How to Find The Best Bridesmaid Dress (And Alter It) – Tips From A Tailor! | Southern Bride
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How To Alter Wedding Dress

Did all of your closest friends ‘say yes’ as the new year kicked off? If so, you may be staring down the barrel of quite a few highly anticipated weddings and as the requests for bridesmaids flood in, you may be wondering where to start shopping for the perfect dress to accompany your friends at the alter!

Here are a few tailor-recommended tips on shopping for (and altering!) your outfit for their big day from Shaelynn Haning, head tailor of Tallgrass Tailor and host of The Sew Show with Shae.

Key Tips for Shopping:

Whether the bride has given you freedom to pick your own dress, or you are assisting her in picking for the group, the most important factors are fit, style, and size range. 

Look for a flattering fit that will accommodate many different body shapes. For example, a dress incorporating straps and a curved neckline will support a wide range of bust and upper body shapes and an A-line or flowy bottom will drape nicely over a variety of hip sizes. Strapless dresses, fitted sleeves, and more avant garde details like a square neckline are not always universally body friendly due to great variability in bust, waist and hip dimensions. Your goal when looking at the fit of a bridesmaid’s dress is choosing an option that will allow the most amount of people to feel the highest level of confidence. 

How To Alter A Bridesmaid Dress dress ()

When considering the style, take a look at the details the bride has chosen for the wedding such as flowers, colors, or other unique details specific to her and the grooms’ personalities. Choosing a style that fits the theme and overall vibe of the wedding will make everything look and feel more cohesive. Another hot tip; try to choose something that you think you will wear again! In an effort to be both economic and sustainable, choosing an option that will get worn multiple times is a good call for everyone!

Finally, the significance of size range cannot be understated! Inclusive sizing allows everyone to feel comfortable and welcome at the event so look for a design that has the widest amount of options available, if possible, even including petite and full or plus options. 

Not sure how to choose a size? We’ve got a quick easy guide for taking measurements right here:

  How To Alter A Bridesmaid Dress tips

Alteration Game-plan:

Now that you’ve picked out a dress, it’s time to get the perfect fit! 

First, take a look at your timeline. Though the bride will need to order her dress many months in advance, you may be able to get your dress a bit quicker. I would suggest placing the order as soon as the wedding date is set and the design has been chosen. This will give you ample time for alterations as many tailor shops require one week to a full month during a busier season (like the spring) to turn around the alterations.

Often many alterations are possible, but let’s narrow it down to the most common changes that will have the biggest impact on your look; hem length, strap or shoulder adjustments, and bodice fit.

My number one suggestion is to choose your shoes before you go in for a fitting. This will cut down on so much of the guest work regarding where the hemline should fall. Remember, your tailor will measure twice and cut once, and they will want to make sure that the length is exactly right for the shoe height you will be wearing on the day.

Strap and shoulder adjustments can often pack a huge punch in flattering your chest and upper body, which will likely be photographed quite often throughout the wedding day! If you feel like the top just doesn’t quite fit right, this adjustment would be the first place I’d look to make an alteration. To get a better understanding of this procedure, check out a walk-through here:


Though these alterations are common, they are not always straightforward and pricing can vary quite a bit based on the complexity of the dress. Hemming and strap adjustments are often necessary and usually have a standard price that you can simply ask the tailor for upfront. Making adjustments to the bodice, however, can be a bit trickier. Taking in a dress with pleats or detailing or attempting to let out a dress that’s just a bit too tight can be a delicate operation. Your tailor will be able to tell you what is possible and don’t be shy about asking for a quote before the work begins. You may decide that, rather than taking in the dress, you’d like to opt for something simple like a padded bra to keep everything in place and that’s OK! Weddings come with many expenses and having a budget in mind will help you make these decisions once you gain a little more information on the alterations process during your fitting.


Feeling ambitious? Tips for DIY modifications:

If you fancy yourself crafty with a needle and scissors you may decide that you’d like to alter your own dress. If so, the hem is the most common place to start. It’s extremely important that you have a good ruler, a very sharp pair of scissors and matching thread to the color of your dress. The safest way to get a smooth new hemline is to measure the exact amount you’d like to remove all the way around the dress and evenly cut the excess material off. A narrow rolled hem is the traditional stitching process for a classic bridesmaids dress and we’ve got a great tutorial for it here:



Shae the tailor
Keep in mind, any alterations you take on yourself may or may not be reversible if you decide to call in back-up and get assistance. When in doubt, leave it to the professionals!


For more sewing fun, check out our YouTube here:

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