I’m a plus-size bridal designer – we make gowns for size 40 women at no extra cost, what really goes into construction

EVER wonder about the process behind how your dream wedding gown makes it from the designer’s sketchbook and into your hands?

Every bride dreams of her special day in the beautiful gown of her dreams, but for plus-size brides, finding the right fit can pose a challenge, so it all comes down to the designer’s details.

Plus-size fashion brand Sydney's Closet solely makes size-inclusive gowns for women up to a size 40 and has an intricate construction process

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Plus-size fashion brand Sydney’s Closet solely makes size-inclusive gowns for women up to a size 40 and has an intricate construction processCredit: Instagram
Their Michelle Bridal Collection has affordable gowns for women from a size 14 to a size 32

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Their Michelle Bridal Collection has affordable gowns for women from a size 14 to a size 32Credit: Instagram

Michelle Bridal was created in 2013 by Phyllis Brasch Librach after her daughter Michelle Rosenfield struggled to find a wedding gown that properly fit her plus-size body shape.

Beginning as a small capsule collection, the bridal company has grown over time and fulfills the bridal dress needs of solely plus-size women, and the range can be found in fine bridal shops nationwide. 

Now a bridal and gown designer herself, Michelle revealed the lengthy time it takes for the construction of a single gown, why bridal marts are relevant to her and her mother’s business, and the importance of the designer-store buyer relationship.

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Michelle Bridal is under the parent company Sydney’s Closet, which specializes in trendy designer dresses in plus sizes 14 to 40.

Prospective brides can shop the line for an extensive range of hard-to-find curvy sizes, from a size 14 all the way up to a size 32.

It was the first special occasion company founded by Librach after she and her daughter Michelle, known to many as “Mickey”, had trouble finding a prom dress she liked in her size.

Instead of settling, Sydney’s Closet was born, and soon after, Michelle Bridal.

Librach found it unfair that millions of teens and women were fashion-starved for stylish plus-size dresses to wear to life’s most important celebrations.

Rosenfield joined in hopes of continuing her mission. 

The first step in the duo’s design process starts with research and following runway trends as well as talking to their consumers, real brides and retailers.

“All-in-all it is about a 1-year process from concept to production,” Rosenfield shares.

From there, they look at new fabrics, design details, and beading patterns to enhance their ideas, which is filled with trial and error that works in tandem with the ongoing construction of the gown.

The typical sample size for most bridal gowns is a size 4 or 6, and the St. Louis-based bridal company already goes against this norm by making theirs a sample size 16.

Michelle Bridal and the senior fashion company’s gowns are produced in China and India.

China is the world’s biggest producer of wedding dresses with almost 80% of the world’s western gowns produced there.

Many designers charge extra to make gowns over a size 20 for their store buyers, but Michelle Bridal will make them up to a size 32 at no extra charge since they are exclusively plus-size.

An average sample is a straight size 4, so it is usually more expensive to produce gowns in factories because of the additional materials.

Perfecting the style of the sample before it’s presented at a bridal market is a taxing process that can sometimes take weeks of back-and-forth banter with the designer and their factories.

They will sometimes have to travel abroad to oversee the construction process of the gowns and fine-tune a few details.

Production takes about twenty to twenty-four weeks for a sample to be made and then another month or so to get it transported to their warehouse in Kentucky.

Michelle Bridal makes their sample size a size 16

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Michelle Bridal makes their sample size a size 16Credit: Instagram

Before putting any dress into mass production, Rosenfield and Librach both inspect each and every sample gown that arrives from China extensively, checking for seaming issues, whether or not the breast cups show through the dress and more.

“After about 2 months, the sample is sent to us and we review the sample to perfect the fit, construction, and comfort level of our standards,” the designer shares.

They have a dress mannequin in their office. So, anytime samples get shipped from China, they immediately place them on the dress form just to check the measurements.

Once the sample is up to the team’s liking, it is then presented at a bridal market for the next two to three months for prospective buyers to purchase for their stores.

Bridal markets are essential to the construction process because designers sell to the brick-and-mortar stores that help brides find their dream wedding gowns.

They take place worldwide in popular cities, such as during New York Bridal Fashion Week, at the National Bridal Market in Chicago, at Barcelona Bridal Week, and more.

Though once the dress is received in their wedding store, the buyer can choose to mark up the dress however they feel to make a profit.

The gowns are made true to size so whatever you would wear in street clothes is what you would wear in a Sydney’s Closet or Michelle Bridal dress.

Wedding dress models at the bridal market are also exceptionally necessary when selling a gown to a buyer because they act as sales reps.

Plus-size model Cassie Greene models Michelle Bridal at the National Bridal Market in Chicago

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Plus-size model Cassie Greene models Michelle Bridal at the National Bridal Market in ChicagoCredit: Instagram

The job isn’t easy due to pain, blisters, and other aches, but it is incredibly worth it for many.

Plus-size model Cassie Greene has been modeling for Michelle Bridal since 2018 and consistently works with them due to their stance on size inclusivity and body positivity.

She says that there are unique differences other than size that differentiate the bridal collection.

Instead of taking a dress in a smaller size and sizing it up, the mother-company Sydney’s Closet takes precarious detail in the waist measurements of a plus-size woman.

Traditionally, most mermaid gowns are cut in at the waist to create an hourglass shape, but Sydney’s Closet and all the collections under it do something different.

“They give a couple of extra inches in the waist because you just don’t know how a plus-size girl is going to be proportioned,” Greene shares. “It gives girls with more of an apple shape the opportunity to wear a dress that fits them.”

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The 27-year-old model also adds that for most bridal runway shows, models are pre-selected and cast, but Sydney’s Closet uses its own in-house plus-size models to grace the stage in Michelle Bridal and represent them.

Michelle Bridal provides an opportunity for young women to see themselves represented at bridal shows around the world.

Greene poses in a Michelle Bridal gown during an outdoor photoshoot in Chicago

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Greene poses in a Michelle Bridal gown during an outdoor photoshoot in ChicagoCredit: Instagram

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