I get a lot of enquiries about alterations to evening, wedding and bridesmaids dresses bought online. Often the dresses are bought very cheaply from websites which although may seem to be English, actually source their dresses from the Far East either that or the websites are blatantly Oriental.
Some of the cheap dress websites, and there are many, are better than others, but as a rule you need to be very careful about the sizes you order as it can be very difficult to return dresses or get any compensation.
There are a few rules of thumb which it is best to go by when ordering a cheap dress online.
1. always use a site which allows you to input your own measurements.
2. always actually input your measurements, don't just buy the dress in your usual size. Most of the sites use American sizes which are about 2 sizes bigger than ours so if you order a size 16, you'll receive something approaching a UK12!
3. get a friend to take your measurements and don't skimp to make the number seem smaller, it is better to get the dress a little too big than too small as there is much less scope to let a dress out than to take it in.
If you do decide to go down the cheap online dress route don't expect perfection, the dresses can be very good but they won't be as good as something made to measure in this country and just occasionally a dress will arrive and be a big disappointment. In this scenario don't panic just take the dress to a good dressmaker and she will be able to alter it to fit perfectly and to modify any design details you don't like.
The picture shows just such a dress. The dress was a bargain, much cheaper than similar seen in a UK shop but when it arrived it was badly made, being unevenly stitched with asymmetric seaming which should have been symmetric and it didn't fit at all well. The bride was in her words 'distraught' when she brought me her dress, but a lot of work later she had the perfect dress and looked lovely on her big day. And she still saved money on the UK dress price after paying my fees to sort the dress out to her satisfaction.
So buying special clothes online can be a big money saver, but buy the right size according to your measurements and expect to have do some work on it.
Caroline Jones, Fashion Revived, your friendly local dressmaker in the Forest of Dean.
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