Monday, April 5, 2010

The Dress Dilemma

Trying to find the perfect wedding dress is so much more frustrating and harder than I ever thought it would be! C says I just have a low tolerance for things I find to be below my standards of aesthetics and taste. That's a nice way of saying I'm picky and a snob. Well, I guess I'm owning it, because I really have had very little luck finding wedding dress options. They are all either strapless, practically strapless, too tiny, too fairy-princess, too youthful debutante looking, too Vegas, too winter-wedding, trashy, or just plain ugly. Or too expensive! Sigh. Money is wasted on the rich. However, I am not completely without options.

Option 1: The Project
In a moment of weakness and a perfect example of good salesmanship, I purchased a dress from Cheap Jack's Vintage. It has lovely lines and structure, but is definitely a fixer-upper. Simple and sweet, it has a portrait neckline with short capped sleeves and a front panel that frames a sort of sweetheart bodice that is fitted with darts and then flows down to the floor. Made of chiffon, it flows nicely and fits me perfectly. But the sequins are horrible, the material old and tired, and the dress itself unlined. So I bought it thinking I could easily just unpick all the seams, lay it out on some gorgeous new satin or silk and make myself a brand new dress using it as a pattern. I don't think it would be hard at all. The question is... do I want to take on such a project? I'm an okay seamstress, but don't know if I trust myself with such an important task. What if I botched it?

Option 2: The Pretty
On Saturday I went shopping all over Brooklyn and Manhattan with my dear friend Rachel, hitting all the best vintage stores we knew about, hoping to hit the jackpot and find the perfect dress. In between stops we happened to pass a store that wasn't on our list, but looked promising. There we found a wedding dress from the 1960s with a lacy high-neck, empire waist, and long frilly train. It had long sleeves and glued-on pearls, but it fit me perfectly and all the gay-guy employees of the store were oohing and ahhing and calling me resplendent. Plus it was only $36! So I had to get it. When I got it home I cut off the long sleeves, which made it much cuter, and tried it on a few more times. Everyone loves how I look in it, but I don't know if it's really me. When I wear it, it sort of seems like I'm in a costume, not my own wedding dress. Maybe it's the zipper that does that. For some reason I feel like having a zipper on the back of a wedding dress cheapens it. Is that crazy? I think a real wedding dress should have hooks and eyes or a row of gorgeous buttons. Something more heirloom than a zipper. Then again, the dress fits me very well and is quite pretty.

Option 3: The Perfect
My perfect dress has not been found yet, but I feel like I'll know it when I see it. It is long and lean, without a train or a puffy skirt. It is simple and yet has beautifully intricate details that make it special. It feels comfortable and is unfussy, yet formal. It is glamorous and unique, mature but feminine. I don't want to look like a little girl or a matron, but like a beautiful woman. Will I ever find the perfect dress? Only time will tell. The search continues...


Kate said...

I have two ideas, if you don't mind me sharing :).

One - go for the project. If it doesn't come out perfect, you certainly will have plenty of events (bridal or otherwise) to wear the dress to. A lovely white dress is perfect for summer in the south, even if its not perfect for your wedding.

Two - perhaps, and I don't know for sure since I haven't seen the dress, you might be able to turn the pretty into a project as well? Install buttons upon buttons (I also feel strongly that wedding dresses should have buttons, maybe its a generational thing?) in place of the zipper. I feel like it's a risk worth taking.

rachel said...

don't you dare settle. perfection or bust!