We touched a little bit on The Knot’s Fashion Study for Size Inclusivity when we talked about why size inclusivity matters, but when it comes specifically to bridal stores, we have some additional numbers to share. These are things that are going to directly impact the experience brides have with us and provide so much insight into how to create a great in-store experience for plus size brides.

A few of the numbers that stood out the most:

  • Brides size 12+ are twice as likely as women size 0-10 to feel self-conscious before dress shopping.
  • Of the brides size 12+ who had bad experiences while dress shopping, 60% said it could have been improved by the store having a larger selection of dresses in or near their size.
  • 1 in 4 brides size 12+ feel like they have to give themselves a pep talk before they try on dresses. Basically, they’re having to talk themselves into keeping their appointment.
  • Only 30% of brides size 12-32 purchase from a local bridal boutique, with 25% (1 in 4) buying online. GUYS. They are buying their wedding dress online because they feel like they aren’t going to be able to have a good experience in store.

We know that buying a wedding dress is a highly emotional experience. So how can we take this information and create a great in-store experience for brides size 12 and above?

Remove the upcharge.

This is one of the easiest ways to help plus-size brides feel like they aren’t “different.” I know what you may be thinking. “Some designers charge me for extended sizes and I cannot absorb that charge.” As an exclusively plus size store, I get it. So what do we do? We do add the designer charge to the price, but we don’t do it as a separate line item. If a dress is $2,000 with a $150 extended size charge, our price to the bride is $2,150. It’s about the emotion and how it’s presented, and everything you do needs to keep that in mind.

Don’t focus on the size.

Similar to pricing, this is something that we have to be aware of as we’re styling brides, and especially when we order. How do we handle sizing here at Refined? We don’t put it prominently on the labels. If the bride asks what size we’re putting on her, we simply tell her that we’re focusing on silhouettes, necklines, and what she feels incredible in while we’re trying on, and when she finds The One, we’ll custom measure her! We don’t want her getting fixated on whether or not a certain size fits her well.

Work with designers who support this mission and create inclusive styles for different body shapes with structure and support.

There’s a big difference in offering plus size options and offering plus size options that are done WELL. Extended sizing comes with different needs than the standard sample sizes. More structure in the bodice, different cup options, higher backs, supportive fabrics that hang well on the body. It isn’t just a matter of adding material to extend the size. It’s a pattern change that needs to happen in the design. We have spent a lot of time meeting and talking with designers to determine who truly gets it and are passionate about the mission. Those who provide brides with the best designs and support for their bodies. It’s something you may not realize matters, but it’s a huge piece of the puzzle that can’t be overlooked.

Provide a variety of styles.

Don’t assume that because a bride is plus size, she’s going to want an ultra conservative style or a ball gown to hide her body. Plus size brides are simply brides who want to look and feel confident and beautiful. I’ve found that it often isn’t about hiding what they don’t like, but more accentuating what they DO like. Sometimes that means form fitting to show off her gorgeous curves, a plunging neckline, or a slit to show a little leg. Provide your brides size 12 and above with the same styles and opportunities as smaller brides.

Exceptional customer service in a space that is exceptionally beautiful and comfortable.

One thing we’ve heard a lot from our brides is that they love the experience we’ve created for them. They see celebratory dress shopping appointments on TV and social media, and truly feel like they aren’t going to be able to experience that. They long for the joyful and celebratory experience they see other brides having. And it’s our job (and honestly, our joy) to provide that for them. We want to give them an environment to help them feel their most confident and beautiful, while we celebrate them during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Being size inclusive is about supporting women from all walks of life. It’s about allowing every woman to feel confident and beautiful.

Have you given any thought on how you can create a great in-store experience for plus size brides? I’d love to chat with you about ways you can uplevel your experience and become your area’s go-to plus size bridal store!

Bridal Industry Education

March 11, 2020

How to Create a Great In-Store Experience for Plus Size Brides

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Located in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

A bridal boutique serving full-figured brides