A few months after becoming officially engaged, I decided it was time to start the dress hunt. No matter that we still had 2 years to go–it’s not like I was planning to buy anything right then, anyway! But I was a member of several shopping sites that were having limited time and selection sales (Rue La La, Dress Rush–now Tailored, and others) and I figured it would be good to have an idea of what looked good on me (not being in the habit of trying on white, formal dresses and all) so that if a good deal popped up I’d be able to grab it. With confidence.
Now, I know that sometimes the big chains get a bad rep, but as a plus-sized bride, they’re the most likely to have several samples in my size, which is important for seeing how a dress is really going to look when it’s not all gapey in the back.
Since we have a David’s in town, that was my first stop, with two close friends in tow to take pictures, help out, and generally pull anything they thought might be interesting on me. Because even though I had an idea of what I thought IÂ wanted, I was willing to try on just about anything because you never know what’s actually going to work. My preliminary criteria:
- Empire waist
- Chiffon or tulle, no shiny satin or nightgown-feeling materials
- Texture, but not the crazy-huge-flower kind of texture
- Ruching was probably my friend
- Ivory, not white
- Sweetheart neckline
While I’d love something that gave me the look of a waist (I’m a rectangle with a bit of a dent at my natural waist, or a cylinder that shifts forward and back to allow for boobs and butt; something other than well-defined curves is what I’m getting at), I can’t really have anything super-tight on my abdomen or I’ll become physically ill thanks to some ongoing digestive issues, and who wants to deal with THAT lovely prospect on her wedding day? Not I!
The one thing that shocked me about this appointment had nothing to do with the dresses I tried on. I was nervous. Seriously, hand-shaking, knees-wobbly nervous. Once I got to the shop and got checked in the nerves settled down and soon we were all laughing and joking around because I can do nothing where I’m the center of the attention without plenty of self-deprecating humor. They (wo)manned the cameras and pulled dresses when our consultant (who, thankfully, never tried the hard-sell me on anything and was perfectly pleasant) switched to her second bride-to-be who was sans entourage.
Enough blathering, how about some pictures?
I tried on 12 dressed in 2.5 hours and have copious photographic proof of the good, the bad, and the awkward. Here’s a representative sample:
This was probably the number 2 dress of the day. I could probably adjust the neckline into a sweetheart-ish dip, but if I could avoid it all the better. Still, the fabric had the look and feel of what I was after.
Too bad it was in the wrong material and what the hell is up with that seam across the back?! The sweetheart neckline was definitely an improvement, though, and for that this dress was probably number 1 of the day. Though that’s not saying much since I was in love with absolutely nothing.
I must have just turned around, making the a-line look like a sheath–definitely not the look I was going for.
I swear, if this one had a hood it’d be perfect for a Princess Leia cosplay. For the geeks among us, that detachable train is actually a Watteau train (yes, really). If I wore something like this I’d be totally playing with my “cape” all day. But I don’t think I would. Wear it, that is. While I like that the dress isn’t strapless, this style totally squished the girls and, geez, take away the curves I do have, why doncha?
Some other things I learned were that the tea-length dresses, while I loved them in theory, did nothing for my legs–go short, go long, but no in between. And while I’d hoped to avoid the bulky crinoline slips, I’ve changed my tune and love them dearly–they camouflage any tummy-bulge weirdness, even under the less-structured gowns.
Also? When your bestie unlaces you from the tea-length dress you removed the aforementioned crinoline to try on, remember the lack of underslipÂ before the dress falls and you happen to have the dressing room door half-open. Oops!
But the mission was mostly accomplished. I still didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew more about what I didn’t want, and that’s not a bad place to be, 2 years out from the wedding.
How did your first dress-trying experience go?