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Wedding Dress Sizing – it’s crazy!

Is wedding Dress sizing true to size?

Are wedding dresses true to size?

Have you heard the rumour that bridal sizing is different to the high street? Well it’s true and not just that, but it varies hugely from Designer to Designer.

The thing that many brides forget is that wedding dresses are very fitted. They follow the line of your body perfectly. And most aren’t stretchy or loose fitting like our every day clothes. This means that there is a little less wiggle room in the sizing than say a flower summer dress or a stretchy pair of joggers.

But don’t let numbers get you down.

You will vary from bridal designer to bridal designer (just like the variations on the high street)

Don’t be surprised if your wedding dress is a few sizes bigger than you normally wear.

You have not ballooned as you walked through our door… You’re exactly the same size! So don’t let the fact that you may have an order an 18 instead of your usual 14 get you down. Why should it? No-one else will see the size label of your dress. It’s just a number and means nothing.

Please don’t let some tiny numbers let you convince yourself that you are worth less than if the number was 1 or 2 digits lowers.

The other thing to bear in mind is that you could be a 12 in one designer, a 14 in another and a 16 in a 3rd. This is because they get to choose what their size 14 looks like. And it is often totally different to the measurements another designer chooses.

Take this example:

Your waist measures 36 inches. On the marks and spencer website, this puts you as a size 18 waist. Having a look at our designer size chart, you would be a Uk18 in Madison James, UK20 in Eva Lendel, a UK22 in Couture Collection! Same waist size, 3 different dress sizes. If you were to purchase a Madison James dress, you would walk out of the boutique feeling confident as it is a size you are comfortable with. However if you were to fall in love with a Couture Collection dress, ordering a size UK22 might trigger feelings of disappointment, upset or eve anger (believe us we have seen it all!) This is so sad that something as small as a number can cause this upset. Your poor waist is still exactly the same size!

Sizing is a minefield so do not let it dominate your mind negatively

So how does it work in the boutique?

We stock dresses in our store in sizes UK8-UK26.

These are for you to try on. They are ‘sample’ gowns. Once you have said “yes” we will order you a new dress in your size.

This means that when you try on our sample gowns, some will be too big and some will be too small.

However we have magic tricks to make them look like they fit you.

Bear in mind nothing will fit you perfectly during your try on. all our bodies are soooo different. That’s where alterations come in before your wedding.

With our sample gowns, we do have some flexibility in sizing. If the gown is an aline/ballgown skirt (ie a flowy loose skirt) we can usually make them fit 4-5 sizes either size.

If the skirt is fitted/straight cut it is a little trickier and we can usually go 1 (sometimes 2 if the fabric has some stretch!) size bigger and a few sizes smaller than our sample.

Once you have found your dream dress with us, we will then check those designer size chart and choose the correct size for you.

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How much are wedding dresses in the UK?

Eek. The thorny subject of the price of wedding dresses. Many shops will have their price range on their website which gives you a rough idea of a bracket of prices.

At Chameleon, we are refreshingly different. We have decided to be completely transparent about our prices. If you have a little browse of our website, you can see all the exact prices for each wedding dress we stock.

We want you to be prepared and comfortable with the dresses and price range we stock.

For a brand new gown, our dresses start at around £1,100 and go up to £2,600, however most our gowns fall within the £1,400-£1,800 bracket

Browse our wedding dress prices

Budget

Decide how much you want to spend.

Trying on (and falling in love with) a dress you will never be able to afford just leads to heartache. Trust us it’s not fun. You will end up comparing everything to that dress! 

We see all type of budgets. We won’t judge you – everyone’s limit is different. But we do need you to be honest.

Before you come shopping, check that the Designers you like and the dresses you are drawn to are in budget.

Smaller budget

If your budget is smaller than the dresses we have in store, give us a call to discuss your options. We sometimes sell discontinued or past season dresses straight off the peg.

We have sample sales 1-2 times a year.

As it will have been tried on by other brides, you may receive a discount on our sample. Sometimes up to 70% off!

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Who should I take with me wedding dress shopping?

Your wedding dress is the most self-expressive garment you will ever wear. It needs to reflect you and your tastes. Not those of great Aunt Mildred.

TV shows encourage you to bring the world and his wife to your appointment. Why? Because more opinions = drama = better TV.

Big groups mean you’ll be overwhelmed with opinions, your voice gets lost and you can never please everyone!

We recommend bringing just a handful of people you cannot imagine saying yes to the dress without.

We can accommodate up to 3 guests in our 2 Marble Suites and up to 4 in our VIP Suite.

But choose wisely! Before you invite anyone, talk to them about your dress vision. See if they are on board with it. If you want a paired back minimalist look and they love a princess sparkly ballgown, they might not be your champion when shopping. Believe us, we’ve seen some sulky bridesmaids, sisters and mums when they think they know your taste better than you do!

Be also careful about those “brutally honest” types. We have seen a bride’s moment absolutely crushed by a snidey comment from a “friend” who uses the excuse that they were bought along for their “honest opinion”. The truth is that we all have our own likes and dislikes. Take the example of a big pair of boobies. Some ladies love to show them off. Some would rather completely cover them. If you wanna show ’em off and your friends makes a less than supportive comment about them being “too much” on show then this can start to make you 2nd guess your own opinion.

So definitely leave Negative Nelly, Moaning Myrtle and Bitchy Brenda at home!

Don’t miss your moment

Wanna know a secret? Wedding dresses are magical. Many brides are surprised at the emotional reaction they feel when they put on THE dress.

If you have that magical moment when you realise it’s the one, how sad would it be if mum/sister/grandma missed it because you decided to have a fun day out with your bridesmaids dress shopping first?

Yes you can bring others back to show them. But you can’t recreate that moment. Finding your wedding dress is a life moment!

Make sure all your important people are there to see it!

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When should I start wedding dress shopping?

Wedding dresses are made to order for you. They usually take 4-8 months to be made (it varies from Designer to Designer). You also want to allow time for your alterations (approx 2-3 months)

Losing weight? That’s fine we can downsize the dress by around 2 sizes. Don’t let this delay your search as shopping too close to your wedding date can limit your options

10-18 months before

Perfect! You’ll have the most choice and stress free experience.

We recommend that you only start shopping when you have a date booked and a venue. The season and location of your wedding will hugely impact the type of dress you wear.

9-10 months before

Cutting it fine with some of our Designers. Enzoani, Elysee and Eva Lendel all require 6 months delivery time and you need 2-3 months for alterations. So you’ll have to rush into alterations as soon as your dress arrives. You may feel a little pressured trying to fit in your alterations as our seamstresses only have so many spaces in their diary. You may have missed your opportunity at having in-house alterations and our seamstresses close their diary when at capacity.

2-8 months before

Your dress options are a little more restricted to what can be ordered in time, designer stock (they carry a teeny tiny bit) or samples that can be purchased off the peg.

With all the chaos this year (energy crisis, shipping issues, staff shortages) delivery times have grown and we can’t promise that they won’t get longer still.

We want all our brides to have THE dress, not a 2nd choice.

Our biggest advice is don’t wait. We never want to have to say those dreaded words – you’ve missed the delivery cut off date and we can’t get you this dress.

The best advice we can give is the earlier you see us, the more choice you will have.

Don’t shop too early

Start your search whenever you feel ready to commit.

There’s no point shopping “just to see what’s out there”. Styles change and designers do discontinue gowns.

If you’re not ready to commit, something you try on and fall in love with may no longer be available months down the line when you feel ready to order. Imagine the scenario that you tried on “just for fun”, when you were not ready emotionally or financially to commit to a dress. 4 months later, you feel ready, head back to the boutique to try on the dress you have been dreaming of for months… only to be told we no longer have her and she was discontinued. Aaaargh!

Shopping when you’re not ready to commit only leads to heartache. Trust us – we’ve seen the tears!

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Wedding Dress Styles for Your Body shape

A guide to finding the best bridal gown for your body type and shape

What shape am I?

First take your measurements

Bust               the fullest part while wearing a bra

Waist            where you naturally go in. If you don’t have a natural waist, stand straight and gently bend to one side. Where your waist starts to crease, that’s where you should measure

Hips              measure around the fullest part of your hips and bottom

Using those measurements, you can determine which body shape you have.

Pear or Bottom Heavy

If your hips and thighs are bigger than your bust and shoulders, then you may be a pear shape.

Your aim

It depends on how you feel about your shape. You will either want to reduce the visual impact of the hip and thighs or fully show them off (think Kim Kardashian)

Suggested Shapes or features

A fitted top with a full skirt is great for the pear. It looks feminine, shows off your upper body, but can hide hips under a lovely large triangle. Make the most of your tiny waist and lovely bust area. Getting the bottom half of the gown right is going to be the focus.

If you want to rock your booty then a modified a-line is the way to go. Hugging your curves and then flaring out mid thigh make the most of your curves.

It doesn’t matter what size you are – pears can come in large or small. But these gowns should give you a head start on what will suit you. Remember that nothing can substitute for trying gowns on.

Some suggested gowns for Pear Shapes

Apple or Rounded

If your waist is not smaller (or even a little larger) than your bust or hips then you are likely to be an Apple. A little round in the middle.

Your aim

Some great structure in the dress as well as some corsetry can help define a waistline for you. Pull in the waist and draw attention away from your middle.

Suggested Shapes or features

Bridal is great for you, so look at ruched gowns, and the a-line skirt is definitely your friend. Great waist construction is essential. Get the middle bit right with some good corsetry and some cleverly draped or pleated construction. Make sure you get a quality gown with really good boning. An a-line or full skirted gown will give you the illusion of a waist making a triangle from the ground up.

Lucky for apples, bridal is structured and can really help out and give you a gorgeous shape on your wedding day. You can hide the stomach area and show off your bust. It doesn’t matter what size you are – apples can come in large or small. But these gowns should give you a head start on what will suit you.

Some suggested gowns for Apple Shapes

Hourglass

If your hips are about 1 inch bigger than your bust and your waist is about 4 inches smaller then it is likely that you are an hourglass. You are curvaceous, with a noticeable bust and hips with a smaller waist

Your aim

It might be to show off your curves or if you are modest then it might be to play them down.

Suggested Shapes or features

Go for something constructed. A bias, lightweight gown may make you look lumpy and bumpy and won’t show off your waist.

If you wear the fit and flare mermaid shape, then you will really show off your assets to the best advantage. You can go for a really tight shape over the bum and a V or plunging neckline.

You will also look great in a gown that has more coverage. Just ensure that your chosen gowns cinches in your waist. Depending on how heavy your boobies are, you may need great construction in the cup area to ensure that bust is well under control.

It doesn’t matter what size you are – hourglasses can come in large or small. But these gowns should give you a head start on what will suit you.

Some suggested styles for hourglass figures

Column, or straight up and down

If all three of your basic body measurements all come up roughly the same then you are what we refer to as an column. As you can tell from the name you are fairly straight up and down. Bridal is so fantastic at using construction to create a bust and also some booty.

Your aim

To give the illusion of a little curve and to give you some shape.

Suggested Shapes or features

A quality constructed gown is made to be flattering, so they will create a waist. Well placed lace or embroidery can trick the eye and give shape.

It you are a tall column then make sure you use that to your advantage and chose an elegant gown. Because you aren’t trying to hide anything you can go for a gown with a lot of features – think overlays, detachable trains, layers of fabric.

Some suggested styles for column figures

Inverted Triangle

This shape is defined by a look in the mirror. If you have broad shoulders tapering down your body to slim hips and legs, then it is likely you are an inverted triangle.

Your aim

To balance your shoulders and visually reduce their proportion

Suggested Shapes or features

You want to balance out your shoulders. This can be done by drawing attention to the skirt hem, so you have your inverted triangle from shoulder to waist balanced by another triangle from hem to waist. Wide set straps or a wide halter will cut your broad shouldered look.

Models are inverted triangles, so if you are tall and slim take advantage of being a clothes hanger! Try a bias cut, you are one of the few shapes that can wear this gown.

Some suggested styles for inverted trianges

Athletic Shape

You are a super fit bride with taut defined arms and back, maybe muscly shoulders and a flat tummy.

 

Your aim

Your gown can give you a chance to show off the work you have put in and also a chance to wear some girly clothing.

 

Suggested Shapes or features

The athletic bride is someone who works out and has a strong body. So there won’t be too many areas of your body that we need to hide. Often it is just a case of softening the body line a little to look feminine. Choosing a floaty or lace fabric can achieve this very quickly. Feminine necklines such as V necks or Plunges work well to draw the eye down your body. You have the opportunity to wear a backless gown, as not all other body shapes can get away with this exposure.

Some suggested styles for athletic figures

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7 Wedding Dress Sample Sale Tips

Wedding Dress Sample Sale Hints and Tips 

Wedding Dress Sample Sale 22 November to 30 November 

The secret is out! We are holding our yearly Black Friday wedding dress Sample Sale Friday 22 November to Saturday 30 November.
 
Wanna know the low down on all things Sample Sale? Read on lovely brides..
 
  1. What D’fuq is a Sample Sale? We have hundreds of beautiful gowns on our rails. These are for our brides to try on and we then usually order our brides a brand new gown for their wedding day. However our Designers regularly discontinue gowns so we can no longer order for them. Or sometimes we just need to free up some rail space for brand new dresses arriving in the store. This is where we’re happy to sell you our beautiful sample gowns at a heavily reduced price! Wahoo! We love a bridal bargain! 
  2. Don’t come to a sample sale blind. Do your research. All our dresses are online. Have a browse to see which dresses you would be interested in trying. Note down the dresses you like and want to try on. 
  3. Don’t let this be your first ever bridal appointment. If you have never tried on a bridal gown and have absolutely no idea what you’re looking for, no idea what style suits you, No idea what designers you like, this probably isn’t the place for you. Our appointment slots are limited to 1 hour so you may not have the time to decide what type of bride you want to be.
  4.  Expect a busy chaotic appointment! Let’s be frank. Sample sales are not as glamorous as our usual bridal appointments. Don’t expect bubbly or privacy. Brace yourself for crowds, makeshift fitting rooms and limited sizes. 
  5. You snooze you lose! If you fall in love, we have just that one dress. This is not the time to go away and sleep in it as they’ll be other brides waiting to try on the gown you love. We don’t hold or reserve dresses so you’ll need to make a snap decision. 
  6. Money talks. Sample gowns are full payment upfront. We don’t accept part payments I’m afraid. Make sure you bring your plastic!  You can even take your dress away with you on the day if you’d like. 
  7. The bride tribe. As you have such a limited time to browse and try on (just 1 hour) we recommend that you limit the number of guests you bring. It’s going to be busy enough without a huge entourage! Choose just 2 people who you know will support you and will help you make a decision. Choose wisely… now is not the time to bring the sulky/catty friends as they’ll just knock your confidence and dampen your experience. And trust us, too many people = too many opinions which will just confuse you. 

 Ready to take the plunge? You can either book your appointment online to ensure you secure a time and date that suits you. 

Walk ins Welcome

Alternatively, just pop in and see us. We’re happy to accept walk ins, but just remember that if you choose to visit us at peak times (Saturdays!) you may have a wait before you can try on. 
 
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Mothers of the Bride 8 tips

Mothers of the bride

8 tips when searching for your outfit

If the brides dress is the most important outfit in the wedding party, then the mother of the bride and groom surely come a close second.

But how do you know when to start, where to look, what to wear? We try to answer some of the most common questions you have below.

  1. Where to start… Go to an expert

    The risk of shopping on the high street is plainly obvious – one of your guests may just turn up in the exact same outfit! This is a truly special occasion and you, the mum, deserves to wear something very special. After all, those photos will be around for a long time!

    To ensure you find that special outfit, seek out a specialist boutique like Chameleon who cater specifically for mothers of the bride and groom. A specialist shop will have exclusive collections that your guests are unlikely to have seen. You will also be in expert hands to guide you on what is likely to flatter your figure.

    Here at Chameleon, we have over 250 outfits for you to try.

  2. Come prepared

    Mums should first talk to the bride and find out if she expects hats and jackets, or if it’s going to be a more laidback affair. Feeling over (or under) dressed will leave you self-conscious all day.

    Next, you’ll need to know the look and feel of the wedding. What you wear will clearly be influenced by whether the wedding will be in a tee-pee in a field or in a stately home!

    It used to be that mother-of-the-bride dresses followed a kind of uniform — a cocktail jacket atop an understated sheath. Today, almost anything goes — so long as it’s appropriate for the event. So, while you probably wouldn’t wear a strapless dress to a church wedding, it might be just the thing for a beach ceremony. However, you can add a chiffon wrap or, yes, even a jacket to that same dress and it instantly becomes chapel appropriate.

    Make sure you also take the weather and cultural or religious customs into account when finding your outfit.

  3. What colour should I wear?

    There is no hard and fast rule as to whether you should match the bridal party or wear a different colour. One of the things you will want to do is to ensure that you choose a colour that complements the party. You will be stood together for photos so you do not want something which jars with the colour scheme, but works harmoniously.

    Given this, it’s best to wait until the bride has chosen the bridesmaids’ dresses to begin shopping. See if you can get a swatch of their fabric to take with you — it will be super helpful when searching for a harmonizing hue.

    If the wedding colours are blush pink, here are some colours that tone really well with this choice.

  4. Time It Right — and Communicate Your Choice

    It is customary for the mother of the bride to buy her dress first and to then share her choice with the mother of the groom. The mother of the groom might also need alterations, so be sure to give her ample time to search for her outfit and to have it fitted to her before the wedding.

    The mothers’ dresses don’t have to match (unless that’s what the bride wants), but they should complement each other. Remember, you’ll be taking lots of pictures together and the only person who should really stand out is the bride.

  5. When is the best time to look for your outfit?

    It’s never too early to start looking for your perfect outfit – the wedding may seem a long way off but it’s always a good idea to start getting ideas and trying on outfits to see what really suits you.

    Generally speaking, boutiques that specialise in mother of the bride/groom wear receive just two deliveries a year: The largest collection arriving in December – January for the Spring/Summer collection and a second smaller collection arriving in June/July for the Autumn/Winter collection.

Due to the dreaded Covid, Designers produced much smaller collections at the end of 2020. This means that most shops will only be receiving a smaller amount of stock in January and won’t receive further stock until June/July. In this case, the early bird will have the most choice!

The best time to start shopping for a Summer Wedding is therefore February/March as you will have the most choice. As the months go by, there is less and less choice as stock cannot be replenished. Unlike most shops, these styles are bespokely made for the shops in question many months in advance and as such there is no infinite supply of outfits. Most shops only have a handful of each outfit/size on their rails and once they are gone, they are gone! No more can be ordered in.

We would therefore recommend that you start looking between 3-6 months before the wedding. Give yourself time don’t leave it until the last minute in case you need any alterations for that ideal tailored fit.

6. Shop with an open mind

Different stores and designers will do different cuts so just because one dress and bolero didn’t suit you in one shop, doesn’t mean you should rule them out entirely. The difference of just 1nch on the length of a jacket could be the difference between it hitting you in the exact right place on your body to flatter.

Quite often mums will say, ‘No, I don’t suit that style’ but it may be that a different cut in the same style just works on your body!

Likewise, don’t rule something out on the hanger. We have to repeat this so many times because in our experience, not every outfit has hanger appeal. However once on the body, it transforms into something truly wonderful! We have lost count of the times that a mum has happily left our shop with her perfect outfit that she had completely dismissed when we first showed her! So please let us introduce some ‘wild cards’ for you to try. You really do lose nothing by trying them on!

7. Size does not matter

We’re afraid to tell you that special occasionwear fits very different to high street clothing. This is because clothing on the high street is usually a more relaxed fit. We are not used to wearing very structured and/or tailored outfits in our day to day lives.

A large proportion of women do find that they have to go up around 1-2 sizes in occasionwear. But please ladies, do not get het up about the size. No-one will see the label! Wearing a different size to what you normally wear absolutely does not make you ‘fatter’ or ‘thinner’. You’re still you and are still the same shape as when you walked through our door.

We have over 11 Mother of the Bride Designers in store. Each and every one will fit your differently and you will most likely wear a different size in each! We can guide you as to the fit of all our designers.

8. Firm foundations

When trying on special occaisonwear, we cannot stress enough the difference the correct foundation undergarments can make to an outfit.

When you come to try on, make sure you wear a supportive bra, preferably in a flesh colour that’s not too soft to give the best shape. Nude seamless briefs are always a good idea when trying on. Try the departments stores such as Debenhams (pictured) or Marks and Spencer for a great choice of foundation garments.

Sometimes mums’ outfits have a lot more structure and support than ‘normal’ clothes which can work wonders for the overall silhouette. Some outfits will have boning and corsetry for extra support.

If you intend on wearing tights on the wedding day, bring a pair with you.

We can provide you with heels to try on with but not all ladies are comfortable in a high heel so feel free to bring your own.

Come Visit us

At Chameleon we have 35 years experience in dressing mothers of the bride and groom. We are here to help you find the perfect outfit for the most special of occasions. Let us guide you through the process and show you all the exciting dresses we have. We have over 250 outfits to choose from!

We do hope that we have answered all your questions about searching for that perfect outfit. However if you have any more, please don’t hesitate to contact us info@chameleonbride.co.uk

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Rebecca Ingram Collection

The new motto for the beautiful Rebecca Ingram Collection!

Timeless Elegance. Modern Value. The newest addition to Maggie Sottero Designs, Rebecca Ingram offers timeless elegance and superior quality to the value-conscious bride. The inaugural Olivia collection featuring flattering silhouettes, understated embellishments, and flirty illusion details in an array of charming colour-ways.

We are very excited as a Premier Stockist of Maggie Sottero to introduce this fantastic new label launched this year. Take a look at our new Rebecca Ingram page on our website to see there fabulous collection or look direct at there full range on the link below.

https://www.maggiesottero.com/rebecca-ingram

Olivia

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Dorset Society Magazine!

We are so happy to have received our copy of Dorset Socity Magazine this month! One of our beautiful gowns Mayfair by Ian Stuart is featured on the front cover of the September 2016 issue. We had the most amazing day at Lulworth Castle where the fabulous photoshoot was held. Thank you to the society team, all at Lulworth Castle and the beautiful model for making it such a great and memorable day! Our stunning gowns are featured throughout the magazine as well as some of our fantastic occasion wear. Look out for us in your copy!