The How To’s Of Stress-Free Online Dress Shopping

Part 1: Three Hard Truths And Five Problems That Will Make You Pay More… Way More!

Nowadays, majority of my clients do their dress shopping online.

Unfortunately, online dress shopping turns out a bitter disappointment for many ladies, who often bring dresses to me to alter. Bridesmaids, for example, are often crying on the phone because of the way those dresses makes them look given how much money they spent. The problem is that these dresses are next to impossible to alter.

Many first-time clients of mine face the following issues:

  • Hard truth #1: Cost of alterations can exceed the price of the garment!
  • Hard truth #2: Sometimes, alterations are impossible; dressmakers turn them down.
  • Hard truth #3: Late deliveries by online vendors make alterations urgent. This, too, impacts the price.

Five Problems With Online Dress Shopping And How To Avoid Them

There are five problems with online shopping that may not only increase final price of your garment, but also impact your very ability to wear it:

1.You cannot try on the dress until you buy it

Readymade garments rarely fit well. We all have differences in body composition. When you are at the store, at least you can try them on. When you shop online, you simply cannot.

This creates all kinds of difficulties, such as problem #2 and #3.

Solution? Keep reading…

2. Picking style that doesn’t flatter you

Very often, a dress looks perfect on a model, but it doesn’t as much on you. If you could try it on, you would have probably noticed that, and picked another one.

Absolutely every figure can and should be presented in a very flattering way. A woman just needs to know what to wear for her body composition. Colors and style of your garment can make you look 10 years younger and 10 pounds lighter, or the other way around.

Very often, girls select beautiful dresses that are just not right for them. They find  designs  that don’t  flatter a woman with their body composition, and get fixated on them.

It is also common for the bride to select colors and styles for all bridesmaids, so they are forced to wear styles that don’t look good on them.

When they bring their dresses to me and see themselves in the mirror, they often cry. I am not exaggerating. I comforted so many bridesmaids in last five years, I lost count. Why do they get so emotional? It’s because they realize that they will not feel comfortable wearing “this” in front of people, and, to add to this, their less than desirable looks will be forever imprinted in wedding pictures.


Making you look your best in that dress is the ultimate goal of a dressmaker. You don’t have to make your dress from scratch, but you will benefit from consulting with a dressmaker before you buy. At only $30 for a consultation, my clients avoid many, many headaches and disappointments. Not to mention, they save much more on alterations, and look their best in that dress.

3. Wrong measurements 

This is related to the first problem. When you cannot try a dress on, you have to be very good at taking measurements of yourself and comparing them to the charts.

      • Firstly, most people don’t take measurements correctly.
      • Secondly, they don’t find charts and buy by the size ( Small, Medium, Large), not realizing that definitions of these sizes are not standardized. Every company has its own chart.
      • Lastly, they may select the wrong size even if they did find a chart.


Not sure about your measurements? Get your measurements taken by a professional dressmaker before buying dresses online.

4. You don’t know how the dress is made inside.

How the dress is made affects alterations cost. Is it going to be easy to take it in?

Many online companies reduce cost by skipping steps that make a dress easy to alter. They know that the girls will pay attention to external looks only. Some companies, though, understand the importance of returning business and want their clients to be happy, so they design dresses which can be altered. Because the truth is, each and every dress will need to undergo some kind of alteration

Special occasion dresses are especially difficult. They usually have several layers. There is underlining and more layers inside. Imagine several dresses attached to each other. All these layers need to be altered together as well. But for a dressmaker, it’s easier to deal with several individual dresses than with several dresses worn on top of each other, wouldn’t you agree?

You may say that when you shop at the store, you also don’t understand what to look for inside those dresses. This is easier to address. My clients send me pictures as they shop. I also recommend stores which are known to create their dresses with client’s needs in mind, those that design garment so that they are easier to alter.

Solution: Ask your dressmaker which company is known for making dresses so that alteration costs are reasonable. Send pictures. Ask what questions to ask of an online retailer to find out whether their dresses will be easy to alter or not.

5. Unscrupulous behaviour of some online retailers

Some overseas retailers promise that your dress will be custom made to your measurements, and that they will ship on time.

Then, they send you a standard dress. You are lucky if this dress is bigger size, but in many cases ladies discovered that they needed to lose several inches in several days to be able to zip up their dresses.

Others wait until the last moment before your important event to send you your dress so that you are forced to deal with alterations rather than return it.

Countless times I received calls from brides and bridesmaids whose dresses arrive a few days before the wedding, and they absolutely, totally, didn’t fit.


Know whom to buy from, involve your dressmaker and don’t be shy to ask questions before you buy.

It is simple to buy a bottle of shampoo online, but buying clothes is very tricky. Taking the right measurements, knowing what to look for, and checking the reputation of the online retailer will help you avoid bitter disappointment and money loss.

Talk to your dressmaker before you buy, and follow guidelines that I post on my website, and your special occasion won’t be spoiled by the price tag of your alterations.

In the next part, I will show you how to deal with measurements and retailers’ charts.