For the past two Saturdays, I’ve been doing something I haven’t done for a long time – dragging people around shops while I try on countless dresses, humming and hawing and eventually deciding not to buy anything. (I wish I could tell you the reason I haven’t done this in a long time is because I’m a reformed shopaholic – see fashionfarewell.wordpress.com for details – but alas, this is not the case. Just ask The Boy, who has apparently discovered my hidden dress stash. Because most of what I wear isn’t generally found on the high street near me (except for the fabulous Bohemian Finds in Bedford), I tend to do most of my shopping online. Which is fine until all the packages arrive at once on a day I’m not at home and The Boy is. But I digress.
That’s right ladies and gentleman, I have been WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING. Which I can never think of without it being in big, bold letters. I’ve been pinned, clamped, nipped and tucked, and have been in my underwear in front of more strangers I thought possible since I gave up burlesque. I’ve looked at myself in a mirror and thought “My word this dress makes me look tall” before realising that’s probably the platform I’m standing on. I’ve tried on the dresses I thought were what I wanted, and the ones I didn’t think were anything like what I wanted (except for one occasion, I was right). I’ve second-guessed myself, tried to talk myself into dresses that I liked a lot but didn’t love, and have definitely decided it won’t be a tea-length dress.
But I still haven’t found The One. It turns out it was easier to find the man I want to spend the rest of my life with than to find a dress I want to wear for one day.
Whether it’s because I’ve watched too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, Something Borrowed, Something New and Randy’s Wedding Rescue (Randy, if you’re reading and you fancy a trip to the UK – rescue me!), or it’s because I keep wondering if there’s something better out there, or being a stiff-upper-lipped Brit is so ingrained that I can’t let go in front of my Lovely Mum and Darling Sister (and one complete stranger), who knows.
Or maybe it’s because I’m being expected to buy what has been billed “the most important dress of my entire whole life” without actually seeing what the bloody thing looks like. For those of you who haven’t been wedding dress shopping, instead of the normal shopping experience of finding your size and trying that on, most wedding dress shops carry one ‘sample size’ dress that you try on and have to use your imagination to work out how it could look when it’s made using your measurements. Unless you are sample size, in which case you get a fair idea of what the dress will look like, instead of a vague approximation of what it might, perhaps, maybe, possibly look like.
I am not sample size. It’s taken me nearly 20 years to embrace the fact that I will never be sample size (I was a chubby child who, apart from short periods where she stopped eating very much at all, has become a tubby adult, and apart from anything else, my legs are too short to ever look quite right in a sample size), and most of the time, through the medium of swing dresses and cardigans, I’m ok with that. But these past two weekends have been surprisingly painful. “Oh, it’s quite tight on your hips, so it won’t look like this”, “I’ll just have to hold that across your back” and “Well, that’s the widest part of your arm there, so I’m going to completely ignore your request for full-length sleeves and instead I’d suggest having a cap sleeve so it just covers that bit up at the top” are not what a highly-strung bride-to-be wants to hear. Especially when that suggestion about my arm doesn’t even begin to cover the bits I most want to cover.
I don’t usually care what people think about how I look or dress (for example, I can regularly be seen walking down the high street mid-pin curl prep), as the photo above shows. I also quite like it when people stare (I consider any commute where someone hasn’t done a double take at my 1950’s-style princess coat and hair flowers a boring one). However, I have found myself becoming surprisingly needy about my wedding dress. Constantly asking the people I’m with for validation, sending photos to others, then second-guessing their choices, without actually considering what it is I want my dress to look like. This weekend, I found two that I liked a lot, but now I’ve had time to think about it, I’m not so sure. I didn’t cry (except for when I realised I’ve lost three stone and am still being sneakily put into plus-size wedding gowns – which would be fine, except I’ve tried very hard to get down to my current size UK12-14, which last time I checked was not, in fact, plus-size), I didn’t have the “This is the dress I’m getting married in” moment that everyone seems to think I’ll have, and I think I’ve gotten myself so stressed about the entire thing that it’s no longer enjoyable.
Any hints, tips or advice anyone has on how to go back to making the experience fun, rather than an exercise in damage limitation, would be much appreciated. I’m having the weekend off next weekend to go to a very exciting hen do, so hopefully I’ll be able to gather my thoughts for round two. Wish me luck!