Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Tall Girl Treat: Brides and Wedding Dresses

When we posted the last Tall Girl Treat column on Facebook, a few of you asked some really good questions. So why not answer them! Today though, is all about brides. Lovely, lovely brides.

@lovelyclaire on Twitter asks: "I've a tall girl challenge - wedding dresses!  I'd like a) to not look like a Disney princess and b) not require a remortgage?!"

Well, as much as I like looking at swishy silken frocks, I'm no expert in this field. But luckily, I know a girl who is: Laura, the 6ft author of All The Tall Things, got married a couple of years ago and I'm thrilled that she is able to share her words of wisdom and get all you tall engaged girls into amazing dresses.

Over to you Laura!
 Benjamin Roberts '2359' I can't resist just one princessy frock, sorry
When I got engaged, my already-married friends told me just how easy it would be for me to find a wedding dress.

“Everything in the bridal shops is made for tall women…”

“I had to take three feet off mine…”

And if you’re 5’9 or 5’10, then YES. The bridal shopping experience will be fabulous. All champagne, perfectly fitting dresses and crying mums. But if you’re very tall, it can be… well. Like your usual clothes shopping experience. Times a MILLION.

I’m just over 6ft, and having previously been a bridesmaid – who had to hack off the straps of her Monsoon dress , turn it into a halterneck and secure it with double-strength tit-tape to give it a few cheeky extra inches – the idea of finding a wedding dress was depressingly unexciting.

But, it should be a fun experience, and if you keep your wits about you, I’ve learnt that it’s absolutely possible to find The One.

Made to measure for only £149? Thanks Honey Pie Boutique!
A few bridal designers now offer the opportunity to add extra length to their designs, and most make the relevant alterations for a long torso too. A few inches extra will generally cost you though, which seems grotesquely unfair. I chose one such designer – Benjamin Roberts – after I fell in love with a mermaid-esque lace and tulle creation. It was love. 

However, my bridal shop totally cocked up my dress (presumably they looked at the measurements in the factory and decided “no one is that tall”), and when I arrived for my first fitting, the hemline floated gracefully to just above my ankles. It prompted my one bridezilla moment of the entire wedding experience – which, given that my Gran died on my wedding day, must have made it a serious cock-up.

Tears flowed, mum anxiously looked over the contract, and the red-faced bridal shop owner protested “that’s how it’s meant to look”, before reluctantly adding an extra lacey scalloped trim to the bottom. And charging even more. But once it was finished, I loved it. And I’ve worn it at least five times to do the washing-up since.
Alfred Angelo actually has a Disney princess-inspired range - sssh, don't tell Claire!
For any occasion though, I find it’s the shoes that are hardest to find, and the prospect of my wedding seemed to exasperate my shoe-shopping nightmares. I couldn’t find anything pretty in a size 9.5, and even a whisper of a heel would have meant that the short dresses available would be even shorter.

French Sole Henrietta Pirouette pump, £100
I’d resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to settle for boring white pumps, but one lunchtime in London’s Bond Street, I fell head-over-flats for a pair of super-sparkly ballet pumps in French Sole. Their Pirouette range of leather pumps goes up to a size 44, and occasionally you can some really pretty pairs. Pricier than your average pump, but probably a damn sight cheaper than your average bridal shoe.

Laura's top tips

  • If you’re on a budget, consider finding a pretty vintage-style or 50s prom dress to wear with some killer heels, and show off your legs.
  • You might actually want to research prices for a completely made-to-measure, one-of-a-kind creation. You may be surprised to find that it ends up at the same price (particularly if you go off-the-beaten-track of London and other expensive cities).
  • If you find a designer that fits, don’t accept the first price you get. Call around other bridal shops to see who else stocks that style. Prices vary hugely from shop to shop, and it may be worth driving a few extra miles to save yourself as much as 500 quid.
  • Take some dressy shoes, even to your first fitting. Shop assistants will always say “I’ll grab you some shoes for you to try it on with, what’s your size?” And then look seriously bewildered when you say “Ooh, lovely. Size 10 please.”
  • If you want the dress to be trailing along the ground – TELL THEM. And make sure they make a big fat note of it in red pen on your file. It’s your dress.
  • Buy a long way ahead. Unless it’s a shotgun wedding. And on that note, if it’s bridal + tall + maternity that you’re looking for, I wish you all the luck in the world. You are ruddy well going to need it my lovely.
Amazing! Thanks so much to Laura for her advice - you can find her over at All The Tall Things. And if you've got a fiendish fashion query you'd like sorted out, just let us know in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter.

23 comments:

  1. Woooo!! Thanks, ace Domestic Sluttery ladies!!

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  2. Great article! I got married in January (all nearly-6-foot of me) and ended up buying a 3/4 length dress from my favourite designer then getting a matching petticoat made relatively cheaply by someone on Etsy which filled out the dress AND took it down to the floor. The bonus is that I can then wear the dress by itself as a cocktail dress and get some good further use out of it which was absolutely my aim.

    After a similar period fretting about finding flat but elegant shoes in a size 9, I eventually decided to wear some flat gold pumps that I already owned which meant that I felt completely comfortable and didn't have to worry about unexpected blisters etc.

    Thanks for writing up all the tips - really good to know that there are some good options out there for future tall brides!

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    1. What a brilliant idea Amy! Love it. Also, gold shoes? Yes please. I didn't see those in the pictures, probably because I was too busy squawking over your great dress.

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  3. And dresses with straps - hurrah. Just got to find a new husband (gave the first one away ;) )

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  4. This is fab. I'm only 5'4 so clearly don't need it, but I loved reading it anyway.

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    1. Completely. I'm about to embark on bridal dress shopping with my sister (5ft) so, while we face a whole load of different problems, there's some really sound advice in this piece that I hope we'll be able to apply.

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    2. My two best friends who I bridesmaided for are both titchy compared to me - they went for made to measure and both looked absolutely stunning. I imagine off-the-peg will present the same trials that it does to tall girls - deep sigh! And have a wonderful time shopping with your sister Frances!

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  5. I want that lace strappy dress. Just for parties and stuff.

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  6. As a medium height girl who had a horrible time dress shopping, I'd just like to add that if you're starting to look now you may not find this all quite so much fun as everybody implies: this does not mean you are a freak!

    Follow your best instincts, get some good advice from people you trust and - if necessary - take a rational approach. What neckline is usually most flattering for YOU? What length makes your legs look ace? You don't have to wear a strapless lace-fest if you are a G cup who lives in trousers.

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    1. This is COMPLETELY spot on! For years, I wanted to get married in navy blue. And why not? There is no need to get forced into something you don't want just because it's "bridal". Very sensible comment Anon, thank you.

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    2. I'm just not a white dress kind of girl. I'd rather something designer (off the rack, I don't have a billion pounds), that I'd wear again. Wedding dresses have come a LONG way in recent years - they're much more like catwalk and red carpet gowns these days - but it still doesn't quite get away from swathes of bright white satin. That's never going to be very me.

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  7. Why not get a size 16 skirt and take in the sides, wear a bustier on top, you're sorted

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    1. That sort of defeats the point of this feature, Anon! What about someone who is tall and a size 16? There aren't enough options for women over 6ft - taking in a dress (particularly a wedding dress) that's the wrong size shouldn't be the answer. The proportions would be wrong and it's hardly going to make someone feel special on their wedding day.

      Tall women shouldn't have to jump through these hoops to get something that fits!

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    2. I understand the logic behind your comment Anon, but Sian's pretty much summed this up.

      In the late 90s and early 2000s, I spent years wearing trousers or skirts that were too big for me, just so I could get the length. All that did for me was to make me feel incredibly self-conscious, and, sad about my body: as though I didn't deserve to have clothes that fit, as though there was something worthless and horrific about me because I couldn't do the decent thing and fit into clothes on the high street.

      I wore a bustier and a larger-sized skirt to a university ball in second year. The skirt still fell too many inches above the floor.

      Whether you're large, petite, tall or short, there are assorted nightmares to be had regarding clothes. But on your wedding day particularly, there is no reason for you to have to feel anything less than wonderful and 100% you - and that's why I asked Laura to help with this post.

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  8. I am getting married in September this year, and am glad to hear that I am not the only person who hasn't found wedding dress shopping an amazingly enjoyable experience.
    I am not especially tall, so my height wasn't a problem, however, my desire to have a simple yet elegant dress, free from bling and lace, proved more of a challenge, so dress shopping became yet another wedding-related stress!
    In the end I have decided to go with a made-to-measure dress, which is currently being created exactly to both my size and my own design. It is wonderful going to each fitting and seeing how the dress is developing, and how if there is anything I am unhappy with, I can just ask and it will get altered.
    And the best thing is, the price is pretty much the same as a lot of the dresses that I looked at in the bridal shops.
    I can't recommend my dress designer highly enough, so if you live in the Cheltenham area of the country, and are having problems finding the perfect one, I would suggest going to have a chat with the lovely Nina Furness (www.ninafurness.com) before making your dress choice. Oh, and best of luck!

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    1. Wonderful - thank you for the recommendation Ruth, and have a glorious wedding in September!

      Many congrats from all at DS x

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  9. Re shoes - I wanted flats for my wedding (otherwise I'd be taller than my husband, and I never wear heels anyway so it wouldn't have been ''me" to wear heels, and I wanted to be comfortable all day!). I didn't see any bridal flats I liked, in fact I barely saw any at all.
    So I got a pair of £15 plain white pumps from Dorothy Perkins and customised them with beads/gems I got from my local craft shop. Total cost £20, they were as comfy as wearing slippers all day and they matched the bling on the bodice of my dress. As an added bonus they're not overly bridal so I have been able to wear them on other occasions too. I really recommend the DIY approach if you can't find anything that suits.

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    1. That is a brilliant idea! Will you link to a picture?

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    2. Of course!

      Here are the shoes: http://imgur.com/j5qbxE4
      And the bling on the dress: http://imgur.com/IqF7ieR

      (Sorry I'm not clever enough to do 'proper' links - customising shoes, no problem. Working the internet, no chance!)

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    3. Oh gosh, you look wonderful! Love the shoes (and flowers) too.

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  10. Great post Laura! It is a bit disheartening that every dress us tall ladies try on at the bridal boutiques don't even come close to touching the ground. I'm 6'2 and bought my frock from Alfred Angelo (with the extra length option). I couldn't have been more thrilled with the dress!! I have a couple of pics here (as well as a lament about a very ill-fitting bustier thanks to my long torso) - http://www.longleggy.com/2011/10/tall-wedding-shopping-woes.html

    P.S. Kat - Just happened upon your Tall Girl Treat feature after Laura linked to your blog and am now reading every article. LOVE the clothes you find.

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    1. You look GORGEOUS! What a wonderful dress and shoes - but most of all you just look so damn happy!

      Thanks very much for your kind words about the posts too, it makes it all worth while!

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  11. Hi Kat !! I am getting married on the 6th of Jan 2014...finding it so hard to find a dress...im 5.10 and a half !! My fiance is 5.9...im tall and ive broad shoulders..put on some flab too !! I hate the ballroom dress but I thought it would push down my height coz of the flair ... do uve anythin to suggest ?

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