Summer is upon us, and with that, wedding season is underway. I'm not opposed to weddings, though I do find that at times, they can take on a certain dog-and-pony show quality. It's often more so for the family than for the couple themselves, though I don't want to go down that road just yet. Today, I'd like to talk about something else that I find rather disturbing. Namely, strapless wedding dresses.
Ladies, I get it: you want to be a princess for the day. You want every eye turned in your direction, “ooooh”ing and “aaaaaah”ing at your ethereal beauty as you float down the aisle to meet your Prince Charming. You want someone to fuss over you, to have 200 of your closest friends and family members – many of whom are often critical in your everyday life – just, for once, be rendered speechless as you become the object of sole focus in the room. It's an intoxicating prospect.
However, let's be realistic. I'm not saying that you're not beautiful. Nor am I calling anyone fat (I hate that word; it's demeaning with all of its connotations). What I ask is that you dress to your body type. Out of 100 brides, maybe, maybe 25% actually fit the body type to wear a strapless gown. Sometimes, these women hit the genetic jackpot and can down 4 double cheeseburgers without gaining an ounce; maybe they work really, really hard at the gym on their backs, shoulders and arms. As much as I may inwardly curse them for being able to do things I can not, I have to admit that they are built to wear that type of dress.
This is some tough love, but girls, sometimes, you're not built for it, and it looks awful. Pitfalls to look for:
・ If you're spilling out in all angles after the initial 15-minute try-on period, it might not be the best fit for you. This goes with most clothing, and it's an insidious trap: it fits for about 20 minutes – enough for you and your friends to declare, “This is beautiful! It works! Wrap it up, take it home!” – and then decides to quit mid-excursion. My ideal wedding dress boutique would allow brides to try on different loaner bodices for the day, to see how they work out. That way, you know what you're in for. Believe me, no amount of tailoring will fix this.
・ Like a good makeup artist or hairstylist will tell you, play to your strengths; your body is no different. If you have a large rack (like me), something off the shoulders will maximize your bust line, and chances are, you're already self conscious about that and have been since the third grade. Why emphasize the elephant in the room? Besides, it's probably not your best body feature. Look at it in terms of playing up the best facial feature: why draw excess attention to your squnity eyes if you have beautiful, pouty lips? It's the same thing with your body. If you have a dainty waist, play to that; don't play off of a chest that's not designed to fit into that type of dress. Go with what's strongest and run with it. Don't try to put a square into a circle.
・ In a similar vein, two words: strapless bra. These are dodgy. They start out as mildly uncomfortable, then get progressively worse. Next thing you know, you've either got under wire digging into your poor ribcage (NOT the lasting impression you want to make that day), or the elastic of the strapless bra quits after a few hours and your poor breasts are left to sag slowly down as they lose the inevitable battle with gravity. Again, if you're smaller in the bust region and perky, go for it. For the rest of us that the Booby Fairy visited and accidentally tripped and spilled the magic pixie dust over a bit too much, well, it's a sad fact that we're going to sag. A lot. No one thinks that looks good.
・ No amount of body shimmer will aid in slimming you down. I don't care if you're only 130 pounds and your arms are your only weak spot. Shiny does not equal tiny. It's the same shoe-horned look, just with extra glitter.
・ Hint: if you're short to begin with, something that compacts your body down will not elongate you. You're going to look a little thicker. Be prepared for that.
・ Take pictures when you try on gowns. If you don't like how you look in the test photos, think of how it's going to look on the big day. The Photoshop Fairy won't save you in real life, and trust me, as most family members think that their camera is the only one that matters, people that won't be interested in photoshopping will be taking and sharing your picture as well.
・ Don't go along with a dress because that's what's mostly in stock at the bridal shop. Really, why must everything be cookie-cutter? Don't be afraid to be different. It's okay to want something else. It's interesting sometimes to see how many girls want to be original, yet they go for the same strapless gown with a tiara look. If it's “your” special day, try not to look like everyone else.
・ While strapless may be practical for the heat, please stop and think about how it's going to look versus the chill factor. There are other ways to beat the heat. Small, portable, battery-operated fans are one way. Bottles of water are another. It can be done.
This isn't meant as a bitchy attack. It's public service. Friends don't let friends wear bad fashion.