Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dress Style Questions

One of the issues with having eclectic personal style tastes is my complete inability to decide what feels right for my wedding attire. Things I know: I want a lightweight dress (so I can dance) I want something well-made that flatters the body I have (tall, pear-shaped, small shoulders, pale), I want a dress without a long train (our site is a bit rustic and a train would get in the way), I want the dress to have visual interest (via color, layering, material, shape, etc), I hate the idea of crystal and beading (I am not a chandelier), I prefer sweetheart or v-neck cuts over basic strapless dresses (uniboob?  um, no thanks) and if possible it would be great if I could re-wear it or re-sell it after the wedding (I refuse to believe a dress this expensive has only a one-day life.)  And so, here is my dress style brainstorm as I try to figure out what on earth I'm looking for in my wedding attire.  None of these dresses necessarily fit my budget requirements, but at least they're aesthetically interesting options that can help direct my search.

Simple and Modern: I like the idea of a simple, non-froofy dress with a focus on quality cut, material, and simplicity.  I could emphasize accessories (that I can wear again) over the dress (which I probably can't). If I went for simple and modern, I'd want something light, airy, danceable and without a train (since I could absolutely trip myself up, because kltuzy is how I roll.) My favorite simple dress design ideas have been coming from Nicole Miller and Jenny Yoo and similar design houses.

Jenny Yoo Abigail

Nicole Miller Dress via Tiffany and Ian's Wedding on Budget Savvy Bride

Pronovias form fitting lace: I lived in Spain for a few years, so I think this is some weird version of nostalgia and not actually my real style inclination. I blame my girlfriend for taking me along during her wedding dress search in Madrid in which Pronovias was heavily featured. The dresses are beautifully designed, but a whole lot more big-dress-weddingy than I typically like.

Rosabella Pronovias via

Sleek hippie: my high school style might have been described as confused hippie, because I never quite got it right. I have since learned from my bellbottoms and hemp jewelry phase and like a more refined organic look now, such as those I've seen at the English Dept and Claire Pettinone.

 The English Dept's Ghost Dress via her Etsy Shop

Claire Pettibone Marlene

Fun, colorful, and a little bit surprising: because it's a party darnit.  And I like bursts of color. This was the first ever wedding dress that got me genuinely excited about wedding dresses because I finally realized there was an option besides poofy a-line and destination-style chiffon.

This dress then led to my love affair with all Wai-Ching colored dresses

Wai Ching Eucalyptus in Green and Pink via Flickr

Vintage: Even though I'm not usually a vintage style girl, I love the idea of a re-worn, re-loved dress. Generally, however, vintage dresses don't fit (I'm too tall and my waist isn't 27 inches).  Also, I like the idea of tea length (to emphasize the re-wearable cute shoes and so I don't get tangled in my dress) but my body is pear shaped, so poof down below makes me nervous, as if I'm highlighting less attractive areas instead of working to emphasize my favorite features.

Dress via Los Angeles' Timeless Vixen

Custom Vintage Recreations: I want want this Whirling Turban dress. Wantwantwant.  I love the material, the styling has a modern look to it, I love the peek of color, and I would start the wedding off right, with a nod to fun-over-formal from the first moment.  Is it my wedding dress?  I'm not sure.  But I want it.

 Whirling Turban Petal Bust Bodice Dress

No, I have absolutely no idea what to go with.  I am lost, LOST, as to what I want my dress to look like.  They are all vastly different styles and price points.  Each has pros and cons and I find myself unable to self-edit and settle on any particular style.  I have very particular aesthetic sensibilities that nontheless appreciate a wide range of options.  Did anyone else have this much trouble?

Sigh.  I haven't even begun to address my ethical and budgetary shopping requirements.  I'm first trying to figure out the style focus.  


  1. Wow. My mom always says too many choices throws a person into stress. You certainly have your work cut out for you.
    Sounds like you might know what you don't want, which is great. My suggestions might be to take a friend with a mercilessly good fashion eye and make one of those bridal salon appts. I know, ick. But not so you can actually spend thousands, just so you can see a bunch of looks on your body. This might help you rule out long dresses or short dresses or silk or chiffon any number of things.
    I'd also say maybe let yourself be surprised by what you like in wedding dress. I always thought I'd be the turquoise-set-in-silver hippie-chick, anti-establishment engagement ring type of bride. Come to find out, what I really liked is pretty freakin' traditional. And I love it. So if it turns out that what you like is lacier and poufier than you thought, let that be okay.
    My dress (which I don't own yet, but have tried on a sample of and with which I am madly in love) is pretty simple, made of silk. I'm going for a look that just makes me look like myself, only gussied up a bit, so it's not necessarily about a killer dress, or killer shoes or hair, but about that killer bride. I decided this after paging through hundreds of ads of women who looked hungry in dresses that looked heavy. Maybe you brainstorm about how you want to look, how you want to feel, and what kinds of things you're drawn to--which you've already started--and let that guide what kind of dress you choose.
    I didn't know you had a venue! Where?

  2. Jess,

    "I'm going for a look that just makes me look like myself, only gussied up a bit, so it's not necessarily about a killer dress, or killer shoes or hair, but about that killer bride."

    Yes. This is it exactly. I want to look like my best version of me and not like I'm getting overshadowed by an incredible dress. I'm just trying to figure out which dress feels most like me. I have personal style issues, so it's hard.

    And you make me laugh - "I decided this after paging through hundreds of ads of women who looked hungry in dresses that looked heavy" - this is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

    There's a lot of editing that went into the choices I presented already. Dress shopping is like the Cheesecake Factory menu on crack. I hate having all these options.

  3. I second the point that what you end up liking may surprise you. I thought that - for a beach wedding - I wanted simple, straight, fairly plain. I bought a new-with-tags dress by one of my fave party dress designers off eBay for $100... and nearly cried when I tried it on! So blah!

    I realized that I had to try things on to know whether they'd work or not - a dress that looked great on the screen didn't flatter my body, and dresses that I thought were ridiculous on the screen/ page ended up looking great.

    As cringe-evoking at it is, I suggest heading out to a dress salon with a friend or two, and trying on a pile of dresses *before* you zeroing in on your style - you want that style to be one that flatters your body!

  4. I feel the same way. I've been looking for cute, simple dresses that I can dress up with accessories but everyone wants you to buy a big princess dress. Have you checked out Dolly Couture? She's in L.A., I think, and makes amazing short dresses that aren't fussy.

  5. yes I have the same problems. I too don't want to look like a chandelier! So far I have been to too many shops to count & have not found a dress. Apparently we are in the minority & most shops are filled with poufy, lacey, & beady dresses. Btw I gave you an award on my blog :-)

  6. I totally agree with One Barefoot Bride and suggest going to a store to try on styles. I thought I wanted a light simple dress (like a Nicole Miller) and was adamantly against strapless. I ended up choosing a strapless dress that was nothing like what I had in mind, but the moment I put it on I knew it was "the dress." You really have to see the dress on your body to find out what suits your figure and style.

    Also, I stronglgy recommend trying on all dresses, even ones you don't like on the hanger and think might not look good. Had I not been open minded, I might have passed on the best dress for me!


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