Celebrate your curves

Whatever your shape or size, shopping for your dream gown should be an exciting and memorable experience. Lori McPherson, owner of Astra Bridal, answers some questions from full-figured brides searching for the perfect wedding gown…


Q I’m a full-figured girl. What style of gown would suit me best?
A The answer to this isn’t always straight forward because women of all sizes must find a gown to complement their body shape – whether it’s an hourglass, column, pear, apple or inverted triangle. The expert consultants at a bridal store can work with you to find the best gown for your body. However, remember that A-line skirts are a great option for fuller-figure brides, flowing away from your hips and giving the illusion of a smaller waist. Other great styles include a V-neck or sweetheart neckline, which will cover the décolleté but still call attention to your womanly curves.

Q What undergarments will I need?
A The construction that goes on underneath her wedding gown is every bride’s best friend. Try on gowns of high quality so you can see and feel what construction can do for your body. Boning can give you definition and shape in the right places. Lingerie is the other important hidden factor under your wedding gown. Have your torsolette fitted by an expert consultant so you can establish the foundation that will make you look the best on your wedding day.
If you’re planning on wearing Spanx, a special bra, or a corset beneath your gown, make sure you wear them to your fitting as they can really change the shape of your body.

Q Are there any fabrics to look for, or avoid?
A If you’re a plus-size bride, it’s important to choose a material that flatters your body. When the fabric is worked expertly to drape the body, it can hide and emphasise just where it is needed. Fabrics that are easily ruched (ribbed, creased, folded, pleated or laced) look great on fuller frames because they conceal imperfections and can disguise heavier areas. Thicker fabrics are ideal because they smooth things out, creating a streamlined silhouette. Avoid heavily beaded bodices and appliqués, which can draw attention to areas you’d rather minimise.

Q I’m self-conscious about my arms. Any tricks to disguise them?
A Arm coverage is something a full-figured bride is often concerned about. Thankfully, the fashion right now is fantastic, and there are plenty of styles with sleeves (full, cap or illusion) and gorgeous lace jackets to complement a strapless gown. Most bridal shops can also add sleeves or straps to any gown, so don’t feel restricted when trying on different styles.

Q I’m planning to diet, so should I hold off looking for my gown?
A Often if a bride is body conscious she will leave trying on gowns until she musters the courage – or loses some weight. My advice is, don’t wait. Unless you are losing 30 kilos plus, your basic shape won’t change. If you leave it too late then you may have a limited range to choose from, as many of the delivery times can be more than four months. Don’t buy a smaller size because you’re planning to lose weight – gowns are easier to take in and much harder to let out!

Q Bridal stores only seem to stock small sizes. How will I try on any gowns?
A Something we find can really dishearten the curvy girl is to visit a store and find they can’t try anything on, as all the samples are a size 8. When you make your booking, don’t be afraid to tell them your size in street wear. If they aren’t enthusiastic about your gown and knowledgeable about larger sizes, phone another store. Don’t discount having a designer gown; nearly every ready-made designer works up to a size 28, and some higher. Make sure anyone who comes shopping with you has your best interests at heart. They should love you for who you are and share your vision of what you want for your wedding day.

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