After a couple of years of pandemic hiatus, weddings and events have slowly started to resume in 2022. This month, I got to attend the wedding of two of our best friends as one of the members of the bridal party. I’d like to share my experience with Azazie bridemsaid dresses as a petite pear, for anyone who may be wondering how the brand might work for a bridal party featuring brides of different heights.
With Azazie, the dresses are sized using street sizes, not bridal sizes, which tend to run smaller. So whatever your US size is is likely to be your Azazie bridesmaid size. For instance, I’m typically a US size 4, and in Azazie sizing, I’m an A4:
The standard dress length is measured for a bridesmaid who stands around 5’7″, that is, a floor-length dress in my height would be 59″ hollow to hem:
My own hollow-to-floor measurement is 50″, so about 9 full inches shorter than the standard length dresses. (Note that Azazie automatically adds 2 inches to floor-length dresses to accommodate high heels, so even average-height brides who choose to wear flats might want to opt for a shorter custom length.) Obviously, I was going to need a custom size.
Free custom sizing
One of the perks of Azazie if you’re petite is that they offer “free custom sizing” on all their bridesmaid dresses. This means that, if you’re not a standard size according to the size chart, you can submit 5 measurements with your order, and they will “customize” the fit to you:
- Height (barefoot)
- Hollow to floor
When you’re ready to place your order, you just enter in your measurements and they will make the dress according to what you submit:
The nice thing about this for brides who are very petite like me, very tall, or otherwise not a standard street size, is that there’s no extra charge for the custom sizing. In any other bridesmaid dress brand, I probably would’ve had to pay for a standard size, and then pay a significant amount more to a seamstress to chop half of it off. But this time, it showed up in the right length from the start. This is a huge win for us petites!
There’s a major downside to ordering a custom size instead of a standard one: Custom sized dresses are final sale (no returns). That means it’s all the more important to make sure you’ve measured correctly, chosen a style of dress you like, and that the bride isn’t going to change her mind about the dresses (or the wedding!).
Note that there are some limitations to the sizing customization. It’s pretty rudimentary; basically, they can adjust the dress length, bust, and waist, but that’s about it. Alterations common to petites, such as narrowing the shoulders, taking up shoulder straps, or raising the neckline, aren’t possible. If you’re a short-torsoed petite like me, a custom-length dress may still be too big on top, so you may need to still do some minor edits when you receive it.
Azazie says they will reimburse up to a certain dollar value of alterations if your dress arrives and still doesn’t quite fit. You have to find a local seamstress or tailor to do the alterations, and then submit your receipt for reimbursement. I didn’t end up having to do this (I did a few alterations hacks at home, more on this later), but it can be useful if the dress arrives and still doesn’t fit.
Because I knew I would need a custom size, before I purchased my dress, I opted to use Azazie’s at-home try-on service to try some of the styles that the bride had marked on her showroom board. The way it works is, for about $15 per dress, Azazie will send you up to 3 different styles to try on at home for up to a week. You can either send them back using their prepaid return label, or you can opt to purchase one of the try-on dresses and keep it.
The caveat is, only a limited number of sizes and colours are available through the try-on program, and you have to wait for them to be in stock. My Azazie size is closest to A4, but I ordered three styles in three different sizes, A2, A4, and A8, for try-on, because that’s what they had available.
The bride had chosen a royal blue colour for her bridesmaid dresses, and had specified that she wanted knee-length dresses for a summery look. She put together a showroom with six different choices of styles, and invited us to choose from them. Three of them were available for at-home try-on, so I ordered those three.
The first style I tried, which I ultimately ended up purchasing, was called Grace. It’s a knee-length chiffon dress with a v-neck crossover style at the bust. It was the only try-on sample that was in my size, A4, though of course the length was still too long. Otherwise, though, it fit me almost perfectly. The only colour sample they had was black, so that’s what I tried:
It’s not visible from the photo, but there’s actually quite a bit of boning and padding at the bust area, which made me feel a little larger up top than I otherwise might have wanted. Not necessarily the most flattering fit, but practical in that I was able to wear a proper bra underneath the style and not worry about the coverage being too minimal. Other than the too-long length, I liked this style quite a lot and found it to be flattering on my petite pear frame.
The second style I tried was Shivani, a lace-top knee-length chiffon dress with a higher lace illusion neckline. This was the only sample dress I received in the royal blue colour, which was nice because it gave me an idea of what it would look like in real life. Unfortunately, the smallest sample size they had was A8, which was way too big on me, and I had to clip the dress on to get an idea of how it looked:
On me, this style was merely okay, not great. I did like the lace, but I found the top to be far too large at the bust, and the high neckline wasn’t as flattering on me as the v-neck style of the previous dress. One of the other bridesmaids in the wedding party did end up ordering this style and it looked fantastic on her, so I suspect it might be better on a taller bridesmaid or one with an inverse-triangle body shape, in other words, the opposite of mine.
The final style I tried was called Doll. It was a much lower-cut dress with spaghetti straps, a keyhole back, a tie waist, and, excitingly, pockets! The only at-home try-on size available was an A2, so it was a little small on me, but I was still able to get the idea:
This was the least expensive of the three styles, and also the only one with pockets. Unfortunately, I liked it the least. The dress was too low-cut at the front, not providing enough coverage. I didn’t find that the small straps were all that flattering on me, and the tie waist added extra volume at the hip, which is something we petite pears definitely don’t need! Overall, I think this dress might have worked better on a different body type from mine.
Of the three, I liked the Grace, the first style I tried on, the best. I opted to order it in the correct colour and in my custom size. It took about three weeks from order date to shipment, and about four weeks in total to arrive, which isn’t bad, considering COVID-era lead times.
When it arrived, the straps were still a bit too long, which is often the case for us short-torsoed petites. I could’ve sent it to be altered, but instead, I opted for a very rudimentary home sewing machine hack where I simply took in the straps by folding them over. It was quite visible from the back, but barely showed from the front view. And honestly, nobody noticed.
The dress otherwise fit quite well. I’d opted to give it a half-inch of extra room at the waist, which turned out to be a good thing because the wedding had so much food! As a petite pear, choosing an a-line style meant I didn’t have to worry too much about the hip measurement. And the length was perfect.
How it held up
My dress turned out quite nice, for a bridesmaid dress. It’s not necessarily a colour or style I would’ve chosen for myself, but it looked lovely and wore beautifully on the day:
A few tips for petite bridesmaids
- Take your measurements carefully! If possible, get a friend to help. Whatever you submit is what you’ll get back, so if you make a mistake in your measurements, remember that custom dresses are final sale.
- Look at real life photos for each style shared in the reviews section to get an idea of what the dresses will look like on various body types. It can be much easier to get a sense of how a dress will fit by seeing it on regular people, rather than on models.
- Shipping is pricey in Canada. We opted to combine our orders into a single purchase and get them all shipped to one address to save a few dollars on shipping.
- It’s a dress you’ll probably wear once. Given that most of us will rarely re-wear a bridesmaid dress, the quality to price ratio is pretty decent, all things considered. But this certainly ain’t couture. If you’re looking for bridesmaid dresses that are much higher quality and more sustainably made, you may need to look elsewhere.
- Advice for brides: Giving a range of different style options to your bridal party within the same colour can still give you a cohesive look, while accommodating different body types and preferences.
The bottom line
Ultimately, I’d give Azazie a thumbs up for petite bridesmaid dresses. The size range, variety of styles, and ability to order free custom sizes, all make it a pretty good option if you have a bridal party with people of different shapes and sizes.
The fit on a custom sized Azazie dress isn’t as good as a proper made-for-petite dress. The customization is pretty rudimentary for length, and the shoulder area was still too big for me. However, there aren’t a lot of options for petite-specific bridesmaid dresses, so unless you’re just giving your bridal party a general colour and telling them to wear anything they choose, Azazie is a pretty decent option.