Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chico Wedding Dress Expert Answers Bride's Questions

Recently I enjoyed sharing some of our bride’s questions to Dora Corwin of Chico’s Corwin’s Bridal & Tuxedo Salon. Here’s the wonderful information she shared with us.

Q: I am a little nervous… thinking that I would lose weight; I bought my dress too small. I got it two sizes too small… was this really stupid? I have 5.5 more months until my wedding date and I am eating right, but I'm also wondering if it's even possible to lose 6 inches from my hips, which is what I'll have to do. What would you suggest if, God forbid, I don't fit into my dress???

A: Most dress manufacturers have a little seam allowance on the side of their dresses.  This would enable one of the seamstresses to let out your gown and give you a bit more room.  If you need more than a little room in the bust area, we can transform a boring zipper-back dress into a corset-back dress.  The advantage of a corset-back is that you can gain anywhere from 1" to 3" around your bust and waist area.  If you are not comfortable with your back looking bare, we can add a modesty panel to the corset back.  By the way, a corset-back is also known as a lace-back.

Q: Where can I find a mother of the bride gown? I need a plus size and, as I have flabby upper arms, I would like to have some sort of sleeve. It will be a summer wedding, so it needs to be lightweight as well.

A: The most challenging purchase for a wedding is the mother of the bride or mother of the groom dress.  Yes, it is harder to "Say Yes To The Dress" when it comes to one of these gowns because the mother has a long list of Don’ts to fulfill. Just because she is plus size does not mean that she wants to look frumpy.  She also does not want to look too sexy.  She does not want to wear something that is inappropriate for her age or for the occasion and she doesn't want to compete with the other mother.  Finally, she doesn't want to outshine the bride or clash with the color of the bridesmaids' dresses.  At Corwin's Bridal a Mother of the Bride will find more dresses than what she could find at Macy's, Nordstrom's and Bloomingdale's COMBINED!  Because I am overweight, I know the challenges the plus sized customer faces, so I have a really nice selection at Corwin’s of plus sized dresses for all our customers.

Dora shares:  I can think right away of a beautiful 3-piece outfit we carry that is designed by Soulmates. It is easy to find pictures of those dresses online by Googling "soulmate dresses". The dresses are handmade silk crochet and come in a multitude of colors and a variety of styles. They are elegant and figure flattering. It features a wide strap, scoop neck shell, a three-quarter-sleeve jacket with single-button closure and rounded edges, and an elastic-waist A-line skirt, all accented with tonal bugle beads. I'd also recommend that the mother of the bride check out another great company called "Scala."  Their website is  Their dresses are pretty, young-looking but discreet and with just the right amount of pizzazz. 

Q: What new trends are in this year that have surprised you or that you've fallen in love with?

A: Burnt orange seems to be the hot color for bridesmaid dresses this year.  The 50s are back! Lots of bows in bridal gowns. The strapless gown continues to be the number one choice for brides across the nation, but I have seen a really big change in the look of the gowns brides are choosing.  The big ballroom gowns are out. Fitted gowns are in. Dresses with lots of bling were really popular for the past decade, but there has been a significant change the past 6 to 8 months.  Women are choosing dresses that are well constructed with just one or two focal points with a big brooch. Since women don't get married every month, they really don't understand how important construction is when buying a dress. I never cease to be amazed (I stopped counting after selling 1,000 gowns) at how stunning an average looking woman will look once she steps into a dress that has great boning, and terrific construction.

Dora comments: We love dresses by Maggie Sottero, Allure and Casablanca in particular.  These manufacturers invest a lot in R&D before a dress ever hits the runway floor.  Two identical dresses on a hanger will fit completely different on the same model.  In one, she can look like she is wearing tight sac, while on a Maggie Sottero gown for example, the dress will enhance curves, and even create curves that were never there to begin with.

And, Dora shares with her brides: "

By the way, brides, just because the trend last year was lace and this year it may be bows, don’t be swept into the latest fashion craze. The smart bride will buy the dress that enhances her figure. I always tell my brides that their goal is NOT to find the most beautiful dress in the store.  Their goal is to find the dress that looks stunning on her body -- the dress that will take his breath away and bring tears to his eyes."

Q: How many trunk shows do you do a year? How can I get an invitation?

A: We do about 3 trunk shows each year. We call all brides that have registered at our store.  

Q: Are more wedding dresses typically bright white or off-white? Is there an advantage or disadvantage to either?

A: White dresses are very popular with our Hispanic customers and our very traditional brides.  Ivory, however is our best selling color.  Ivory is richer looking and is more flattering to most skin tones.  Between these two colors (and truly a good compromise) is a color called Diamond White. Unless you saw White, next to Diamond White, you would say Diamond White is white.  Basically Diamond White is less stark and a bit warmer so it is more flattering on girls with really fair complexions.

Q: I have a big chest but I'd really like to wear a strapless gown. Is it workable and how?

A: If I could have a dime for each large busted girl that has told me she can't have a strapless gown and then left my store with one, I'd be a multi-millionaire.  Dresses made by good companies have great construction.  By that I mean that the interior of the dress is really designed in such a way that it gives a lot of support to larger breasts.  The interior construction of most strapless dresses is truly marvels of engineering.  There is a great deal of boning in these wedding gowns, and this boning gives a lot of support to the woman who is wearing the dress. I have NEVER not been able to sell a strapless gown to a big-busted girl. Once again, if a bride is really very big busted, a corset-back, a style that is a specialty of Maggie Sottero gowns, is a good option to consider.  I say that because she won't have to worry about her dress being a size 10 on top and a 6 on the bottom.  The corset back with give her a lot of extra room to accommodate her breasts.

Q: What types of dresses do you suggest for someone who is petite?

A: A girl who is petite should stay away from any dress that is too puffy.  It will make her disappear. I have seen brides that looked lovely with cap sleeves and others that looked just as beautiful with a dress with a really low back and a sweetheart neckline

Q: Should I make an appointment to try on a wedding dress? What does that do for me?

A: We prefer an appointment but can usually accommodate a bride during the week.  The same is not true on a Saturday.  The advantage of an appointment is that you won't have to wait for a fitting room to become available. Also, if you have been in before, we can look up your card and if you request it, we can pull out your favorite dress so you can have it ready for a retry. (That is assuming that we have not sold it). If we have sold it, don't worry, we can order it again.  By the way, we not only allow photos to be taken at Corwin's Bridal, we encourage it. Brides end up suffering from snow blindness, and the pictures are a good way to recall what dresses they saw and what dresses they liked.  You are probably asking, "Why is she talking about snow blindness in the middle of a heat wave in Chico?"  Snow blindness is a really common bridal shopping phenomenon because as you try on gown after gown, and remember they are all white, they are all long, and they are all pretty, you will forget what you saw.  After dress #3 the dresses start to blend into a blur of white fabric.  It happens to every bride, so if you get confused, don't be embarrassed; it comes with the territory.

Q: What should I bring with me to try on a wedding dress?

A: You really don't need to bring anything. If you need a bustier, we can loan you one.  We do ask that you not wear a lot of makeup so the dresses remain clean.  You might want to consider bringing a friend or relative with you, just so you can have someone to give you another opinion.  We always will offer our opinion if asked although if a dress is really not flattering we will tell the bride  "I think we can find a prettier gown than this one for you."  We don't judge the beauty of a dress.  It is just that if we find a dress to be particularly unflattering we might mention it to a bride. Conversely, we will say if we find a dress that is just “drop dead gorgeous” on a bride.

Q: How many dresses should I try on?

A: There is no rule.  We have had many brides that ended up buying the first dress they tried on.  However, they tried on other dresses and then came back to dress number one.  Today was a rather typical day in our store.  We sold a gown to a young lady who came to the store for the first time.  She tried on 5 gowns. She fell in love with the 3rd gown she tried on and tried it again after the 5th gown and said she was done.  She had found her dress.  We had another bride that came for her dress today and it was her third visit.  She finally ordered the dress and I'd guess that she probably tried on 20 gowns total.   I would say trying on 10 gowns should give you a really good sense of what you like and what you don't like.

Q: Isn’t shopping for a wedding dress supposed to be fun?

A: It is fun for most girls. It really is not just the dress that the bride is buying.  She is buying a symbol of the love she feels for her fiancé. A wedding gown is a symbol, of all the fantasies that she had when she was a little girl and wished she were a princess.  The wedding dress signifies to the bride and to all her friends and family that she has fallen madly in love and that her joy is immeasurable. I think that is why the dress has become so important; it is not so much the dress but what the dress represents.  Shopping for a dress should be fun until it is not and that is a good time to stop.  When you feel you've had enough, you are tired, hungry, or just plain overwhelmed, quit!!!  Just make an appointment for another time .If you want your appointment to be fun make sure that your friends do not bring small children.  It is their job to be fussy and loud and to want to run around.  A bridal salon is not a good setting for toddlers. Finally, don't come with a large group of friends.  Buying a dress by committee seldom works.  There is always one that will be jealous and try to say something negative.  Come with with a friend or two and with relatives you love and they will help you find the dress of your dreams. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:Corwin’s Bridal & Tuxedo Salon
169 Cohasset Road
Chico, CA  95926
(530) 342-6521

Store Hours:
Monday – Wednesday and Friday 10:00 AM-5: 30 PM

Thursday, 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Saturday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Starting in September, Corwin’s will be open 12 Noon – 4:00 PM on Sundays

We can arrange another time by appointment;  please telephone us at (530) 342-6521.

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