Everyone needs clothing whether she is big or small. Likewise, every bride needs a bridal gown no matter her size, plus-size or not.
It's a point – and once overlooked customer – that upmarket retailers have embraced in the last decade (Saks, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's now all sell plus-size wares online), giving confidence to bridal designers who are providing more plus-size options, typically 14W and up. (The W stands for women since plus sizes are often referred to as "women's sizes.")
Kleinfeld Bridal in New York has a dedicated offering on its website and offers store samples in size 18 up to 26. Alfred Angelo designs up to 30W.
Belle Bridal Boutique, a new shop in Bellevue, Ky., specializes in bridal gowns size 12-32W, according to co-owner Stacey Sparks. San Francisco-based bridal designer Amy Kuschel offers gowns up to size 22. Customers just need to bear in mind that some plus-size gowns are subject to a surcharge, like at David's Bridal, for the extra construction and fabric that's involved.
"There is a strong market out there for it," says Hanna Bowler, a stylist at La Belle Reve, bridal boutique in Washington, which carries plus-size samples from Casablanca, Essense of Australia and Eddy K in sizes 14-22. "It represents about 10 to 15 percent of our business."
Sparks, whose new store carries Justin Alexander Bridal, Allure Women and
"I always thought it was unfair that some brides couldn't try on gowns and had to envision the dress before they ordered it," she says.
Some companies choose to highlight the plus-size offering on their web site, like Alfred Angelo and David’s Bridal, and others don’t.
"The 'plus-size' bride has the same varied sense of style that our other brides have, so we don't promote it or offer general suggestions of specific styles," Kuschel says.
What the designer does offer in her San Francisco showroom are sample gowns in size 18 and made-to-measure gowns for each bride's specific measurements. For her retail partners, she offers special size patterns when needed.
At David’s Bridal stores, whose lines include