Fast Fashion and Weddings: You Deserve Better

I was afraid to write this article because I don’t want to come off like someone who doesn’t understand that not everyone wants or has the means to buy a wedding dress that costs more than $100. I know that I’m the person who loves making clothes so much that she’s made it her whole career.

But I’m also an experienced professional who wants, more than anything, for people to feel like themselves on their wedding day. And, unfortunately, the most popular option for a wedding dress is also the one that I most regularly see move a person further away from that feeling of bliss.

I am, of course, talking about fast fashion.

What is fast fashion?

This two-word term covers a lot of ground. In the broadest sense, fast fashion refers to clothing designs that hit the market quickly to make the most of popular fashion trends. These are clothes that are designed to not last. They’re expendable, consumable, and, often, extremely cheap both to make and to sell.

Much has been written about the negative impacts of fast fashion. It’s destroying the planet. It’s morally questionable. It’s not even good for the economy. All of this is depressingly true when we’re talking about fast fashion in the wedding industry but there’s another upsetting cost that doesn’t get a lot of attention: Fast fashion cheapens love.

3 reasons why fast fashion isn’t your friend for your wedding day

There is already so much pressure put on a person to find the perfect outfit to wear on their wedding day. In fact, “When should I buy my wedding dress?” is one of the most common questions I get from my clients. There’s an hourglass glued to the table that makes the whole search for The Perfect Dress feel that much more urgent.

This bums me out on many levels. Financially, it’s a horrible situation. So often the dress that a bride buys doesn’t fit properly but the price tag is so low that she understandably assumes, “Well, alterations can’t be that much.” Bad news, my friend. Hundreds of dollars of alterations is one of the many hidden costs of fast fashion: What seems cheap on the rack, often doesn’t stay cheap.

More than money, though, fast wedding fashion kills my vibe because these dresses are mass produced. That on its own isn’t that horrible — people got to wear clothes — but when it comes to the outfit you wear on your wedding day, it should at least fit you! That’s not asking too much, right? 

When a bride brings me her off-the-rack dress, I often spend hours figuring out how to make her unique and special body fit what she’s bought. This is totally backwards! What I should be doing — what I love to do — is start with what makes my client unique and design from there. The dress should work for her. She shouldn’t work for the dress.

Which brings me to the third and biggest reason why fast fashion isn’t your friend on your wedding day: It boxes you in.

Let’s think outside the box

I’ve already written about why it’s so important to see yourself in wedding media but long story short: If you don’t see yourself celebrated, it’s easy to think that you’re not worth celebrating. And fast fashion offers a never-ending stream of cookie-cutter options that not only ignore what’s so great about you but often make you feel bad about it. 

Screw that! You are worthy of celebrating and I’m here to make sure your clothes help, not hinder, that party. 

Fast fashion may have its place in the world but when it comes to your wedding, it’s not as expensive, hard, or time-consuming to go custom as the world would have us believe. In fact, from what I’ve seen working with hundreds of clients, designing your own wedding outfit is often one of the best ways to slow down and enjoy the journey of planning your wedding and, more importantly, starting your marriage.

Want to slow down? Let’s talk.

Wedding Dress Alterations: What You Need to Know

Let me tell you a story about wedding dress alterations. 

Recently, a bride brought me her dress. She’d bought it at a boutique and parts of the dress were several sizes too big. To make it fit, I took in the bodice which made the front straps move really far to the side which made the back become wide which meant I needed to cut down where the strap came out of the fabric so that it didn’t cut the bride off at the armpit.

I call this type of course correcting the domino effect of wedding dress alterations, and it’s not an usual situation for a bride who buys a pre-made dress (so, you know, most brides). Unfortunately, the domino effect happens a lot even though ? we don’t talk about it.

Why don’t we talk about this?

We don’t talk about how much labor wedding dress alterations take for two reasons. 

The first reason is that often, the people at the boutique or online store where a bride buys her dress sincerely don’t know how much or how little will be needed to alter the dress. That’s understandable. The person who sells you a wedding dress isn’t often a trained seamstress or designer. 

The second reason is a lot more gross: We don’t talk about how much labor alterations take because if we did, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t buy the dress to begin with. What seems like a good deal off the rack looks much less attractive after you tack on the $800, $1,200, $2,000 worth of alterations the dress will need to fit. 

These numbers aren’t bloated, by the way. Those are actual figures and the reason they’re so high is because they capture the hours of labor that go into altering a dress. 

What’s a bride to do?

The most important thing is to be informed. If possible, get an estimate for alterations before you buy your wedding dress or, if that’s not an option, get an estimate within the timeframe you may have on returning the dress. 

Another option is to make a dress from scratch. It’s easy to assume that ordering a custom dress will naturally be more expensive but, in my experience, it often isn’t. 

This is because there are no hidden fees or last-minute expenses. You and I work together to design your dress from the ground up. This dress is created for your one unique body and, as such, we don’t have to worry about alterations (and how much they cost). We spend more time working on the design and having fun with that instead of worrying about the fit.

It’s about risk

It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that buying a wedding dress off the rack is “less risky” than designing a dress ourselves. That makes sense. For many of my clients, our interaction is the very first time that they’ve ever designed a piece of clothing. 

But when you factor in the cost of altering someone else’s work, the time it takes to do so, and the labor (mental, emotional, and physical) to get it all done on a tight any deadline, it’s worth considering another option. Nobody wants to deal with dominos, particularly when planning a wedding.

Want to talk more? Great! Contact me.

Image by Abbey Elaine

Custom Wedding Dress: Why It’s Worth It (and Not as Expensive as You Think)

There’s this nasty misconception in the wedding dress world that the word “custom” automatically means “expensive.” I hear it again and again from brides who are shopping for a wedding dress. They see “custom” and hesitate. “This can’t be for me,” they think. “It’s probably way out of my budget.”

Rachel, Camrynn, and Arianna as the three muses

I completely understand why but I’m here to tell you that custom doesn’t mean $10K. The custom wedding dresses I design start at $1,500. I want to acknowledge that this is still a lot more money than you’ve probably ever spent on a single piece of clothing but when it comes to wedding dresses, $1,500 is actually a little cheaper than the national average of $1,600 — and that’s for a wedding dress not made specifically for you. And don’t even get me started on all of the other benefits to designing a wedding dress rather than buying one off the rack.

Fit makes all the difference

As a wedding dress designer, I see the same thing happen again and again. A bride will try on a custom wedding dress, look in the mirror, and say “Wow! This looks really good.” She thinks it’s the dress doing all the work but guess what? It’s not the dress. It’s her. For once, she’s just wearing something that fits properly.

That moment — when a bride sees herself more clearly (often for the very first time in her adult life) — is one of the best parts of my job. I love designing dresses that enhance, not distract, from who’s wearing it. I tailor each piece just right so you can actually see the person.

What a novel idea, right?

Camrynn in Orchid three quarter view

Consider the labor you’re putting in

So often I hear from women who say they didn’t consider a custom dress because they “didn’t have a vision” for what they wanted to wear. That’s OK! That’s my job. I’m a designer, which means that I have experience taking all those muddled thoughts swirling around your brain and translating them into something you can actually wear. 

Often I find this process actually makes things easier for a bride. Rather than braving the fluorescent lit pressure cooker of a bridal boutique, she’s able to work with a professional to develop a dress that works for her shape. She doesn’t have to do the emotional and physical labor of sorting through dresses that even with alterations will never quite fit her frame. Why do that to yourself? Instead, we can come up with something really, really cool made for you.

Designer Leila Breton with model

It’s about the journey

There’s a surprising upside to going the custom route: You get a crash course in self-confidence. 

I do what I do because I want you to feel heard, empowered, and beautiful in your own skin. Throughout our time together, I encourage you to speak up and tell me what you — nobody else — likes about your style and your body. 

Working together is always about more than the dress; it’s about celebrating who you are as you celebrate your unique love. And that’s priceless.

Want to start designing your custom wedding dress? Get in touch!

Lace dress and crepe dress side by side