Now booking for 2017/18.....
This year, 2017, is now fully booked up through summer and most of Autumn, bit if your wedding is in Dec/Jan, it may be possible to fit you in. Please get on contact ASAP to book your space.
Also now taking consultations for weddings/bookings in 2018.
The new sample collection is well under way and the first, 'Black Velvet' and 'Teal Raven' are now on the Gowns section of the site. There are more coming as and when time allowing, so please keep checking back!
There is a sample sale page in the face book albums, under sample sale, Uptights first, details of this are posted on the Face Book page, in the Album, with details on each image, if there is one you are interested in, and need more info, please email or PM on Facebook.
Over the years of making the couture bridal gowns Uptight has have received many questions about our services and gowns. The most common ones are…
General questions…………………………………………… Students, Scroll to the bottom of the page….
How do I contact Uptight Clothing?
- By Phone/text 07884477286
- Email; janice@uptight –clothing.co.uk
- In person, at the showroom, Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire, please make an appointment!
- Also on face book under ‘Janice whitehorn’ or 'Uptight Clothing.'
Where are you?
- We are located in Houghton Regis, LU5 minuets from the M1 via JCT 11 or 12, for directions please see our contact page.
- You will be able to park directly in the road outside for free.
Can you send me a brochure with prices?
- Sadly not, but Uptight do update the website and Facebook with each new corset/dress, which you can easily print off. As each gown is made to order, there is not price list as such, but a guide to prices is on the prices section of the site.
Do I need an appointment to visit?
- Yes please! As Uptight a small independent company and the proprietor Janice Whitehorn prides herself on giving each person her full attention, so all design consultations are appointment only. Appointments are available 7 days a week, with flexible hours, subject to the appointment book. ...Consultations are free of charge, with no obligation to buy
How long will an appointment last?
- They can take between 1 hour, if you know what you want, and just need to try it on and check the style and colour. Or up to 3-4 hours, if you have no idea, and go through all the gowns and fabrics at length to decide.
Can I bring my Mother, Friends, Bridesmaid’s to the consultations and fittings?
- It’s also reassuring to have the opinion of another when deciding upon your dream dress. Uptight Clothing welcome Mother’s Friend’s and Bridesmaids to your fittings, we’ve even had husbands to be and fathers come in. You can enjoy the experience of being the centre of attention, and having your own dress made in comfortable, relaxed, and more importantly, sparkly surroundings of our new showroom. It’s not huge, but as long as there is enough cups for tea, all is fine…there even a large outside space for inpatient little ones to play in…often with the bonus of free fruit and veg from the allotment at the bottom of the garden…
What can I expect in your showroom ?
- The Showroom is a dedicated space filled with the sample gowns from the collection, and jewellery. In the showroom you will be able to view the gowns, embroidery samples and jewellery, and view the portfolios of past brides and other Uptight designs in detail. All consultations are by appointment only, so you will be the only people there, along with Janice of course!, allowing you to try on gowns, corsets and jewellery in privacy, with no time pressure or on lookers. As a small business, there is not dozens and dozens of dresses to try on in all sizes, its just not possible to have every style made up in each colour and size, but Janice will try you in various shapes to find the best one and coloured silks can be draped to create the look of each design in any size.
- Uptight’s showroom and workroom were specifically designed and purpose built in 2013. The building is located in peaceful surroundings near rural Bedfordshire’s Chalk Downs.
Corset based questions ………….
“Are corsets comfortable?” our answer to this is “YES”.
- A corset made for you, to your measurements, will feel like a gentle 'hug', but should not feel uncomfortable. Uptight Clothing makes a pattern for you, which will fit comfortably at the ribs, bust and hips and compressing only your waist, to which degree is completely up to you. Uptight specialize in wedding corsets, by this I mean for people who are not necessarily every day corset wearers, so used to tight lacing, an Uptight corset is cut to suit, and flatter your figure, not specifically for waist training, although we can also offer this service too if requested, in fact we would be happy of the challenge! This gentle 'wedding day lacing' will allow you to breath, move, laugh and enjoy your special day in style and in the dress of your dreams.
Below, 'Golden Shadow' gown on model Victoria, a long line over the hip corset with dramatic waist shaping..
How small can I make my waist?
- Waist reduction can be from 2 to 8 inches, depending on your natural waist size and build, as well as how far your lower ribs are from your hipbones.
- Example, taking a 50" waist to a 42" waist is normal, there is a lot of scope for redistributing the waist, a corset will not make it disappear! It will sculpt it into a more elegant shape....but a tiny natural waist of 22", a 2"-4" is normal, the smaller the waist, the less the reduction, unless there is a particularly wide gap between the ribs and the hip bone.
- For tight lacing, the waist needs to be trained, gradually, along with a healthy diet and exercise
- The bridal corsets made at Uptight are made to each client’s individual measurements, and their own tightening preference, a corset does not need to be very tight to re shape the waist and make you look stunning. All Uptight corsets are made to be flattering and have a comfortable amount of tightening, no fainting necessary!
Do you use professional models for your photos?
- All of the models on this site are REAL women, they are mostly previous customers (see Real Life Brides), with some of our friends helping us out as well. We do not believe in the 'perfect' figure here at Uptight Clothing as we know that everybody is different, and we will also endeavour to make your chosen garment fit you personally.
Just two of our lovley non modle modles, Bex and her Mum Bev...
‘I'm not a size 8-10... do you have corsets that will fit me? ‘
- An Uptight corsets is made to measure to fit you personally, flattering each of your individual curves. Uptight make corsets for women of ALL shapes and sizes.
- Most of the collection in the Gowns section are held as samples, in varying sizes, some of the older designs may not be available to try on, but there are corsets in most sizes to try on to give you an idea of what your gown could look like, along with many different fabrics to drape for colour reference, and embroidery samples to play with....and lots of other sparkly things.....
Below real bride (the Uptihgt One) Janice on her wedding day, a curvy non model type doing just fine....
Is a corsets & dress combination restrictive?
- Yes! in the fact that it is different to wearing jeans and jumper, but the effect is absolutely stunning and will make you look and feel like a Queen!
That said...heres Corrine, a real bride on her wedding day, on a bouncy castle....brilliant!
Do corsets stretch?
- No, but with wear and body heat they will 'give' a little and mould to your body shape, becoming more comfortable to wear.
Corsets can be an expensive item, why should I buy from you instead of buying one `off-the-Peg'
- Uptight Clothing use your measurements to draft a personal pattern, (with a tolle, Mockup ) of your corset, along with 2-4 fabric fittings, to ensure the right fit, just for you!
- `Off-the-peg` corsets are made to fit a non-existent average. Often uncomfortable to wear, either too long or too short in the body, and ill fitting round the bust of you are above or below a D cup!
Below real bride Dawn, stunning curve like these cannot be flatted so well off the peg!
Can I have something completely different or a combination of different designs?
- Yes, Uptight specializes in designing gowns for the individual, Uptight is happy to design from your ideas, We can work from a colour, a theme, a loose idea of something involving a particular symbol, animal, flower ...ideas tend to grow from meeting the client, then looking at colours, styles and having a general get to know you chat, but please bear in mind all Uptight gowns are corset based. The designs on the web site are examples of what can be done, also shown are variations on real clients, and how designs are adapted to suit a clients shape, and theme. Combinations of various styles is generally what happens, or something new, its completely up to you!
- Below the origional Purple Berry Crush design, then real bride Gill who had it re worked to suit her and her snowflake themes....
What if I need a particular fabric?
- Many of the designs on the web site are made from silks, we try as much as possible to used natural fabrics, made in the U.K. Although, as a vegan herself, Janice understands an individual’s needs and requirements, if you are wanting a gown made from all non animal source, or all natural fibre, she will do her very best to find the appropriate fabric, and dye it if necessary.
Do you make bridesmaids dresses?
- Not as a rule, this is mainly as it works out very expensive. Generally Uptight is fully booked making corseted wedding gowns, so any brides maids gowns would be made up at the same rate, corseted or not, with the starting rate at £2200.00, this may be too much if you have many bridesmaids, but it really depends on your individual budget.
- If you do want your bridesmaids to wear corsets, it may be an option to have their corset made here , with the skirt made/bought else where, Monsoon make stunning bridesmaids/evening wear in many fantastic colours.
- Uptight is happy to supply any fabrics need to make bridesmaids, or menswear, if you have another maker, and can give you some recommended names. This service is only available to Uptight customers, there are many fabric shops all over the country that supply beautiful bridal fabrics.
Do you make men's wear?
- Not currently, Uptight specializes in corseted gowns, a tailor would be best for men's wear. But we can put you in contact with other makers/tailors whoswork is known to be of a very high standard, specifically in period tailoring. If you are wanting a relatively 'normal' suit, it is best to go a local tailor, who should be able to help you. Uptight can make and apply embroideries to match the bridal party for things like waist coats etc…
Recommended… Wendy Harrup www.wendy-harrup.co.uk
Excellent period and modern tailor, costume maker, is based in Hemel Hempstead, works regularly with Uptight. Available for men's and ladies suits, period costumes & wedding dresses, more general & historical, ie medieval, 50's etc rather than than specifically corseted.
We are happy to synchronize our fitting schedules with each other to fit both the bride and groom on the same day, avoiding extra journeys.
How is the cost of the gown calculated?.......Also please see the prices section of the site…..
- A bespoke couture bridal gown designed to your specification and handmade using only the finest fabrics and with a personalised fitting process covering the journey of your unique experience with Uptight Clothing cannot be compared to a mass produced, unfitted high street equivalent....
- Once seen and tried on, an Uptight gown often speak for themselves in their detail and high quality workmanship.
- Uptight Clothing prides itself on only using the best and appropriate fabrics and materials. Uptight’s prices are not hiked for massive profits, but the creating of a couture corseted gown, is more than just the cost of the thing you see, the fabric and time spent, personal service given and all the other things that go into running a business, to a professional, exceptionally high standard in the UK. Making the part of having a couture corseted gown made especially for you, an exciting and enjoyable experience.
Reliability?...'I hear worrying storys about imported dresses etc....'
- Uptight Clothing and the client will enter into a written contract. This contract will cover time scales for your finished gown. The time scales will include a mandatory completion and a flexible planned schedule of fittings. The completion date is generally agreed for two weeks prior to your wedding date, so the bride does not have to worry.
- The flexible planned schedule of fittings may be altered by either party providing the altered timescales are fair and reasonable to allow for completion of contract to dates agreed.
- We generally find that fitting dates genrally alter due to the bride’s availability or an agreed design change for the gown. This is not a problem, as long as enough notice is given.
- As your dress is being made here, in the UK, the showroom that your visit, there is no worry of it not being shipped in time!
Do you offer a Dressing Service on the Wedding day?
- Yes, Uptight can offer dressing services for the wedding day, these are bespoke to the requirements of your day and cost for these are available on request.
Can you assist with Bridesmaid’s, Grooms, Mother of the Bride Outfits, Makeup and Hair?
- Uptight Clothing has many professional contacts who can match the theme of your wedding in other areas such as Mother of the Bride bespoke outfits, Grooms bespoke suits and outfits, hair and make-up. Just ask in the meeting.
Will I feature in any Uptight Clothing publicity?
- Only of you want to…..you will be photographed for fitting purposes during the fittings, you may also take picture during these meetings, the dress will be photographed on the stand once finished for the portfolio, and any pictures on yourself will be added, only if you agree.
- If Janice comes to dress you on the day and takes pictures, these will only be added to the website and used for publicity with your permission. Publicity is most commonly via this website and face book, but is not limited to this format. Uptight Clothing will not however, sell on your image or use in an inappropriate fashion. Uptight believes this to be a very important part of Uptight stand in fashion and bridal, as all the brides and models on these webpage are actual real brides, we do not uses standard fashion models types.
- We may from time to time contact you to take part in promotional events or to provide verbal or written feedback however your participation in the promotional event or feedback is completely up to you!
Real bride Sue on her wedding day! Real wedding shots are always the best pics to show off the dresses...
How many gowns does Uptight make a year?
- Uptight clothing is a small independent business who offer a bespoke service for brides and other corset clients. As such the number of gowns made in a year is totally dependent on the requirements of the individual gowns, this said….its generally between 10-15 a year, averaging on one per month.
and the unspeakable....WHY SO EXPENSIVE....its just a dress.........???????????????????????????????
'The Uptight wedding dress experience (and why I’m so happy with the price of my dress)'
By Real brdie Lousie P.
Firstly if you haven’t read 'Why so expensive' on the FAQ page...go back and read it. This is a follow up to that! I’m a real Uptight bride. I wanted to write this for no other reason than to share my own positive experiences with Uptight clothing and to help future brides to make up their mind about their wedding dress. I was quite frightened about choosing my wedding dress, I’m 5’ 10”, busty, broad-shouldered and had been told that my wedding dress hunt might be more of an ordeal than a joy. Not long after Phil had proposed I found myself wandering into a bridal gown shop near to where I live. It was mid-week, so they weren’t busy, and I thought I’d pluck up the courage to make an appointment. When I walked in one assistant was having a cup of coffee and tidying her enormous oak desk. The other shop assistant was hoovering the carpet. Neither of them even acknowledged me or asked if I needed any help. When I asked if I could make an appointment to try on some dresses, the one with the cup of coffee looked me up and down and said “We are awfully busy this time of year, perhaps you could make an appointment another time”. They wouldn’t even give me an appointment. I felt terrible. I now look back on that moment and feel I should thank them, without their insulting attitude I wouldn’t have scoured the internet, found Janice’s website and I would not have had the amazing wonderful journey in creating my dream dress.
The start of my Uptight journey I live over 150 miles away from Janice’s showroom, but decided to visit her one summer day, “just to see”. My fiancé drove, but he wandered off for a walk while I tried things on. I deliberately wanted to be on my own, so that I didn’t get caught up on other people’s opinion. I needed to know how I felt in the dresses not just how I looked, and no one but you knows how you feel. If you are nervous about dressing in front of someone, or if you are shy, you have nothing to worry about with Janice, she is very patient, kind, and discreet whilst helping you into the gowns. We started with a corset which was too small for me, just to give me an idea. I’m sure it must have looked ridiculous from behind but it looked great from the front view and gave us a starting point. Again don’t be embarrassed, Janice is very discreet and you will not feel self conscious. I can’t remember how many gowns I tried on in the end, but Janice was great and guided me through. This was genuinely a lovely experience, no stress, no pressure, no pushing; just lovely. Once we had an idea of what sort of shape corset and skirt I liked, we then started laying various different fabric samples over the top of the trial gowns. I had pretty much decided on a two tone gown (being tall I can get away with it), but I really hadn’t decided which shade of blue or purple or burgundy I might go for with my antique ivory skirt. No matter at this stage. Janice and I then sat down and started to design my dress. I had quite a few ideas too, and had brought some sketches I had done. Do not worry if you are not artistic, Janice is brilliant at interpreting your ideas; you won’t have to draw too! I also had some weird plans too. I wanted an artist’s palette and a microscope (I’m an art teacher and Phil is a scientist) embroidered somewhere on the dress. Phil had proposed under my favourite tree in our garden, and hid the engagement ring in one of the knots. I wanted that tree embroidered somewhere too. The whole thing could have ended up being a complete mess, but Janice started interpreting my ideas straight away to give me an idea of what could be achieved. At this point, I must explain, there is no obligation, no hard sell, she is simply showing you what might achieved if you go ahead with it. There is absolutely no pressure – this is important to stress as you may think that with so much time spent in you might feel obligated. Honestly, this was just a fun chat with Janice drawing out some plans.
Making the decision; writing the cheque. Later that week Janice sent me everything I needed to help make my decision. She sent a drawing of the dress, some photos she took of me on the day trying on the most successful gowns (you won’t be allowed to take your own photos, so this really helped), some fabric samples (as I still hadn’t decided on my colour) and of course the contract and the price quote. I was going for something quite elaborate, full skirt with train, fully embroidered corset and a jacket with full length sleeves. My price quoted was £3200. The deposit you pay is 50% of the full price. Wow. I gulped. I was past my price range. I am 39, getting married for the first time, and paying for the dress with my own money that I had saved. So why did I gulp so heavily? That was same amount of money my car cost! The most expensive item of clothing I had in my wardrobe was a velvet jacket from Per Una at £120! How on earth could I spend this amount of money on a dress? A dress I would wear just once, for one day. Here are a few thoughts that might help you if you feel the same way. Brides often don’t disclose how much they spent on their dress, and a couple of friends of mine divulged that their wedding dresses had actually cost more than that! They were indeed beautiful dresses, made from beautiful material, but they weren’t made for them, to their exact specifications. I needed to adjust my sights; wedding dresses were more expensive than I thought. I haven’t got a “shoe or a handbag habit”. I started to justify in my head that my dress was going to make up for all the Louis Vuitton handbags I’d never bought, all the Jimmy Choo’s I’d never own, all the Gucci sunglasses I wouldn’t get. If you have got a shoe or handbag habit then just stop buying them for a bit and save the money for your dress! But it’s still for one day, just one day. But what a day.
When in your life will you have everyone taking your photo, all day? There will be photos of you from every angle, photos you didn’t even know were being taken? When in your life will walk into a room and everyone, absolutely everyone will be looking at you? How many days in your life will you have recorded on video, possibly several video cameras? How many times are you going to look at all these photos of your special day? How many years to come will you see “that dress” captured forever in photo form? The thought of having a great dress to look back on in all the photos is lovely but not essential. True. But when I thought about my wedding, I was thrilled to be marrying the man I loved, and thrilled that everyone was happy for us, but I was dreading all those photos, I was dreading how I would look.
When in your life will you declare your love publicly. How many days in your life will you want to remember forever and ever? What other day in your life will there be when you have to look amazing yet feel comfortable? How is that even possible? I took the plunge. Read and re read the contract, wrote out a check, and sent it off. That was it. I was going to have my dream dress. Incidently, the price quoted was the final price I paid. No hidden extras here! Throughout the wedding planning process there have only been two things that didn’t worry me at all. One was the man I was marrying and the other was my dress.
The creative process The rest of the process is just wonderful. I’ve read about brides, who get their dress quite early on in their engagement. Then they see a better one nearer the time and buy another one! Most recently in the newspaper there was a woman who had nine different dresses for her wedding day! I’ll bet she didn’t like a single one of her dresses as much as I love my one! There are plenty of opportunities to change your mind when getting a dress from uptight clothing. But decide on your fabrics carefully as once they have been purchased the making begins. Even once the making process has begun there are still some details that can be changed.
I still couldn’t decide on the colour of the top of my gown. The samples Janice had sent were great but I still wasn’t certain. I discussed this with her over the phone, as getting to the showroom again before the first fitting wasn’t possible. Again Janice was so patient. She sent me further samples and took photos with the coloured fabric next to the ivory, and with different embroidery colours and chiffons. This was so helpful and enabled me to eventually decide on a dramatic shot purple to go with my more traditional ivory. We still weren’t sure about how the embroidery would look or exactly where it would, but that didn’t matter at this stage so I was able to think about it a bit more.
At the first fitting the skirt was made and a mock-up of the corset and jacket in test fabric. This was great, Janice was able to make some size adjustments and able to fit the corset depending on how busty you want to be. She also checked my shoulders for the sleeve fitting. On this occasion my Mum and Dad came with me. I did not want my Dad to know how much the dress was costing me, as I didn’t think he’d understand why I was spending so much money. Once in the showroom, he couldn’t not believe how complicated the corset was, and how many seams there were to adjust. He said “this isn’t just a dress it’s a feat of engineering”. My Mum loved it, even she tried on a couple of jackets to give herself some ideas for her outfit. Janice even explained the complicated sleeve process to my Mum to help her if she wanted to make something for herself! How many other dress makers would be so generous with their time? When we got in the car he asked me what the price was. Reluctantly I told him. He nodded sagely and said “You get what you pay for, there’s a heck of a lot of work going into that dress. I’m surprised she can do it for that price!” You could have knocked me down with a feather. My Dad understood that you are not just paying for a dress: you’re paying for a trained and talented person’s time. It costs money to pay anyone to do anything- the plumber, the builder, the electrician all charge us for their time and expertise. Why should dress-making be any different?
Janice kept me informed throughout the next phase. She sent emails of the embroidery of the tree, microscope and palette before finalising the dress, I still would have been able to change things if it hadn’t been what was in my mind. I didn’t change a thing, Janice’s interpretations were superb. I kept looking at the photos she sent – she had taken an eccentric idea and turned it into something beautiful. I started to get very excited about my next fitting. Being a teacher it’s almost impossible to take time off work so all my fittings were in school holidays or at weekends. Janice worked round my tight schedule without a problem, she was so accommodating. Janice also makes amzing wire work jewellery to go with Uptight gowns. Being a creative type I was determined to make something for my wedding day and wanted to make my won necklace. I made a start. It wasn’t bad but not quite right, I emailed Janice to admit that I was trying to make something in her style, but that it was important for me to have something I made myself, but I needed some advice to neaten it up. Her reaction was so lovely, she told me to bring my unfinished necklace with me so that she could help.
My second fitting was a joy, the dress was all but done, just missing the ribbons at the back, some of the crystals, and the dingley-dangley bits. We were also able to decide on putting the microscope and palette at the foot of the train rather than hiding them in the folds of fabric which was our original plan. We then had time to inspect my jewellery, and Janice advised me on how to fit the clasp, which suppliers to use and how to mould the shape more effectively. Janice was however making some butterflies for my hair, she carefully inspected the crystals I had used so that our work matched. This is important to point out, on your wedding journey you will not find someone so helpful, or someone that understands your little foibles. Janice wasn’t annoyed I was making my own necklace, she loved it and enabled me to create something myself that looked great alongside her creation. Subtle extra touches like this make all the difference to your journey. Between the second fitting and my final fitting, Janice continued to email me with updates. I suddenly made a decision that I wanted removable wispy sleeves to put on, just in case I took my jacket off later on in the day. This was fine and Janice made some in time for my final fitting! Meanwhile my Mum had also emailed Janice asking her for some spare fabric as she wanted to make us a “wedding quilt”, so Janice kept the spare off-cuts and was able to give them to Mum when we collected the dress. Collecting the dress was incredible. My chief bridesmaid was with me too this time, keen to see how the lacing up worked and how to hitch up the train for later in the day. Again Janice’s patience shone through. A tie for my husband to be and a bow tie for my Dad had been made by Wendy Harrup to match my dress and my beautiful butterflies were ready and waiting, in a beautiful little box. Everything was in place.
Whilst planning my wedding there have definitely been times when I felt stressed out and overwhelmed. On those days I simply look at my dress (at whatever stage it was at) and felt happier. There is so much joy in this process, and no fear at all. I knew right from the start that this was the very best way to get my dream dress.
The wedding itself was an absolute dream. There were a few folks gathered outside the Medieval hall to watch me arrive and there were many gasps as I got out of the car! As indeed there were in the hall when I came down the aisle. My friend Eleanor, mother of one of my bridesmaids, had already seen the dress that morning, so when I walked in she looked at Phil, my husband to be, instead of me. She said his face was a picture, his lips wobbled and his eyes didn’t move from looking at me. He didn’t notice the tree until we were signing the register. He mentioned it in his speech –“it blew me away when I saw that tree…” He said he didn’t even notice what colour the bridesmaids were wearing until the end of the ceremony!
You will see on the Uptight website many brides saying what incredible comments you get in an Uptight gown. Well it’s true. All day, all I heard was, “ You look stunning”, “That dress is incredible”, “ This is truly the most beautiful gown I’ve ever seen”. People wanted to get close to the dress, touch the fabric, inspect all the little bits and bobs. Far from being embarrassed I loved it! Being married in the same year as two royal weddings presented no pressure at all; so many people that said to me “Kate’s dress won’t be a beautiful or as personal as yours!”
So now the day is gone and the thank you cards are being written, do I really think it was worth all that money. Oh yes, yes yes, a thousand times yes. I honestly was dreading how I would look in the photos and how I would feel with everyone looking at me all day. In my perfectly tailor made gown I felt so happy and confident that I didn’t mind my photo being taken at all. I’ve only seen a few photos so far, but all of them look amazing. I can’t stop looking at them. They are helping me remember my day. If you can save up for it, do. My gown was not for one day, I will treasure it forever, and treasure my photos of my wonderful day forever, mainly because I married the man I love; but what a dress to wear while you say “I do”
Below is the best by far explanation Uptight has found by a fellow maker on why wedding dresses can cost so much, Many thanks to Harmanhay for being such a good writer as well as maker good writer as well as maker!
'So he finally asked; you said yes; your parents (or your credit card) have come through with the cash, and it's time to find the wedding dress you've been waiting for all your life!
You're looking in stores, online, you're calling dressmakers, and there are a few ideas you like the look of.
But wait - how much? This is ridiculous. You know clothes. You've been buying clothes all your adult life. Clothes don't cost this much. What a rip-off! This isn't just expensive, it's verging on criminal! And everyone's doing it! You can't win!
Woah there, girl. Wedding dresses are more expensive than you're used to, yes. But this isn't just the result of a mercenary industry profiteering from your childhood dreams.
Wedding dresses can come from one of two sources. They're either mass-produced (many of the same dress are made in a factory) or they're individually made by a dressmaker you've hired. Let's look at both of these options.
Manufactured wedding gowns When you walk into a regular bridal store, you'll find racks of wedding dresses made by a range of designers. The owner of the store is making her living from it. She's paying rent on her store and all the other costs associated with retail, and yet there aren't nearly as many brides buying wedding dresses as there are women buying clothes. She has to charge more to make it work, so she has marked up each dress by 100% or so. In other words, half of the price you're paying goes to the store.
The dresses came from design companies where a designer is paid to come up with each season's new look. These few looks must be taken to shows and promoted to the bridal stores in the hope that our bridal store owner will buy - trust me, this costs big bucks! Again, these companies aren't making as many dresses as, say, Banana Republic or Next, so each must cost more so that everyone can still pay the rent.
And somewhere, perhaps in the Third World, there are some women sitting at sewing machines making a few pennies a day making your dress. They get the least of all. (Spare a thought particularly for the lady who must sew beads onto your wedding dress - this cannot be done by machine.
Hiring a dressmaker Have you tried asking a dressmaker for a quote? If she knows what she's worth, your ears will have melted on hearing the price. Many dressmakers try to compete with bridal stores, but they're doing themselves a disservice. A great custom made wedding gown should cost thousands. But why?
The easiest way to explain is to use food (bizarre as it sounds!)
Katie decides that she wants to go out for dinner tonight. She has a choice of places to go. She can go to a local restaurant and select what she wants from a menu. The chef has prepared most of the dishes in advance, and he simply needs to heat it up, add the finishing touches and out it goes.
(This is a lot like buying a wedding dress in a store - you find something in the store that you like, they make a few adjustments and you're good to go. This works for most people.)
But what if Katie's very particular? Actually she wants a specific meal (whether or not it's on anyone's menu), tailored to her personal dietary needs and her taste with just the right amount of seasoning, just as she likes it. It's an important meal, the most important of her life perhaps (ok, now I'm stretching the metaphor) and she wants it done right by a true professional. Nothing can go wrong.
She's going to have to hire a professional chef. How will the price of hiring him compare to the price of a spaghetti bolognese at Mario's around the corner?
Now you're getting the picture!
"The Black Pearl" gown by Harman Hay (2007), based on a dress worn by Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean A dressmaker or couturier will design a single gown just for you. It will have every detail you heart desires. A unique pattern will be made just for you, and the fabric will be bought at retail price (your dressmaker won't be needing hundreds of yards of your particular choice of creamy, slightly pinky-blue silk satin, so wholesale isn't an option.)
While hundreds or thousands of store dresses are cut at once with a huge machine in the factory, your dressmaker will cut each piece of your unique gown individually with scissors. She will work out how to put it together and go through that process step by step. The "Black Pearl" dress that you see here took over 70 hours to make; the gold corsetted one further up took around 140 hours to make. (How much are you paid for a month's work?)
The ironic thing about the price of a wedding dress is that however expensive it seems to you, no-one on the other side of the fence is rubbing their hands with mercenary glee.
Most ironic of all, the skilled dressmaker or couturier will charge a lot for your gown, yes, but after all the fabric is bought and the sewing machine is paid for and so on, when she spends 120 hours making your gown how much does that work out at for her, overall, a skilled craftsperson with a long career and much expertise?
In my experience over the last twelve years, a dressmaker makes between $6-$14 per hour. Trust me, no-one's ripping you off!'
Link to whole artical;
I am a student, can you help me?
- Unfortunately at this time we are unable to offer work experience or work placement or physical assistance with any student projects currently being undertaken.
- Uptight is however, happy to answer most questions you ask, sometimes it may take a while when things are busy. If you are a corset lover, and interested in going into this area, sometimes, time allowing it may be possible for you to visit and have a chat. Please contact us via our contact page.
- Fabric samples; currently fabric cut offs are given to a local collage, but if you send a stamped, self-addressed envelope,(Ideally A4 bubble envelope, with aprox £1.50 postage ) it would be possible to send you fabric cut offs from the time.
Can I start or further career at Uptight Clothing?
- We are not currently recruiting, although things may change in the future. On occasion due to our professional network it is possible to pass your details on, although this is generally a case of being in the right place, at the right time.
- Work experience is not normally possible, as there is no spare time to give any valuable time to teaching, when things are busy, but as above, I am happy to give you any advice that may be useful…
- Uptight regularly gets emails from students and people wanting to make their own corsets, if I can send them tips on how to make their corsets. Unfortunately, unless you live near me, (which I am happy to have you come to the workshop and show you some things when its quiet..) But unfortunately I don't know of any quick how to make a corset method that can be written on a few pages. I am a very visual person, and cut my patterns on the stand, (draping), as any kind of drafting via mathematical calculation is beyond me! So my only advice would be, get yourself a stand, an ex-shop display or dress makers stand can be bought cheaply of places like ebay, or a car boot sale, and try cutting your own pattern on the stand, you can also pad the stand to your size to get the pattern to nearer your size. But you will still need to tidy up and measure the pattern once it’s off the stand.
But ...just because I can't, doesn't mean others cannot, ...there is someone who is doing a great service to the costume/corset making lovers out there. And she, Cathy Harmanhay, does have brilliant written tutorials on these subjects, as well as blogs, forums etc.
Some of these are subscription based, but soooo worth it. For those of you who can remember pre internet, we had to gather information via books and classes, who all cost a lot of money, as you are paying for the time an expert had spent gathering this information, and teaching you. Very much a fair price to pay for learning a trade I think. But with so much free information on the web, people expect it all to be free. But please bear in mind, that the really useful stuff, it will have been written the same way as book, by an expert, who has bills to pay, just like you, so deserves to be paid for giving out this information. Its not just the information that they are giving out, but the time it takes to put something like this together, in an easy to understand, literate way. This is not easy, trust me. yes, I am dyslectic, and it really shows on the website, but hey, hopefully all the pics make up for the shocking English...
These are a few of Cathy's websites, all full of very useful information re corset and general costume making.
Another very useful note from www.laracorset.com FAQ page,
'Please understand, we are not secretive or rude, just very busy....'
'Can you tell me how to make a corset?'
'This question frustrates me greatly, please don't ask me. It is not at all simple answer. I have spent over 20 years making corsets and I am still learning new things. You will not magically make a perfect corset your first time. You will have to research and experiment. There is no magic pattern guaranteed to fit everyone perfectly (I wish there were!). Everyone's body and measurements are different, patterns will need to be altered with mock-ups and fittings. Corset making is not easy, you will get frustrated, you will make mistakes. It is a skill acquired only with determination and practice. '
'That said, here's a book and some patterns I recommend to help give you a head start:'
The Basics of Corset Building, by Linda Sparks
The Laughing Moon corset pattern
This is an excellent pattern with great instructions and a instructional DVD you can buy as well
The Truly Victorian corset pattern, TV110
I love this companies patterns and own most of them. 'I am a student or person doing research, can you help me with my project?'
I would love to help you but I just do not have the time. The questions I receive from those like you are often complex and without short or simple answers. There is a ton of info on my website and I hope it is helpful. For further
Over the years of making the couture bridal gowns we have received many questions about our services and gowns. The most common ones are…
Corsets and Crinolines - by Norah Waugh ISBN 0-87830-526-2
Support and Seduction - by Beatrice Fontanel ISBN 0-8109-4086-8
Waisted Efforts - by Robert Doyle ISBN 096830390-0
Foundations of Fashion - by Christopher Page
'(back in the days before the internet we older folks had to read lots of books to find answers ;-)'
research I recommend you look into one of the many books listed below.
Bibliography & recommended reading on corset history
The History of Underclothes - by C. Willet and Phillis Cunnington ISBN 0-486-27124-2
The Corset - by Valerie Steele ISBN 0-300-09071-4
Corsets and Crinolines - by Norah Waugh ISBN 0-87830-526-2
Support and Seduction - by Beatrice Fontanel ISBN 0-8109-4086-8
Waisted Efforts - by Robert Doyle ISBN 096830390-0
Foundations of Fashion - by Christopher Page
'(back in the days before the internet we older folks had to read lots of books to find answers ;-)'