Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by Alterations Express Staff
PROM—PROM—PROM—PROM!! Finally, teenagers get to resume this age-old tradition and right of passage marking the end of high school. But before we get too excited about the awkward prom poses, tacky corsages, and throwback dance playlists, let’s talk about prom dress alterations.
Finding the perfect dress is a difficult feat in and of itself. I mean, do you go with sparkles, classic simplistic with a pop of color, or a trendy two-piece style? But no matter which style of dress you opt for, chances are you’re going to need alterations to complete your look. Read on to find out all you need to know about prom dress alterations and prepare for your visit to the seamstress.
Tip #1. Always Buy Bigger
We HIGHLY recommend that customers purchase their prom dresses a size or two bigger than they normally would. Why? Today’s major clothing manufacturers design garments with much less material and seam allowance to save on costs. Additionally, they also allow them to charge more for dresses in larger sizes. Therefore, sizing for these specialty garments usually does not reflect your normal sizing for jeans or other clothing items. Especially regarding formalwear and dresses, your normal clothing sizing will almost always differ from your formal dress size.
In terms of alterations & tailoring, it is much easier and more affordable to take in a dress that is too big than to try to create more room in the dress that is too small (In most cases, letting out a dress is not even possible because of the lack of seam allowance provided by design).
If you’re buying your prom dress online, we encourage customers to visit your local tailor to have them take your measurements for you and help you with sizing and interrupting the manufacturer’s sizing guide. But the rule of thumb is always to buy a size or two bigger than you normally would! Don’t worry; you’ll be able to alter and take in your prom dress to fit you perfectly — but we can’t promise the same result if the dress is too small.
Tip #2. Don’t Wait to Visit Your Seamstress
This is a big one. For prom dress alterations, do not wait to visit your local alterations provider. We recommend that you visit your seamstress immediately after purchasing your dress. But why is this so important? Not only will this ensure that your prom dress alterations will be completed on time, but the alterations required for your dress will be top of mind, so you’re sure to achieve the perfect fit.
For tailors and seamstresses, prom season (late April/early May) is the busiest time of the year because of high school proms but also because of wedding season as well. Keep in mind that most high school proms occur around the same time of the year or even on the same weekends, so alterations providers are extremely busy trying to keep up with demand.
With all that being said, to make sure that your local alterations provider can accommodate your prom dress alterations, visit your seamstress or tailor as soon as you possibly can.
Tip #3. Find Out if Appointments are Required
Prom dress alterations can get extremely complicated. And because of that, some alterations providers do require that customers schedule appointments before they come in for their fitting. So, make sure to check if appointments are required by your local seamstress.
Pro Tip: At Alterations Express, appointments are not required for prom dress alterations! Feel free to visit us any time during operating hours for a professional fitting. (P.S. We’ll also be able to price for your alterations up front!). Check out our formal alterations page to learn more about what to expect during a visit to AE.
Tip #4. Bring Your Shoes & Undergarments
Having your shoes and undergarments with you during your initial fitting is a MUST for prom dress alterations. Especially if you need the hem of your dress altered, having your shoes with you during your fitting is essential. Keep in mind that if your dress has multiple layers of fabric, you’ll be charged for alterations on each layer.
Make sure to have an idea of what you’ll need for your undergarments with your prom dress. Before you visit your seamstress or tailor, know if you need cups added to your dress because this can affect your bustline alterations. Also, if you have extra room in the bodice of the dress, that can be taken in too. Just remember to bring your undergarments with you or have a plan for what you intend to do for undergarments before visiting your seamstress.
Tip #5. Factor in the Cost of Alterations
The cost of prom dress alterations can vary widely depending on what alterations you require and the construction of your dress. As we mentioned earlier, if your dress has multiple layers, you’ll have to pay for each layer to be hemmed. Bustline alterations can also be a bit complex. Overall, keep in mind that the more you want to adjust the original construction of the dress, the more costly your alterations will be. And make sure to factor in the average cost of alterations when you’re purchasing your prom dress.
How much does it cost to alter a prom dress?
On average, prom dress alterations can cost anywhere from $75 to $150.
We recommend that you bring someone with you for your fittings. Having another pair of eyes on the dress is very helpful when deciding on length and fit. You might also need help getting into and out of your dress. So, bring a family member or friend along that can provide guidance and help you through the process.
Pro Tip: Make sure to try on your prom dress during your final visit. Because dress alterations can be complex, last-minute adjustments are not uncommon and, in most cases, necessary. (This is also why it’s important to visit your seamstress with plenty of time before prom).
Now that you’ve read our 5 tips for prom dress alterations, you’re ready! So, embrace the awkward prom poses and trendy hairstyles and enjoy a night to remember. But make sure your dress looks perfectly tailored when you look back on your prom pictures in 20 years. Learn more about prom dress alterations here.