Advice From A Wedding Dress Boutique Owner
Interview with Erika Pitt of Be Unique Boutique, Mt. Kisco, NY
A constant presence in her boutique, Erika, and her astonishing bridal savvy are more about passion than business as she imports exclusive European designers and seeks out one-of-a-kind American gowns to keep her brides uniquely beautiful. While we suggest visiting her shop for some pampering and top-notch service if you are in or near New York, she was gracious enough to share some of her exceptional knowledge for all ladies hunting for that dream dress.
How long before the wedding should brides begin looking for a dress? – “Start roughly a year before and have the dress seven months before the wedding to leave time for fittings.”
What is a safe timeline for fittings and receiving the gown before the wedding? – “Start the fittings at least three months before the big day and plan on having 3 or 4 sessions.” And as Erika pauses our conversation to try to squeeze a bridesmaid fitting into her packed appointment book, I take her advice on booking appointments FAR in advance seriously- plan on starting them 2-3 months before the big day. As far as picking up your finalized gown, Erika continues her stellar customer service offering, “I can keep the dress upon request if storage is an issue…there is no pressure to pick up early, even if the dress is ready a month before the big day.”
What portion of her budget should a bride plan on spending on her ensemble- especially her gown? – “Every budget depends on the individual bride, and there is no set portion of budget a bride should dedicate to her gown- it just depends on what she wants.”
What can brides do about perceived “problem” areas? – Extra Weight: “You can still have a sexy line- try a Fit and Flare style with a corset that laces in the back and can adjust to your body, or go for an A-line gown with asymmetrical ruching, which will help to slim wider areas and make them more proportional.” Erika suggests an Empire silhouette and structured full-bodied fabrics, like satins and taffetas, to even out tummy areas.
Shorter Height/Extra Tall: “For shorter brides, I recommend keeping the details small and the waist high to flatter a small frame.” For taller brides, Erika stresses always making sure that a designer can make a dress with extra length BEFORE trying on a gown.
Large Bust/Small Chest: “For a bride with a large chest, it’s crucial to have an adjustable corset lace back that can give extra space and support up top, but can go narrow down the back” Busty brides should avoid low necklines and should have extra support sewn into their gowns. “A small chest is easier to work with than a large chest because there are so many cuts that work and so many options of cups, etc. to sew into dresses and add fullness. For a smaller chest, all necklines work, but the most flattering is with a little dip or scoop.”
How can brides incorporate the “old, new, borrowed, blue” theme into their ensembles? – “For “old” and “borrowed”- veils. A lot of moms and close friends are bringing in their veils for the bride and attaching them with different combs. Some brides even use their mother’s shoes” to check the box on tradition. For “blue,” consider shoes, sashes, and bouquet ribbons, or personal items may be sewn into many gowns.
What do you recommend for ceremony and reception gowns as far as having one gown or two? – “Most brides still do just one dress, but for two separate wedding ceremonies, brides can do different dresses. Brides who opt for a big Ball Gown for the ceremony might want to choose a lighter, fun dress for the reception.”
What do you think about brides going to a dressmaker for their gowns? – “If a bride wants to have a dress made from a collection of photos, she should go straight to a designer who makes wedding gowns and make sure the designer can give her the fabric she wants and manage the style. A bride really shouldn’t go to a typical dressmaker for a gown, but if she does, she should do lots of research online, read reviews, and should know all about the seamstress’ work before enlisting her services.”
What are some options other than the traditional white? – “Ivory and white will always be mainstays. I sell about 90 percent ivory and only 10 percent white because ivory looks better on the skin.” Brides can add pops of color with belts or other accessories, or for a “different, fun look,” the under-layer of the gown can be cream with an upper layer in ivory.
What should brides bring with them to shop for gowns and then fittings? – “When dress shopping, bring heels and a strapless bra. Don’t bring spanks and corsets- you usually don’t need them and we sew corsets into dresses that don’t already have them (they make a huge difference with sliding, look, and comfort). For fittings, wear skin-tone or white underwear so if they show through a little, they’re not a distraction.”
All Photographs Copyright Aida Krgin