01/25/2013 08:15 EST | Updated 03/27/2013 05:12 EDT

Mother of the Bride: Get the Right Fit With Alterations

As a co-owner and dress consultant at T.Carolyn Fashions, I navigate the front lines of family conflict -- helping moms look great and satisfying the bride's often strident opinions. Even with 21 years in the business and 100,000 dresses sold, dressing a mother of the bride can be more challenging than dressing the actual bride!

Why wear an ill-fitting garment when you could be custom-fitted?

It's no secret that most women are different sizes on the top and the bottom. While some women are bigger on top, I find the vast majority are larger on the bottom.

What is surprising to me is the number of women who are willing to buy a dress that's clearly too tight in one of those areas in an attempt to avoid the alterations that will be needed in order to fit into the proper size. The reasoning is always the same. She's not sure how it will turn out. What puzzles me about this strategy is how can a mother of the bride/groom justify wearing an ill fitting garment instead of actually looking really good in a dress that has been specifically altered for their body?

Find a great alterations specialist

Clearly, an alterations specialist needs to be properly vetted. Once a specialist has been found, it is absolutely amazing how the proper fit can change an off-the-rack-dress into something that looks like a custom-made garment.

Mothers are particularly gun-shy of alterations. This is probably due to the fact that they've recently become familiar with the cost of altering bridal gowns. Happily for mothers, the cost of altering a mother's dress is a fraction of the cost of altering a bridal gown.

The only time alterations on a mother's dress could run into a great deal of money is if the dress has to be re-made; in which case it's the wrong dress for the mother's body type.

Typically shoulder straps need to be shortened (the manufacturers always make them long enough to accommodate everyone), a basic hem may be needed, and perhaps a nip or tuck in the bodice is required. It should be that simple.

Make sure you wear the right shoes and bra when you go for your alteration

The most important thing for mothers is to remember when it comes to alterations is to wear the exact foundations she plans on wearing the day of the wedding. A good support-giving bra (very important) and shape wear will make a considerable difference in the alterations needed. Also, mothers should be sure to wear the shoes they plan on wearing to the wedding to establish an exact hemline. No "guestimating" and buying shoes later!

The first thing a man does when he purchases a suit is to head to alterations. I've never understood why women don't typically allow themselves the same courtesy.

Just as a bride has a fitting for her dress, so should a mother. Remember, mothers, you're walking down the aisle too!

If you want to delve further into the exciting world of weddings, I invite you to tune into my new show Mother of the Bride premiering back-to-back episodes every Friday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on SliceTM. Visit for exclusive blogs, a mother of the bride dress guide, cast bios and full episodes.

Dressing for your size