walked in after cricket one night - he said I looked amazing. I didn't believe it. I feared it was the wrong style and my figure wasn't the same as when I bought the dress. (And I'd was sore at that time so there wasn't a chance of going to the gym.)

After several appointments with Jo, we've worked out a solution to keep me comfortable and ensure the dress is still stylish. We've come a long way - Jo has done such a fantastic job. It's important for my skin to be calm - so she's made me jersey band that looks a bit like a pregnancy band to go under the boning. She's altered the dress to fit my bust and my height. It's perfect.

During yesterday's visit, my posture had changed, my breathing was natural and my breasts didn't look like they'd make me topple over. There wasn't a grimace because of wedding dress claustrophobia - but a broad, genuine smile. I am excited about wearing my dress for four or more hours.

Jo and I have spoken a lot about standard sizing and size, and how hard it is for dressmakers to cater to all shapes, sizes and heights. The wedding industry makes a certain shape and style of dress - which doesn't cater to the diversity of bodies. (And bridal magazine rarely show diversity.) So a size tag that doesn't correlate to bust-waist-hip and even height measurement can make you feel a bit self conscious (at worse, depressed). Slate outlines how a certain style of dress is easier for dressmakers to make, but doesn't suit all brides, and calls for more diversity in wedding dress styles. I agree.

I've learnt a lot while staring at myself in the mirror in my wedding dress for hours on end. I've learnt and appreciated the time and attention to detail that goes into dressmaking. I've learnt that fashion is uncomfortable when ill fitting. I've learnt that the way we see ourselves is different to the way others do. Comfort is key - and if I am uncomfortable, it shows. It's been lovely to be able to spend quality time with my friend. The right fitting dress can change my posture and outward happiness. I look and feel amazing now the dress fits.





  2. Fantastic story - thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  3. Oh my god, Carly, you've hit the nail on the head about lack of body shape diversity in bridal gowns. I remember trying on frocks when I was getting married (ironically, I was the editor of a bloody bridal mag at the time) and thinking it was MY BODY that was all wrong (like you, I'm short with a big bust). Every single frock looked RIDICULOUS.

    I have to say that the first thing I thought when I saw your wedding photo was how gorgeous you looked, and I thought your frock so incredibly beautiful. I want to change my wedding dress all over again! Your friend Jo did a fab job fitting it to suit your shape.

    Congrats again, Carly. Thrilled to bits for you guys. Rx


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