The Horrors/Hilarity of Dress Shopping

July 16, 2015 by NJPainter

I think this is a part that a lot of people look forward to, but dress shopping gave me a little anxiety because 1) I didn’t have 3 grand to spend, which is still apparently some kind of “steal” in the wedding world, 2) the amount of attention one receives while trying on white dresses is pre-framed as a weepy/wistfully magical moment before you even get in the door and 3) I didn’t want “bridal,” I wanted red carpet and that was harder to find than I thought it would be.

The sales ladies at bridal stores are trained to say things like “Is this THE dress?” and “Can you imagine yourself walking down the aisle towards your new husband in THIS?” and then then they would throw the train of the dress up in the air so it fell to a dramatic pool on the floor.

For me, it was just a dress. I wanted it to be a great dress, but it didn’t have to be a life-altering, most-important-thing-I-would-ever-put-on kind of dress.

I found this gorgeous Elie Saab gown on Pinterest that became the dress to hold all other dresses by, but guess what? This dress costs $11,000.


So my experience with dress shopping was a lot of this: trying things on in regular department stores, by myself, and taking selfies in the dressing room.


I tried on a lot of things that I loved but didn’t come in a white/neutral color…

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I tried on things that I thought were “cute” but didn’t make me feel GREAT…

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I tried every sparkly thing on that I could find…

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Then there was the (hilarious) time I took my best friends and mom to Tribeca to try on dresses and stand on a little pedestal like a little doll… Does the look on my face say it all?
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Then I thought, ‘Maybe I am trying to be too different! Let’s go full on bridal…’

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Then I found this Zac Posen dress at Saks that I thought was nice enough and for months, I assumed it’s what I would wear…

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But, I hated that immovable black belt…so I kept (secretly) looking.
In my lengthy online searches, I’d found Rachel Gilbert, an Australian designer who made great looking, moderately priced, unfrilly dresses… But of course they weren’t sold in the U.S.. Then one day this gem popped up online:


I showed Barry, knowing they didn’t even ship to the States. In true Barry form, he responded; ‘I know someone in Australia, let me see if she knows anything about this store.’ He Facebook messaged a woman he had met once, through mutual friends and she replied immediately; she lived around the corner from the shop, she’d run over right away.

When she got there, there was ONE dress left in my size. Barry bought it (you read that right) over the phone and this woman mailed it to us personally.

I wasn’t looking for perfect, but there was something serendipitous about the way this particular dress came together. It fit, it was light weight, it was in-budget, and (most importantly, I suppose) it made me feel like this: