Category Archives: Attire

Size Lies

I ordered the bridesmaid dresses yesterday. It was a chaotic and worrying experience.

My bridal shop sells prom dresses too, so the place was overrun by sixteen-year-old girls trying on amazing pageant gowns (my favorite of which was bright yellow with bold silver sequin appliques and the Stephanie Seymour hemline).  The receptionists were frantically trying to reschedule a girl missing her appointment because of a surprise hospitalization for sometime between now and May 14th.  [Yes, they are all booked up between March 30th and May 14th. My fitting, scheduled in January, is on May 15th.]  Any lingering regrets I might have had about not going to prom dissipated.

We found an unoccupied corner to look over the size chart for the bridesmaid dress I’d picked out.  I have three bridesmaids, and if you asked me yesterday I would have guessed that they are all about a size 6 (Claudia is really more like a size zero, but she just gave birth a month ago).  But if I had followed the dressmaker’s size chart, I would have ordered a size 4, a size 10, and a size 14. To be fair, the US Standard size chart, even though it is not the same, produces the same result if you go by the largest measurement for each woman.

Ultimately I ordered a size 6, 10, and 12.  And I’m guessing everyone will need their dress taken in in at least one place. Claudia is obviously the biggest X factor here because who knows what happens to a breastfeeding first-time-mom’s body in the four months after delivery.  Becky’s will allegedly fit in the waist and hip but I’ll believe that when she tells me herself. Carrie, paradoxically, had to insist they size hers up one, and she might have to pay to have that undone.

This has all served as a reminder why traditional bridesmaid dresses are so frowned upon in the wedding blog community.  Although looking at even the standard chart, it seems like I should have much more trouble buying regular old dresses that fit given I’m a size 10 in the bust, a size 4 in the waist and a size 6 in the hips. Maybe vanity sizing has truly run amok, or maybe none of my dresses actually fit.



It’s the first day of Spring. What does that mean? Eggs can balance on their end? No, dummy! Free water ice at Rita’s? Yes, but only if you have the patience to stand in line until Summer. What Spring’s arrival really means for me is the sudden onset of DRESS FEVER.

Hellooooo, Nurse!

Dress fever makes you do bold things like interrogate strangers on the street about where they shop. It makes you do foolish things like order from Modcloth and expect your dress to be longer than a necktie. It makes you do reckless things like walk into an Anthropologie store with your credit card on your person.

I want to put this dress in my mouth. I know that sounds weird.

I’ve been trying to be better about buying stuff I don’t need, what with my income being as puny as it is, and let me assure you: I do not need any more dresses. A full two-thirds of my walk-in closet is dresses. But I’ve got dress fever, and I’ve got it bad.

This won't fit me right in the boobs. I know that. I still want to buy it.

And the troubling thing is that getting married presents plenty of occasions I “need” a new dress for. Bachelorette party. Wedding shower. Rehearsal dinner. Morning-after brunch. The honeymoon! [I’d make a joke about how I won’t need dresses for the honeymoon because I’ll be naked the whole time, but that would be SUCH a lie and also not very funny.]

Based on these last couple dresses, I guess it is safe to say I want to be dressed like the graphics for a 70s game show.

I’m powerless against the siren call of spring dresses in a normal year, but with wedding events as excuses I’m bound to get into serious shopping trouble. Thank goodness I don’t feel this way about shoes or I’d have twice as much trouble.

Anyone have a miracle cure for dress fever?

I Hate Shapewear

Spring is almost here, so Victoria’s Secret is pimping out its new bridal lingerie. I LOVE lingerie, so you’d think I’d use my wedding as an excuse to drop big bucks for something lacy and flimsy for sexytime.

But I don’t really have that impulse, maybe because I don’t usually need excuses to waste money on lingerie, so the itch is already scratched, so to speak.  Plus, the common anti-lingerie argument of “you have to interrupt things to put on a costume that you end up tearing off within five minutes” resonates when I think about my wedding night. I’ve said that I think we’ll be too tired after our wedding for sex, but if I’m being honest with you, I want “wedding night” sex so much I bet we’re going to TRY. But I also bet it is going to be terrible, terrible, LAZY sex. There is no way I’ll have the energy to put a costume change into the mix.

[I just realized that I can totally wear some lacy piece of “bridal” lingerie for the night BEFORE our wedding, which we are totally spending together, “tradition” be damned. Man, I’m so good at convincing myself to spend money.]

Anyway, which leads me to the original point of this post: “foundation garments.”

Victoria’s Secret’s “wedding day” collection is mostly lycra and boning and shaping/slimming/smoothing.  Just looking at this stuff makes me feel hot and bothered, and not in the good way.

I’ve worn shapewear before, because my gigantic dress collection involves some sheer or silky numbers that require it.  I think it is hot and uncomfortable. Wearing shapewear is probably the only thing I do in compliance with the beauty myth that I TRULY hate. Well that and plucking my eyebrows. So I only do it very rarely. And under protest.

Yes, I do have swamp ass.

The idea of spending a long, busy, day, with all that drinking and dancing and getting hitched and stuff squished into a spandex tube is really, really unappealing.

My preferred wedding-day lingerie is this:

And maybe those stick-on boob pads. MAYBE. (My dress already has those “bra cups” sewn in from when a model wore it at a bridal show.)

But some tiny part of me thinks “It’s my wedding day! Everyone will be staring at me! If my waist isn’t cinched and my butt isn’t boosted, they’ll JUDGE ME.” This is part is related to the part of me that worries over not fitting into my dress.  That part of me needs to be stopped.

Did you/are you wearing foundation garments under your wedding dress?  Do you want to preach it’s life-changing virtues to me? Or should I resist the siren song of shapewear, follow my instincts and go with lingerie minimalism on my wedding day?

[“Lingerie minimalism” just surged to the top of my search engine hits.]

Tux Sux

Collin and I went to a Men’s Warehouse tuxedo shop today to work out what the dudes in our wedding are going to wear.  It was a really crummy experience.

First of all, for a store entirely devoted to selling and renting tuxedos, you’d think they’d have more than FIVE options. But they don’t. It’s all cheap black, slightly-less cheap black, white, gray, brown. A brown tuxedo is the most exciting thing you can get.  I’d lean on the z key to express my boredom, but the angular look of all those z’s in a row would be too visually exciting for this situation.

Second, the woman helping us was cold and dismissive of my opinions.  I said I don’t care if the guys wear ivory or white shirts.  She gave me a look like, “Oh, ignorant child” and said, “The shirts match the dress.”

Then she asked what the wedding colors are, and I told her mixed metallics. She made another face. Does she not know that mixed metallics is a wedding trend of wedding trend listworthiness?! I can’t find that list right now, but I am sure I saw it! I’m HIP, Men’s Warehouse Lady! Don’t judge me.  ANYWAY.  She said, “Then I guess you’ll be putting the groomsmen in black vests.” “Or silver.” I suggested. “No, you’ve got ivory shirts.”  Like silver vests on ivory shirts would clash so badly my wedding would need to be called off.

Instead of defending my right to mix cool and warm colors, I said, “Well, I think we want cummerbunds anyway.”  This was the wrong approach.  Men’s Warehouse Lady really wanted to talk me out of cummerbunds. Don’t I know they are out of style? Don’t I know vests are more attractive? Don’t I know my groomsmen will hate wearing cummerbunds?

I probably should have walked out of the store at this point. But instead I signed up to rent tuxes, with white shirts and black cummerbunds.  So I’m going to have a hopelessly old-fashioned, clashing wedding, and send far too much money into the hands of a store that is inept at customer service.

I’m not really putting this one in the “win” column, but at least I can put it in the “done” column.

Maybe Bridesmaid Dresses ARE All Ugly

Did you think I was done talking about bridesmaid dresses? Newsflash: I will never be done.  Ten years after I’m married, when this blog is covered in Internet cobwebs, I will wake up one morning with more opinions and contemplations on bridesmaid dresses that must be shared with the Universe, and people who forgot to take this out of their reader will be like, “Hitchwhaaa?  Oh… that chick.  Still going on about the dresses.”

Well, right now bridesmaid dresses are actually a pertinent topic in my life, so I have twice as much to say.  Here’s a summary, in case you are pressed for time: shopping for bridesmaid dresses is a freaking nightmare.

First, while I stand by my opinion that bridesmaid dresses don’t deserve their  reputation as What Happens to Fabric that Offends the Sartorial Gods, there is still a lot of chaff to separate from the wheat.  Mostly these dresses aren’t ugly, they’re just offensively boring.:

Then there are the dresses that attempt to evade dullness with absurd details that add nothing but a hefty dose of “Why?”

[I imagine bridesmaid designers cooking up new styles with a series of roulette wheels.  Spin spin spin… chiffon! Spin spin spin… floor length! Spin spin spin… strapless! Spin spin spin… rosette belt!]

And finally, there are the dresses which were probably lovely as designed, but are manufactured so cheaply that they end up looking crummy.  See generally, “matte satin.”

And I’ve added my own complications on top of these common bridesmaid dress pitfalls:   I think the general principle behind the dull-as-watching-paint-dry-on-toast bridesmaid dress is that can flatter a wide range of body types.  Which is a noble and practical goal.  But the body type I am trying to dress is “short, skinny, boobless,” so there will be no resuscitation-by-curves.  I need a dress that looks good on the hanger, because my bridesmaids are all shaped like hangers.  [I must note how grateful I am that the tyrannical reign of the strapless dress appears to have ended.]

Second, I want to dress my bridesmaids in gold, which is a tricky color to find, and even trickier to judge based on a .5 square-inch swatch.  Sometimes “gold” is actually mustard yellow, and “champagne” is actually beige.  Even for the rare line that makes a gold sample available in shops, I worry that my dye lot might come out unfortunately different.  [Dye lots are officially on the list of “Incredibly Unimportant Things to Which I Devote Too Much Attention Just Because Brides Are Supposed to Care About That Stuff.”]  It’s too bad I feel pretty wedded to my colors.

And then there is body-shape uncertainty.  Collin’s sister-in-law is pregnant, due four months before our wedding.  I showed her a contender dress yesterday and asked if she thinks she’ll be comfortable wearing it if she still has a bit of a stomach.”It’s not an issue.  I won’t still have any baby weight. I refuse.”  I am less sure.  Then there are our other two bridesmaids, who are both married women of child-bearing age.  Pregnancies happen.  Should I be limiting myself only to dresses that have a maternity option?

So with all these concerns in mind, I’ve gone from 90% sure I had picked out a bridesmaid dress, to 90% sure I need to start from scratch.  Sigh.  I should have told my bridesmaids to pick their own dresses.

Judge Not

Something I edited out of yesterday’s post [Lower your eyebrows! I edit my crazy blog screeds. Some.] was the notion that the trend toward having bridal attendants select their own formalwear is, I suspect, not entirely motivated by convenience, respect, or even aesthetics.  I think a really good reason to let your attendants pick their own clothes that no one cops to is covering your own ass.  If you didn’t pick the dress, you can’t be judged if it is—gasp!—tacky.  And I think we’re all looking for one less reason to be judged.

Sarah wrote a great post [all of Sarah’s posts are great] about wedding insecurity, about those scary concerns that we’re ruining our own weddings, making choices which confuse our guests or executing these choices in less-than-perfect ways which will disappoint our guests.

I think we all worry about this sort of thing, especially because of the common narrative in wedding culture that our guests are not so much our family and friends as they are a mass of Professional Wedding Critics.  The Knot’s newsletter this week leads off with “What are your guests really thinking? Are they judging your dress? Do they hate the food?” [This is a direct quotation, people.]

In reality, I think most wedding guests’ thoughts go something like, “Oh, this is nice, they look so happy. Where is the bar?”

But according to the Knot, wedding guests have common complaints, most of which start with the word “You.”  Meaning “the bride.”  Your guests aren’t just here to judge the wedding, they’re here to judge YOU.  Because everything in the wedding is a reflection of the bride, right?  [What is this “groom” of which you speak?]

In the narrative where wedding guests are an army of Waldorfs and Statlers, bridesmaid dresses are a common target:  “I can’t believe she picked that color.” “That fabric looks so cheap.”  “She obviously was trying to make her friends look dumpy so she would look better in comparison.”

These comments all sound so familiar, even though I’m not sure I’ve ever heard them in real life.  I mean, on the one hand, I get it: stiff polyester satin isn’t most lovely fabric, strapless dresses present bra challenges not every woman can handle, and then there are those mythical bridesmaid frocks that give dresses a bad name:

[via Unique Vintage]

[Although, truthfully, my dream is to be in the wedding of someone who wants to put her bridesmaids in a dress like that hot pink number.  I desperately want the excuse to wear something like that and look effin’ hot in it.]

In real life, bridesmaids dresses are rarely if ever that offensive, but they still have this reputation as a cruel punishment brides inflict on their friends.  Maybe this is just because haters gonna hate [t-shirt HT to Lexi].  But it also adds fuel to the raging fire of bridal insecurity, insecurity which retailers and advertisers are here to remind us can only be quelled by dollah dollah bills.

There Goes Tokyo!

The bloggy consensus is having your bridesmaids pick their own dresses is the right way to go.  It’s humble! It’s easier for everyone involved! It will make your bridesmaids feel the most comfortable and look the best! Uniformed bridesmaids are creepy anyway!

I was frankly astonished when one of today’s posts on A Practical Wedding acknowledged the “alternative” of bridesmaids in matching dresses, even though it was written about like it’s a shameful secret, and even though it was in a post sponsored by a bridesmaid dress company.

Matching bridesmaid dresses: the uncoolest.

And yet, I am putting my sister and sisters-in-law into matching dresses.  That I am picking out.  Because I am selfish, inconsiderate, and not even remotely hip.  I am a Bridezilla.

But I am also lazy!  So when faced with the prospect of dressing the women in the Bridal Hootenanny, who, unlike my sisters bio and in-law, are not all exactly the same size and shape, I decided to not bother trying to find a dress universally flattering to the whole gang.  I said, “you all find your own dresses!”

I said it with an air of self-satisfaction, because I could pretend what this is really about is that I’m not ENTIRELY old-fashioned/uncool/cruel.  I’m letting my friends pick their own dresses! I don’t like things completely matchy-matchy like those square brides stuck in the 1980s.  I am hip and considerate!  Well, uh, at least when friends are concerned.  (Sorry, family!)

But then… the time came to email the Bridal Hootenanny ladies.    Apparently, when saying, “go pick your own dress,” a Bridezilla needs to send out a 723-word email containing no less than 15 images.  And a corresponding Google document.   And while I was putting together that massive correspondence I may have also emailed my mother-in-law with a suggested dress for her. SOMEONE CALL GROOMOTHRA, I NEED TO BE STOPPED!

Or I could just chillax and own my choices.

The sisters will look good.  I’ll get the satisfaction of playing with them like Human Barbies.  They’ll get the simplicity of not having to choose.

My friends will look good.  They’ll get the fun of shopping for their own dresses.  They’ll enjoy that, whereas the sisters might not.  And this isn’t the first and it won’t be the last time my friends have coordinated outfits using a Google doc.

And for all we know, in five years, mis-matched dresses will be considered old-fashioned and lame, and the Knot will send out newsletters gushing over the  “Newest Wedding Trend: Matching Maids!”

Why Mod Cloth?

I’ve seen a lot of people on the Internet suggest Mod Cloth as a source for dresses for the bridal party.

Now, Mod Cloth seems like a cool company, and I don’t mean to bad mouth them at all.  I love Internet window shopping on that site.  And if I had more money coming in, you can bet your ass I’d also have more Mod Cloth dresses coming in.  And finally, Pittsburgh REPRESENT!

But I seriously don’t understand why people recommend Mod Cloth for bridal parties.

First of all, the sizing is banana tree.  Half the dresses appear to come in three different variations on “small.”  And I’m skeptical about the “runs true to size” claim that is bestowed upon almost every dress.  For example, the Raise the Roof dress comes in small, medium, and large.  The size chart allows for as much as four inches difference in bust and five inches different in hips between sizes.  But the length difference between a medium and a large is only .5 an inch.  Which, unless I’m misunderstanding dress physics, means that dress is going to be significantly shorter on anyone closer to the high end of size range.  When the dress is only 30 inches and change long (dresses on Mod Cloth are often very, very short), that can mean the difference between “cute dress!” and “remember that time Sherri flashed beaver at Pam’s wedding?”

Second, the styles seem to come and go very quickly, which is not necessarily a problem for “I need a dress for the office party” but in the case of “My friend tells me I need a dress for next July and it should reasonably coordinate with the dresses of five other people I may or may not know” might be trickier. Unless the day the bride tells her friend with the very nice shoulders, “I want you to be a bridesmaid; would you find a blue or green dress in a style that flatters you?” is the day this dress appears on ModCloth, and she finds it and buys it before it sells out.

Third, the categories you can filter the dresses by aren’t that relevant to the usual “uniting theme” people usually use with their bridal party’s attire.  There’s no options to sort by color or fabric, and even if you are using “tiered” as your unifying theme, that means a lot of different things.

So why all the love for Mod Cloth when it comes to dressing the bridal party? Am I just not getting it because I’m square? [I mean, I’m so square I still plan on putting my bridesmaids in matching dresses, and only doing the “different but coordinating dresses” thing for the extended Bridal Hootenanny.]  Do I need to be shorter or something so I can wear a dress that is 30.5 inches long?  [Possibly more short-waisted? I don’t know what short-waisted means.] Or are the cool kids’ bridesmaids wearing leggings now?  Is that really the world we want to live in?




Secret Dress Language

I’m visiting with family for my soon-to-be-cousin-in-law’s bridal shower. [Have I ever mentioned that I freakin’ love my family?  It is true.]

While wrapping presents, my aunt and I got to talking about how hard it can be to find a dress to wear to a wedding.  The rules we follow1 are:

1. No black. (Not a funeral)

2. No white. (You are not the bride)

3. Don’t match or clash with the bridesmaids (this can be tricky for weddings of people you don’t know as well, but it helps to wear a dress that can’t be mistaken as a bridesmaid dress).

4. Nothing too revealing.

And then item 5 brought about a controversy.  My aunt said, “no fire engine red.”  I said, “Oh crap. I wore red to Karrie’s (cousin) wedding, orange to Jamie’s (cousin) wedding, and red again to Matt and Carrie’s (finlaws) wedding.”

My aunt Chris, having been to two out of three and having seen pictures from the third, said, “All those dresses were fine. It’s a particular shade of bright red that I think belongs in a club, not at a wedding.”

Then I remembered that at Matt and Carrie’s wedding, someone told me that wearing a red dress signifies having slept with the groom.  Has anyone else heard of that?2

Anyway, the fact that Chris follows a no-red rule, and I do not, makes me worry that I’m too old-fashioned in sticking to ruling out black dresses for weddings.  I just can’t get over the feeling that black dresses are funereal; not fitting with the celebration and joy of weddings. 

This is not to say you can’t celebrate in a black dress, look at New Year’s Eve.  But you know what else you are doing on New Year’s? Marking the end of another year gone.  Singing “Auld Lang Syne,” which is an effing depressing song.  Staring into the face of mortality, now that Dick Clark is finally aging. Black fits NYE.  It doesn’t fit weddings.

Anyone else in my anti-black boat?  Or do I need to hip to the new world order?

1Note I said “we follow.” I am not saying you are a bad person if you’ve violated any of these rules.
2To answer the begged question… MIND YOUR OWN BIZ MARKIE.