Online Dress Shopping: Dos and Don’ts

Simone Gale established dress store Christobelle’s with the aim of delivering world-class designer gowns at affordable prices. Here, she shares her top tips for a successful online spree.


    We’ve all heard the horror stories: bride buys a Duchess of Cambridge-inspired gown only to have it turn up green, bride’s dress falls apart as she’s pulling it on come W-day, or bride thinks she’s getting France’s finest breed of lace to find it looks uncannily similar to one in the craft store down the road. Online shopping: fab when it works, not so fab when it doesn’t.

    Simone Gale established dress store Christobelle’s with the aim of delivering world-class designer gowns at affordable prices. Sold online, her gowns are sourced with quality top of mind. She’s well-versed on the perks and pitfalls of online shopping, and is determined to prevent brides from making costly mistakes. Here, she shares her top tips for a successful online spree.

    What are some key traps to watch out for online?

    Many overseas-based websites may use .co.nz domain names to give the store a sense of locality and legitimacy when, in fact, the site has no Kiwi connection. Watch out for websites that don’t list a local phone number, or prices that are simply too good to be true. If they claim to be selling ‘designer’ gowns, it could pay to contact that designer to see if they know and can vouch for the online company.

    What’s a good way of finding out what dress styles suit you before buying online?

    The best starting point is to establish what body shape you are. There are five different body shapes: hourglass, apple, column, triangle and pear. Hourglass figures can wear almost any style of dress, while apples suit A-line gowns with fitted corsets, or a high-waisted option. With their athletic build, columns look fabulous in fishtail, sheath or fit and flare gowns to enhance their curves. Triangles can show off their shoulders with a strapless gown and a fuller skirt, while pear shapes should start with A-line, princess and empire gowns. 

    Do you offer brides a chance to try your dresses on?

    Yes. This year we’ve teamed up with Millenium Hotels and Resorts to create the ultimate bridal experience. We are hitting the road and travelling to eight cities across the country, giving brides the chance to book in with one of our stylists and find their perfect gown. We are kicking off in Dunedin this Saturday (March 21) and will travel over three months.

    The real clincher is the package we are offering, however – upon consulting with us, you can choose any one of our 120 European gowns plus your wedding shoes, a hair accessory, two bridesmaid dresses and three matching ties and bow ties – all for $1999. It may sound too good to be true, but you can rest assured knowing you can book in to see the quality for yourself. 

    How should a bride prepare for her fitting?

    All she needs to do is look at our gowns online and pick a couple of favourite styles she might like to start with. It’s important, however, to keep an open mind. We find that upon consulting with our stylists, most brides end up purchasing a dress they wouldn’t have initially picked!

    Is there anything a bride should bring with her to a fitting?

    She should bring a few trusted confidantes – a close friend, her sister or her mother, perhaps. I always recommend, too, that a bride makes her hair and makeup just a little more special than normal – it’s important she feels good about herself when trying the dresses on!


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