Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Quest for the Goldilocks Dress

You know, the one that is not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

In the case of dresses, it's the one that's not too expensive, not too cheap (looking), but (feels and looks) just right.

It may have been a mistake to begin my wedding dress shopping at a Saks sample sale, but I am deadline driven, and knowing the sample sale was going on for a limited amount of time, and that my dear friend and sister bride, Dr. Cowgirl, was in town, got me off my desk chair and into the fray.

Starting out with Vera Wangs - even at half off - had us starting out too hot/ expensive. The dresses were gorgeous, the fit was incredibly flattering, they made us feel like princesses... but it's hard to slap down $2-3K for ONE DRESS for ONE DAY! Especially if the hem is dirty, as was the case with an ivory mermaid style dress that I still dream about. Like this:

(did I make a mistake passing it up???)

Or if there's a lipstick kiss of unknown origin, and uncertain removability, in the middle of the skirt. Who kissed the dress after they tried it on?!?!?!? Yes, it is beautiful, but now it's virtually unwearable: I can't imagine paying $3000 for a dress with lipstick on it, unless I worked in the dry cleaning business and knew for sure that I could remove the stain.

Onward we went, to Jessica McClintock, which turned out to be far too cold. After I had been fondling the lush silks of Vera Wang and Carolina Herrara dresses, the 100% manmade polyester felt rough and unnatural. The colors were just a little too garish - amazing how wrong a white or ivory can be - and the cuts were to unidimenional and unflattering. The prices were nice: $300 and less! A whole rack of $99 sale dresses! But what good is an inexpensive dress if it doesn't flatter.

Before reaching Jessica McClintock, we had an even colder experience, having spontaneously dropped by Priscilla of Boston. Of course, spontaneously dropping by just isn't done, but Dr. Cowgirl and I are bridal newbies. What do we know? We saw some pretty dresses in a second story window, rang up and asked if we could come up, and the sales consultant agreed. If she didn't want us to come up, she certainly could've demurred. Instead, she sneered at us, in our jeans and boots, as we stepped off the elevator. Apparently, we did not present the usual picture of apple cheeked, 20-year-old blushing brides. The consultant seemed further nonplussed that we were accompanied by two more friends. "Are we really going to have four bridal appointments today?!" she sputtered.

Well, no. Leafhopper is already married. And Musical Marathoning Mammalogist (M3), though also engaged, has already gotten her dress and was along for moral support, and a good pair of dancing shoes. Once we learned how much the dresses cost - $1600 and up - Dr. Cowgirl folded as well. I was game to try on dresses, as the ones in the window really caught my fancy.

But, like I said, I am not the typical size 4, 20-something wisp of a bride. I'm darn near middle age, and would be more pleased with my physique if I lost a few pounds. The Bridal Consultant (BC) wasted no time in pointing this out with every dress I tried on.

"Oh, that's so slimming on you!"
"Now look how slimming this dress is. See how the cut draws the eyes down?"
"This one is really slimming - she looks like a size 4 in it."

Ok, I know women are taught to worry about our weight, to complain about it, to always seek to lose it, but I really didn't appreciate having a stranger imply that I am a fat cow.

I also know that plenty of brides go on diets, in an effort to look their very best for their weddings. Already, I have upped the exercise quotient, and I am looking to increase the amount of green vegetables and lean protein in my diet (notwithstanding the half pint of Ben & Jerry's I polished off tonight.) But all that is my own business. That I am buying a fancy dress does not give strangers free rein to comment on my size and looks.

The longer that appointment went on, the more uncomfortable I became. BC asked several questions about my engagement and wedding plans, and her response to each of my responses was "that's really not the way to do it."

Well, guess what? It's my wedding, and I'll do it how I like.

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