When we started digging into the plus size wedding dress industry last year, the first thing we did was to look around at real weddings and see which plus size wedding dress styles worked and which ones didn’t. Did we just need to ban all strapless gowns? Were sleeves the secret sauce for a flattering design? Early on in the process, it became very clear that the issue with plus size wedding dresses isn’t actually so much the styles themselves—it’s about whether the designers thought about plus size bodies at all when creating their collections. And more often than not, the answer was no. So plus size womxn were making do with dresses that had been designed for a size-four body, and then stretched to fit the measurements of a size twenty.
But a size-twenty body isn’t the same as a size-four body. So those dresses we saw were often unflattering and unsupportive, even if the designs were gorgeous. But some designers do get it. So when Maggie Sottero Designs (who make some of my favorite affordable dresses around—like, hello, I need this) invited us to showcase some of their new plus size designs, I was cautiously optimistic. Then, when I opened the page for their main collection and saw a plus size model as the lead image, I was like… ok, maybe we’ve got something here! Then I looked at their real weddings page, and found plus size brides wearing their dresses and looking fly. And now that I’ve seen their collection, I can see why: Maggie Sottero Designs has cracked the code on curve-hugging wedding gowns that were designed with plus size womxn in mind. In fact, not even just plus size womxn. Womxn with boobs! Womxn with butts! Womxn who are bigger than a size six and don’t want to feel punished for it.
So today, I wanted to share a few of my favorite dresses from Maggie Sottero and their sister brands, Sottero and Midgley and Rebecca Ingram, and give you guys a few tips on what to look for in plus size wedding dress design that makes certain gowns more curve-friendly.
Secret See-Through Details
We’re having a very… um… naked moment in wedding dresses. And I’m not mad about it! There’s a lot of plunging or non-existent backs, see-through lace, peekaboo cleavage. It’s, frankly, much more my taste than the ballgowns of yore. But naked wedding dresses also mean that there isn’t a lot of room for hiding support structure. But Maggie Sottero Designs has outfitted their plus size gowns with clever designs that give the illusion (ha) of bare skin, without sacrificing the comfort and support of fabric where you need it. For example, I totally thought the Cathy gown from Rebecca Ingram (which is Maggie Sottero Design’s most affordable line, with dresses ranging from $800-$1200) was an off-the-shoulder style until I looked a little closer and saw the illusion neckline:
And the Wyatt dress below has a gorgeous sheer back, but the thick lace straps and illusion panel mean you get just a little extra support, so that the lack of bra doesn’t mean you’re, you know, actually naked.
Any Kind of Strap
Most of the plus size womxn I know (including myself) wear daily undergarments that hold multiple patents for feats of gravity-defying physics. So, when you introduce a piece of clothing that you can’t wear with a normal bra (read: boring and beige with thick-as-hell straps), the first thing you’re going to want to look for is a strong internal support structure. Something like a corset, which doesn’t have to be uncomfortable—there are lots of stretchy, comfortable support fabrics available these days. The folx at Maggie Sottero Designs did us a solid and listed which of their dresses have internal support (look for words like “inner elastic enclosure”). But beyond that, even the smallest of straps will prevent you from pulling your dress up all night.
Now, I normally hate spaghetti straps, but the styles above and below are actually really working for me. I love the off-shoulder lace on the Sorrento Lynette wedding dress (above) and the plunging neckline of this Maggie Sottero Tuscany Marie wedding dress below:
I never would have tried a dress like the Tuscany Marie for my own wedding (I would have assumed the deep V would mean lots of spillage). But I’ve tried on similar styles recently, and the illusion panel-plus-straps combo gives enough support to keep everything where it belongs. Plus, it’s sexy as hell, and you know I’m here for some curvy ladies in sexy wedding dresses. Speaking of sexy, can we just take a moment to appreciate the Darren Lynette wedding dress from Sottero and Midgley:
I’m going to need one of y’all to volunteer as tribute, is all I’m saying.
When we were looking at those original plus size wedding gowns online, we noticed that there were basically two options for plus size brides: ballgowns and super tight, body-hugging dresses. And while both of those styles can be a great fit for the right person, ballgowns can be a lot of dress, and bodycon designs aren’t always made for dancing. Or moving at all. Most of the womxn we spoke with ultimately just wanted a wedding dress that was flattering and comfortable. So, I shouldn’t be surprised that most of our test models ended up with A-line dresses that had interesting tops. And the A-line gowns from Maggie Sottero Designs deliver. I love, love, love, the bohemian vibe of this Mayla wedding gown from Rebecca Ingram:
And this Liesl Lynette dress (also Rebecca Ingram) is the perfect combination of romantic details while still letting your look be about you.
I will stan for sleeves on wedding dresses from now until forever. But I appreciate that these Sottero and Midgley dresses below are doing sleeves in a way that doesn’t feel like a recreation of my first communion.
And while I don’t think we can technically classify this as a sleeve, I love the look of textured lace in an off-the-shoulder gown, so I’m giving it an honorable mention:
Bonus Pro Tip
If you’re like me, though, this advice might seem all practical and reasonable reading it online. Then the second you get into the dress store, you get totally overwhelmed by the salespeople and forget your first name. But Maggie Sottero Designs has added a few new features that make it easier to find a dress you love and then arm yourself with information, so that you can walk into a showroom with a list of styles and ask for what you want. First, you can use their style quiz to get an idea of what gowns you might like best. And their brand-new style locator means that when you find a dress you like, you can also find a store that carries it just by entering your zip code underneath the dress description on the product page. You can save those dresses to your Maggie closet, too, so you know exactly which styles you’re looking for when you visit your local salon.
But my best-kept secret for wedding dress shopping is actually much more low-fi: look at real weddings from the dress designer and try to find bodies like yours. Then figure out which dresses you like the best. Maggie Sottero Designs actually has one of the better-kept blogs in the game, and I was able to find several plus size and curvy brides in a variety of styles in a matter of minutes. Because the truth is, it’s hard to know what a dress is going to look like on your body just from the styled catalog image. (And that goes double for plus size dresses, where the fit model is usually a size 14 or 16 and is 5’10” with perfect proportions.) I’m almost always surprised by which dresses end up looking best on plus size bodies (hint: it’s usually way more than I would have guessed). So, if you’re feeling intimidated by your dress search, start with real people, and then keep an open mind.
And I won’t be mad if your open mind also points you in the direction of this cape. Just had to bring it up again.
This post was sponsored by Maggie Sottero Designs. Maggie Sottero Designs makes some of my favorite modern wedding dresses, under their labels Maggie Sottero, Sottero and Midgley, and Rebecca Ingram. I’m talking sleeves, capes, sexy minimalism, and embellishments (basically all my favorite parts of wedding dresses). And they are affordable: dresses from the Rebecca Ingram line start at just $800 and look like they cost twice as much. Click here to explore all of Maggie Sottero Designs’ plus size gowns, and then find a salon that carries them near you.Top Image: Sergmay Photography via Maggie Sottero Designs | All Other Images: via Maggie Sottero Designs