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Saturday, March 7, 2015

More Than Just the Price

So many times when I answer calls about gowns for weddings, proms or any special occasion, the only concern is price.  With so much information on the internet, store owners feel they are often in a pricing battle and become a try-on store for many to return home to shop online. There are plenty of articles about the horrors of shopping online and how it doesn't contribute to the local economy but that is not my focus today.  I want to show why gowns that look so similar can be priced so differently.

Gown on left from P.C. Mary's starts at $479.
Gown on right from Eureka starts at $285.

The important part comes in the description not in the price.  Let look at the differences.
        Mary's Style                                                                       Eureka Style

  • Available in white, ivory and aqua                         * Available in mint, peach, red, coral,
  • Available in sizes 2-30 (all even numbers)                 royal, turquoise, victorian lilac
  • Measures 64" hollow to hem                                  * Available in sizes XS-3XL
  • Includes lining, satin and chiffon layers                 * Measures 58" hollow to hem
  • Fabric is noticeably heavier.                                   * Includes satin with chiffon overlay.

What does all this mean to the customer?  Let me explain.

Color Choices: 
         Sometimes designers who offer more color choices are more expensive.  This does not hold true for these two gowns or for prom in general.  Most prom designers will limit color choices to keep costs lower.  Bridesmaid gowns is where you need to be mindful of color and prices.  Those companies who offer better prices will generally offer less colors and vice versa.  I carry $79 bridesmaid gowns that are available in 16 colors.  On the other end my most expensive gowns averaging around $200 are available in over 130 color combination of lace, satin and chiffon.

Sizes Available:
      This difference is huge to the customer for many reasons.  The Mary's gown is cut in 15 different sizes from 2-30. The Eureka gown only has 7 sizes.  So lets say you measure 38 bust, 31 waist and 42 hip. This is a size 12 on the Mary's chart and should fit with minimal alterations depending on your heights.  These measurement fall between the M and L on the Eureka chart. The M is one inch too small and the L is 2 inches too big.  Ordering the Large could easily add an extra $100 in alteration charges to make the gown fit perfectly. Since Eureka has fewer sizes and bigger gaps in inches between the sizes, alterations are more likely and will cost more.  
      Also comparing the two size charts, the 3XL is close to a size 22 on the Mary's chart.  Therefore, no one over the size 22 would fit into the Eureka gown.  Mary's is the only option for these customers.

Hollow to Hem:
      The Hollow to Hem measurement is taken from the base of the neck (the little dip between the collarbone) to the bottom of the gown.  To give a reference, I am 5'6".  Today I am wearing a 3-inch heel and measure about a 58-inch hollow to hem.  I am about the exact height needed for the Eureka gown.  But I know there are lots of ladies that are taller than me, my daughter being one of them.  Many also like to wear heels making them close to or over 6 feet tall.  If this is you, the Eureka gown is too short.  This is another way designers cut cost to offer a less expensive gown. The Mary's gown has an extra 6 inches of material added on the bottom for taller ladies.
    But if you are not so tall, remember the price to hem a gown that is 1 inch too long or 10 inches too long is the same price!!

     Now we are down to the nitty-gritty! Look and feel, something you have no way of knowing when you purchase online.  If you come into my store and feel the fabric of these two gowns and take the time to try them on, you will know the difference!!  The structure of the Mary's gown is far superior to the Eureka gown.  The fabric is silkier and shinier. The full lining will keep the sun from shining through the gown so you won't have to purchase a slip.
     The final test is in pressing the gown.  For the price point, Eureka does really well.  I probably spend about twice the time steaming a Eureka gown compared to a Mary's but at least the wrinkles come out.  If you try on a gown in a store and it is wrinkled, it will most likely stay that way.  The cheaper the fabric, the more wrinkles that do not come out when pressed or steamed.

Beading on Mary's gown

  All of these circumstances are why store owners are in the business!  We are here to help you find the right gown at the right price.  We know what will fit your budget and your body type.  If we don't have the exact gown you are looking for, we will find the next best option or borrow a gown for you to try on.  You won't find this kind of help when ordering online or in a big box store.

So if you are in central Indiana, I look forward to meeting you and helping you to find the gown of your dreams.

If you live somewhere else and cannot travel to Indiana, let me know where you are and I will find a trusted retailer to work with you.  I network with hundreds of other store owners in the US and abroad who are all as passionate about this business as I am!
Beading on Eureka gown

Friday, January 30, 2015

Universally Flattering Bridesmaid Dress Colors

Below is an article from concerning Bridesmaid colors.  As with any article, I agree with some aspects but not all. See my recommendations under each color choice.
If you think saying yes to your wedding dress is difficult, try putting yourself in your bridesmaids' shoes. The style, length, and color of the average bridesmaids dress are typically non-negotiable, and bridesmaids must foot the bill for the dress themselves. However, by selecting a universally flattering dress shade for your bridesmaids, you may avoid tears and drama altogether. Here are seven expert-approved, becoming bridesmaid dress shades to please even the most difficult 'maid.
1. Mint
Though not a typical choice, mint is the color du jour in bridesmaid dresses and complements most skin tones, according to Lovely Bride's Cassandra Quinn. "Mint is really having a moment right now and is so flattering on so many complexions," explains Quinn. "We love this fresh color in a range of shades from light and subtle to its deep rich, almost jade, hue."

The problem with mint is the same as many other colors. What exactly is mint?  With several different designers making bridesmaid gowns, colors can be very different from one designer to the next.  So, I agree with the pale green working for most complexions, make sure you like the choice from your dress designer.

2. White
If you don't mind sharing your signature color with your bridesmaids, try selecting ivory or white wares for your bridesmaids. Quinn notes that the neutral shade is compatible with most skin tones.
Sorry, this one I completely disagree!!  Most brides don't select white anymore because it is so NOT compatible with most skin tones. Why would you want a whole wedding party of washed out ladies? Really give this some thought before going through with this color.
3. Navy
Forget any preconceived notions about navy as a preppy, nautical shade. Kathlin Argiro, founder and creative mind behind Kathlin Argiro New York, favors navy for bridesmaid frocks. "It is always chic and timeless to go for classics like navy which work on all skin tones and have the bonus of being the most wearable for other occasions," she clarifies.
Navy is truly great for most skin tones and compliments many other accent colors.  Usually can't go wrong with this choice.
4. Coral
If you venture into vibrant shades, David's Bridal Design Director Patricia Keenan suggests selecting a single color that your salon offers in a range of shades. One of Keenan's preferred colors is a classic coral that comes in a range of shades.
Coral is another color that really varies with designers.  Some will be closer to peach while others go much darker like salmon.  So, once again consult swatches for each designer.  This can also be a difficult color if you have a bridesmaid with red hair. 
5. Black
Though black is historically a shade associated with solemnity and mourning, the inky color is trending this year for bridal gowns and bridesmaid attire alike. Keenan states that if other color options seem trite or staid, "Of course there is always the epitome of elegance: black.
Black works for so many reasons. It is great for most skin colors, is ultra elegant, classic, and can usually be worn after the wedding. The only negative is the funeral idea.
6. Burgundy
When it comes to winter weddings, Agiro relies on rich, vivid hues like burgundy, whose depths enhance most skin tones. "Generally speaking, more saturated colors work best on a variety of skin tones," she elaborates.
Burgundy, red, claret and any other shade of red are usually one of the best sellers for any bridal store.  The vibrant colors look great on the bridesmaids as well as in decorations.  Again, consider anyone with red hair before deciding on a final color choice.
7. Emerald Green
Fashion-forward brides may wish to channel 2014's fairytale trend by selecting emerald green for bridesmaid dresses. Agiro cites the shade as another of her favorites, saying, "To keep the palette sophisticated I would opt for deeper shades of jewel tones."
Emerald green, like the red, is very bold.  It looks wonderful in pictures and brightens the atmosphere. And most redheads love green!

As always, everyone is different. Pleasing more than one bridesmaid can be a real challenge. And although it is the bride's day, she will want everyone to look beautiful for her special day.  So my best advice is to get to a store and try on some different colors. Pictures on Pinterest may be a great place to start, but what the bride has in mind may not work for those she is having in the wedding.
And as always, you can always email me at if you have specific questions.