Monday, March 2, 2009

Party Dresses

Springtime welcomes flowers and green grass and open-toed shoes, among other things. It's also the season of prom and weddings. Half the fun of formal functions (or maybe more than half, depending on the function...) is in planning what you're going to wear. As Bombshells, for whom formal wear can be a little less accessible than for our size 12 and under counterparts, planning ahead is essential. To make sure you look exactly the way you want to at your formal event, keep these tips in mind:

The Internet is Your Friend.
Grab a measuring tape, a pad of paper and your computer. Measure yourself (hips, waist, bust, etc) and write down the numbers. Refer back to those numbers every time you log in to a new web site. Sizes vary by almost every retailer, and because fit is incredibly important in formal wear (hell, in anything you wear, really) it's not safe to assume your size 22 at Lane Bryant is the same as Torrid's is the same as David's Bridal.

If possible, order a few dresses so you can try each of them on. Check the return policies before ordering, so you can be sure to return whichever dress doesn't make the cut. If you're not sure what size you should order, go for the larger of the two that you're debating between. Your dress will probably need alterations anyway - make sure you have enough dress to work with.

Scope out my favorite online sites for formal wear:
Coco Myles- as close to custom-made, couture-esque clothing that most of us will ever get to. Create your own dress by choosing from a variety of styles, colors and fabrics. Or customize celebrity-inspired gowns.

House of Brides - features a great selection of plus size wedding gowns. You'll find a wide variety of styles - I especially like those by Mon Cheri.

Prom Girl - whether your dream prom dress is all out princess or something a little sexier (Seriously my teenage Bombshells, go for the princess dress. You have your whole life to show off your boobs), you'll find it here. And for those of us whose prom has come and (long) gone, don't discount this site for your next formal dress. There are quite a few grown-up selections to choose from.

Igigi - features formal dresses and a new selection of wedding dresses.

Make an Appointment
If you're heading to a store, whether it's a formal wear shop like David's Bridal or a department store, call ahead and make an appointment. Tell the sales person what size you are - this will ensure that you don't make a trip to the store only to find that there's no selection in your size.

When you come to your appointment, plan on spending at least an hour - probably more- trying on dresses. Wear a strapless bra and bring shoes that are the same height as those you will probably wear with the dress. Bring a friend who's already seen all your lady bits - you'll need her to help you in and out of the dresses. I also suggest bringing a snack and your favorite source of caffeine.

A few of my favorite formal wear stores include:

David's Bridal - you can buy formal dresses off the rack or order one if they don't have what you want on site. Their selection of wedding dresses in plus sizes is, to the best of my knowledge, unmatched. I bought mine there; it was the best experience, and I LOVED my wedding dress.

Nordstrom - sure, you have to slog your way through lots of beige sparkly jacket/shapeless dress combos in the Women's World at Nordstrom but your search will be worth it. Nordstrom carries a good selection of formal wear in plus sizes, and their personal shopping service is fantastic.

Dillards - I hold a soft spot in my heart for Dillards. It's where both of my prom dresses came from. They've been working harder in the past few years to have more fashion-concious selections in our sizes.

Your local wedding dress shop - while it's true that a smaller, local dress shop probably won't have much on hand for you to try on, that doesn't mean they can't get it. Give them a call, let them know what size of dress you're looking for and they'll probably be able to work with you.

Get it Altered
Most women wear formal dresses just a few times in their lives. I believe that if you're going to do it, do it right. Get the dress altered - make sure it's the perfect length, that there's no gaping at the back, that it falls flat over your butt, and that the bust fits perfectly. A few nips and tucks will make a huge difference.

From Igigi. From Prom Girl. From Macys.


  1. Great advice & excellent links. I love Dillards too!

    My prom dress came from Silhouettes though - they have beautiful dresses during that season.

  2. Hmmm...I will have to check out Silhouettes. Thanks, DJ!


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