This article appears in Bride 2018 magazine.
The bridal industry has long ignored curvy women who don’t fit into a size 6 gown. But now designers are becoming more inclusive, hoping to attract more customers and even simply do the right thing.
“I have a sense of purpose in the fashion industry as a brand to celebrate people as how they are rather than how they are perceived that they should be,” said designer Rebecca Schoneveld of Rebecca Schoneveld Bridal, based in Brooklyn.
While the bridal industry has always included some options for plus-size brides, “the designer brands tended to lag behind,” said Don O’Neill, creative director of THEIA Bridal. Things are changing “with the introduction of curvier models on the runways, kicking to the curb the fashion runway stereotype that women have to be size 2 to look good. A door has been opened, and more designer brands are embracing the plus-size woman,” O’Neill said.
At the fall 2018 Bridal Week, THEIA and Rebecca Schoneveld were two of the four brands that used plus-size models on the runway, according to Fashionista.com.
“Style is not a size,” Schoneveld said.
The average American women is a size 16, Schoneveld said. Yet, “size 10 has been the industry’s standard for brides to try on,” O’Neill said.
“It can be embarrassing and intimidating for women” to enter a dressing room with a gown they know will not fit, Schoneveld said.
The Rebecca Schoneveld collection is available in sizes 00 to 30. The THEIA collection’s larger sizes, to 20W, are available at Lovely Bride stores.
When shopping, “the advice is the same for all girls — bring a trusted companion, not an entourage. Try on everything that the sales girls suggest — they are experts — and then let your heart speak to you,” O’Neill said.
Look for styles that “define your curves and let the fabric flow” around the parts of your body you may want to hide, Schoneveld said.
“A fuller figure comes in many shapes, and girls already know what they look best in (for the most part),” O’Neill said. “V necks are always flattering for a fuller bust. Heavily-beaded gowns are awesome on curvaceous hourglass figures.”
Since many women are unhappy with their upper arms, try looks with sleeves (long, sheer, flutter), which are trending now, Schoneveld said.
“It’s your special day. Don’t be afraid to embrace the dress of your dreams,” O’Neill said. “Dress for you and your future husband and not to please Aunty Mary and Mrs. Jones across the street.”