How to find the perfect dress?

A wedding dress is a curious thing, there are as many shades of ivory as there are silhouettes to bring them to life. For many brides, the finding the perfect dress can be one of the highlights of planning.

So, we’ve turned to one of our dear friend George Wu to demystify the process of choosing your dress. Can you buy your gown off the rack or does it need be custom made? When should the search start? What exactly does having a couture dress made, involve? Read his advice on the do’s, don’ts and absolute must avoids of choosing your dress, this blog is a little long, but we love it!

Leave your comments below, how did you find your dress? What were the highlights and what do you wish you knew xx  

What are the first steps?

Definitely start with a clear artistic direction for the look of the dress, and set a budget.

If you were a bride, and needed to look for a dress, where would you start?

Visit bridal stores in your city and try on several dresses that are within your budget. If you don’t like the styles or the craftsmanship then try little above your price range and see if you’re happier.  If you’re happier with higher budget dresses, perhaps it’s time to adjust your dress budget to a more realistic number.

How do you recommend avoiding budgeting heartbreak?

It’s a great idea to shop around and ask for prices to get a rough idea when you begin your search. However, never try to get Champagne with beer budget.  You will find there are vendors out there that cater for that, but it often leads to disappointment (and tears) when the dress is delivered and the expectations and promises have not been met.

Is there something you wished brides knew before coming to see you?

Which silhouettes and shapes work for their bodies.

The shoes – What do you recommend for your brides?

Definitely anything you like, it’s your day so buy that pair you’ve always wanted. Just as long as they’re not black!

What is your number one tip for brides on their big day?

It’s okay to enjoy yourself, it’s your day!! Stop worrying if others/your guests are enjoying their day or not, they are there for you.

And your number one ‘don’t’ when it comes to the dress?

Don’t believe that every dress is made in the same way, and never trust the word couture. Mass produced couture is not going to be the same as Dior couture. It’s just a word that been thrown around which unfortunately means very little nowadays.  Take the time to study the dress, really pay attention to what’s inside and let the sales/designers explain the structure supporting the garment. Just because a dress has some boning and is tight does not make it couture, it takes many technical secrets and details inside the dress to be called that.

How much time is really needed to make a gown?

This varies, it can take few weeks or few months. Every couture dress has different difficulties and requires a different number of hours to assemble.

How many fittings do you recommend, and is there a ‘right’ time to have them?

You can have just a few fittings or many fittings, there is no right number! We do however many fittings required to get the dress from foundation to perfection.  As far as the right time to start your dress, twelve months out is too early, six months is ideal, three months is a squeeze…

Can you tell us difference between bespoke, made to measure and Couture?  

You can call it whatever you like as a business owner, end of the day any dressmaker can just call themselves couture designer and the name doesn’t mean much these days.  The real difference between average and amazing dress is the fact one has structure that makes your body look amazing and the other one is simply tight, but doesn’t do much for your body. You need to try different dresses on or see it in real life to be able to notice the difference. Couture has structure. It  has proper bust support, steel boning, waist stays…etc. to actually support, alter and enhance your body shape.  

How can a bride tell if a dress is well made or made cheaply?

Sadly, some people can and some people can’t. Not everyone can appreciate the couture craftsmanship, to them it’s just dress like any other dress. It does take a little bit of education to understand the difference.  

Do you recommend different styles for different seasons?

Any styles is appropriate for any season as long as you don’t wear long sleeve for summer wedding! Everything else is okay.

How do you personally pull together a look and create an artistic direction?

I listen to my  client and understand their vision to create their one and the only. As a designer you may have a lot of ideas for clients but don’t forget it has to fit in with what they like too, it’s really about the collaboration between the two parties.

Are there any styles that you wouldn’t recommend for certain body types?

Avoid strapless if you have rounder shoulders or if there is bad support inside the dress.

Being able to move on the wedding day is important, what are signs that a dress will be good to move in/difficult to move in?

I say because it’s wedding, practicality is thrown out of the window… Go for the look.

If a bride is struggling to decide between a few styles, how would you narrow it down?

Understand why they chose few styles to start with and start working backward to the reason they didn’t stick to their original idea.

What are common misconceptions that brides have when searching for their dress?

That all wedding dresses are made the same. Some brides presume that well known off-the-rack bridal brands and an experienced dressmakers will be able to make a dress with the same fit and structure as the likes of Chanel, Dior..etc. But the truth is, only a few people truly understand the secrets of structure and the attention to detail required for couture. I’ve seen too many brides with illusion neckline dresses that lack the appropriate structure inside, and in turn, the dress makes their body looking saggy. Real couture dresses with illusion necklines have structures inside that make them look see-through yet still have support through the body. That’s the difference between real couture and just a commercial “couture”.

Of all the silhouettes, what do you think is the most universally flattering wedding dress style?

This definitely comes down to 2 styles, Soft A-line skirts or the tight fitted style with soft flared hem.

Who inspires your designs?

The client’s vision and their aura.   

What are the most popular trends in bridal design right now?

I honestly couldn’t say, I don’t look at trends. I do what I believe is right for my bride’s and their particular personal style.

What would you be happy seeing less of…

Crappy satin fabrics, it screams “made in dirty garage”.

Something you would love to see more brides do instead?

Spend on themselves, it’s okay to treat yourself better than others.

The journey to the perfect dress is very special…

And if the sales staff or designer makes you feel confused, don’t go with them. This journey is special! So make sure you’re taking it with someone you feel you can trust.

What’s the key to finding a timeless dress?

Something that makes you feel confident.

What do you consider your favourite bridal look of all time?

Grace Kelly’s wedding dress is definitely the one.