Friday, August 13, 2010

Department Store Dress Shopping, Take 2

For those of you considering less expensive department store dress options, I can heartily recommend Sue Wong options. I can also heartily recommend Bloomingdale's customer service and returns, which was important, because the dress was only available online (I ordered it in three sizes to try on, no shipping costs) and I then ended up returning it (in store, for a full refund to my credit card, all before the bill came due).

Although this particular dress is no longer available, here was the in-store model image:

And here's pictures of me in the dress:

I liked it. I even loved it. Enough to momentarily forget my hatred of photography and be comfortable enough to laugh with abandon, regardless of how it might look on camera. Actually, it didn't come out too badly.



As beautiful as it was and as beautiful as I felt, it didn't feel quite right for our particular wedding. The beading was intricate and subtle all at once, it was well-made with quality fabrics, and the flowy kick-bits on the bottom made me happy. But it didn't feel like it belonged with our setting, decor, or more casual feel. And really, although it was flattering, I liked the cut and simplicity of the dress I ultimately chose just a little bit more. But if my dress hadn't been around to compare, I could have been very happy with this $328 wedding dress victory. Yeah. $328. Let that sink in for a minute as you curse the $1000+ price tag we all feel like we're stuck with in weddingland. Because $328 is the sort of deal you can uncover after a year of sifting through expensive salons, every dress website in existence, quite a few vintage and resale shops, and a night or two banging your head against the wall in complete and utter frustration. So it's hard, but don't let anyone tell you it can't be done and that you need to spend $1000+ for a stylish high-quality dress. Or that wedding dresses have to come from wedding dress shops when there are decidedly stunning options elsewhere, just waiting to be discovered.

42 comments:

  1. Girl, even though you didn't choose it, I have to leave a little comment and say, HOLY MOTHER YOU ARE GORGEOUS and THAT DRESS IS AMAZING.

    For serious. Gorgeous.

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  2. Thats nuts, because if that same dress was available at a "bridal" store, it would most definitely be over a grand.

    I adore that dress and I adore it on you. I can't wait to see what you eventually chose!

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  3. I am loving your high street dress series. Am in a serious dress dilemma right now, and STRONGLY considering the high street option. If only you were UK based.

    But huge inspiration never the less. Lovely to know that it is possible to get a beautiful wedding gown for less than $1000 despite what the WIC would have us believe.

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  4. One of the Big Four reasons I never set foot in a bridal salon:

    - the dresses are too expensive. Maybe they're worth what they charge, but I don't see it, not really. With formal options not meant for weddings looking just as good and costing less, I just don't see why I should have to spend the money.

    (the other three reasons are: I live abroad and bridal salons here don't work the same way - here you rent three dresses. The next is that I never wanted a white dress. Finally, I am too disgusted with bridal salons not having plus size options and I refuse to have my dignity dinged like that).

    Anyway. that dress is stunning. The ruffled one was actually more flattering on you, but I adore this one too, even though you didn't choose it in the end.

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  5. that second photo is ridiculously amazing.

    (not such a fan of the crotch-level sequins.)

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  6. This dress is 10x prettier than anything I tried on in D's Bridal. I like it on you, but I agree that it doesn't quite fit the vibe of your wedding (and I still prefer the ruffley one to this one... am so curious to see #3).

    @Liz: I didn't even notice the er, placement of the sequins until you mentioned it. yeah, maybe not quite the best placement.

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  7. @Liz - if I had chosen this dress and you had mentioned that, I would not be a happy camper right now. Luckily, my dress angst is OVER and sequin placement I hadn't thought about before can't bother me.

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  8. oh lady, i wouldn't have said that if it were THE dress.

    though i'd be thinking about your crotch the whole time.

    (but when am i not, really?)

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  9. Uh holy crap, the dress you chose must be pretty mindblowing because this one is AMAZING. You look like a floaty ethereal joyful nymph. So beautiful!

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  10. Adore. ADORE! I love these pictures. You look so lovely. Dress fits you perfectly!

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  11. I also noticed the crotch sequins. Actually I noticed the butt-crack sequins first because THOSE I found quite fetching. I was all ready to write a comment devoted to your ass in that dress, when I realized there is a bit of dress vajazzling on the front view. Otherwise, really a lovely dress and you look great.

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  12. HA! I was all about "look at how gorgeous you are" until all of the vajazzling comments, and now that's all I can see.

    The power of suggestion is strong with this group...

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  13. Holy cow - it's gorgeous on you! I did not love it on the model (maybe it was her scowly face and crazy hair?) but then I saw it on you and it's amazing. Filing Bloomingdale's away for future reference, thanks.

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  14. Sheesh. And I thought the derailing comments were bad on Wednesday's post. FLOWY ETHEREALNESS and a FLATTERING LINE folks. FOCUS. :)

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  15. VAJAZZLING? best. word. ever.

    I still like this one. But I like the one you chose the best!

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  16. Hey, you look pretty good in front of the camera to me!

    I completely believe in purchasing bridal dresses at a department store. The markup on wedding gowns is unbelievable.

    And for me, I knew that I did not want all kinds of beading or embroidery or embellishments or ANYTHING on my gown. I wanted something classic, something fairly siple. So I purchased my Jessica McClintock satin gown off eBay for $30 (new with tags) and had my seamstress spruce it up/alter it just a bit. My mom made me a satin belt with applique, and I was SO happy with the end product.

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  17. @Penny LA - I've seen a few other brides add embellishment to Jessica McClintock dresses too, and they looked amazing. For LA area folks who like to try things on in person to test for fit and shininess (me) there's a shop in the South Coast Plaza and in Glendale. And there's also a hit-or-miss outlet in Montclair. And whenever anyone complains that Jessica McClintock is cheap, I tell them Hilary Clinton wore a JMC dress at her wedding and to shove it. If it looks good, it looks good.

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  18. I think it is a lovely chic dress. It is definitely simplicity sequined in the "right" spots.
    I love that you mentioned where to try on bridal dresses, that aren't in bridal shops too. I have been debating on where to shop, and I actually have been browsing Esty for the more quarkish styles. Now I might try Bloomingdales etc... (no date set for my wedding yet, but I love shopping)
    In your other post, I think that the ruffly dress is lovely on the model, but the texture of the ruffles doesn't hit the right places on everyone. In all honesty I love the idea of a textured bottom half of the dress, but would only buy the dress if I tried it on now...
    Thanks for your post.

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  19. This is an amazing series, and you look gorgeous in front of the camera. I bought a department store dress initially but ending up returning it for a 1k WIC one. Oh well- I tried!

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  20. You look absolutely lovely. WAY better than the model and her strange Hot-Topic-meets-debutante styling.

    I also did not notice the vajazzling, but am now oddly mesmerized.

    I can't wait to (eventually) see you in the dress you picked!

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  21. I told my mom I wanted to get a pretty (non-wedding dress) dress from Macy's or something, and she begged me to get a "real" wedding dress (seeing as it is her ONLY request, I really don't mind). But when we had a HORRIBLE, but probably typical, experience at a bridal salon, she said, "Now I understand why you didn't want to get your dress at a place like this."

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  22. @Nina B - I think part of it is mothers really wanting to share the wedding dress experience in the salon. Which is actually easily replicable - or BETTER - with mail-order department store dresses. I flounced around in my 4 options at my mother's house and we had a lovely evening altogether, without any sales pressure. With some (white) wine, cheese, and dresses it's easy to settle in for some mother-daughter dress shopping time at home.

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  23. Vajazzling! Heee!

    And, you look purty. Not the point of this post, of course, but whatever.

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  24. Once again, you completely outshine the model. You look amazing in this dress. I'm typically not a fan of rhinestones/sequins/embellishment, but these are subtle and tasteful, even when placed in the crotch region, ha! And how can you not love the price? I admit: I liked my dress, but I bought it after falling in love with the $200 price tag... SOLD.

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  25. Aww, this is lovely. Even with the vajazzling (I'm gonna start using that word now.) The dress you chose must be amazing! Your everyday hair looked better than the model's giant stuffed tarantula thing that her neck was bowing under the weight of.

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  26. BUH. GUH.

    You are gorgeous. That is all.

    P.S. vajazzle (I couldn't help it).

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  27. You are absolutely beautiful in that dress! Ye-ow!

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  28. You look so fab... you're certainly working that dress! :)

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  29. I just want to note that vajazzling technically requires the application of shiny sequins rhinestone pieces DIRECTLY to the lady bits. So, um, no. But carry on with your giggles if you must. Because that word truly is giggle-inducing.

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  30. That second photo is so sassy. Love it.

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  31. Origins of vajazzle:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnUloWnKjg4

    In case anyone wants to watch George Lopez's eyes bug out with possibilities...

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  32. You make the case for why designers should feature dresses on real brides. In the model pic, I notice the dress and could never imagine it off of a mannequin. In your pics, with your gorgeous smile and fun you're having, I can imagine the dress in a wedding. I skipped the entire dress buying experience and went vintage (my mom's reconstructed). I just couldn't imagine myself in any off the rack dresses - no one looks happy. Can't wait to see what you picked.

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  33. Thanks for continuing the pics of the dresses. Even though this particular one isn't available anymore, I'm sure there are other similar dresses out there. Very helpful to see them on a real woman (even if that real woman is stunning — take that all you photog haters!)

    And oh crap I just read the comments about the vajazzling and now that's all I can see too. hehe, you ladies are too much.

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  34. You know, I didn't even KNOW that department stores had white bridal-esque dresses until I went shopping with my sisters for their maid's of honor dresses. We went to Dilliards and Nordstrom's....I about fell out of my chair at the pretty pretty selections!! Not one was over $400!! (That was when I realized I didn't have to wear the $50 dress I bought 3 years ago...I COULD afford a different dress...eureka! Thank God I did...I loved wearing a pretty dress.)

    I love that you are sharing these stories!!

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  35. Great information. It is amazing what one can find for a lower price with just as good quality and beauty of the bridal salon dresses. Why spend the extra money if you can save yourself hundreds of dollars and still love the dress.
    And you look amazing in that dress.

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  36. Love it!! I'm with a lot of the other commenters -- it looks kind of slinky and unforgiving on the model, but on you it's so gorgeous and flattering! That floaty hem would be amazing on the dance floor.

    Although ... yeah, I'm kind of focused on the crotch sequins now. Thanks ever so much, elizabeth ;-)

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  37. BARGAIN! And you look so much better in it than the model!

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  38. You look gorgeous in that dress!

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  39. shut the front door! you look smashing!

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  40. I have the same exact dress and the details on it is just gorgeous. This is the second dress I bought and I'm having great difficulty deciding on this dress or the Nicole Miller dress both which I purchased from Ruelala. This is definately another place one should consider for wedding dresses. If you can wait the site occasionally has a special wedding themed sale. Definately keep an eye out for them. I got the Nicole Miller dress for $500, retail for $2200 and the Sue Wong dress that came in the mail yesterday for $150. Of course the bad thing about buying it online without trying it on is gambling with the size. That's why I bought two Sue Wong dresses hehe.

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  41. I like the way you look in that dress and I too find it a bit over the top to splurge thousands on a dress when you can have something as beautiful as this for a much better price

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