What's the Deal with Sample Wedding Gowns?

October 01, 2020

What's the Deal with Sample Wedding Gowns?

One of the most common questions I get is: "What's the deal with Sample Wedding gowns?"  Brides often wonder why are sample gowns cheaper than the retail price and why the sizes are limited.  

Essentially, a sample wedding dress is a gown that has been tried on by brides in a bridal salon but has never been altered or worn outside a salon. At a traditional bridal shop, brides order a dress based off of the samples in store which they try on and select the size based on their measurements. 

Bridal salons that sell sample gowns allows you to purchase gowns that are "off the rack" - which means you get to take them home with you that day (no need to order 6-8 months in advance).  These gowns are cheaper than the retail price because they sometimes have minor signs of wear from being tried on and handled and/or they are discontinued from the designer. 

What are some common signs of wear on sample gowns?

  • Dust along the hemline
  • Missing or loose buttons or embellishments (such as beading or applique)
  • Small holes in delicate parts of the dress (such as netting or thin lace)
  • Make-up stains in the inside of the dress.  (This happens when a bride puts on a dress overhead and is wearing heavy make-up - a big no-no when shopping for wedding dresses!).  

Why are Sample Gowns so great?

Sample gowns are a great way to get a designer gown at a deeply discounted price! Why spend thousands on a wedding gown, when you can get it for 50% off or even less!  Who doesn't love a good bargain?!  And sample gowns are more sustainable than buying something brand new. 

But what about those imperfections you mentioned?

Oftentimes, the minor imperfections can be fixed easily by an experienced bridal seamstress.  For instance, if there is dust or dirt along the hemline, most brides need to shorten their dress anyways - so problem solved!  Missing buttons can easily be replaced - and why not replace all of them and add a personal touch (maybe switch them out to pearl buttons or buttons with a little sparkle? Then your dress will be truly one of a kind!).  If there is a small hole, a seamstress can get creative by finding the best way to repair it - they can add some applique to cover it up, or add some extra tulle or netting to camouflage it. 

If you love a sample gown but can't quite zip it up, a zipper back can sometimes be transformed into a corset back.  And this leads me to the next common question I get...

Why are Sample gown sizes so limited?

Sample gowns are usually in Bridal Size 8-12.  Keep in mind, these are "Bridal Sizes" which are 1-2 sizes smaller than street size.  It's super confusing, I know!  A bridal sample size 12 fits like a street size 8/10.  Dresses are ordered in this size with the thought that they will fit most brides, and if not, clips or extensions can be used to show the bride how it will fit once ordered in her size.  So if your measurements are close to the measurements of the sample gown - it should fit you well.  If the dress is too big, taking a sample gown in 2-3 sizes should not be a problem.  Once you take it in more than that, the proportions tend to be off and that can require a lot more work to resize.  If the dress is too small, sample gowns usually have about an inch of inseam on most major seams so it can be let out a little.  Or you can change the zipper back to a corset back, as previously mentioned.  Any experienced seamstress can advise you.

I hope all of this info helped to clear up some of your questions regarding sample dresses.  If you have questions about how a particular dress fits or anything else, always feel free to e-mail or call me! 

XO,





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