Communion dress shopping season is upon us. This can be a really fun time, but it can be extremely stressful too.
Every year we see one group stand out as the most stressed – the mothers of extra-fluffy girls.
These families soon found out when shopping that there are many Communion dress choices for the typical girl who wears a size 6, 7 or 8 – even a 10. Every manufacturer of girls’ dresses turns out white Communion dresses for the spring season in these sizes.
But not all girls are these sizes. In fact, our experience tells us that a VERY large percentage are not!
Who is the extr-fluffy girl? She is the one who is wider than most her age. Dresses that are the right length are too snug across the chest and waistline. She is not necessarily taller (though she might be, but then she may simply need a larger size). Frequently she is a girl who has not yet begun to develop a slimming waistline beginning her womanly shape. The garment industry assumes that a girl between ages 6-7 begins this slimming phase (thus creating the sizes 6 for pre and 6X for post) when the typical baby egg-shaped belly is thought to be slimming down.
But the vast majority of girls’ bodies are not on this prescribed time schedule. There may be times when a perfectly normal girl is in a “plus” size for a period of time until she begins this slimming phase. This should be seen as a momentary situation with plenty of alternatives – if you know where to look.
And, of course today we have many young people who are simply over weight. These girls need and deserve to look very pretty for their First Communion. In fact, with the modern stigma against being over weight, I think it’s especially important that these girls look their absolute best so they feel as special and as loved as they really are. Every girl deserves to feel like a princess!
All too often the family of the extra-fluffy girl scurries from store to store desperately trying to find a Communion dress to fit. They try on dress after dress after dress in larger sizes, but they don’t fit. Why? Because as they try larger sizes to get more width, the whole dress -especially the bodice – is too long. Nothing fits right. Frustration sets in and tempers flare. Eventually they become exasperated AND the wear date is fast approaching so they become desperate.
The first thing is to assess her size situation. Does she require a plus-size Communion dress? If you find that dresses that are wide enough fit all wrong every other way, you likely need a plus-size Communion dress. If so, head straight for the plus-size dresses. Don’t spend time looking over styles that won’t fit.
And here’s a tip: you will find more plus-sized Communion dresses on line than anywhere else. Why? Because brick-and-mortar stores really don’t sell enough volume to justify ordering them and having them on the store floor. And, of course, everybody wants a different style. On-line stores can cater to your special needs.
Expect to have any dress altered to fit her perfectly before her wear date. Very few people – adult or child – actually fit a ready-to-wear size perfectly. Alterations in fit can make the difference between so-so and fabulous.
And be honest. If she is very large for her age, you may need to look beyond ready to wear dresses. Very few – if any – companies are now making plus-sized dresses for children beyond size 14 plus (or 14.5); some will go to 16 plus, but it definitely stops there. Why? Because these children have a VERY different shape than their “regular size” peers with requirements that cannot be addressed by ready to wear manufacturers. They frequently have sloping shoulders, sloping waistlines and disproportionately (to manufacturers) sized neck/arms to the size of body. If your child is in this category, head straight for a quality custom dress maker very early and have a dress made for her that will fit her properly so she can look her absolute best. Yes, this will be more expensive and will take several months (good dressmakers are always scheduled well in advance). But this is her one and only First Communion and she does deserve to look her best and feel very special.
The best thing is always to shop early – especially when you have special sizing needs. The next important step is to go where the Communion dresses you need are readily available. Nothing is more convenient – or offers more choices – than shopping on line.