This is a super common question for designers who are making the switch from custom to ready-to-wear bridal sizing. (This is helpful to understand as a store owner, because I promise you, brides will ask you about this all the time.)
What should I set for my ideal fit and how do I do grading between sizes?
Yes, everyone knows that a bridal 10 is really a US street size 8. Yes, it’s demoralizing and slightly confusing to brides when they’re shopping. No, you do not have to do it that way. Feel free to size however you want to! Just make sure you explain that to stores. It can be a selling point, but probably not as big of one as you would think.
I know you want to be counter culture and helpful and logical, but when you do wholesale your customer is your store as much as it is your bride. Most brides know by now that sizing is screwy in bridal, even if they don’t love it. And trying to remember that your brand is the one line that is different from the rest of the dresses at their store can be rough for consultants and store owners. It’s also particularly difficult for stores not based in the US, where bridal sizing and street sizing are pretty much the same (vanity sizing isn’t as common everywhere else). So make sure you take all of your customers (current and future) into account when you make a choice.
Hopefully one day we can all join hands, work together, and make the sizing across the board. Until then, if you’re going to take a stand, you’ll need to do the groundwork of making sure everyone knows it and isn’t getting confused.
There are a ton of sizes you could offer. That doesn’t mean you have to. Grading and fit models are expensive and planning out and testing 10 sizes (say, 0-18) is more expensive than 7 sizes (like 4-16). Also, with a lot of styles the structure of the dress has to be adjusted as you hit the very small or plus size sizes. When you’re starting out, it’s ok to limit your sizing. Or not. Do what feels best for you and the brides you want to reach.
Here’s the break down. Usually you’ll see jumps of about 1″ on each measurement between sizes 4-10. That means that a 4 could be 34-26-36 and a 6 would be 35-27-37. Once you hit around the 12 or 14 range, most jumps are 1.5-2″.
How do I know where to start?
I remember once averaging the size charts of dozens of brands to come up with my “ideal” industry fit. It took forever and it was a pain. And completely unnecessary! I should have stuck with a fit model to set up my size 8 or 10 and just graded at a predictable pattern from there. You serve an ideal customer (right? We’ve talked about this!). You get to pick a fit that serves your niche. Your grading should be pretty standard though, so try to follow that.
That said, seeing is believing and I know looking through size charts helps you feel confident you’re on the right path. Here are a ton of sites that have bridal size charts of major brands available. Peruse at your leisure.
Good luck! As always, get a hold of me to ask a question for the blog or leave a comment below.
Say Yes Bridal (There are so many on this page! This could easily be the only site you need to look at)
Lasting Bridal Couture (Hover over Size Charts in the menu and click through to each brand)
Nicole Miller (Scroll down a little and click on Size Chart in the description of the dress)
Bella Mera Bridal (Lots to click through and see)
Kirstie Kelly (Another size chart on the actual designers page)