You may have heard dress stores and dress salons talk about alterations with you or those around you. You may have even purchased your dress before they talked to you about needing alterations on your dress. Maybe you’re a bit unsure of what that means and what they are. Hopefully, we’ll be able to clear up your confusion and answer your questions.

What are they

The short answer is they are any change you make to a dress; anything you alter on a dress is an alteration. 

Alterations are a service offered where a seamstress alters a ready-made garment to improve the fit. This can be something as small as making the straps shorter, to as large as redesigning the dress. You will find most stores that offer alterations often don’t do dress redesigns, but there are a select few that offer such an undertaking. Be sure to do your research and ask around if you are looking to redesign your dress.

The most common alterations we see in the evening wear industry are shortening the straps or shoulders of a dress, taking in the dress for a more snug fit on the body, and shortening the hem of a dress so you can walk with ease and without fear of tripping on the bottom of your dress.

Why do you need them

You may be asking, “If I’ve ordered a dress, and they’ve taken my measurements, why do I need alterations?” The truth of the matter is most dresses are not custom-sized and are cut based on a size chart set out by the designer. The increments between sizes are often smaller than that of regular street clothes, meaning fewer alterations, but nearly every dress will need some alterations.

Our designers try to be as inclusive with their sizes and designs as they can; they want everyone at any height to be comfortable in their designs. It's easier for the designer to make a dress and straps too long since the extra can be removed. Making the dresses this length allows someone over 6’ tall to wear it and feel confident since the dress isn’t too short for them (as most standard clothing often is). This extra length also allows others the flexibility of choosing their shoe height, not being restricted by the dress length and risking it being too short.

What to expect

Expect to need at least two appointments, the first to have the seamstress mark and pin your dress for the necessary alterations, and the second to try the dress on once more after all the alterations have been done. It’s hard to know exactly how many alterations you will need until the seamstress sees you in your dress; most often, our grads need a hem at the very least. 

Keep in mind that alterations will also need to be paid for before the seamstress will start work on your dress. We believe our alteration prices to be reasonable for each dress, the amount of work going into the dress, and the quality of work our seamstresses do. Understand this is a service you pay for and our seamstresses do high-quality work on our designer gowns.

What we need from you

First and foremost, you will need to find the shoes you will be wearing with your dress. It’s important to have these before your first appointment so you and the seamstress know exactly what alterations need to be done to your dress. Be sure you bring these to each appointment, this way the seamstress knows where to mark the hem, any consultant helping you can check the hem after the hem is cut, and you can see the progress and test out walking in your altered dress.

Be sure you also bring anything you will be wearing under your dress with you to your first appointment. If you plan on wearing any control wear, a bra, a bodysuit, etc. under your dress, be sure to bring this with you as it can affect the fit of the dress and the amount of alterations needed.

You will also need to keep in mind any extra modifications you want done to your dress. You will need to let the seamstress know of each of these at the first appointment. These may include closing the v-neck, closing the slit, tacking the slit, adding a slit, adding extra cups, adding straps, etc. Some dresses don’t always allow for every desired modification, but we always do our best to come up with a solution to modify your dress to how you want it to look.

Why isn’t this included in the price of the dress

In nearly every store selling designer gowns, alterations are an additional and separate cost. It would be next to impossible to accurately calculate and include the price of alterations. Everyone is different and each person has different alterations needs for each dress. Some people may need more alterations, which costs more, whereas others might only need something simple done. Additionally, we have had several customers who have family members or friends doing their alterations for them. It would be unfair to you, our customers, to include them in the price of the dress.

By not including them in the price of the dress, this puts the option in your hands. Instead of being obligated to do your alterations with us, you have the opportunity to choose where to have them done. 

Key takeaway

Alterations are often a necessary step in the process of ensuring your gown fits you exactly how it should, expect to pay for the quality of work you receive, and bring your shoes with you to every appointment. Everyone is different and has different requirements for alterations. We work with you to ensure your dress looks how you want. 

Ultimately, we are all unique, and alterations make the dress fit you and only you.