Maybe you've got a fancy night out on the town, or you're going to a wedding, maybe you're a bridesmaid or have some sort of uber glamorous life where gowns are your uniform. Well if any of these are you, then you will most likely buy a dress off the rack. The next step is to figure out if you need alterations or not. They can be an extra cost that you might not be expecting, so always keep them in mind when purchasing your dress.
So how do you determine if alterations are needed? Firstly, look at the hem. The hem is the length of the dress and is the most common alteration dressmakers see. Make sure your gown is pressed and that you are wearing the undergarments you plan on wearing on the day. This is important because the difference Spanks or a strapless bra can make to your hem is quite significant and these factors will also come in to question later on. You must also have your shoes! This is very important. Don't go to a fitting or attempt to alter your hem if you don't have the shoes you are going to wear. If you have all these important items and the hem is still too long, touching the ground or tripping you up when you walk, then, yes, you will need your hem altered.
Secondly, the bust. This can be tricky but quite common. There are no 'standard' sizes, so adjustments in the bust are always different. Remember that bra we talked about? Well now it is even more important. Make sure you have decdided on the bra you are going to wear then put your dress on and consider the bust. Is it bulging? Are the ladies bulging? Is the back too tight? If any of these are uncomfortable then you will likely need an alteration. However, if you are unsure, ask your dressmaker. They will make sure you are dressed properly and really know what should be where.
Thirdly and almost as common as a hem, the strap lift. If your straps or shoulders aren't firm enough you will spend the night pulling them up or you'll have some sag in the front. Sometimes the strap lift will count out the bust adjustment, but your dressmaker will be able to determine that. Remembering that a corseted wedding dress alteration will be very different to a bridesmaids dress alteration.
These are just three of the most common alterations we see in formal gowns and wedding dresses. But because we are all so uniquely beautiful our dresses require individual attention to help emphasise our incredible natural beauty. My advice - don't be afraid to ask questions about the fit of your dress. Dressmakers have many tricks up there sleeves and can do amazing things. But remember they aren't miracle workers, so if they are hesitant to chop your dress up to perform one, then listen to their advice.
If you have some alteration questions - you know where to find me.