Five Things I've Learned as a Dress Consultant

Five Things I've Learned as a Dress Consultant

How exactly do you go about buying a prom or wedding dress? Here are some insider tips for dress shopping!

Dress consultant by day, blogger by night
Photo by Carly Rhyner, June 2016
  As I've mentioned in what feels like every single blog post I've ever written, I am a dress consultant. I started my job last January and since then I've learned so much about formal events and shopping in general. My days in the store are filled with measuring men for tuxedos, lacing up corset backed wedding dresses, dressing mannequins, and keeping the store looking fabulous. 
Vacuuming out a dressing room to keep the store looking fabulous
  The best part of my job has to be the displays. Since some of my first days of working at the boutique, I've been in charge of the jewelry displays. I also play around with the garters and shoes. I have the reputation of being the person who can find a necklace just by hearing a customer describe it. Most notably, the store I work at has won awards for our window displays, which are a team effort to change out every few weeks. 

This window display took a week to complete!
Another part of the spring window display!  
As much as I love my job, some days are exhausting and I feel like my brain is going to explode! I've learned so much since starting my job. I've of course learned how to measure people for tuxedos and how to use our computer system... but more importantly I've learned the process of buying a dress for a special occasion. Buying a dress isn't as easy as it sounds and it requires a lot of planning. To aid any future dress buyers, I've decided to tell the world the top five things I've learned as a dress consultant. 


 
Wearing one of my favorite dresses in the store
June 2016

  When you leave the house to go out to a dress store, make sure you aren't wearing your hot pink leopard print sports bra. The reason being is that you won't be wearing your hot pink leopard print sports bra when you break it down on the dance floor at prom or when you walk down the aisle. Try to wear a bra that you would wear with the type of dress you are going to buy. For example, wear a strapless bra if you are going prom dress shopping. If you are a bride to be, the dress store you are going to should have long line bras in the back for customers to use while trying on dresses. Pretty please, do not wear a sports bra while dress shopping! The reason being is that a sports bra compresses your boobs. When a dress consultant measures your bust, the measurement won't be as accurate as it would be if you were wearing the bra you're planning on wearing to the event. Undergarments matter and they require planning!

Improper undergarments distract from the beauty of a dress
June 2016
  If you notice in the photo above, my bra is sticking out from under the dress. Instead of paying attention to the beautiful sheer straps and exposed back that the dress has to offer, I see my black bra. A better choice would have been to wear a nude bra or a strapless bra.
  Please don't wear your pants (leggings, jeans, shorts, etc.) while trying on dresses, wedding dresses especially. If you are uncomfortable with the dress consultant seeing you in your underwear, wear something you'll be comfortable in like spandex. If you don't want the dress consultant to get personal with your butt crack every time they go to zip up a dress for you, don't wear a thong!
  Dress consultants help people put on clothes for a living. They have seen people in thongs and have gotten personal with butt cracks. It's uncomfortable for both parties when the consultant has to grab a zipper that found itself nestled on someone's butt crack. As a dress consultant, you're basically just trying not to poke the poor girl in the behind. 
  
A customer's view of the dress consultant
  With all of that being said, be nice to the people who help you in stores. They are only doing their job when they approach you and ask you if you need help. I know at my store, we try limit the customers from taking things on and off the rack. It ruins our day when we get someone who is being difficult just for the sake of being difficult. 
  I think some people don't realize that buying a wedding dress is like buying a car. It's a large purchase that takes a lot of planning and time. I understand that people think that buying a formal dress is like purchasing something at a department store, but it actually requires checking the company's stock, ordering a dress, or discussing alterations with an in store seamstress. Going to a dress store requires time and patience. Everyone is trying their best to give you everything you want and that process takes time! That patience pays off because people are more apt to go the extra mile for you if you're nice to them.




  Dress boutiques are stuffed with a million different styles available for purchase. Make sure to try every option possible. The bridesmaid dresses we have in the store vary in size and color but can all be ordered in a different color and size. As seen in the photo above, the racks are divided by color. In my store, all of the racks are arranged by designer. Some racks are organized by material (satin, tulle, chiffon, etc.) and from there are organized by color. Just because the color of a dress in the store isn't flattering on you, don't shy away from trying it on. Especially in the case of bridesmaid dresses, that dress doesn't necessarily have to be what you buy. 
  When buying a wedding dress, there may be six dresses on the rack that are very similar to the dress you want but vary by certain details. Make sure you that you inspect those details. Wedding dresses are stuffed with precious elements such as scalloped lace edges and buttons running all the way down the train. 
  When it comes to prom, you may think that you want a ballgown. Please, try on the slim dresses and mermaid dresses too!! You never know for sure what you like until you try everything! Test your options! Also, stores have more dresses than what is on the racks. Ask to see a catalog to see all of the dresses available to purchase. 

June 2016

  Lastly, it's never too early to start shopping. Dresses can take weeks to months to make. As a dress consultant, I don't want you to have to settle for an off the rack dress you aren't nuts about just because your dress won't be made in time for your event. If you are a bride to be, get into the dressing rooms six months before your date (at least! It makes things so much easier on everyone!). If you are shopping for a prom dress, start shopping in December or January. I bought my dress in February last year and it didn't arrive until two weeks before prom... I still had alterations that I needed done! To save yourself from extra stress before your event, start shopping months before your event. Don't expect to waltz into the store a month before your date and expect to find a dress easily. In the dress business, we rely on being able to order dresses in different sizes and colors. We couldn't possibly house all of our stock in three separate sizes! That would be too many dresses!

Honestly, I have the best job in the world
  I absolutely adore my job and love helping customers to look their best on their big day. Please make your life easier by following all of the tips listed above. Dress shopping is supposed to be fun! Remember to be patient, plan your undergarments ahead of time, test all of your options, and shop early. Happy shopping!


All photos were taken by Carly Rhyner in June 2016.
I was not paid to make this post. All of these thoughts are my own and do not reflect the business I work for. 

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