Monday, 26 October 2009

The dress that wasn't and the me that isn't

I was so sure I would never be one of the those who fell in love with a dress. I mean, it's just a dress and no piece of clothing has ever made me feel it was "the one" before so why should something long and white do it now?* I thought I'll go somewhere ethical and cheap, pick something that looks OK and that'll be it. On to the more important things.

Oh that long white piece of clothing, there's so much bloody hype about it. It seems to define us brides in a way the rest of the wedding paraphernalia doesn't. I'm pretty sure this isn't as it should be. But whether we choose to go whole hog traditional or not we can't help it making a statement about ourselves - white; not white; short; long; veil; no veil; vintage; new; home-made; bought for a fortune; bikini; jeans & tshirt; statement; no statement; whether or not we make these choices consciously, they end up saying something about us and also about how we feel about the whole wedding thing.
I know, I know, I'm totally over thinking this. I can't help it I'm afraid, it's a serious flaw of mine. That and subclauses.**

I tried to put all this to the back of my mind and off I went to my first ever wedding shop which happened to be an Oxfam Bridal and tried on a heaps and heaps of dresses. And nothing felt right but I didn't know why - I mean, they were all wedding dresses, what more did I want?
So on Mum's advice I went to some posh shops to have some fun with it and to get an idea of what I thought suited me. And I saw tons of stuff I liked and decided what cut and what fabric I preferred and preened and pranced in front of my bridesmaids and it was all very golly. But I couldn't put my finger on what was bothering me. Somehow these dresses came with baggage - it was as if they were wearing me. I did feel like a bride and that's what I was, right? "A" bride? What the hell was the problem?

So this is the dress that answered that - not because it was "the one" ... but because it wasn't.

My sister persuaded me to put it on. It's tea length, big skirted, 1950s style. I put it on and just loved it - it was the kind of dress you knew you would have a good time in. And it was so flattering - it gave my cucumber shaped body curves and showed off my legs. It swung about in the most fabulous way. Ooh I loved it.

Look - look how pretty. Click on this link and see how it swooshes and swings.

But but but. I knew this dress wasn't me - it's for someone pouty and dainty with short neat hair - Amelie or Coco, not gangly northern European Bella. My sisters could pull it off - they ride cute bicycles, do arty things and wear creative jewelery. My hair is always a mess, I have bad spacial awareness and I can't do neat eye makeup. In the past I've longed to be a girl who could wear that dress but I have now come to terms with the fact that I've got my own thing going on. I realised that what is most important is not that I look as pretty as a picture but that my friends and family, and most importantly Nick, recognise me on my wedding day.

So much as I find it absurd that one piece of clothing should have such over-hyped significance, I think I'd rather define than be defined.

And as though to prove my point Style me Pretty featured that dress in a photoshoot - soo cute but me in white gloves and oversized pearls - it just ain't me baby!

Then, after all that 'right-on-sister', personal affirmation stuff, I have promptly gone and got myself a serious crush*** on a stupidly expensive dress. Oops.

*I'm being a bit disingenuous because I do in fact search high and low for the perfect jeans and when I find them, after an inevitably lengthy struggle, love them more than inanimate denim deserves to be loved. But, hey, I practically live in them so that that's different.

**Please note that I am not making any judgements or assumptions here either - I not saying
what a dress says about the bride - just commenting on how it somehow says something at all!

*** Note "crush" not "love". I'm still trying to be a bit rational.


  1. I can totally relate to the stupidly expensive dress! Think I justified it as the 3 dresses i liked (i totally didnt have the 'oh my god, this is one' moment either) were all the same price and I didnt like any of the other 40 cheaper ones I tried on! Or something like that anyway, I take comfort in the fact I did turn down an even more hideously expensive one as I couldnt even contemplate spending that sum!

    I totally agree about the hype surrounding the dress but fully admit to always wanting to see what the bride is wearing at every wedding I go too so im fully prepared for everyone looking at me! Eeeek!

    When are you hoping to have decided by?

  2. You'll find it! At least you are starting to narrow down what dresses aren't your style. I had a few dresses that were all wrong that pointed me in the right direction.
    It's ok, I've had many, many, many crushes on expensive dresses. =)

  3. Hi, I found you through Mo/Pink Argyle and love to find more English blogger buddies (I'm a recent transplant)!

    There are thousands of wedding dresses out there - of course it will be overwhelming! Do whatever you are comfortable with. I don't remember how many dresses I tried on, but it did take a while. You'll find lots of decent ones, but you'll find a few that really call to you. I would recommend going to a variety of places for inspiration.

    I wish I could shop for you because Priscilla of Boston in NYC had a CRAZY sample sale - many great finds at $200 - $2000! I bought a random one there that I'm not sure what to do with now.

    Either way, there's a lot of trial and error and you may not have the "Aha!" moment, but you will have the "Wow, this is pretty awesome" moments. I really recommend eBay as well since I got my reception dress there 2.5 weeks before the day. It was close to my dream dress. Monique Lhuillier, and 90% off.

    It will happen for you!

  4. Well, I got mine from Oxfam Bridal. Early on in the planning I decided that it really wasn't about the dress. I liked my dress but mainly I liked it because it didn't cost the earth & Oxfam benefited from my (Mother's) purchase.

    I think there is more than one dream wedding dress option. So don't worry, you will find something.

    How about vintage? Not everything is 50s. The shop where I work has some gorgeous sort of silk chiffon dresses with beaded parts.

    (ps, did you know that sometimes the font on your blog goes so small it is very hard to read?)

  5. I know - it's so annoying and I can't work out why it does that. If I make it bigger it goes huge. What am I doing wrong!?
    As for Oxfam - it was actually your blog Rachel that alerted me to the phenomenon! I will keep looking there but so far there have only been huge poofy numbers. I really don't want it to be "about the dress" but I can't wear something that isn't me - that's pretty much my dilemma in a nutshell.
    You looked so stunning in your dress and I get the feeling that its elegant simplicity suited you to a T.
    Where's your shop? Those dresses sound lovely.... X

  6. Hi bells, can you please forgive me?
    You tagged me more then a months ago and i still didn't post my random things list!
    Sorry sory...I've been busy and a bit lazy ...

    Please forgive me!

  7. Hi Bells...
    thanks a lot!
    My random things is:
    I love bake
    Photography it's my obsession
    Love dresses, leggins flat or boots
    I adore coats (old style coats!)
    I have 2 brother Simone and Jonathan, older and younger than me
    My mom is everything
    I lost my Dad and now is my angel
    Mr B is my forever Love
    I love fashion and everything is connected to it
    I'm good on creating things, now I'm in the headband creations!
    I love antique
    Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy are my icons of style


    What do you think!

  8. hey smells

    check out how wierd this is, my friend Lisa (proper Blackburn girl but Italiano grand parents)came back from her first dress foray in York and was having the same dilemma as you, planning for economy but falling in love with molto costoso number instead. She had a wee brochure and what should it be but the very self same one you fell in love with and looked so BOOTIFUL in my gorgeous lovely friend. Before she showed it to me she described it as perfect for an Italano wedding, spooky eh!

    S xxx

  9. I would wear the first dress in a heartbeat if I could find it and I am not pouty and dainty with short neat hair ;)

  10. Hey there. Just stumbled across your blog. Loved this post... I'm yet to do any wedding dress shopping, partly because it doesn't seem very me. Loved your short tea-dress one but then if it doesn't feel like you then that's not right either. I agree why do you have to be defined by a dress??

  11. I'm dreading this bit.. I know it should be fun.. but really soooo much money on a dress for one day seems crazy! haven't even started looking and I'm stressed out!