It Begins: Dress Shopping


Yesterday marked the start of my wedding dress shopping, you know, sort of in the way Memorial Day marks the start of summer.  Like, technically summer doesn’t happen for almost another month, but nevertheless you’ve been acting like its summer since the first day the thermometer hit 80, BUT I DIGRESS.  I mean to say that I tried on white gowns, thinking about my wedding dress, but I was not REALLY wedding dress shopping.

Here is what I learned:

I am probably not going to be one of those awesome, breezy, no-nonsense, budget-savvy chicks who buys a white dress that isn’t marketed as a bridal gown.  At least I’m definitely not going to be buying a non-bridal wedding dress from BCBG/Maxazria, even though they have a wide selection of floor-length white dresses.

I tried on this dress first:

I am crazy for one-shoulder dresses right now.  But I realize it is a passing fad.  I don’t want to buy a dress for my wedding that will be an avocado fridge in a year.  Anyway, this dress was lovely, but about two inches too short.  Even when I took off the heels the salesperson provided, you could see my entire foot, not just a delicate hint of toe.  I’m not crazy tall (between 5’8″ and 5’9″, closer to one or the other depending on my posture), so I suspected it was an innate design flaw with that particular dress.  I was wrong.  I had the problem with each dress I tried in the store.

[Beyond the jump, more too-short dresses and a possibly-offensive RANT on body size and inept advertising]

Next up, this dress:.

Look at that model.  Doesn’t she look so demure, with her hand on her shoulder like that?  Well don’t be deceived.  She took “SexyBack” very literally:

But this image doesn’t even do that back justice.  Let’s put it this way: I had visible side boob wearing this dress.  That’s way too sexy for me to wear at my wedding, and probably too sexy for me to wear ever.  And I like wearing sexy dresses.  And guess what? It was too short as well.  I seriously suspect photoshop shenanigans to make it look like it can sweep the floor when a MODEL is wearing it.

Speaking of models wearing things, the last dress I tried on before I gave up on this horrible charade (/ran out of floor length white gowns available in my size) :

The reason the model looks so bored is that she is wearing the least interesting dress ever sewn.  There was some funny business in the back which I think was supposed to make up for it, but it didn’t.  You know what I think would have made up for it?  Having a fabulous set of tits, a  round tummy, and a hefty ass.  I don’t have those things.  I am tall and skinny.  I’m just like a model, only I smile sometimes and have bad skin.   So you’d think the world would be my oyster.  Every dress that I see in a magazine will look just as good on me as it does on the model!  Well, yeah.  Most of the time. Neener neener.

But sometimes, dresses look terrible on models because they need to be worn by what is sometimes obnoxiously referred to as a “Real Woman.”  You know, a woman with curves.  [Psst: Curves are a euphemism for fat!]  Anyway, this hopefully-not-too-offensive introduction is leading up to a RANT:

This is not high fashion.  These dresses are pricey (by non-bridal standards), but they are mass-produced and sold nationwide.  I can’t understand why BCBG is advertising this dress on the body type it looks the worst on, when there are plenty of gorgeous women out there with bodies that could fill out that dress and MAYBE, just MAYBE make it not the most boring dress ever.

You can tell that model is jutting out her bony hip to try to create the illusion of a curvier body, desperate to save the dress from its boring, boring fate.  A for effort, skinny model.  But D- to you BCBG, because you could have just put that dress on a woman with hips that jut out naturally.  Because those hips have fat stored on them! In a shape reminiscent of… a curve!  Which is what “real women” have.  BCBG, you have to be able to find one of those women to model your dress!  They are “REAL!”

And then the rest of the “real women” looking at your catalog might think, “Wow, that dress is sex dressonified.  I need to try it on, and then drop 300 bones on it!”

Sure, me and the other tall, skinny “fake women” will look at it and think, “that’s lovely, but on me it would probably look like someone rolled out 52 inches of chiffon across a wooden board.  Next!”  But that is OK. We’re not going to buy this dress anyway, because it looks BORING on us.  And we can’t photoshop the hemline to make it appropriate.


So… back to the original point of this post:  in addition to these dresses all being too short and otherwise unacceptable for me to wear ever, I never felt like a bride.  And that matters to me.  Other ladies take a simple dress and bride it up with badass accessories, but I’m not an accessories type of person.  I never wore any jewelry ever before I got my engagement ring.

Also, I am the kind of privileged and financially irresponsible person who might buy any of these dresses (if they were long enough) to wear to a dinner party (once they hit the sale rack, natch, but that doesn’t make it reasonable).  I want my wedding to feel more special than that.  I want my wedding dress to be something I could never wear to anything but my own wedding.  So if I want to save money on my dress (but in the interest of full disclosure: it is currently in the “splurge” category on the budget sheet), I think I’m going to have to take another approach.


  1. OK. “Sex dressonified” = MAD LULZ.

    And the third dress? It just looks like her BRA is visible.

    I’m excited for you. I learned that you learn many things when looking for a dress! It’s like a learning bonanza! And most of the learning is centered around the things you DON’T like! It’s some amazing times, for sure.

    • I am so excited to be learning! I was hanging out with a veteran of theater school the other day (I know a lot of those) and she mentioned taking costume craft back in the day, and I completely interrupted her with, “What the hell is ‘cut on the bias’ and why do I care?” She was very polite and instructional.

      [For anyone reading who doesn't know: it means they cut the fabric at an angle diagonal to the weave. It makes things drape better, for at least some fabrics, for some reason! I have more to learn.]

  2. “You know what I think would have made up for it? Having a fabulous set of tits, a round tummy, and a hefty ass. I don’t have those things.”

    Had to laugh because you’re right. This is the style dress I bought (but mine is an awesome dark blue; put me in white and I look gray as ash — it might as well be a shroud), and my big a$$ and grapefruits are what turned an okay dress into awesome.

  3. Hahaha! This is a total grass-is-always-greener moment because I’m absolutely jealous of my tall, thin, statuesque sister-in-law and her ability to wear the kind of dresses that make me looked like a stuffed sausage.

  4. These dresses are sad. Or maybe the models look sad? Hm.

    I am totally in the “want my dress to feel like a wedding dress” category, and I never thought I would be. The things you learn about yourself while dress shopping.

    • To me, the first model looks not sad… but maybe secretly remorseful. Like she just slept with another dude on the way to her wedding. And it was great sex, and she’s still rocking the afterglow, but underneath it all she’s realizing she’s kind of a terrible person.

      The second model is obviously terrified people will see her from behind and realize her bra is showing and that she’s dressed like a very elegant streetwalker.

      The third model is thinking about every slice of pizza she turned down in her entire life to maintain her trim figure, and how if she’d only indulged, maybe she’d have the lady lumps to make that dress look even remotely interesting. Plus she would have had all that delicious pizza.

  5. Should you be posting the dresses you try on here? What if Collin reads it? I thought he wasn’t supposed to know what you were going to look like? Or is it just that he isn’t allowed to actually see you?

    • Collin is allowed to see the reject pile. When I find THE DRESS, I’ll try to keep it secret from him even though I’m sure I’ll post it here. I’ll ask him not to look. Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship. RIGHT, COLLIN?

  6. Wow, I am going to be ODD MAN OUT here and say that I like the 3rd dress! Like, a bagillion times more than the first two.

    I think the first one looks exactly like a costume you should wear to an Ides of March party, if you aren’t going for the token stab-marked Caesar, but rather, the prettiest girl in 40B.C. In short, it looks like a fancy toga to me.

    The second one is BORING, kind of unflattering to just like, a human shape, and the back makes me want to vomit (form an opinion Abby!) …seriously, the back is GROSS. I am possibly biased because I’m also vomiting at her bones I can see as plainly as the tiny nose on her face.

    The third dress is by no means “your wedding dress”, goodness no, but I find the shape pretty. Like, the two different triangle shapes seem lovely. And the back of it is the prettiest of all 5 photos, really.

    So, the cheese stands alone I guess.

    Though I do completely understand what you are saying about how these dresses on skinny girls look like fabric just hanging out, all confused what it’s doing there.

    Also, God, WHO are dresses made for?! The math isn’t adding up right. If BCBG dresses are like 2 inches too short on you, and 7 inches too long on me, and you are 6 inches taller than me–what the hell??

    Anyway, if you go crazy one day and decide to try on possible wedding gowns at Forever 21, I demand you take me with you.

    • 1. Please throw an Ides of March party. Make J. Steff recreate his epic Caesar death.

      2. I think the length issue is either caused by them expecting you to be short and get the dress hemmed, or by my legs being longer than average, or both.

      3. What exactly about trying on possible wedding gowns at Forever 21 would be CRAZY?

  7. I tried on these BCBG dresses too and they are, in fact, quite sad and not bridal at all. And I WANT simple-ish, but these were just sad.

    However, I did fall in strong-like with other dresses at the department store. Just not these white dresses. Sue Wong is a very good option for department store “affordable” white-but-special dresses. Jason didn’t like my favorite dress, but I found some spectacular options. So you don’t need to write off non-wedding-dress dresses yet.

    Honestly, I have a novel and a half about dress shopping. Post finals (for you) and post hell-at-work (for me) we should email. Because Lyn is right – it’s a process of learning about NOs and getting to YES.

    • Ok, so I had never heard of Sue Wong, so I googled her and went to her website. The music that plays during the flash intro sounds like something out of Donkey Kong Country, and your cursor leaves a trail of sparkles! I kind of want to have a drink or seven with the web designer.

      Anyway… thanks for the advice and YES, let’s discuss the dress quest when real life is less of a drag.

    • I looked and looked for Sue Wong at all of the Department Stores in my area. According to the websites, Nordstrom’s Saks, and Bloomingdales all carry Sue Wong. So I hightailed it over to South Coast Plaza — the biggest flipping mall on the West Coast, yo! — to try some on. None of these stores carried her dresses. None. They didn’t even have Sue Wong in their computer files. Weirdest thing.

      You can apparently order them online, but the sizes were limited.

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