Our expert dressmaker advice on finding your dream wedding dress whether bespoke, made-to-order, or off-the-peg.

What is an “off-the-peg” wedding dress?

There are so many different ways that you can buy a wedding dress. Your choice will largely depend on your budget, timings and individual requirements. However, brides typically choose one of the three main ways to purchase their wedding gown: bespoke, made-to-order, and off-the-peg.

  1. BESPOKE A bespoke wedding dress means working closely with your bridal seamstress to create a gown from scratch, designed according to your vision. We have years of bespoke wedding dress experience (including reconstructing vintage bridal gowns) and we can make your dream wedding dress a reality.

  2. MADE-TO-ORDER Most brides purchase their wedding dresses at a specialist bridal boutique. You will try on various sample dresses, and – once you have found your favourite – the boutique will order it for you. Your wedding dress will be fitted to your exact shape and size, such as our specialist bridal alterations service.

  3. OFF-THE-PEG This option is excellent if you have a tight time frame and budget. Some of these retailers are in large warehouses so you might have to travel a long distance. You can try on the different wedding dresses in stock and take yours home on the same day.

What you need to know about buying your wedding dress

However you decide to buy your wedding dress, it is unlikely to be in your exact size or fit perfectly.

But a wedding dress that does not fit you is not a problem, so don’t let the dress being the wrong size prevent you from buying it. Dresses can be made bigger or smaller and wedding gowns are no exception.

At THE MODISTE, we are proud to say that in seven years of looking after thousands of brides, we have never had a bride who we haven’t been able to fit into their wedding dress. You are in safe hands.

For example, we had one bride fitted for her wedding gown before lockdown. When she was finally able to get married over a year later, she was 38 weeks pregnant and gave birth the following week! We made sure she could wear her original wedding dress and she looked stunning.

Particularly when buying a ‘off-the-peg’ wedding dress, read on for our top tips to look out for to help you make the best purchasing decision.

Your wedding dress bust size

One part of the wedding dress which is more difficult (but not impossible) to change is the size of is the bust.

Due to your bust being on a curved seam, it isn’t just a case of ‘taking the seam in.’ You must consider the fullness of the volume in the circle too. This normally means adding seams or darts into places they weren’t in to begin with.

We normally advise brides that it’s not impossible to change the bust size of a wedding dress. However, before you buy your dress, try to remember to really review the bust. Ask yourself whether it’s working for your size. This is especially important if you are looking at a relatively simple wedding dress with little detailing. A minimalist design will be more difficult to disguise any necessary alterations around the bust area.

So, don’t worry about the overall fit of the bust. As an expert bridal atelier, we will take care of that! But we do advise you that it’s always good to review the bust of your wedding dress specially and be aware if is too small.


Brides, this is absolutely key, so pay attention!

Almost every bride we have ever seen needs her wedding dress hem shortened. But it’s always good to question: is your wedding dress too short?

Ask yourself whether you will be wearing heels on your wedding day. If so, stand on your toes while trying on the wedding dress.

Even better, if you have already bought your wedding shoes or know the heel length that you plan to wear on the day, wear them (or something similar) when you go wedding dress shopping.

It is not impossible to make a wedding dress longer. For example, our bridal seamstresses can add a lace trim to the length. We can add extra material or even remake the whole wedding skirt.

But just be mindful that all these bridal alterations will change the original wedding dress design, and these additional wedding dress alterations will cost you more money. So (especially if you are trying to decide between two wedding dresses), the wedding dress length should absolutely be a deciding factor.

Dry cleaning and secondhand wedding dresses

Are you looking to buy a secondhand wedding dress? Fantastic! Opting for a vintage or pre-loved wedding dress is not only a wise financial choice but a wonderful environmental decision too. At THE MODISTE, we’re all about giving these beautiful dresses a second chance to shine.

Take some time first to closely look at the condition of your pre-loved wedding dress. You will probably want to dry clean it to freshen it up. Dry cleaning your wedding dress is fine (in fact, we can organise this for you). But look again: are there stains on the wedding dress that you will want to remove completely?

Some stains can’t be removed entirely from a wedding dress. This is because of the delicate nature of wedding dress fabric.

For instance, wine stains can usually be removed from a wedding dress, but in our experience there’s always a one-in-ten chance they won’t. And when it comes to delicate fabrics like silk, removing stains can be particularly challenging. Despite specialist attempts to clean the wedding dress, there may still be a trace of the stain left.

So, when you decide to purchase a pre-loved wedding dress with a stain on it, you need to know that there is a chance that the mark cannot be completely removed. We advise against setting your heart on a wedding dress on the condition that a stain is completely removed.


If you are planning to buy a secondhand wedding dress we always recommend asking the seller if it has been altered previously.

It is always helpful for us to know a little about the history of the wedding dress and what has been changed.

Please don’t worry if you don’t know! If you can get an idea, it’s always helpful for your bridal seamstress to know this information.

Matching fabric

As dressmakers dedicated to our craft, we love designing and making additional parts for wedding dresses. These extra touches really help to personalise each bride’s dress.

Whether adding sleeves, jackets or lace veils, at THE MODISTE, we are experts in turning “the” dress into “your” dress. We also have an extensive lace and material library to precisely match any customisations to your wedding dress.

For instance, you are planning to buy an off-the-peg wedding dress and would like to add sleeves using matching material. We always recommend that you send us a picture of your dress beforehand so we can confirm this is workable.


We love hearing from you, and are always happy to answer any questions you might have. You can contact us even before you have found and purchased your wedding dress.

Enjoy your unique wedding dress journey! Remember we are always here if you need us.