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Measuring and Fit Guidelines for Wedding Gowns and Bridesmaid Dresses


If you take your own measurements and use the designer's size chart, it is important that you measure properly. We can help guide you in this area, but we cannot choose the size for you. Proper fit is subjective and individual - one person may like a dress tighter than another. You will need to choose the size you feel most comfortable with, given your measurements and fit preferences.  Remember, when choosing a size for a two-piece or separates, the waist and hip measurements need to be considered along with your bust, as tops are fitted through those areas as well. Remember also, every designer has their own size chart and normal dress size is not an indication here at all.

Gowns are not custom-made; therefore you need to order to fit the largest part of the body and take it in where it's too large. If a dress is too small it could be a real problem; if it is too large a seamstress can usually alter it to fit. Sizes usually cannot be changed once the order has been placed.  The final choice for size is yours. The information below is intended to help you make the best choice. 

If you require assistance in determining your size, we are happy to help. You can email emelia@netbride.com. Keep in mind, however, that when we give advice on sizing, we are basing it on the information you’ve provided – since we are not taking the measurements ourselves, we have to assume that the measurements provided are correct, as that is what we are basing our recommendations upon.

Please be aware that sizing is not an exact science and alterations by an experienced seamstress will almost always be necessary for a proper fit.

Measuring the Bust
Measure the bust at the widest part of the back, straight across the top of the bust, NOT under the bust line. The type of bra worn, or whether one is worn at all, can make a difference.  Do NOT use your bra/cup size.

Measuring the Waist
Measure at your natural waistline. Holding your stomach in would be a mistake, as would create a skin-tight measurement.  Leave a finger's width under the tape so it can move. For an empire-waist style, or a gown which is otherwise not fitted at the waist, your waist measurement is less critical in selecting a size

Measuring the Hips
Measure at the largest part of the hips (this is generally about 8” down from your natural waistline).  The tips of your fingers should be the area to measure when you rest your hands on your hips and put your thumbs at your natural waist. Only in the case of a straight skirt, slim-a-line or when the hip is several sizes larger than the other measurements will a hip measurement be necessary to determine size.

Extra Length

Most bridesmaid dresses offer extra length. Most factories suggest that you should consider ordering extra length if you are 5'8" or taller with shoes on.  Other factors are heel of shoe, hem height off floor, etc.  Extra length is usually an additional 5" of fabric added to the dress.  You will need to hem the dress to length desired in almost every case.  Remember - if you are not sure, it's better to have too much length and be able to shorten than to have a dress that's too short and can't be let out.  Extra length charges will vary by designer; our size charts for each designer will give you more specific information and will identify the cost for extra length.

Plus Sizes

Most designers charge a different fee for dresses size 18 and up, often referred to as Plus Sizes.  Plus size charges will vary by designer; our size charts for each designer, will list the cost for plus sizes.

Ordering Separates

When ordering separates all 3 measurements (bust, waist, and hips) must be considered.

Hollow to Hem (available on select wedding gowns only)
A hollow to hem measurement is available on select wedding gowns.  If there is a specific style that you are wondering about we would need to check that style # in the information provided to us from the designer.  A hollow to hem measurement should be taken while wearing any undergarments that you would wear the day of your wedding.  This includes bra and crinoline (if any), as well as the correct shoe height.  This special measurement is done when a gown is particularly tricky to shorten or when a bride prefers to order the gown in the correct length so that a hem is not necessary.  

Note:  If there is a way the gown can be shortened by a seamstress, that would be preferable than the bride doing her own hollow to hem measurements. There are two reasons for this: 1. there is always a little leeway in the cutting process which is standard in the industry, and 2. sometimes it's not exactly like the bride wanted due to how well the measurement was done for the bride in the first place.  

If on the other hand, there is no way the gown can be shortened by a seamstress, then here is a 3 Step Instruction for a Perfect Hollow-to-Hem Measurement:

Step One
Once the bride has put on the exact slip, crinoline, shoes, brassiere and all undergarments she will wear the day of the wedding, place the measuring tape 1/4" below the hollow of the neck and measure to the waist, following the shape of the body.

Step Two
With the bride standing straight up and looking forward, measure from the waist to the finished hem, following the shape of the crinoline (approximately 1" from the floor).

Step Three
Place the measuring tape 1/4" below the hollow of the neck and measure to the finished hem.  If this measurement does not equal the sum of the previous two measurements, repeat all three measurements.


*Note:  Submit Hollow-to-Hem measurements in 1" increments only (55", 56", etc.).  If the actual hollow to hem measurement is in between a whole inch, order the next largest increment (i.e. If the measurement is 55 1/2", order a 56" Hollow-to-Hem).  

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