The Perfect Fit

For a Perfect Fitted Prom Gown

When it comes to finding your perfect prom dress it’s important to also consider finding an appropriately skilled seamstress too, to make sure you get the right advice from the start on what type of alterations can be done to that “dream dress”.   Buying your dress online or picking up a reduced prom gown in the sale which doesn’t quite fit properly might not be such a great idea if it turns out that the type of alterations required end up costing more than you budgeted for.

All too often the finished look of that perfect gown can be spoiled by poor quality alterations.  For example, if a gown is too long (or too short), then a highly skilled seamstress is a must.  An experienced seamstress knows that the length can’t always be fixed simply by tweaking the hem.  The bodice, neckline, shoulders AND the hem may need adjusting so the gown sits correctly across a more petite (or larger) bodyframe.  This may also involve carefully removing any beadwork or embellishments, then repositioning and reattaching them by hand so they sit correctly and look as if the dress made that way (rather than it looking as if it’s been messed with and pulled out of shape).  Delicate or highly jewelled fabrics are another important factor to take into account when altering prom gowns, as delicate satins, silks and chiffons require expert handling and can easily be damaged if altered using inappropriate sewing machines without the correct needle settings.

It’s therefore always advisable to seek advice from an expert and leave your gown alterations to a specialist in this type of work, such as those that work exclusively in bridal and evening wear.    If you’re buying your gown from a reputable shop, ask if they have their own seamstress.  If they don’t, ask if they have a contact list for seamstresses they can recommend.

Always Ask for a Quote on Alteration Costs and Times

Prom dress alterations are usually in addition to the cost of the dress, therefore before you purchase or order your gown check what alterations it is likely to need and ask for a quote so you can make sure you have enough in your budget.   If you are ordering your gown based on what the sample you tried on fitted like, the quote is likely to be a ballpark figure, therefore build into your budget that it might be more (or less) than the quote depending on how well it fits when your own dress arrives.

Once you have your dress book a “fitting appointment” in with your chosen seamstress around 8 to 12 weeks before your prom for an initial consultation.  Depending on what’s required the alterations will be done in stages and you will likely need to have 3 or even 4 “fitting” appointments over the weeks leading up to your prom, with the final one being quite close to your prom date so as to ensure everything fits on the day.   You will need your shoes and underwear with you at the fittings, as something as simple as a different bra can make a huge difference when fitting a dress.

It’s also important to remember that you won’t be the only one needing their dress altering.  Around prom time dress shops and seamstress services can get extremely busy.  Therefore book your seamstress in advance (if you can) so you can rest easy knowing you won’t be scrambling for those last-minute limited appointment times.   You need to also remember to allow enough time in between appointments for the seamstress to work on your dress.  This will depend on how many gowns they are working on at the same time and could be anything from a few days to a few weeks in between appointments.

Gaining or Losing Weight Before Your Prom

It is extremely common for girls to gain or lose weight just before their prom so if it happens to you DON’T WORRY, you are not alone!    It can be down to a number of factors, such as stress from exams, changing timetables and eating patterns, no longer walking to and from school or stopping doing sports during exam times.     Therefore best to be realistic with yourself and don’t set yourself a hard task of buying a smaller sized dress in the hope of losing weight before your prom.   Remember it’s a heck of lot easier to take a dress in if it’s too big than it is to let is out if you don’t reach your goal of dropping a dress size.

Unlike our everyday clothes which stretch with our body as we move around, prom dresses are fitted and usually have very little “give” to the fabric.  They seldom stretch so need to be fitted properly so you can sit down and walk easily whist still looking fabulous!

Another point to remember is bloating, if you do tend to “bloat” when you eat or drink, or if your prom unfortunately falls at the same time as your period is due, then mention this to your seamstress so they can allow a little more room around the tummy area rather than fitting your dress tightly to your non-bloated body shape so that you end up unable to breath on the prom night!

Always remember, if you do have the misfortune of gaining or losing weight after ordering your dress then DON’T PANIC!  It’s more common than you think.  Just talk to your seamstress who will be able to reassure you of your options for altering the dress so that it fits and looks perfect in time for your prom.

Final Fitting

By the time you reach your final fitting you want to ensure you’re happy with everything before you take your dress home.

The hem should neither be too long so it’s dragging on the floor or too high so it’s above the shoe.  Instead it should sit so it sweeps away as you walk but without catching the floor and risk tripping you up.  (If you have a chiffon gown this is usually done by leaving the chiffon ever so slightly longer at the front than the lining underneath).   Your dress also should not be so tightly fitted you can’t sit down (after all you do need to be able to get in and out of a car to get to the prom)!   Therefore there are two simple tests you should do at your fitting appointments:

  • The “Sit Test” – Once you’re in your gown, with the hoop on (if you’re using one) find a normal height chair and try sitting down.  (You might need to hitch the skirt up a little on the hips as you sit, but shouldn’t need to pull it right up so its half-a-foot off the floor just to sit down).   You should be able to sit down comfortable and get up from the chair as normal.
  • The “Walk Test” – Stand up and look ahead so your heads straight (if you look at the floor your body naturally leans forward and will cause the dress to drop at the front which could trip you up).  Keeping your head straight (as if you’re balancing an invisible book on your head) and walk across the room to check that your dress isn’t catching the floor.   If it is, speak to the seamstress and ask her to check the levels of the dress.  (Dresses fall differently on the body to the way they do on a hanger or dressmaking dummy, therefore it’s not unusual for an amended hem to need a little tweak after a “walk test”).

Prom Time

Once your dress passes those walk and sit tests it’s finally ready for PROM TIME!   And don’t forget to send your seamstress a photo (and maybe a “thank you” card) afterwards, as they will love to see their work being appreciated and see you all dressed up in your beautiful gown with hair and make-up to finish the look.



….  Some bridal boutiques will have an in-house seamstress, such as the fabulous team at Sense of Style in Darlington, County Durham.   Their head seamstress has over 30 years of professional experience and their sewing rooms are packed with equipment and tools designed for altering specialist fabrics and adding beautiful embellishments.  Their team have the wide range of skills, knowledge and experience to understand what it takes to help every dress fit perfectly.   AND you don’t even need to have purchased your gown from Sense of Style bridal and evening wear boutique to use their in-house seamstress service.

Want to know more about Sense of Style and the services they offer?  Well, their shop is located in Cockerton, Darlington, with free parking right outside.  Inside it’s like a little Tardis jam packed with an enormous variety of beautiful wedding, bridesmaids, prom and evening gowns, plus shoes and accessories.  They carry a huge array of the latest samples to try on in a wide range of sizes, with some ranges available to order in up to 100 different colour choices too.   AND with great prices every day, friendly approachable staff who care about giving excellent customer service and the option to spread the cost of your gowns using an interest free payment plan, Sense of Style is definitely worth a visit.  Plus don’t forget about their storage & steaming services and that great in-house seamstress service too.

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