Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Modcloth, David's Bridal, Designer Loft: How to Pick a Wedding Dress

Although I won't say I was one of those people who had their whole wedding planned out by the time they were five years old, I definitely had an idea of how it would look, and what I would look like at it. I knew I would wear a ballet-length a-line dress, likely made out of lace with a v-neck and three-quarter sleeves. I also, somewhat offhandedly, had pinned a lot of art deco style gowns over the years. But I knew I was going to go more the length that my grandmother and Kate Middleton had taken and have lace and sleeves.

Spoiler alert, it didn't happen—here's what I wore:

Almost immediately after Roger and I got engaged, my mother, Liz, and I took a secret trip to David's bridal to try on dresses right after Thanksgiving weekend. Coming up short (I don't even think I have any photos from that trip!) I took to the place I am most comfortable in the world: the internet.

During their pre-holiday sales, I ordered a ton of dresses from Modcloth, and genuinely liked most of them quite a lot. Of all the ones I tried on that round, I was most excited about this Pisarro Nights white dress, which surprised me, because it wasn't anything like what I'd been thinking I would want.

This one from Chi Chi fit the bill, though it didn't have a v-neck. It's a perennial favorite on Modcloth, so it's still up if you're looking for a wedding dress. I liked it well enough, but thought I looked a little squat in it, so back it went!

There were also some clear losers, like this beige sausage casing:

This dowdy number off the set of Downton Abby:

And this longer version of the one I thought I'd wear, which made me feel like I was on a 1970s photo album cover:

None of these were quite the right fit, but one that I'd seen online, the All Aisles On You, seemed like it could be a perfect fit. It was the same silhouette as the white dress, but looked a little more glamorous. It was also, unfortunately, sold out. I ended up refreshing the page a couple times a day for literally a month until it came back into stock and snapped it up, a wedding miracle.

This was my very favorite, and of course it's the one I don't have a real photo of. I loved it so much that I actually kept it, and can't wait to wear it to a Gatsby-themed New Years Eve party one of these days.  For a very long time, I was pretty sure it was going to be The Dress.

My mother had other plans. (And, she may have been right. Even just from trying it on, many of the sequins and beads have come off, and I need to have a tailor go over the whole thing to secure them. But I love it so much that I'm planning on doing just that!)

So, in February, she came up from Florida and dress shopping we went, with Shelby, Liz, and Sue in tow! Our first stop was David's Bridal in Manhattan, which had a few of the Jenny Packham dresses I liked but hadn't seen in the Connecticut one. The service there left a little bit to be desired; they yelled at Liz for trying to sit down in a chair outside my dressing room, and then yelled at Shelby for trying to bring over a dress for me, and then generally didn't offer me any guidance or help as I was explaining what I wanted. This was a little frustrating to me, because things are so overpriced in wedding world and I was looking at spending more money on an article of clothing than I ever had in my life, and it felt a little like I was at a sample sale looking for bargain bin pieces.

None the less, I tried on a few dresses and didn't just walk straight out. This one was my favorite, with art-deco beading and a v-neck. I especially loved how it draped in the back.

I was also quite fond of this bridesmaid's dress, which had pockets and a lovely neckline. It was vetoed by my mother for not being white.

And this Jenny Packham one just wasn't working on my frame (which is strange because, as you'll see, at the next place, I tried on a dress that was very similar and which worked much better):

None of them bested the dress I already had at home, though, so onward we went.

Our next stop was Designer Loft, where we finally got the wonderful wedding treatment I'd been dreaming of! Their price point started out only a little higher than what we were looking at at David's Bridal, but the service was 10 times as good, easily. They worked with me to pick out dresses that actually looked like what I wanted, helped me into the dresses, and clipped me up so that I could get an idea of what the dress would actually look like after it was tailored (all things that David's Bridal couldn't be bothered with.) I would highly recommend stopping by there if you're in the market for a dress!

Every dress I tried on there was beautiful in its own way. I was surprised by how much I loved the clean lines of these two dresses, which made me feel like Jackie O., especially the long-sleeved one:

And the sales associate also had me try on dresses that felt more art-deco and beaded like the pieces I'd tried on before. I loved the flutter sleeves and the intricate beadwork on the first one:


This Grecian style gown came out of left field, but it felt like wearing a nightgown and I really liked it:

I was just so impressed by my associate's ability to find dresses that matched what I wanted, and also dresses I would never have considered that just looked really beautiful on my body. She has a real talent and it was so hard to pick because all of the dresses felt stunning, for different reasons.

In the end, though, it came down to two.

This first dress was stunning, and reminded me of my prom dress from 2006 (the most beautiful dress of all time). When I had thought, many many years ago, of what type of dress I would wear, this was exactly it.

But, there was also this one, which I dubbed "the seaweed dress" because the asymmetrical beading pattern reminded me of the seaweed we used to have to swim through when I lifeguarded at a lake. I'd wanted to get married on a beach, so having a little nautical touch felt good to me! It didn't have any of the elements I'd wanted, but everyone's reactions were priceless. They loved it. 

It was clear to me that both of these dresses would beat out the little ditty I had at home, but surrounded by so many opinions, I just couldn't make a decision. I felt beautiful in both! We headed home empty-handed, and I came back myself a couple weeks later to make the final choice.

Trying the dresses on again, it was clear that the seaweed dress was far and away the winner. It was so comfortable that I could see myself dancing all night in it. The bustling example the tailor held up was even more beautiful than the train. And when she placed a new belt over the bow and mentioned she could make a matching headpiece, I knew that everyone was right, and this was the dress!

Now that the wedding is over, I can say unequivocally I made the right choice. It was hard to realize that I couldn't wear all the dresses I loved, but I think marriage is often about making a choice to stop making choices, and like our marriage, this one just felt right.

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