There’s one thing that all brides have in common: they want their wedding to be absolutely perfect!
Now that you’ve been given the high honor of being a bridesmaid, there are lots of little things you can do to help the happy couple create the wedding of their dreams!
One of those is to look and feel your best in your bridesmaid dress.
It’s so much fun to gather with the squad and shop for bridesmaid dresses together! But for the bridesmaid that lives out of town or can’t make the shopping trip, there is another option:
Many bridesmaid dress designers don’t stock dresses — they’re made to order. When dresses are made to order, they can be altered, but they usually can’t be exchanged or returned.
Which brings us to the point of this article: how to measure yourself accurately so you can order your dress in the right size.
Searching for the perfect dress? Check out all of the beautiful Bella Bridesmaids dresses!
Accurate Measurements Are a Must!
Each dress manufacturer uses a different size chart to scale their clothing. That means you are not comparing apples to apples when considering the size you wear in one brand vs. another. Having an accurate Bust, Waist and Hip measurement taken by a professional is the best place to start.
The stylists at your local Bella Bridesmaids can help you with these measurements in store. We can also have you try on a variety of styles and sizes from the designer you need to order from to help inform your size selection.
Outfitting a number of gals living across the US? We've got you covered with nearly 60 locations across the country, making it super super convenient for each of your bridesmaids to visit their local Bella and try on your favorites!
If you do not live near one of our locations, here’s what you’ll need to take your own measurements.
#1 First things first – grab a tape measure.
Don’t use an old coiled-up one from your kitchen junk drawer. Start with a smooth, new tape so you can get accurate results.
Make sure it’s flexible, not the auto-retract hardware kind. You’ll need a soft tape measure you can easily wrap around your waist.
#2 Make sure you know how to read your measuring tape.
Some read from edge to edge. Some have a space at the end. Be sure to start at the right point, where the 0 begins!
#3 Ask someone for help.
Grab your bestie, your sister, your mom, or — better yet — the bride-to-be. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes to help you out.
Tip: Measure Yourself In Your Undies
Be thoughtful about what you wear to an in-store fitting appointment. If at home, don’t measure yourself with too much clothing on. You’re not going to wear a sweatshirt under your bridesmaid dress, so don’t measure yourself while wearing one. You get the idea.
If you know which bra you want to wear with your bridesmaid dress, wear it while taking measurements. Accuracy is key, so your personal preferences in regards to undergarments matters!
Keep in mind that many dresses have built-in bra pads and cups. Depending on your size and shape, a bra may not be necessary.
Take the Three Main Measurements (Twice)
Most designers provide online size charts with bust, waist, and hip measurements. These are the most important measurements to get right.
Unless you’re a professional seamstress or fashion designer, we highly recommend that you take each measurement twice. (This is even more important if you and your girls are sipping on rosé while you measure).
1. Bust Measurement
Use the tape to measure straight across and around your body. Make sure you measure around the fullest part of your bust.
Leave enough room so you can breathe comfortably – you want to be able to eat and dance at the wedding!
If you don’t plan on wearing a padded bra to the reception, don’t wear one when you take your measurements. It’ll add a few centimeters to your bust, and you’ll end up with a dress that’s too big on top.
2. Waist Measurement
Start by finding the narrowest part of your waist. This is usually about two inches above the belly button where you bend naturally at your sides.
Measure your natural waist. Relax, breathe comfortably, and don’t hold your breath.
If you want your dress to fit looser, you can add a little bit to this measurement.
If the bride wants you to wear a fitted dress, don’t add too much extra to your waist measurement. Having a dress that fits too loosely can completely change the look and fit of the design and require you to do more extensive alterations.
3. Hip Measurement
Stand with your feet and legs together. Measure across the widest part of your hips and backside.
Leave a little bit of room so that you can sit and move around comfortably in your gown.
Additional Dress Measurements
Some size charts also include “hollow to floor” or “hollow to hem” measurements. These measurements refer to body length and dress length.
If you’re on the short side, hollow measurements aren’t that important, as you’ll probably need to have the hem shortened anyway. But if you’re tall, it’s crucial that you buy a dress long enough to hit where it needs to hit, especially if it’s a full-length gown.
Hollow to Floor
To measure hollow to floor, hold the tape vertically and keep it flat against your body.
Find the center of your collarbone (the hollow of the neck) and measure straight down to the ground. Make sure you’re barefoot and keep your feet together.
Hollow to Hem
To measure hollow to hem, find the hollow of your neck. Use the tape to measure down to the point where you want the hem to hit.
Planning to wear heels with your dress?
To make sure your dress is the right length with heels, wear them (or another pair in a similar height) while you take your measurement.
The Art & Science of Size Selection
You’ve taken accurate measurements, compared them to the designer’s size chart, and now you’re at the moment of truth. It’s time to select your dress size!
A few things to remember…
You will most likely need alterations. If you’re not quite sure which size to order, order the one, as a tailor can always take it in to give you the perfect fit! Making a dress bigger is nearly impossible, but making it smaller is always an option.
When using the designer’s size chart, consider the style of the dress you are ordering and its impact on size selection. For example, if the dress is a ball gown, you may be able to disregard the hip measurement and order for your bust and waist.
Stylists are experts at taking measurements, but they are not experts on the way you like to wear your clothes and have them fit. If you know you like a little wiggle room or prefer to have a dress fit more snug, be sure to let the tailor know when doing your alterations.
It doesn’t matter if the bride chooses your dress for you or lets you shop for your own bridesmaid dress. Either way, it has to fit.
Online dress shopping is not like ordering a sweater or jeans. In most cases, you won’t be able to return it — even if it doesn’t fit. That’s why taking accurate measurements is key!
Take your bust, waist, and hip measurements first. If you’re tall, measure from your neck down so you can order the right length.
Once you have accurate measurements, look at the designer’s size chart before placing your online order. Remember, most dresses will require alterations of some sort.
If you can’t find someone to help you or don’t think you can accurately measure yourself on your own, don’t worry. Just head to a local Bella bridal boutique and let a pro handle it for you!