December 22, 2013

Plus-size and proud

Bridal shop carves out market among under-served 'curvy girls'

ROCHESTER — Katie Gregory stood on a “princess platform” examining her wedding dress in a full-length mirror at Miss Pamela’s Bridal Salon.

She’d driven from South Bend to pick up the dress Dec. 13, four months after her first visit to the bridal shop. As she checked the fit of the gown she’ll be wearing down the aisle May 17, she praised the salon’s focus on girls like her who wear dresses size 18 and up — commonly called “plus sizes.”

“I’ve heard horror stories from a lot of big girls,” said Gregory, 27. Friends of hers had visited bridal shops nearer home and were put off by workers’ attitudes or the lack of dresses available in their size, she said.

“They go to try on dresses and they don’t have anything in their size and it’s all clipped and doesn’t look right,” Gregory said.

That wasn’t the case at Miss Pamela’s, she added. There, she felt comfortable, and tried on five plus-size dresses, eventually choosing the third.

“I really liked the atmosphere,” Gregory said.

Miss Pamela’s, owned by Pamela Inwood of Rochester, last month moved into a new location at 723 Main St. in Rochester. Inwood keeps more than 200 dresses hanging in the stock room, she said, in order to have dresses on hand in every size from 18 to 36.

The least expensive dress there is $395. Most fall in the $800 to $1,600 range, she said.

Nearing her store’s fourth anniversary as a plus-size salon, Inwood said she originally opened Miss Pamela’s as a resale bridal shop in 2008.

“My resale idea wasn’t working,” Inwood said. Many of the 500 to 600 dresses she had at the resale store’s closing in October 2009 were sizes 8 to 12, she said. About 350 of those went to Brides Against Breast Cancer, a Florida-based charity contributing to programs for cancer patients, their families and caregivers.

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