There are some absolute bargains to be had when a boutique needs to make way for their new collection and need to sell off their samples. Some wedding dress samples are still immaculate but some have been tried on a few times and have the war wounds to show for it! Lots of brides are put off by a wedding dress that has a few rips, or has a bust zip or has lost a bit of its fresh colour, so try not to be too put off by a dress that has seen better days, especially if you are on a budget and want to grab a bargain.
Firstly a gentle wash or dry clean will make a dress look totally reinvigorated. Unless there is a big dark stain then most discolouration can be brought out with the right cleaning products. Once the dress has had a spruce up you can then address the injuries!
So many samples just need the right TLC and careful restoration and they will be perfect. Fastenings are all straight forward, loose straps, loose appliqués, no big deal. Take sleeves off, put a strap on, completely change the hem, fix a rip, you name it, it can probably be repaired. Admittedly a massive tear across the front of a plain dress would be hard to pretend never happened, but you could fix and cover with appliqués, or if the dress allows, replace the panel. Just keep an open mind and try to look beyond the faults and see the potential. You should always be able to arrange a chat with the seamstress before committing to the dress to find out what can be done to save it.
If the sample is huge on you and about 2 sizes too big, then don't worry. Taking a dress in two sizes is not a problem, and about the advised amount. Generally any more and the dress could, could look a bit odd, but this is variable on the style of dress. I have brought a dress down from a 14 to a 6 before and I think it still looked pretty fabulous. Check out the pics below of Natasha who bought a tired sample and with the right fitting and customising (adding the blush sash and bow) it looked like it was brand new.
If the sample you love it just a bit too tight, most manufacturers will leave about a 1.5"-2" seam allowance so there is a bit of give, but only about 1 dress size really (if you want room to breathe and sit down!) so there might be hope. If the dress is too tight across your back, then think about putting in a corset back which will give you heaps more room, potentially up to about 6" across your top back. Every time I have put a corset back in a dress it has worked for the dress and the bride. Not all dresses will suit a corset back but that is up to you and get advise from your seamstress to make sure it is being put in a dress where it will work.
Enough waffling, pictures below of some restorations and Natasha in the sample which was brought back to life!
P.S. If you snap up an absolute bargain but it does need work, make sure you budget a bit of cash for the alteration work. As with all of this work, it can be rushed and needs time and care if you want it to look good. Don't panic if you looks at a bill near £200, it will be a few days of careful and experienced sewing to get your dress perfect!