Enter: Glamour Closet. Similar to Encore Bridal, they sell high-end showroom samples, runways samples and designer overstock dresses at heavily discounted prices and they also have local boutiques (in Los Angeles and San Francisco) where you can go and try things on. Their store is slightly larger than Encore's Manhattan Beach boutique but, unlike Encore, they don't list their current dresses online (so it's definitely a locals-only shopping opportunity.) Most of their inventory ranges from $500 - $2000 (at discounts ranging from 25%-75% off standard bridal prices), so I was hopeful that I could find something $800 and under (to leave pricing room for alterations), particularly since I'm going for a simple dress.
The Glamour Closet doesn't take appointments, so I'd recommend arriving around their 11am opening time for a prime spot in line (or making a weekday trip, if you can). You'll receive six clips, which you use to mark the dresses you want to try on. All the dresses are as-is sample sizes (8 and 10), so what you see is what you get (you can generally alter dresses up and down two sizes, depending on the style). Trying the six dresses on takes (on average) an hour.
Well... I had a great time and saw some stunning dresses, but didn't find anything right for me. The current inventory skewed to the satin/sparkle end of things, which isn't really my style. However, I tried on a bunch of dresses to experiment and see whether dresses outside of my comfort zone might look better than I had anticipated. In fact, they DID look better than I had anticipated, and I was sorely tempted to buy at least one, but then my common sense (luckily) got the better of me. Because, as great as the dress looked, it didn't feel right for me or our event.
In the spirit of featuring more real brides in real dresses, I decided to share my dress shopping experiences with readers. Because really, dress photos with women in poses like this...
...do little to give me an idea of how the dress will really look on a non-model (who ever stands like that?! I'm tempted to try it in my formal photos, just because.) When I recently caught this chain over on Weddingbee, I was charmed to pieces by all the real-woman dress photo sharing. So, for reference, I'm 5'9", a street size 8 on top and a size 10 below and here's how some dresses looked on me. Please excuse the non-photogenic faces, angles, and bridal clips.
This dress might have worked with some spanx and alterations, especially for a glamorous cocktail party wedding. Surprisingly, I liked the semi-trumpet/mermaid looks on my pear-shaped body. J, on the other hand, hated this dress from my photos. The censored version of his response is "Ug. It looks like you're wearing clamshells. I don't like it." Therefore, this dress taught me an important lesson - it's often a good idea to show your partner dress photos so you can learn their wedding-based style preferences and you don't walk down the aisle in something they despise. We're usually on the same page, so I was surprised by his vehemence about this dress.
Moving on, this is the Augusta Jones dress I almost bought. I started to have that twirl-around-lovely-wow moment. The dress was exactly $1000 and needed ZERO alterations. It fit perfectly and comfortably, off the rack. And, most importantly, it made me look and feel incredible. My waist suddenly appeared smaller and the sweetheart A-line was very flattering. It had a formaily that was still okay for an outdoor venue, thanks to the organza overlay. The sparkle was subtle and didn't look like a badazzler gone wrong. I gasped for the first time, because I suddenly felt like a bride.
However, as I gathered my wits about me, I realized I didn't feel like me. I certainly looked beautiful, which is what a perfectly fitting designer dress is designed to do. I felt the same way as when I'd wandered into a Max Mara shop, tried on a $800 suit, and realized I was much hotter than I'd ever given myself credit for. Great clothes make you look incredible, and that's why they're priced at incredible levels. Must of us don't generally shop at the high end stores or have experiences with exquisitely crafted dresses, so our first experience with real high-end elegance is at a bridal salon. I'm convinced this factor is at the heart of the two-dress bride phenomenon (is it a phenomenon? I know it happens somewhat regularly.) I can see how easy it is to buy the wrong dress when we're so wowed by our designer-clad reflection, even when the dress doesn't meet our real wedding criteria. If I hadn't paused at the thought of spending $1000 of my hard-earned savings, I might have walked away owning a dress that didn't actually meet my real wedding criteria and regretting the decision a few weeks later.
My real wedding criteria were: cost, dancability, outdoor-woodsy appropriate, non-princessy, modern looking but elegant. This dress met only the following: cost(ish) and dancability (for a wedding dress). Besides that, I looked like a freaking princess. Which is fine if that's the look you're going for. But I really want the wedding to feel casual-but-elegant so having the bride wander around in a white ballgown all night doesn't help achieve that, even if the dress falls on the simpler end of the A-line princess spectrum. I felt pressure to buy it because a sample dress is a one-time option but, for all of the above reasons, I'm soooo glad I didn't.
- Glamour Closet has affordable designer options, but you have to search. Also, most of their current dresses have some real sparkle
- I need to show photos to J to avoid any "clamshell ick" moments down the road.
- Hold onto your logic, even during your ohmyfreakinggoodnessIlookahhhhhmazing moments while dress shopping. Really evaluate if the dress meets your real event needs so you don't make a costly two-dress-bride mistake.
- I don't want an A-line dress because it feels too ballgowny and princess-like for the event we have in mind.
- 324 S. La Brea Ave
- Los Angeles, CA 90036
- (323) 938-2000
- Hours: 11am - 7pm Tues-Fri and 11am - 6pm Sat