The secret to finding a wedding dress that looks more expensive than it is
Learn how to balance cost and quality while avoiding unflattering dresses that look cheap
If you’ve started shopping for a wedding dress, it’s likely you’ve had at least one experience where you were excited to try a dress, but it looked nothing like you imagined when you put it on.
We’ve all been there. You see a piece of clothing that looks promising online or on the hanger, but it looks cheap and unflattering when you try it on.
Sometimes you know you’re dealing with a cheap knock-off, so you’re okay with admitting defeat. Other times the item, like a wedding dress, is expensive. It doesn’t make sense that it looks cheap.
Yet, once a bride has had this experience a few times, she often thinks the problem is her budget. The more expensive the dress is, the more flattering it will be.
Price, however, isn’t the best search criteria. Why? Because there are oodles of poorly made wedding dresses that are overpriced.
If you want to find a wedding dress that looks more expensive than it is, you need to look to attributes that are more directly correlated with how a dress looks and how high its quality is. Below we discuss the three most important attributes to consider.
What makes a wedding dress look expensive?
1.Styles that are modern and timeless
Whether you consider yourself a fashionista or not, your wedding dress purchase is a fashion choice. We view fashion choices in the context of what’s relevant – current trends and timeless classics. Dresses that fall outside of these categories look dated and unflattering, because they aren’t relevant anymore. Since the fashion world discounts and replaces such things, we naturally see these styles as cheap.
This seems like common sense, but many bridal shops talk brides into dated styles by calling them “classic.”
Even among true classics and on-trend dresses, you can end up with a cheap look. To avoid this, keep the following in mind.
On-trend wedding dresses should incorporate current fashion trends, but they shouldn’t be copycats of famous wedding gowns. Copycats attempt to recreate a one-of-a-kind designer runway gown or a celebrity’s dress. The problem is the replica never matches the original, especially if there’s a celebrity association. If you want an expensive looking wedding dress and your inspiration is a famous gown, look for common features instead of an entire design that looks similar.
With classic wedding dress styles, beware they won’t look timeless if they’re made from material that doesn’t work well with the design. More on this later. Another thing to consider is that some classic styles look more expensive when given a modern twist. This might mean using a slightly different cut or fabric than the original design used. Look for modern classics that have been thoughtfully tweaked.
2.Materials that work well with the dress design
Fabric and embellishments can make or break how expensive a dress looks. Fabric determines major aspects of a dress like its silhouette and how well it will fit you when properly tailored. Embellishments influence important qualities like a dress’ visual balance and whether certain features draw the intended amount of attention.
As with other types of clothing, certain materials work well with certain styles. When material doesn’t work well, a dress design that could be stunning becomes an unflattering dress that looks cheap.
But how do you know if the material is working well?
Sit and move in dresses when you try them on. You do more than stand on your wedding day. Look at how the material responds to typical activity. Does the material wrinkle easily? Does its color change in areas of the room with different lighting? When you stand or move a certain way, does the beading or fabric pucker awkwardly? Do you see any evidence of pulls forming? Does the dress maintain its shape when you stand after sitting?
It’s also helpful to learn about common wedding dress materials and their properties, so you know how they should look, feel and act. That will make it easier for you to spot poor quality materials. Or, consult a bridal shop that has personalized service and can walk you through the types of materials, what they look like, and which designs tend to use them. If a retailer can’t offer help on this topic, find another store.
High quality material that is suited to a wedding gown’s style should maintain its integrity under normal wedding activity. This consistency makes the dress look more flattering and flawless, which makes it look more expensive.
3.Craftsmanship in the dress-making process
Have you ever accidentally bought a piece of clothing with a seam or stitching that isn’t straight? The clothing always looks a little off – veering slightly sideways or coming up a bit short on one side.
This happens with wedding dresses too, especially when they’re mass produced. Poor assembly leads to a low-quality look. It’s generally the result of a machine that wasn’t calibrated properly, an unskilled laborer, or using a machine for a task that requires handcrafting.
Since most wedding dress shops claim they have high quality products, look beyond their claims. It’s easy to miss assembly flaws at first, only to find them later when you already own the dress. You need to look for tangible evidence of craftsmanship to learn who’s is really selling high-quality dresses.
The good news is you don’t have to be a professional to spot assembly flaws that indicate poor quality. Simply look at things like seams, hems, stitching, how beads are fastened, and whether texture and patterns are balanced or straight.
On the outside of the dress, focus on the materials. Are the beads sewn or glued? Are any of them looser or tighter than they should be? What about the fabric? Does it have any puckers that indicate a piece of cloth was cut or stitched together wrong? Does the fabric’s pattern or grain appear to be lined up evenly? Are textures balanced?
Since bridal shops expect you to look at the outside, pay even closer attention to the inside. Don’t just check the inner most part either. Reverse dress layers and look at their back. Ask yourself if anything looks sloppy. Are the hem and seam stitches straight? Is there an overabundance of thread? Is anything unraveling? Do you see something glued that should be sewn?
If the craftsmanship checks out, the dress will look more expensive, because it’s truly made better.
How to find bridal shops that carry reasonably priced wedding dresses that look expensive
Inspecting dresses like we discussed does take extra time. You can make the process more efficient by targeting shops that have better production processes.
When you’re researching bridal shops, look for indications that the dresses a shop carries are under strict quality control. Are they produced at in-house facilities? Is handcrafting used, or is the dress entirely machine made? This may be stated directly on the store’s website, or you might have to research the brands they carry.
Once you’ve identified a few promising shops, call and ask them about the dress lines they carry and how they’re made. If the person on the phone gets annoyed or squirrely, cross that store off your list.
A bridal shop should be able to give you a clear answer. For instance, at VIERO we have wedding dress lines we design and produce ourselves at in-house facilities where handcrafting is part of the process. We also carry wedding dresses from other designers that our founder personally vets for high quality in design, material and production.
If you want a dress that looks more expensive than it is, don’t look at price alone and don’t take quality claims at face value. Look at what’s behind the claims.