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“The world is wonderfully full of beautiful women whose shapes and tastes offer an inexhaustible diversity,” exclaimed Christian Dior 50 years ago, expressing an idea even more important today when women’s sizes range from petite to full figure, curvy to thin, and everything in between. In Dior’s day, the goal in design may have been to conceal so-called flaws and enhance a woman’s shape to conform to an ideal. In today’s world (when the average woman wears a size 12) women are finally beginning to celebrate their diversity and adhere to their own standards of what is considered beautiful. Although standards are changing in people’s minds, finding beautiful, high quality clothing that fits is still a problem for many women whose bodies don’t conform to what is considered “normal” sizing.
Birnbaum & Bullock’s Uncompromising Bridal Wear offers a solution with Alternative Sizing. “A bride shouldn’t have to compromise to feel special,” says Steven Birnbaum who, along with design partner Robert Bullock, cut their gowns to measurement depending on the unique needs of the individual bride. Alternative Sizing gets rid of the “Plus Size” stigma (a term they’d like to see eliminated because it’s demeaning) and opens the door to women whose shapes range from very petite, pregnant (to full term almost), as well as physically challenged brides. “A woman who’s a size 0 is just as much an alternative size as a woman who’s a size 24″, says Robert.
Their goal for the bride, according to Steven, is all about “being who you are, and looking as beautiful as you can. Gone are the misconceptions that certain size women can’t wear certain styles; that pregnancy has to be hidden. It all depends on the bride. “Most women can wear just about anything. It’s not about camouflage. We’re into honesty.” Whether it’s fitting a bride with a size 40″ bust and a 25″ waist to cutting a gown for a wheelchair bound bride, the ultimate goal is to make her look her absolute best. It’s also about making the process very comfortable for the bride, to relieve stress from the situation, and to give her the confidence that the gown will fit and she will look beautiful. “The worst thing a bride can do is not look like her self,” says Robert. And although it may be a challenge to fit women with special sizing needs, it’s a challenge they welcome.
Special accommodations are also made for women who plan to lose or gain weight for the big day, although Robert recommends the bride achieve her weight goals by the first fitting (it can take up to five to get it just right). Every bride that teams up with Birnbaum & Bullock understands that she is not only going to look her best, but get a customized fit that will greatly reduce alterations, and that’s a luxury. “Our gowns are cut to measurements, not sizes,” they both stress.