Bridal Style & Beauty

Are Wedding Dress Sizes Different?

If you’ve just been told you’re a size or two larger in bridal than you are in streetwear, don’t panic! Here’s why.

I used to work for a major bridal brand in the UK. As part of my very varied job role, I would often be tasked with answering the phones. Most calls from the outside world were from retailers of ours, and would typically involve the chasing up of orders, or checking stock. However, sometimes we would get calls from future brides enquiring about certain styles, complaining, or simply asking general questions. One of the frequent questions I was asked by members of the public, was ‘are wedding dress sizes different?’. A simple and understandable query that, today, I thought I’d try to answer.

Almost all bridal gowns are not sized the same as a regular dress from a fashion store. You may be a size 8 US at H&M or Zara, but when you start looking at wedding dresses, you may find that your size moves up two, possibly more sizes if you’re curvy.

are wedding dress sizes different bride with bouquet

Understanding, and coming to terms with the fact that wedding dress sizes are different from street clothing is essential if you want a successful, and enjoyable shopping experience. Whether you’re buying online (please don’t!) or at a bridal boutique.

Just remember that sizing is just a number. A tool designed to help find you the perfect fit for your body. Not something created to insult, or make you feel anything other than your beautiful self!

Why Are Wedding Dress Sizes Different?

When it comes to wedding dress size charts, there are two basic aspects at work. The difference between bridal sizing and typical streetwear is explained below.

Bridal is Designed in Europe

Bridal gown designers are generally located in Europe, which means wedding dress sizes are often different from streetwear in the US. Even though there are bridal gown brands in North America, many still utilize the European wedding dress sizes chart, either by habit or because many of their designers are from Europe.


wedding dress sizes cardboard hanging on rails

Dresses are Designed for Models

Trunk show dresses are hot off the runway, which means they’re always much too tiny for real women. Why? Clothing designers seek models with unrealistic dimensions to walk the catwalk in their dresses. On a wedding size chart, that would be a size 2 in the US, and a size 6 in the UK. A wholly unrealistic size for the average woman.

Therefore, trunk show gowns typically cannot be tried on because they are too small. However, trunk shows do provide a good overview of current wedding designs, and if you can wait a few months, most bridal stores will acquire larger samples for clients to try on.

The Silhouette May Affect Wedding Dress Sizes

The cut of the garment may also influence its size. Let’s say, for example, a bride is blessed with a bigger hip than bust line, and desires a gown with a full skirt. That bride would be advised to purchase a gown a size lower, to fit her bust and waist better.

With a long skirted wedding gown, the bride’s hip proportions may not be as important. But if it’s a fitted gown, the bride should order to the largest measurement given, and have the gown changed throughout to get a better fit.

What you need to always remember is that all wedding dresses need to be altered. And because of that, wedding dress sizes are fairly immaterial. If you’re being advised to order a bridal that is two sizes bigger than you believe you are, it’s not because they think you’re fat! It’s because they want their seamstress to have the best opportunity to make you look perfect.


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