When you've worked in bridal for a decade, you pick up a tip (or five) for how to make the most of a wedding boutique appointment. Add extensive ready-to-wear and styling experience into the mix, and you've got yourself Charlie Brear. In front of a packed floor in the Brides The Show Style Hub, and showing previously unseen designs in advance of her New York Bridal Week show, she was on the sofa with our Editor Jade Beer.
So, how would Charlie go about a bridal appointment now? One thing's for sure: it doesn't involve an entourage. 'Don't bring too many people with you,' she said. 'If you can - and if you've got the confidence - come on your own. Be really open minded. If something doesn't work, think about the type of bride you want to be, and go from there.'
Perhaps more importantly? 'Don't drive yourself mad. Be selective, do your research, and go to five appointments maximum with designers you really, really love.'
'I'd never allow a bride to leave my shop with a dress that didn't suit her,' added Charlie.
What about brides who are dying to construct their own wedding dress, but who don't want to rely solely on a couturier's sketches? Charlie's unique bridal designs, which can be built up piece by piece, offer a solution. Her unique 'styling collection' sees overlays, sleeves, belts and sashes added on to a slinky base dress. Directional and giving brides a level of control that we all secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy, it's the happy halfway house.
After a decade in bridal, Charlie states the biggest change she's seen is with women being more experimental and bold in their choices: a shift towards a more unique, personalised approach to wedding dressing. 'You want to feel like you when you walk down the aisle.'
And, if one thing's for sure, Charlie certainly hasn't had enough of bridal just yet. 'Ten years later, and I always cry when someone finds a dress they love - still!'