Petite-friendly wedding dress search: Tadashi Shoji, Watters

bhldn tadashi lace gown 1

Aside from the foremost joy of getting to marry my best friend, one of the wedding things I was really looking forward to was getting to try on gowns of all sorts – including ones out of my typical style and comfort zone (since I never know what might be a pleasant surprise!). I’ve received numerous requests to share my search with you guys, and was of course excited to do so.

tadashi short white lace dress

Isn’t this Tadashi Shoji lace dress perfect for a shower, rehearsal dinner, or other bridal activities? Please note I have a little excess fabric clipped back behind me. I also found several beautiful white lace dresses for less, below (click on any of the images to shop):


Unfortunately, most bridal shops I went to did not allow photography of any kind. I was told this policy is to prevent people from going home and replicating the gown – which doesn’t quite make sense to me since detailed photos of all the dresses I tried on are available online. Blogging aside, as a customer I would’ve loved the option to go home in a relaxed and sane state of mind, and review photos of how the dresses looked on my body before making a big purchasing decision (not to mention, share photos with relatives/friends who couldn’t join the appointments). Nevertheless I respect the store policies, and just won’t have too many styles to share about.

The only bridal shop I’ve visited so far that openly allowed photos was BHLDN (Anthropologie’s wedding brand). The Chicago boutique where I had my first appointment happily let us snap dressing room photos, and the Boston store had no issue with me taking these shots. The most affordable wedding dress I’ve tried on so far is this Tadashi Shoji number which was simple yet romantic and elegant. The belt does not come with it, but a statement belt of some sort is key in my opinion to accentuate the waistline.

bhldn tadashi lace gown 2

Making this petite-friendly: For dresses with pretty edging or trim detail on the bottom, make sure that trim can be removed and re-attached after a hem gets shortened. It looked like (also based on the website info) the scallop trim here is transferable in case the dress needs to be hemmed. True to the reviews online, the dress isn’t as mermaid-cut and shapely as the model makes it appear. This is not necessarily a bad thing since a tailor then has enough material to “shape” the sides based on your own curves and exact bust, waist, thigh and knee placement. Sizing starts at 00 regular, and reviews indicate it runs about a size big.

Next is this corset + full skirt set by Watters which was probably my favorite look at BHLDN. Although I do like my share of fit + flare shorter dresses, I never would’ve imagined myself to gravitate towards this princess-y ballgown look for a wedding dress. It turned out to be very flattering having a floor-length skirt flow from a higher waistline. Please note I’m standing on a dressing room platform in the photo below, so visually subtract at least ~6 inches in skirt length for reality.

watters dress

My dark phone photos don’t really do this set justice, as the corset detailing was gorgeous and the grosgrain ribbon waistband + tulle skirt was ethereal. I also did not mind the unconventional nude pink color. The main issue I had with this was how weighty the skirt was – I was told it’s made of 60 meters of soft tulle which felt like several pounds (perhaps would be better hemmed). Below is Watters‘ own shoot, which I adore down to the vintage-inspired birdcage veil.

watters shoot

Making this petite-friendly: Bridal “separates” versus a 1-piece dress can work nicely for petite women, or actually any woman who has torso length or waist placement that doesn’t usually fit standard sizing. It’s harder to alter a set-in waistline on a one-piece dress, especially if it has embellishments or if the shoulders can’t be raised, but it is easy to shift a skirt waistband up and down to the perfect spot and then taking in the width. You can also mix a different top or bottom half with separates to change up your look from the ceremony to reception.

Please note in all of my wedding dress photos on here and Instagram I’m trying on a sample size (ranging from 6 to 12), so the bust cups are not the proper size and extra material is clipped back. Based on my friends’ experiences, every single one (regardless of size or height) got a decent amount of alterations on their dress even after ordering their appropriate size, in order to achieve that perfect fit. For petite ladies who really want to minimize alterations, a few retailers like J.Crew, David’s Bridal, and Ann Taylor do offer ready-to-wear wedding dresses in petite sizing.

Readers who are married, I’d love to hear about your wedding dress story as well as any recommendations for custom gowns! Please also feel free to share a photo with me here – I have been absolutely loving all of your stunning dress pictures!

 

85 thoughts on “Petite-friendly wedding dress search: Tadashi Shoji, Watters

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 1:06 am

    You are the most beautiful bride Jean. You have the best taste

  • Julia October 3, 2014 at 1:09 am

    The first one is my favorite! The silhouette with a nicely jeweled touch is perfect on you! I just attended a friend's wedding yesterday and her gown had a similar style as yours. Would love to see you in that during your wedding 🙂

    Julia || Closet de Jules
    Recent Post: Workwear – Playful Yet Professional

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 1:27 am

    The Watters one is so stunning on you. You make it look better than the model. Gorgeous!

  • Ping October 3, 2014 at 1:55 am

    I love the first dress!!! I'm a big fan of the trumpet style. yes most bridal boutiques don't allow pictures! they r scared of people copying their design and if you go to their website, most often times the images r kind of low res and u can't zoom into it for that reason!

  • Sweets & Style October 3, 2014 at 2:13 am

    I love the first dress the most! It looks amazing on you!
    X
    Miri
    http://currentlywearing.com

  • Carolines Day October 3, 2014 at 2:21 am

    You're right in trying different styles, even those you think aren't "you!" I was set on a princess style and ended up with a mermaid silhouette. Mine was Vera Wang organza, with an added custom floral Vera sash to accentuate the waist, exactly like you mentioned. Enjoy your dress shopping, you will definitely remember it! 🙂

  • andrea October 3, 2014 at 3:30 am

    I love the blush fit + flare dress on you! So excited to read along as your dress search continues!

    xoxo,
    Andrea

    http://www.andreaeveryday.com

  • Mei Fleming October 3, 2014 at 3:51 am

    LOVE the first dress. You look stunning.

    http://www.eyelikefashion.com

  • tellmeyblog.com October 3, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Love the belt with the first dress!
    I found that `no photo' policies in these bridal shops weird…it is very difficult for brides-to-be to make a sane decision on the site…
    Anyway, you look absolutely amazing!

    xx
    Yvonne
    http://tellmeyblog.com

  • Faye Y October 3, 2014 at 5:22 am

    Looking really gorgeous! 😀 I do get how weird it is that they don't allow photography in some shops, because surely the whole point is to try on all teh things (not necessarily in the same shop) and try to consider more objectively later with phone evidence, rather than rely on overexcited OMG DRESS recollections!

    Anyway, these two gowns look gorgeous on you, and really does reflect the classic and elegant aesthetic you have shown in your daily wear! 😀

  • Koffee Pause October 3, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Hi Jean, these gowns are gorgeous and the second one looks so much like you. Very delicate and elegant! I've written about my adventures on finding THE wedding dress, together with some tips for all brides out there: http://www.koffeepause.com/2014/09/the-perfect-wedding-dress-practical.html

    Good luck with the dress hunt! I'm looking forward to seeing your wedding pictures 🙂

  • Helen Ricky October 3, 2014 at 6:46 am

    The first one is amazing! You're so beautiful!

  • Cindy Khor October 3, 2014 at 6:46 am

    This post comes just in time as I'm planing to scout for a wedding dress for my wedding (although that's next year but a girl's gotta what she's gotta do, right!?). Your tips on the bra compartment and the statement accessories are so useful. Will check that bra out.

    To be honest, I love you in both slim elegant silhouette and princess-y full gown. Both suited you well and I don't think you look bottom-heavy for the princess gown. Maybe its due to the tulle being all soft and flowy which doesn't feel heavy on the bottom. The colour palette is perfect for your skin tone too. Congrats once again (don't remember congratulating you).

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Many wedding dress designer offer "hollow-to-hem" adjustment for just a little extra money , which means the whole dress length is scaled down in proportion to fit the shorter distance between your neck hollow and where the hem should be. It's well worth it if you are petite and need an overall scaled-down dress and not just a simple hemming job on the skirt part. I am petite myself (5.2m, 00P) and bought my wedding gown from Birnbaum & Bullock, a NY-based designer. They offer hollow-to-hem adjustment for just an extra $100. I went for this option and otherwise ordered the smallest regular size, which was a zero. The proportions and length of the dress were absolutely perfect on me and I just had to take in the sides a bit, which was an easy job for the seamstress and not very expensive either. So, if you are unsure about where to find a wedding dress for petites, look for designers that offer hollow-to-hem adjustment.

  • The Pretty Professional October 3, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I LOVE the tulle skirt!

  • ey gorgeous October 3, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I am in love with the nude pink dress. It is beyond divine!

  • petitecook October 3, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Congrats, Jean! My dress was made by Jenny Lee. She is a petite designer herself, so she makes some petite-friendly dresses.

  • Deb October 3, 2014 at 9:35 am

    For my wedding dress, they ended up ordering a custom bodice for me (so the waist would be at the right point), it cost extra but meant that alterations were easier (they still ended up having to take in the shoulders, which annoyed me to a great degree.

    I really encourage looking at Victor Harper which really flattered my petite self (its Kenneth Pool/Austin Scarlett designing under a different name). They are seriously gorgeous dresses.

  • Sasa Zoe October 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Stunning! So in love with the dress<3

    http://www.shallwesasa.com

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Hi Jean! You are just beautiful and will look gorgeous in whichever gown you choose! I got married last summer and wanted to share some gown info with you. I got a fit and flare gown from Maggie Sottero and they have the option of getting petite sizing as well as getting 5" taken off the length of your gown when you order it. I am just shy of 5' and was pleasantly surprised to find that the length of my gown was perfect when it arrived and I did not need to have any additional length taken off. Just needed some adjustments in the top. It was also a corset back so that helped as well. Good luck to you and enjoy this exciting time!!

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 10:15 am

    FYI, the Jenny Wu boutique in NYC allows tons of photos! During my dress search I went there with a bunch of girlfriends and was able to send photos back home to my mom. Her dresses are gorgeous and simple, as well.

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Sorry, not "Jenny Wu," it's "Jenny YOO."

  • Nora October 3, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Hi Jean! You look wonderful in that Tadashi dress. I am roughly the same body type as you and I find those clothes to always flatter. I am getting married in a few weeks and I ended up with a Liancarlo dress that is actually very similar. A little more expensive though! But, though the sample dress was too big and long all over, each dress is made to order so they were able to shorten it to my proportions (I'm 5"1'), which will eliminate all of the really intricate alterations that are needed. The lace bottom makes alterations really tricky, as I'm sure you know, so that little detail was incredibly helpful! No matter what you choose, though, I'm sure you'll look wonderful. I adore the two options you were able to show us. Hope we'll be able to see more!

  • Julie October 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing this thorough review! I'm wedding dress shopping too and hadn't thought to go the Anthropologie boutique. Now I definitely will–that first dress is gorgeous!

    Style by Joules

  • Bela Anzu October 3, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Hi Jean,

    You look lovely in the Seraphina gown. The heart-shaped neckline and silhouette with the defined waist and hips look very flattering on you. I love seeing some of the different styles you've tried on so far.

    For my wedding gown, I ordered "Allure Bridals" through a local bridal store. Since it was a lace gown, length alterations would have been trickier, but fortunately they give you the option of allowing you to order the gown to your height. They measure your "hollow-to-hem" like someone above mentioned and have it made in China. For an additional cost, I was also able to order an additional piece of lace (an extra sleeve), so that I could have the neckline and back keyhole opening altered. My dress had cap sleeves which didn't sit on my shoulders correctly, but the seamstress was able to alter it to fit me. (She might have taken the lace sleeves off the bodice and sewed it back.)

    For anyone interested in Allure Bridals, I learned through the hard way that their size charts are accurate (i.e. true to size). The employee who took my measurements decided to order my gown two sizes smaller than what it was suppose to be. Later on when my gown arrived and I couldn't fit into it, another employee who saw the predicament I was in, said that she wouldn't have ordered it in that size given the size chart.

    For one of my evening gowns, I purchased the fabric from a bridal fabric store and had a seamstress who specializes in wedding gowns make it for me. I loved this gown more than my wedding one because I was able to choose the type of fabric, colour and style.

    I hope you're able to find a wedding gown you love!

  • Sarah October 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

    In 2012, I bought my silk crepe wedding gown from Ann Taylor, and it didn't need any alterations. Ann Taylor is a great choice if one wants something simple and elegant – I wanted something simple to go with a waltz-length veil. Though I just took a look at this year's collection, and the designs look more black-tie than wedding-gown.

  • Audrey Tom October 3, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Ohmigosh, that Tadashi Shoji dress is BEAUTIFUL and like you said, totally, totally affordable. You look stunning in it!

    Mine was Maggie Sottero. It was one of the first ones I tried on, but I went around to different shops and tried a billion more because I wasn't sure and usually neurotically (to my detriment) exhaust all options. Finally, once I noticed I kept comparing all the dresses to the Maggie Sottero dress I realized that was the dress for me. We just hit our 6 year anniversary and I still have my dress and still love it!

  • Petite-ish October 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I'm so excited for you, Jean! You are going to make such a beautiful bride! And what a lovely and thoughtful post! FYI, I actually found that most of the stores I went to around Boston allowed photos (even if they don't expressly say this). These include: L'Elite, Vera Wang, and Vows (a discount dress store that carries many designer one-ofs, it is worth checking out but I found it a bit overwhelming since you have to purchase within a few days or it may get sold). I also loved an adorable boutique called Everthine in Connecticut (which allowed photos of Jenny Packham dresses 😉 Happy hunting!

  • Linda Quinones October 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I'm pretty sure I screamed and got way too excited when you posted you were engaged. I'm just about dying over these two dresses. That first one looked incredible. I love how it fanned out at the bottom, but the second one is gorgeous. I've always dreamed of a princess dress like that and I am swooning. I love that you included the petite friendly tip. Although I'm not getting married anytime soon, I always think about that future struggle!

    http://www.lastylenysmile.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Thank you for posting this! While I'm not getting marry I'm petite as well. I'm worry for myself in the future. I'm 4'11 and about 95 lbs. 🙁

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    You look do beautiful! I'm also a petite girl and afraid to wear gowns, may I know your height please?! Thanks!

  • emily | shell chicd October 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Gorgeous!! I got my dress at BHLDN and couldn't be happier 🙂 ps. Isn't their Boston staff the sweetest?!

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I honestly spent more on my Ao Dai and bought my dress off of Ebay. Everyone still liked my dress but it wasn't designer or totally amazing, however, I spent most of the day (morning and table-side toasting) in my Ao Dai, so that was my #1 priority. I enjoyed my Ebay wedding dress, just had to read reviews carefully and really really know my size. The measurements were exactly as described on the listing. Dress came in 1 week and I didn't have to worry about alterations. I'm 5'1" and 110lbs. I could have cinched the waist in more if I was going to lose more weight (stress weight haha), but it all worked out. My dress was only $130 and I don't regret it at all.

  • FW October 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    The hollow-to-hem measurement is definitely great for petite frames. I absolutely loved my wedding dress and it would not have been the same if I did not get the hollow to hem measurement since I had a fit-to-flare dressed. My gown was from Alvina Valenta.

  • Midori October 3, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    HATED dress shopping–and my first appointment was at a place that not only did not allow photos but actually ripped out all the labels from inside the samples so you couldn't even look it up later. AWFUL. NEVER AGAIN. Saks bridal salon, Vera Wang, and another boutique I went to (The White Dress in Corona del Mar, CA) were all fantastic. They allowed photography and wrote down all of the info (designer, style, price, etc) for my first choice out of the dresses I tried. I ended up going with Vera but highly, highly recommend Saks and White Dress for anyone in the area looking for dresses.

  • Cee October 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Beautiful, Jean! Nick took these photos I assume? I'm not superstitious either about the groom not seeing the dress beforehand.

    I went with a friend to David's Bridal when she was shopping for dresses. Oh my gosh, the place was a huge warehouse. There were hundreds of dresses in all kinds of styles and very, very affordable, imo. My friend didn't want to spend more than $400 and there were still plenty of dresses to choose from. They also allow for photos, so you can try on all sorts of styles to see which one is most flattering. Then if you wish to buy from elsewhere, you'll at least know what silhouettes to look for.

    When we were in SF, Elle and I were talking about how we can't wait to see what dress you'll pick. Didn't put any money down on any particular style, but there's still time 😉

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    The first look is just stunning!So classic, so elegant, and so you!

  • Anonymous October 3, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I love the Watters gown on you. I'm also petite at 4"10' and 95lbs. The Vera Wang gowns at Davids Bridals size 0 fit me great off the rack and only needed hemming on the bottom. This definitely saved me a lot of alteration costs. You should definitely give it a try!

  • Michelle | Birds of Berwick October 3, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I'm only 5'-0" tall and I wore a Maggie Sottero which worked beautifully on my shorter frame. The alterations included the length (obviously) as well as the shoulders and worked out fine. I love that Watters dress!

  • Michelle | Birds of Berwick October 3, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Oh – and I'm in Boston as well and would HIGHLY recommend Precious Memories bridal salon in Malden. They have a huge shop, fantastic assistants, great prices, and labels for everyone! I hope you make it over there!

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