Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to the usual DRESS PROBLEMS

Dear ESB,

The year started off like any other: working my full-time job, trying to get my photography career going, making plans for my fiance's film shoot in a developing country... We shot the film in March. In April my sister/bestie had a baby. In May, baby daddy left. In June we found out my dad had cancer. In July my dad had surgery. In August we found out the film we made will premier at Tiff (in September)!! The stress and travel of 2011 are now catching up to me and my chronic illness, which has been in remission for two years, is back. 

Now you have my list of reasons (excuses) for why I don't have a wedding dress. My other excuse is that I can't justify spending a bucket-load on one article of clothing blah, blah, blah. I've been to bridal shops and am pretty grossed out by the shiny, plastic-y dresses that appear to have been designed in the 90's.

I'm 5'3", size 8 and my stomach swells to four-months-pregnant when I'm stressed thanks to the aforementioned chronic illness (I'm probably exaggerating). I'd like something long, with some structure and in the white family. Empire waists are not my friend. My budget is $500ish. The wedding is in November in a restored barn on a mountain.

I live in New York and have done the department store circuit. Any suggestions on where else I might shop? Have you seen anything that might work? Am I being too picky and/or cheap?


No Time To Shop


You guys feel like shopping????????

I am officially stumped. Last night I was all ready to recommend the Marilyn Gown (I had it PASTED UP and everything, with flowers-in-hair a la Tori) when I realized it has a fucking empire waist.

I guess I must be out of practice.

Or...... lazy. There's a distinct possibility that I'm lazy.

Carola Remer by Sean & Seng for POP F/W 2011 via Kylea Borges via Sylvia Buchacher via don't you wish you had some more?


  1. I'm not sure that's considered an empire waist if the fabric doesn't fall from below the breast - there's that big thick band bringing the line back down. I'd say it's natural waist. But maybe I'm wrong.

  2. you want my dress? No seriously, we are the same size and height and my dress was definitely belly-friendly. But it's also a little shiny and feels like wind pant material. No joke. (Pictures here!)

    Oh, I also have this BCBG Dress that I had originally bought for my own wedding but never wore. You know...if you want it.

    If not (and I'm probably going to be lampooned for this) go to the David's Bridal on 23rd. I also planned a wedding while living in New York and if you are short on time, you really just won't have the energy to shop the little independents that you want to support.

    Surprisingly (and I learned this all too little too late) DB has a seriously wide selection of non-sucky dresses that will fit your body and your budget. It's just that the only DB dresses you've probably seen are the ones with the rhinestones that your high school friends sport.

    Don't count them out yet.

    (Umm...end awkward rant. I just wish someone sane had said this to me before and I knew that DB didn't sell only ugly messes for princesses).

  3. hmm. this mikael aghal is crepe, and embellished a bit in a lovely rather than fussy way.

  4. ESB's dress is great. I don't consider that empire waist.

  5. @Maddie you are my favorite person this month. and that David's Bridal dress you linked to is GOOD (says the girl who got married in a DB dress)


  6. I had an awesome experience buying from Ann Taylor, after being fairly exhausted by wading through traditional stuff that I had zero interest in. They have several options that are pretty and interesting without being fussy.

    The catch is that their wedding stuff is only mail order. I ordered two dresses and sent one back. Easy peasy. I haven't had to alter it at all. It's an 8, but Ann Taylor runs much closer to normal sizes than other bridal gowns.

    I would link to my dress, but it's not on their site anymore. It's made of tiers of silk, so I think it's very flattering for a not-so-perfect body.

  7. If "No Time To Shop" is IN Toronto for TIFF - I recommend checking this place out

    Love the cause - not for everyone, but I got my dress there. They're lovely there. Also speaks to her Dad's journey.

  8. @Hillary @Anon 11:45 gahhhhhhhh. i went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. and then i googled "empire waist," because, you know, THE INTERNET IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

  9. DAMMIT. EMPIRE WAIST. I FAILLL. (I'll stop commenting today too ;~;)

  10. @Miss Georgia I would wear that empire waist gown you posted even if it made me look 11 months pregnant. SO. MUCH. SEXY. SEQUIN.

    @Nikki It's everyone's dirty little secret! You should have seen me in that place. The Chelsea DB doesn't even *pretend* to be classy. I walked in with a dress number and walked out with a giant bag full of fake satin all in the span of 45 minutes. Done and DONE.

  11. More David Bridal!

    This DB/Vera Wang dress is really nice, I tried it on, it is very flattering. It's $600, and may require altering, but worth a try!

    I've not tried this one, but it looks lovely -- comes in champagne and is only $168!

  12. I tried on the Marilyn Gown. I don't like empire waists either, but this dress was extremely flattering and didn't make me look faux-pregnant like many empire waists do. If I were No Time to Shop, I would definitely give it a try.

  13. How about this one? Except, please don't wear that chiffon thing around your neck like the model.

  14. I think this would be lovely.

    p.s. @Maddie - you are so awesome for offering your dress(es)! xo.

  15. I think that this Robert Rodrquez number would look great in a barn. ($448)

    Depending on your definition of wedding dress, I am way into this Michelle Mason asymmetrical dress for $375. It is very modern and elegant. No size 8, but size 10 and they recommend a size up in the fit guide.

    Congrats on TIFF!

  16. find a sample sale somewhere and score yourself a half price maggie sottero (corset backs = supportive AND expandable) like i did. done and done.

  17. I dig this one from opening ceremony, but I love ESB's choice too.

  18. Rather than stretch out the pain, consider Running of the Brides. One day of overwhelming crazy, but if you're lucky like me, you'll find your dress, pay for it and be done.

    Elmsford, NY - 295 Tarrytown Road
    Friday, September 23, 2011 – 8am to 9pm

    Westbury, NY - 695 Merrick Ave.
    Friday, October 28, 2011 – 8am to 9pm

    Also, have you been to Nordy's? What about these?

  19. Here's what I found:

    cowl neck and sleves

    super traditional

    metalic one-shoulder

    white jersey one-shoulder

    There were a few more that I found, but they were upwards of $500ish. I didn't want to be THAT GIRL.

  20. @Melissa: a friend of mine tried on that David Meister One-Shoulder Metallic-Print Gown and looked so so good. I tried to convince her to wear it for her wedding but she knew her fiance wouldn't like it (he's too traditional).

    I'm Pinning that cowl neck dress in case the seamstress effs my dress up.

  21. This is the dress I wore, which just dropped to $600 at David's Bridal. I too have a belly that was swelling (because of stress eating, not illness) by the time we got married. I can seriously recommend the dress - I felt amazing, got tons of compliments and never felt uncomfortable.

    I know lots of people like to be down on David's Bridal, but I never felt like a schmuck shopping in that store, and was always treated well (and not like a pretty pretty princess). Don't discount the possibilities there - they also have a wonderful sales rack.

  22. This particularVera Wang DB happens to be the cheapest, and I think the prettiest. I would wear the hell out of it.

    And, I'm really sorry about the shitty stuff you're going through. I have a girlfriend who suffers from chronic auto immune diseases, and you people amaze me. Good luck with it all, and congrats on your film!

  23. If everyone is recommending DB, do I get to suggest stuff from JCrew? (actually, most of the ones I like are a little to WAY over $500).

  24. That is so not an empire waist. That is a dress that looks great on everybody and makes people who don't have waists (stress bloat) look as if they do. I really like it a LOT. How I hope this suits you, No Time to Shop. After everything you've been through, you deserve to have a beautiful day on the mountaintop. Good luck to you!

  25. Have you looked at White House Black Market? All the dresses are super affordable and great quality. It's where I got mine

  26. I don't have a specific style to suggest but I am wearing a Thread bridesmaid dress for my wedding dress. They all come in a variety of lengths and fabrics and all fabrics come in an ivory color, I think. Bonus: I took it to the alterations lady today and she said, "easiest bridal job I've ever had!"

    That feather collar is AMAZING. My fiance would hate it but would look awesome with my dress, I think.

  27. I would also call the Marilyn dress an natural waist...or at the very least somewhere in between. And I think it's a great, beautiful option!

  28. I also love the Robert Rodriguez Ashley gown Ms Georgia recommended...Here are a few more options:

    -Fleur Woods Moonlight Maxi Dress

    -Tadashi Shoji One-Shoulder Lace Gown

    -Tadashi Shoji Lace & Chiffon Gown (yes, it's a bit over budget, but did you see this wedding?!)

    -Adrianna Papell Sequined Strapless Mesh Gown in Ivory

    -BCBGMAXAZRIA Strapless Tulle Gown

    -Robert Rodriguez Phoebe Chiffon Gown

    Finally, call the Bridal Garden to see if they have any dresses in your budget. I found my dress there super discounted (but was still $1600). It's always worth a try.

  29. Sorry, I forgot to add the link to the bride who wore the Tadashi Shoji lace & chiffon gown I linked to above: Vintage Colorado Mountain Wedding

  30. I was about to come on and offer my dress up to but someone else beat me to it... its priscilla of boston, natural waist, lace bustier top with net overlay. I've been meaning to email ESB pictures - I'm the one from forever ago who HATE HATE HATED Kleinfeld. If this sounds good at all, I can send a picture your way (but don't want to get yelled at for my complete and total luddite lack of know-how when it comes to pasting links (even with tutorials apparently I'm useless). LMK.

  31. I agree, in my books that Thread dress is not an empire waist. There ain't no questionable pregnancy tummy there. I think it is awesome.

  32. Maddie you inspired me with your niceness, plus that BCBG dress is gorgeous.

  33. I’m at the airport waiting for my flight to Toronto and finally had time to check ESB.  You guys!  I don’t know what to say.  You are all amazing - especially Maddie and Rachel.  Again, I don’t know what to say.  Can we be best friends?  Maddie, you looked amazing in your wind pants dress!  Also, I wish I hadn’t already hired a photographer so I could hire you.  Also, if you ever get bored and feel like giving some advice to someone who doesn’t have the guts to quit her crappy job and be a full-time photographer, let me know. 

    So, I’m a total sell-out.  In the time between sending my email and ESB posting it (it wasn’t very long), a fairy godmother (this is so ridiculous) showed up and gave me a very generous pre-wedding gift.  My karma points must have been way up or something.  Anyway I found an indie shop in Brooklyn, begged for a last-minute appointment and tried on a dress that I am in love with and can’t wait to wear on the mountaintop.  It cost so much more than my original budget that I will probably never tell anyone the number, but it felt so good to get it over with so I can enjoy TIFF and everything else going on in my life.  The weight is gone.  I cannot believe how much stress a garment can cause!

    I read through all of your recommendations (which was probably a really bad idea) and a part of me wishes I could get my bucket-load back and buy one of these dresses.  I know someone in my former predicament will find this post one day and it will save her sanity. 

    I wish wish wish I could wear Catherine’s feather thing but my family would probably disown me.   I can now focus on shoes and a jacket which should take me a few hours, not months and months.

    I love you guys.

  34. Where did you go in Brooklyn? It's always good to know the cool shops around here.

  35. Oh, I'm really happy for your fair godmother gift! Believe it or not, the wind pant dress was a fairy godmother gift too. :)

    Um... so in other news, you should e-mail me. I'd love to chat.

    mads (at) hartandsolphoto (dot) com

  36. rodjsr, I went to Michell New York It's on Atlantic between Hoyt and Bond.

    Maddie, Thanks so much! I will email you asap.

  37. I have seen many gowns but couldn't remember on what particular shop it was. But I do wish you a happy ending story. Congrats. :D