Much Ado About Alterations

The Perils of Going Strapless

Strapless styles are held up by a tight fit around the waist.
Strapless styles are held up by a tight fit around the waist.
Scott Stulbery/Getty Images

According to Randy, "Dresses today are mostly strapless." Plenty of modern brides prefer a strapless style, but some are wary of it -- and for a good reason! "If [the dress] doesn't fit properly, you'll be tugging on it all night," Randy says.

Brides worried about going strapless generally fall into two camps. There are those who are small-chested and fret they won't fill out or hold up the top. And then there are large-busted brides who are concerned about keeping their cleavage under control. We've got good news and bad news for these brides.

The good news is that the size of your bust has nothing to do with holding up the dress. As Randy explains, "The dress is held up from the waist and by a lot of inner construction, including boning." This is why the gown is fitted so tightly around your waist; that's the brace that supports the top of the dress. "If you're tugging on the dress," Randy says, "That's the first sign it's not fitted properly." The fit can be altered to ensure your comfort on the big day.

Now for the bad news. Randy notes that most bridal gowns are cut to fit a B cup. If your bust runs smaller than a B, it's not too difficult to add some padding to fill it out. But for those women who are larger than a B (and who don't want their cups to runneth over), they'll have to have the neckline raised, the cup opened to a larger size, or both options. The dress makers who are generally willing to do so are the couture designers, so you'll be paying handsomely for modesty. For instance, designer Pnina Tornai makes her dresses in different cup sizes, and her collection starts at $5,000.

If you like the way you look in the strapless style but want something a little more conservative for the ceremony, consider wearing a shrug, bolero jacket or long mantilla when you walk down the aisle. You can have these accessories made in fabric to match the gown, or you can choose complementary lace, fur or beaded styles.

You've ordered your gown, and now it's time to try it on. On the next page, we'll walk you through the first fitting.