Sunday, January 07, 2007

wedding gown shopping

All this weekend, I've been wedding gown shopping. OK, not me necessarily, but for my sister who will be tying the knot this year. And though I am not her maid of honor, as part of sisterhood duties since her MOH is out sick this weekend, I've had to be the wedding gown escort, or as I like to call it the Reality Check Girl. (Put that one in the book, D!) Because as the soon to be bride you can put on that dress start imagining your wedding day and then fall in love with the dress, even though this dress may make you look like you have no legs or like a toothpick.

I got my mother's family body type: long torso, thin arms, small chest. My sister got my dad's family body type: short torso, thicker arms, and the ability to fill out a halter top. So while I went with a fish tail skirt and small cap sleeves, my sister will be looking for something completely the opposite.

After a family gathering in SF, we managed to make it to the Bridal Superstore in Richmond near Ranch 99 with 45 minutes to spare. And while my sister thought that we would not have enough time to find a dress and try something on, it took me about 5 minutes to race down 2 aisles with the parameters she gave me to locate 3 dresses for her to try on. Even if the dresses didn't look good or weren't quite right, we could at least narrow down her selections of what not to wear.

From my "girlie" year, I learned that clothing is about emphasizing the positive while minimizing the negative. To get the hourglass shape, you have to create two triangles in the upper body and lower body, while avoiding rectangles and other 4 sided shapes.

She already knew she wants a sheer bolero jacket to thin out the arms and give her shoulders a nice defined line. Other things that went on the what not to wear list: small cap sleeves which made her arms look huge, no flat neck lines that just make her look wide, no halter tops unless she just wants to show off her chest and nothing else, and nothing too slim cut or overly poofy skirts.

She tried on two dresses before the place closed down. Yes to the 3/4 length sleeves on the bolero to make her arms look thin because she has lovely forearms. Yes, to the ivory color, because white white detracts from looking at her face.

The next day we decide to a try another bridal shop, a well known chain store for bridal wear, which was packed with 2 hours left in the day, they didn't even have enough people to be able to show her any dresses. The selection seemed rather sparce for her size and I think that's because they just make you order everything. So we ditched that place and went back to the original store to try on more dresses.

We found the original woman who helped us out yesterday and went back to the racks to find more dresses. After trying on some 9 dresses, she narrowed it down to three. I like her top pick: a sloping sweetheart neckline, light sparkling beading on the bust and at the bottom of the train, built in corset around the waist, and a princess cut skirt (think Cinderella's skirt with that A pleat in the front), and a lovely Cathedral length train. My sister didn't think she wanted a train, but darling, once you see the train, oh yes, you'll most certainly want one, unless of course you're getting married on the beach in the Bahamas. Plus she has the height for it. She's not quite as tall as me, but she's decently tall and the train flows down nicely from that height.

The 2nd choice, has a bit more beadwork, she'll have to add the sweetheart neckline, which makes her look 3 inches thinner compared to the flat neckline, and with a neutral wide band ribbon, again emphasizing the distinction between top and bottom and the hourglass middle. It too has the princess cut skirt.

The 3rd choice, I'm not all thrilled about. Lots of beading up top with none on the bottom, so it makes it look like her body is floating on a big cloud, which is fine if you want the illusion of height, but since she has height, why bother?

Anyway, we'll be there again soon to bring our mom to look at the dresses. My sister will need to decide in the next month or so on the dress as her wedding is now less than a year away. She'll have to refine the finances a bit too adding the estimates for alteration and accessories.

90% of the dresses in the stores were strapless dresses, which work off the rack if: you are a B/C chest, have thin arms, small waist. Basically, you have the upper triangle already. However, on most everyone else, strapless doesn't look horrible, but it doesn't look fabulous either. And if you're the skinny top girl, you'll spend your entire wedding day imagining your dress hanging down at your waist. I've never understood the idea of buying the dress, then working out really hard hoping to mold your body into that dress. It's just much easier to buy the dress that makes your already beautiful body look incredible.

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