Size Lies


I ordered the bridesmaid dresses yesterday. It was a chaotic and worrying experience.

My bridal shop sells prom dresses too, so the place was overrun by sixteen-year-old girls trying on amazing pageant gowns (my favorite of which was bright yellow with bold silver sequin appliques and the Stephanie Seymour hemline).  The receptionists were frantically trying to reschedule a girl missing her appointment because of a surprise hospitalization for sometime between now and May 14th.  [Yes, they are all booked up between March 30th and May 14th. My fitting, scheduled in January, is on May 15th.]  Any lingering regrets I might have had about not going to prom dissipated.

We found an unoccupied corner to look over the size chart for the bridesmaid dress I’d picked out.  I have three bridesmaids, and if you asked me yesterday I would have guessed that they are all about a size 6 (Claudia is really more like a size zero, but she just gave birth a month ago).  But if I had followed the dressmaker’s size chart, I would have ordered a size 4, a size 10, and a size 14. To be fair, the US Standard size chart, even though it is not the same, produces the same result if you go by the largest measurement for each woman.

Ultimately I ordered a size 6, 10, and 12.  And I’m guessing everyone will need their dress taken in in at least one place. Claudia is obviously the biggest X factor here because who knows what happens to a breastfeeding first-time-mom’s body in the four months after delivery.  Becky’s will allegedly fit in the waist and hip but I’ll believe that when she tells me herself. Carrie, paradoxically, had to insist they size hers up one, and she might have to pay to have that undone.

This has all served as a reminder why traditional bridesmaid dresses are so frowned upon in the wedding blog community.  Although looking at even the standard chart, it seems like I should have much more trouble buying regular old dresses that fit given I’m a size 10 in the bust, a size 4 in the waist and a size 6 in the hips. Maybe vanity sizing has truly run amok, or maybe none of my dresses actually fit.


  1. We had the exact same experience a couple of months ago buying dresses for my friends wedding – we all look about the same but ended up with a 4, 6, 8 and 14. The weirdest part is that mine had to go up a size due to the waist measurement – which is always where things are big on me and my hips are usually the problem. So the size charts seem wacky. I’ll have to take in the bust I’m sure.

  2. ah so confusing and strange isnt it??? all my friends were larger sizes than i thought and i am sure none will fit perfectly. so ridic!

  3. dude…i was a size 10 during my cousin’s wedding and had to order a SIXTEEN in my bridesmaid dress and then have it tucked everywhere except the hip because of all the layers. they make that shit weird sizes so you have to pay for the alterations, i’m positive.

    • They absolutely do. I think the samples are intentionally shapeless. I wear a 10 and had to get a 14 in an empire-waist dress. My largest area is below the empire-waist height, so I said.. I mean, if the bottom is pretty poofy and wide, could I just go down a size or two? They resisted, politely, I guess. And yeah, I had to pin the sweetheart boobs down, tighten the spaghetti straps, and the skirt was far too wide. I looked pregnant-er than those dresses usually make me look. Sigh.

  4. Back in the day, wealthy women bought dresses and other garments based on the largest part of their body, just like we still do for bridesmaids and wedding dresses. And just like in the wedding industry, those wealthy women would have practically every garment tailored individually for her. At some point, women stopped going to the tailor and began buying more separates (which could be bought in different sizes). Vanity sizing took over and seam allowances shrunk (larger seam allowances allow garments to be taken out by the tailor).

    Basically what I’m trying to say is that the wedding industry still operates like the ready-to-wear industry did in the 1950s.

  5. I kind of love buying bridesmaid and other fancy-ish dresses, because, as Ms. Bunny alluded to, they’re so much easier to have tailored to fit your body exactly. They’re made to be tailored! I just ignore the size on the label and remember that it’s going to look awesome once it’s tailored!

  6. I’m having the same issue at the moment. I want to be careful not to order too small or too too big!

  7. I don’t understand sizing anywhere. I have so many different sized clothing items its ridiculous. anyways, glad you found dresses and know what needs to be done to alter them. check that off the list!

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