Is it better to size up or down in bridesmaid dresses?

One of the most time-consuming aspects of shopping for bridesmaid dresses can be figuring out everyone’s sizing. This is unavoidable because we’ve all got different bodies! So, depending on how many bridesmaids there are supporting you, it can help to have a strategy. The last thing you want to do is put aside another day in your busy wedding planning schedule for bridesmaid dress shopping. 

With the goal of achieving a perfect fit in mind, let’s talk about sizing up or down.  

Measuring Bridesmaid dress size  

As you will likely know, dress sizing considers the bust, waist and hips. However, we do have some tips for measuring dress sizes before you try on: 

  • Bust: don’t just assume your bra size can be used to inform bust measurements. After all, you may not wear a bra underneath the bridesmaid dress. 
  • Waist: aim to measure the naturally narrowest part of your waist. Standing straight and bending slightly to the side should create a crease to help with this. 
  • Hips: standing feet together helps get a natural measurement for the fullest part of your hips. 

The History Behind Bridesmaid Dress Sizes  

Yes, that’s right, there’s a great deal of history and tradition behind weddings that’s still around today. It is pretty outdated though. Essentially, as women’s bodies have changed over the years bridesmaid dress size charts have not. The result is that European bridal sizing comes out around two sizes larger than its American counterpart. 

This means brides and bridesmaids should look for sizes above their street clothes. Otherwise, they could end up with a bridesmaid dress that runs small. Your regular style and body type might influence this though. For example, those who love big cosy jumpers might not have to size up for their bridesmaid dress at all. 

Does Bridesmaid Dress Style Impact Sizing?  

To cut a long story short, yes. Some dress styles lend themselves to hugging the figure while others like to hang naturally off curves and lines. Maxi bridesmaid dresses for example, are long flowing that are usually clinched at the waist. As such, the ideal fit for a bridesmaid dress with differ depending on its style. 

Certain styles of bridesmaid dresses will also focus on certain areas more than others. For instance, the size of a longer dress might be primarily decided by how tall the bridesmaid is. 

Bridesmaid Dress Alterations 

To get the absolute best fit, one size often won’t fit everyone it applies to. Most of the time, bridesmaid dresses also won’t fit to the sizes people are accustomed to elsewhere. Once a dress style and colour is settled on though, it can be all too easy to form an attachment. This is where alterations come in, with seamstresses able to make changes to a bridesmaid dress to achieve a perfect fit. 

Sizing up can be beneficial here as it’s much easier for a seamstress to take the dress in as opposed to adding more fabric. Letting out a dress is bound to be more expensive due to materials and the likelihood of trial and error.  

Fitted Bridesmaid Dresses 

One way to solve the problem of dress sizing is to go to a Bridesmaid Dress Fitting. This is an appointment where a professional takes body measurements and moulds the dress accordingly. These fittings ensure you end up with a great fit regardless of size. Although, for the same reason as with alterations, getting a fitted bridesmaid dress is easier when it’s sized up. 

When should you get a bridesmaid dress fitted? Typically one month before the big day is enough time. However, the process can take longer if there are a lot of alterations to be made. It’s important to allow for this in your wedding planning schedule. Some periods are far busier for weddings than others, so keep this in mind too! 

Alterations can also bring your costs up. We think you really can’t skimp when it comes to the big day, but it’s worth discussing with your bridesmaids if they’re covering the costs. 


Bridesmaid dress sizing is just one of those things that’s tricky to get right but is so worth it. We recommend playing it safe by doing lots of research and sizing up. Fortunately, Maids to Measure has a size guide on our website to help. This will give you and your bridesmaids an idea of where to aim before you try anything on in person. 

Maids to Measure has a wide range of bridesmaid dresses, including slip bridesmaid dresses, maxi bridesmaid dresses and high neck bridesmaid dresses. Our sizes range from 8-24 and are all available in unique colours. Book an appointment today.