IBTD Blog Alterations to off the Rack Dress


Instead of starting from the beginning and opting for a custom-made dress, some brides choose to purchase a gown off the rack at a bridal salon, then have alterations made. The following are alterations commonly made to an off-the-rack dress:

Rarely is an off-the-rack dress the right length for a bride. Hemming is used to shorten the length of the dress or even sleeves if the gown has them. For the dress length, the bride must consider not only her height, but also what shoes she will be wearing for the wedding. It’s best for her to have shoes chosen beforehand and bring them when she comes in for alterations.

Hems with fabric only are not too extensive, so the cost for hemming those is fairly low. However, if there are layers of fabric and embellished lace or beading, the cost for hemming increases dramatically. Beads require hand stitching and securing in place so as to not lose too many when cutting the new finished hemline. Lace at or around the hemlines requires removal and reattaching once the new hemline is made.

Alterations to the bust of the dress
Some dresses, particularly strapless ones, call for alterations to the bust of the dress. Strapless dresses can be gorgeous and flattering, and they can be tricky to maneuver in if they don’t fit right. Alterations to the bust of a dress allow the bride to move more freely and comfortably (not to mention allowing her to be confident that there won’t be any wardrobe malfunctions while she’s dancing!).

In retail dresses, most zippers have seen their last zip. They have been tugged and yanked and put through the mill with each fitting. It’s best to have a zipper replaced if it looks to be compromised at all.

Bustles added to a gown are the last alteration performed. The purpose of a bustle is to allow the bride easy movement in the dress after the ceremony. She can toss the high heels aside walk and dance to her heart’s content without dragging yards of dress behind her. She also doesn’t have to worry about guests trampling all over her dress!

The train of the dress is bustled (raised) and attached at eye-pleasing points on the rear of the gown. It’s a good idea for the bride to have a few pictures taken of her in the dress with the bustle. She can view the pictures to see if she’s happy with the look of where the bustle sits on her gown when she’s wearing it.

Some brides choose to have a jacket of some sort made for more coverage or to add to the look of her dress. Some types of jackets are wraps, shrugs, toppers, capes, capelets, and boleros. Brides may opt to wear one of these for the wedding only, then remove for the reception. Jackets can be a beautiful addition, especially to bring some of the bride’s inspiration to the dress.

Note: Off-the-rack gowns seem to be a steal of a deal, but often the alterations to make the dress fit properly eat up the savings the bride initially had by purchasing the discounted gown! It’s important for a bride to consider this when budgeting for her dress and choosing whether she wants to purchase a dress and have alterations made or have a dress custom made.