I’ve been sharing quite a bit about shopping for my bridesmaids recently, and it’s probably time for me to revisit my wedding-gown search, which had started online. My first dress-shopping excursion wasn’t really my idea. A fashion-blogger friend of mine was writing an article for a regional magazine’s annual wedding issue, and she wanted to have a few pictures of a bride shopping at a local boutique to go with it. So, I made an appointment at the small bridal shop in town and invited a couple other friends along.
This was just going to be a fun shopping trip with some friends. I knew we weren’t going to find my dress at the shop. A lot of what they had was embellished and sequined with layers and flounces.
Closeup of Maggie Sottero Saige / Photo by Dana Holler of CvilleFashion.com
Now, I love bridal fashion. During Bridal Market, which is the wedding industry’s version of Fashion Week, I hang on the blogs of the people I know are attending. I have a hard time pulling myself away from Twitter, where I can see pictures from the shows. I can look at almost any dress and find something positive about it. So, I can objectively say that the dresses I tried on were lovely. They just weren’t the kinds of dresses that I want to wear myself.
I have three regrets about how I started my dress search:
1. My first stop should have been to a full-service salon. This salon had a hands-off approach. My consultant pointed out the racks and told me what designers were in which section and told us to pull six dresses to start.
Dress name unknown / Photo by Dana Holler of CvilleFashion.com
2. I should have shopped with a smaller group. I tried on dresses the others picked first and was exhausted by the time I got to ones I liked. What’s more, even if I put a dress on and knew it wasn’t going to work, I had to parade out of the dressing room to show it to everyone. I probably could have tried on more dresses if I had been alone. In the end, this little trip was about getting images for my friend to use with her article, so this wasn’t a big deal.
Why did this one already have a bustle? Why do so many salons have green carpets? / Photo by Dana Holler of Fashionable.com
3. I should have been open to all silhouettes from the start. I went into the shop intent on finding a lace A-line dress with straps. Such a narrow scope meant I probably passed over some dresses when I first got there. As you can imagine, most of the dresses were strapless, there were a variety of silhouettes, and lace was not dominant in their inventory. In fact, I don’t think I tried on any lace at all! The others convinced me to try on some other styles.
Just for fun, I tried on the full-length version of Justin Alexander 8465, the dress that I called “the blog dress” because I saw it on several wedding blogs early on in my planning. I’m not crazy about the angle of the photo of me in the dress, but that dress does wonderful things to your waist! It’s a beautiful dress. It wasn’t for me, but I can understand why it’s so popular!
Justin Alexander 8465 / Photo from Justin Alexander Bridal
Even though I tried on about 10 dresses that didn’t interest me, I learned a lot at that appointment. I learned that fabric and workmanship can vary a lot, even among dresses in the same price range. One of the gowns I tried on looked pretty in the mirror, but the dress didn’t feel good on me. After a few minutes of wearing it, I realized that the fabric was the problem. One of my friends quietly pointed out that the stitching and hem work was not done well, either.
I realized that strapless gowns feel almost nothing like the strapless dresses I’ve worn in the past. If fitted properly, they feel great and there’s no need to tug on the top to keep the dress in place. I also added modified A-line and trumpet dresses to the list of silhouettes I like.
In the end, we had a fun time and my friend got pictures for her article, so it was a successful day.
Maggie Sottero Saige from afar…look at that frothy bottom. / Photo by Dana Holler of CvilleFashion.com
Anyone else have a first appointment that was just a prelude to the real search? Did you start your search with a very specific kind of dress in mind like I did? Did you expend your scope as well?