Dress Shopping: Get Expert Advice From Bridal Industry Expert Yvonne D. McClendon Fashion Expert

In the wedding industry, some just returned from attending the National Bridal Market of Chicago. It is one of the biggest bridal market shows and presentations where designers, manufacturers; boutique owners come together to see what is new in design and style, and buyers obtain new merchandise for their boutiques to dress you beautiful blushing brides.

As the industry preps for the upcoming New York Luxury Bridal Fashion Week in October things get even more exciting. So we wanted to do something special with this article. We wanted to get you inside scope, behind-the-scenes expert advice as you select your gown.

One of those experts among them is someone dear and special to World Bride Magazine, Yvonne D. McClendon. Her long history in fashion is exactly what brought us together. And earned our respect. So it was an honor for us to “get the tea” from her and her personal advice to you our readers.

Yvonne D. McClendon

Yvonne D. McClendon‘s current occupation is President of YDMc Consulting Group, Bridal/Wedding Industry Consultant. Before asking her the hard questions we thought you should know what brought her into the bridal industry.

“A love of fashion and a soft spot for frustrated brides looking for a gown and trying to plan their wedding.  I believe people work hard for their income. It just doesn’t make sense to me when I see or hear someone is not having fun spending money. Especially, when it is for something that is supposed to be joyful as a wedding

Myrdith, you’ve heard brides say how stressful shopping for a gown is and how stressed out they are from planning the wedding. So much so, they cannot wait for it -The Wedding- to be over. So much so, they cannot wait for the day AFTER the wedding.

I say STOP!! Wait A Minute!! You’ve got thousands of $$$$ committed to June 25th. And you are looking forward to June 26th!? There is something wrong with that scenario. Brides should be enjoying every CENT!!! they have spent on their wedding gown. She should enjoy being the absolute best version of herself that day: feeling beautiful, and feeling gorgeous while savoring her wedding day. 

So, a desire to de-stress the process and increase the fun and joy of discovering her wedding gown is one thing that brought me to the wedding/bridal industry.  Second, I love fashion. I made every gown I ever wore for special occasions. Yeah, I started sewing when I was 7 years old. Shortly thereafter, I was adjusting the McCall/Butterick and Simplicity patterns to personalize what I was making.  

So, you see I truly have a love of fashion and respect it as an expression of who we are. That is why I felt and feel the process of selecting a wedding gown is important. Selecting a wedding gown is a bride’s expression of who she is.  I love supporting her in that endeavor. “

What part of the bridal industry excites you the most?  

Myrdith, for me to graduate from high school, I had to design a garment, make the pattern for it, select the fabric, and then make it.  My goal was to be a designer. My desire was to attend FIT; for financial reasons, I did not. I made a conscious decision to pivot and attend college in Michigan (my home state) and major in Business/Marketing for the sole purpose of understanding what would happen to my designs once they were off the sketch pad.

The whole industry excites me. I love this industry. I was excited to produce the industry trade show- Wedding Channel Couture Show-  now called The Knot Couture Show, I was excited to be offered the position of President of Marimo USA.  It was exciting to work with retailers while representing designers like Peter Langner, Manale, and Matthew Christopher. I was excited to work one-on-one with brides as a stylist in the bridal salon in Bergdorf Goodman. 

If I must pick one, I’ll say serving as President of Marimo USA. Why? Because, for a brief moment in time, I focused on the company and made decisions that moved the industry forward a bit. This experience, of educating and leading an international company to launch 2 bridal gown collections in the United States, creating a vision for the company, selecting a designer whose aesthetic spoke to the American market, creating ad campaigns, creating a budget, making sure the factory and production team understood the brands’ mission and how that affected production decisions, etc. was challenging and a satisfying menagerie of details I had to oversee to create success. 

What are some of the changes that you feel are important for the bridal industry to make to be more inclusive with skin color and body types?

It’s already happening here and there.  Designers and manufacturers are offering Bust cup sizes: there are now options in tints and shades of illusion: 

What needs to happen at the retail level? Having sample gowns in a size that a size 14/ 16 or 18 brides-to-be can try on. When I say try on; I mean a gown that will zip up, have her bust and hips fully covered.  A size that allows her to feel the aesthetics of the gown.  Being able to feel the essence of a gown is what assures her and gives her confidence she’s making the right choice.   This is happening slowly too. There are a few salons that are focused on giving the size 14,16, 18, and upsize the bride a really wonderful bridal gown shopping experience.

Please give our brides planning their wedding tips when shopping for a dress?  

Tips  

#1 Do not try to shop for your gown on your lunch break or when you are pressed for time. 

#2Limit your visits to no more than 3 appointments in one day. Schedule time for lunch and downtime 

#3 Keep your group number down to no more than 2 people

#4 Consider scheduling your appointments on a weekday. A weekend appointment is exciting and sometimes overwhelming if multiple brides are having an appointment at the same time. Weekday and evening appointments will be just as exciting but also calmer and less hectic. 

#5 Wear a simple outfit something easy to take off and put on. You will be getting undressed and dressed multiple times during the day, You will thank yourself at the end of the day for keeping it easy to slip in and out of your clothes. 

#6 Wear a pair of Spanx or a body smoother, nude indies: strapless bra/or reusable gel lift pasties and footies. 

#7 Because your body changes during the month due to your menstrual cycle; if your wedding date also falls during that time of the month, let the salon know and schedule your measurements to be taken during that time of the month. The reverse is also important. (Don’t take measurements if it is that time of the month for you.  In either case, you can place your order for your gown and pay your deposit the day you find your dress. The salon will be happy to schedule a time for you to pop back in for quick measurements to be taken.)

#8 Once you find “THE ONE” (your wedding gown) and pay your deposit STOP looking and trying on dresses. Do not let friends talk you into trying on gowns for their enjoyment.  Move on to the other wedding details that need your attention. If you feel like you need to shop more do not place your order. 


#9 Order your gown 8-10 months before your wedding. Bridal is a “Special-order” business. The process is vastly different from retail shopping. Your gown will be made fresh and new after the salon submits your order to the manufacture/designer. After the salon submits your order to the manufacture/designer, they commence cutting fabric and sewing a fresh new gown especially for you. 

#10 Trust me!, There are beautiful wedding gowns at ALL price points. Be honest with yourself and your stylist about the amount of money you can/will spend on your wedding gown. Also, make sure the salon has a large selection of gowns at the price you want to spend before you make your appointment. 


When we asked Yvonne who were some of her favorite designers, she had so many but off the top here is her shortlist.

Amsale  –     Classic 

Ines Di Santo   Sensuous/Romantic 

Jean Ralph Thurin    Sophisticated / Sexy     

Martina Liana      Boho / Romantic / Fun

Peter Langne    Exquisite / Elegant /Tailored /Refined 

Samatha Sleeper   Whimsical Boho / Classic   

Yumi Katsura    Classic/ Traditional/ fashion forward

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