Ok Dress

1 Bridesmaid

A-Line Bridesmaid Dress, OK Dress (click for source)

I was contacted by someone wishing to be ‘professionally measured’ in order to buy a bridesmaid’s dress online. The mail order company is in China and sells dresses for weddings and proms in a huge choice of colours and of a similar ‘big occasion’ style. The website is professional and written in perfect English, notwithstanding the questionable use of the word ‘tailoring’ (although I understand in some cultures anyone who sews is a tailor). They do admit that some locally-made adjustments might be necessary for the dress to fit perfectly but once the customer’s order and measurements are received, the dress can be ‘tailored’ and flugzeuged over in two weeks. Wow.

There is some skirting around the issue of the fabrics used. In the opulently-layered bridesmaids dress such as above, the material is called “chiffon”. As the cost is under £100, my guess is it isn’t silk.

1 Grecian GoddessThe client arrived and we hit it off immediately talking about careers, English Lit, running and weddings. The five measurements I needed to take, and I did this twice, were bust, waist and hip, plus two vertical measurements: full height and ‘hollow of neck to floor’. I wasn’t sure if hollow of neck to floor was in a straight line perpendicular to the floor or with the tape curving around the bust and midriff which would be longer, especially on a big frame. No ‘back of neck to waist’ was required, which surprised me.

1 Grecian Goddess2I told the client I had doubts about how well her dress would fit or how wearable it would be; the bridesmaid styles don’t seem compatible with a supporting bra. She said she’s used the website before for another wedding and realises this service has its limitations: all she requires is that the dress is ‘good enough’ and meets the bride’s wishes. An Ok Dress. Which is exactly what the website is called.

Weddings are a mystery to me.  I haven’t been to one of those events where the bridesmaids form a team but I can understand why the organiser – with enough on her plate and feeling her preferences are compromised by familial obligations and expectation – might feel she needs to control whichever aspects it is possible to. In this case, the decision is to aim for a kind of uniformity with all the bridesmaids in the same colour of chiffon. It’s a colour my client likes but the shade chosen is a cold one rather than the warm tones that suits her.

I wonder what will happen to these identically coloured Grecian Goddess dresses after the wedding?

On a less depressing note, a second-time-round client who works for a magazine and picks up some interesting remnants gave me three small and mildly challenging jobs which I really enjoyed. One of them was turning some kind of a leather-look, warp-around garment into a wearable skirt. The front and sides looked great but the back opened up like one of those embarrassing hospital gowns that reveal the bum!  😯  It was well-stitched, just unfinished: apparently it had been used in a photo-shoot.  Again, all ephemeral…

And I sold my second Magenta dress, posting it off to the USA as before.  If only I had twice as many hours a day, or a Chinese factory, to make a row of these!!

Happy sewing!

12 thoughts on “Ok Dress

  1. Well done on your second sale! Do you have an online shop I can go and have a nosy at or are your clients ‘word of mouth’?
    I must admit to having had a couple – well, 4 actually, dresses made in a far flung place. The measurements I had to give, though, were extensive. I think I might even have had to give an ear to nostril measurement. The resulting dresses fit like the proverbial glove and, if you want lining, it’s an extra 8 dollars. What can you do? I could probably never make a dress to fit me so well and that’s with me being in the same room for fitting purposes – if you know what I mean. The lady (team? factory?) only uses two fabrics – one a lightweight, slightly stretchy cotton and the other a thicker, also slightly stretchy one and they both come in lots of colours. It’s the sort of thing that makes me wonder why I bother threading up the machine. Well, there’s the ethics of course – I don’t know what sort of operation she runs. Also, we know that sewing is fun – most of the time – and it challenges you and can be very satisfying. However, as you say, for somebody organising a wedding – which these days seems to have become a task of astronomical proportions – the relief of being able to send off for a clutch of dresses that fit the bill for bridesmaids with very little hassle must be extremely tempting.

    • That’s very interesting; I’d love to see a post about this should you be inclined to write one, or an analysis of the dress’ construction. The fact that the materials used stretch slightly must help with the fit but even so, this must be using a clearly thought out business model and in you they had a satisfied (repeat) customer.

      As for the ethics of people sewing for little money, I never take the moral high ground here because I’ve no idea what’s involved in the manufacture of the fabrics that we buy, which are often much cheaper than the bolts in John Lewis. I’m sure these fabric factories are no Utopias though there’s even less information about them than about clothing manufacturers.

      Finally, you ask about my online shop. Thank you as ever for your continuing encouragement and support 🙂 I shall be in touch with a question related to this!

  2. Those chins websites always seem so tempting. Cheap as chips and the gowns look so appealing. Having attempted in the past to buy dresses in Honkers though, I doubt they cater for cups for that runneth over. Full bust seems to equate to broader chest measurement in asian sizing and I’m no sumo!
    Love your description of the bride’s ‘team’! Brilliant!
    In my limited experience, no matter how non bridesmaid the dresses look, they never, ever get worn again, so they might as well be cheap!
    Would love a follow up photo of the wedding party, lets see what they can come up with from measurements.
    Hey, congrats on your long distance Rocky Horror consignment – wow!

  3. I have been called on to alter lots of these dresses. Some seem to have taken note of the measurements given but I occasionally wonder if they just posted the one that was on the top of the pile ?

    • Interesting! But this client did say that she intends to wear a waist shaper (she didn’t for the measuring) and will attempt to lose weight between now and then so who knows if her size will drop in the next few months. I don’t envy you your task Kim (but am in awe of your experience!).

  4. Ah, do you read Mrs Mole’s Fit for a Queen blog? Oh, so funny, so sad, so true: bridal alterations and Bridezillas aplenty!
    It’s funny that there seem to be several types of ‘asian/pan pacific’ bespoke clothing companies: the traditional Hong Kong tailor, with the local traveling rep who takes a billion measurements and has suitcases full of samples (the only way my dad ever got a suit that fit). The bridal factories, where you shop the online store, send in your numbers and then you take the results to a local dressmaker (and I’ve seen enough, thanks). And on Etsy, the lagenlook linen designers, a new shop every fortyfive seconds (current fave https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaLieb) .
    And I’m sure there are more. God bless the internet!

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