A Chicago-based bridal boutique owner is catering to the plus-sized bride.
In 2018, the average size for a woman living in America is a 16, yet and still, we are shown advertisements of women who wear well below a 16.
Shannelle Armstrong-Fowler opened her boutique for plus-sized brides in 2013. The business owner opened Haute and Co. to “create a safe space for brides where they were guaranteed to walk in and find the wedding gown options and fits they expect to see.”
“I realized the biggest challenge that curvy and plus size brides were having was getting true service and feeling like they were valued and heard in the process of the appointment, and finding gowns that they could actually try on beyond maybe one gown,”Armstrong-Fowler told Essence. “I thought I could solve this problem.”
When a customer enters her store, Armstrong-Fowler says she’s committed to helping the bride-to-be with her big day.
“One of the biggest challenges that spook most brides is the size variance,” Armstrong-Fowler said. “Bridal sizing hasn’t changed since probably ready to wear was created. If you are a size 16 in ready to wear clothing, you’re used to going into regular stores and buying directly off the rack. Once you go into bridal shops looking for a dress, you are literally a 20 or 22.”
The shop features designer wedding dresses
he shop features designer wedding dresses from sizes 14 to 32. (Yes, please!) But, the best advice Armstrong-Fowler can offer brides is not to get thrown off by the larger sizes. “Let’s focus on the fit, not on the number.”
Shifting focus has been what has made the former public relations director so successful in the bridal gown industry.
“We have to understand that there are curvy women and then there are plus size women,” says Armstrong-Fowler. “Both are equally fabulous. Both equally celebrate their curves and their bodies, but both want to be greeted, marketed and served differently, but fairly.”
Great job, Shannelle.