Beautiful Gowns For Real, Curvy Brides

by | Fashion Wisdom, Wisdom


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Yolanda close up plus size Gwendolynne wedding dress copy

Recently, I’ve wanted to create awareness for women of all sizes, in particular the curvy woman, that they can wear a couture gown. Upon researching beautiful imagery for this genre, I couldn’t find many images that I believe reflected a beautiful curvy woman in a couture gown. This spurred me on to create this “Renaissance Curves” shoot to help get an important message out… curvy women can be sensually stylish and subtly elegant in a beautifully crafted gown.

“The curves of a woman really compliment the form of a dress despite a world of fashion that doesn’t always cut or design a gown to suit a woman’s shape.”

As a designer with almost 30 years in the industry, I have created gowns for so many different shapes, sizes and personalities ranging from Size 3 to 25. Our gowns at Gwendolynne are all made to measure, so that each one of our clients ends up with a gown that is perfectly fitted for them. It is so fulfilling to see how happy a client is with a gown that fits her well and is flattering, particularly for women with fuller proportioned busts and those who normally struggle to find a garment.

We welcome everyone and make every effort to make the experience comfortable and enjoyable for our clients. It is disturbing when we hear women walk into our shop who have been told elsewhere that they have nothing for her because of her size. I have personally ranged from a Size 8 to Size 16 with a D bust and a tendency to constantly fluctuate, so I have a good understanding of the frustration that can be associated with finding garments that fit me properly.

Gwendolynne - Nouveau Curvy Bride

It’s all about what is most flattering for you and finding someone who can direct you with their expertise and experience. Our Made to Measure gowns evolve over a six-month period with an initial measure, three fittings, a fit check and then a final pick up where any issues can be resolved before the dress leaves the salon. Everyone works differently but expect a few visits for made to measure and leave plenty of time!

Hopefully this post helps you with how to approach buying a gown and why Made to Measure is such a great option for clients. ‘Plus-Size Bride’ is not a term I like to use and I have noticed that many social media platforms are getting on board with this debate with the hashtag #notplussize. We’d love to hear from readers what resonates with them the most when seeking a gown for the not so ‘standard’ body shape.

Gwendolynne - Polly Curvy Bride
So to help I’ve created some tips and advice when searching for your perfect gown:


I have MANY clients insist on not wearing a bra but we show them how a bra makes the bust line look flattering and narrows the waist thus refining the silhouette. Undergarments play an enormous part in creating a flattering effect. If you find things difficult to visualize, make sure you wear shapewear and a nude bra when viewing collections –  it really will make the process so much easier and pleasurable for you.

Call or E-Mail Ahead

Ring ahead and have a chat about what you are looking for and perhaps ask if there are styles that could be recommended for you. We often do this for clients and then list the styles we think best relate to the client’s needs so they can decide if is their taste and also budget.

Ask What The Sample Size Is Prior To Your Appointment

Unfortunately due to economics a unique and independent bridal store often can only budget to carry so many sample gowns and to have every size in stock would be impossible. Remember if the label is made to measure they can do any size but you may have to use your imagination when trying on samples. Be prepared that most shops only carry samples in a Size 12/14. Some will do larger samples but they are very limited in style. Although the dress may not fit exactly, this is better than trying to imagine from a sketch or a photo of it on someone else.

Look For Experience

What you’re looking for is someone who’s informed with experience. It takes a lifetime to master pattern cutting and fitting gowns.

Things Can Be Changed So Use Your Imagination

You can alter a dress to have sleeves, to be shortened or for support to be added. Don’t be afraid to ask if changes can be made, and don’t be afraid to ask how much it will cost. Having a dress custom-made doesn’t mean breaking the bank, it just means doing some research and utilizing the experience around you.

Marissa Gwendolynne Wedding Dress PLus size shoot close up

Remember There Are Limitations and Trust In Experience

Unfortunately some things are not possible but if you work with someone experienced they will be able to guide you to a happy medium point.

Sales Staff vs. Fitters

Unfortunately it is impossible for designers or/and fitters to see every client that comes through the shop door. So remember sales consultants aren’t necessarily the ones making your dress, however they are your resource. When you go into a store, part of what you’re paying for is your salesperson’s expertise. Find someone who’s excited to work with you and put them to work. Ask questions, ask for recommendations, and ask for opinions. You know your body and personality; they know the collection and dresses they offer. Put that together to find something great. It’s YOUR dress so it is about working together!

Have Fun – It Is Part Of The Journey

Our intention is for you to have fun…we want to create a dress that you love and look and feel amazing in!

Gwendolynne - Marissa Curvy Bride

Images via Gwendolynne

Be Your Confident Self 

No body shaming allowed! We’ve all heard horror stories of sales people, who say they have nothing for you and ask you if you’re going to lose weight for your wedding. My goal is to make a beautiful gown that is flattering for you.

If You Are A Little Shy

No matter how self conscious you are, please tell sales staff that you’d prefer to dress alone or be away from other appointments. Sometimes it is better to organize an appointment over a less busy time such as a weekday as weekends tend to be very busy…therefore it is more of a private experience.

Too Many Opinions

Start shopping for your dress alone and then bring your friends or family in once you have narrowed down the styles you like. Too many opinions can be confusing!

And Remember Your Fiance Asked You To Marry Them The Way You Are!

The goal is to make a beautiful gown that is flattering for you; your dress is out there waiting for you and the one you love.

Gwendolynne xx

Swirl divider

Ms Chinoiserie Says: Thank you Gwendolynne for your sincere and honest advice; every bride should feel beautiful in her gown regardless of her shape and size.

About Gwendolynne: Gwendolynne Burkin has established herself as one of Australia’s fashion purists; she works with intuition, avoids fashion trends, and remains true to her own sense of style and obsession with creating beautiful unique, vintage style designs!

  • Ms Stripey says:
    November 5, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Just so beautiful, enhancing her lovely curves – and I guess that is what sets apart excellent design from the ordinary! It makes me so sad to hear of brides who are told they are too big for anything in the bridal gown store. To have a designer who is willing to work with any size girl to help them look beautiful on their wedding day warms my heart!

  • Bridey Bridgey says:
    November 6, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Thanks so much for this post. These designs are completely beautiful.

    Having recently bought my own wedding dress I am only too aware of how a size 14 – 16 bride can feel a bit rubbish in a bridal shop. I adore my dress but the experience of finding it could have been a lot more positive.

    Gwendolynne you are awesome – keep up the good work!

    • Gwendolynne says:
      December 27, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      Bridey Bridgey why thank you. I do hope this post helps women of all shapes to understand the process so they can feel magical in the gown they select. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post… G X

  • November Wedding News - Polka Dot Bride says:
    November 6, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    […] Beautiful Gowns For Real, Curvy Brides […]

  • Jen says:
    December 26, 2015 at 7:08 am

    I am so happy to find a designer that makes what I am looking for. The first and second dress are exactly what I want. I am pinning these.

  • Kimberly Smith says:
    September 13, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I was curious to have an opinion on what kind of dress you’d suggest for a girl like me.
    I’m 5’0
    Large chest!
    Have a low belly due to having my son 6months ago.
    Dreaming of a beautiful boho dress.
    Any dress I like the bra seems to be an issue and when we start looking at my special day dress I just get so sad. When I feel like I should be excited. But shopping in general is so complicated.

    • Gwendolynne says:
      September 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Hi Kimberley!

      Oh it upsets me so much to hear this.

      As a designer I have a large chest too and I purposely design with this in mind and have so many clients who have full busts often DD, E G & F. To date we have crafted for clients from size 4 to 24 & an array of heights. It really is a thrill to make it a happy experience for ladies like yourself who are feeling sad about it shouldn’t be this way.

      Depending on your total silhouette we find clients of your height look best in slim line dresses that don’t swamp & detail that elongates & draws attention away from the fullness of the bust. Definitely a good bra and undergarments are a must

      We have a few amazing styles that do this well one called Abbey & another called Kali, but if you want arm coverage there are other styles such as our Hope & Patience which look amazing on an array of shapes and sizes.

      There are gowns called Sabine and Innes which have more of a Bohemian feel that you’re after….and the long lines in the design are REALLY flattering on a full bust. Our Abbey dress (mentioned above too) really ticks the Boho look too. Plus i can recommend Gabby and Alexis as other styles that you might like.

      The final thing I would recommend is not going white shiny fabrics. We find bones, blushes much more forgiving on fuller areas of the body plus just generally more flattering to peoples colouring in general.

      I hope this helps & we’d love to assist you further & send you photos to guide you if you are keen. You can contact us via our contact page on our website.

      Gwendolynne x

  • Amy batton says:
    October 16, 2017 at 5:44 am

    How do i get to see the dresses you have to pick from ? Where are you located?

    • Ms Fleur De Lys says:
      October 16, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Hi there Amy. Gwendolynne is based in Melbourne/Fitzroy but has several other stockists around the country/world.

      You can click on the link in the article above to find out more or to get in touch with her.



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