Happy Thursday to all the lovvvers; I hope you had a lush Val Day with your beaus/babes/gal pals and families. For the record; we watched seven hours of Breaking Bad (we’re up to Season 4 Ep 3 – no spoilers please!) YES, we are seriously behind this social phenomenon, but ooh, was it amazing watching Heisenberg with a piccolo of Moët and munching on chocs? You bet your ass, yo! (we even put the tele in the bedroom as our special treat! Romance is alive in the Jackola residence!!)
Anyway, on to more appropriate conversation… I have to admit that this is the post I’ve been most looking forward to curate and write as a 2013/14 RMW Real Bride. I’m getting my FASH-ON. If you’re not a fash-a-holic, I make no apology, this is my Blue Crystal!
Who is your Style Icon?
I have LOADS from FROW regulars: Anna Dello Russo, Blake Lively and Kate Moss (obligs!) to style bloggers: Blaire Eadie Bee; Brooklyn Blonde; Stephanie Sterjovski and Caitlin Wilson and then there’s the fictitious fash heroins: Carrie Bradshaw; Cher Horowitz and Daisy Buchanan (Luhrmann’s Gatsby – simply divine).
What do you get when you paste all these styles on a moodboard? An inconsistent mess of sequins, denim, prints, laid-back-cal-gal style mixed with high-end-couture – and that really reflects my approach to my personal style. I wear what I feel like depending on my mood and what I am doing or where I am going. I am never nervous about being over-dressed and I love to embrace a theme, for example for Valentine’s Day I wore pink and red with a Swarovski glitzy “love” chain; if I was to go to the country (for some reason, let’s say wine tasting!), I would dig out some denim, plaid and chunky knits. I am not a daily denim wearer at all – I wear more sequin and tulle than I do denim! When I was living in Sydney, one of my friends in particular used to be rather amused by my efforts and upon seeing me would laugh and remark “under-stated as always!” in an ironic but what I interpreted as a complimentary kind of way. It didn’t matter if I was in work, in the park, on the beach or hitting the discoteques. Dress for the occasion is one of my style mantras.
Dressing for THE occasion
I am sure for all those readers who have already been through the process of choosing their wedding dress, you can relate to my predicament of picking a wedding dress – picking “the one”. The frock of all frocks. The one I would love forever. The one I wouldn’t change my mind on – something I thought befitted a wedding in France marrying my laid-back-he’s-almost-horizontal-no-fuss-man in front of everyone we have loved, and will love for as long as we both shall live. How are we meant to just pick “the one” ladies? I mean, there are just so many options that I loved!?!
I did what any sane brideling would do. I strategised and bucketed the looks I coveted most in to the following categories:
I’ve had a good idea of what I wanted since seeing Penelope Cruz in that blush Atelier Versace gown at the Oscars in 2007 (I wasn’t actually at the Oscars!). It’s as though this frock had a voice and spoke to me from my glossy magazine. I fell in love with the structured but soft bodice and the texturized and voluminous skirt avec train, and the soft blushy pink tone was totally my colour. I watched video clip after video clip and scoured the internet for more pics of the dress from different angles, interrogating the way it fell. The frock moved like a dream and even though it was rather big and Penelope is rather petite, it didn’t drown her. I remember seeing it and thinking “when and if I ever get married, I want to wear that dress”.
This started my love affair of feather adorned frocks. After getting engaged, I started my inspiration hunt and lucky for us digital era brides, Pinterest was right there and willing to assist. I was less drawn to feathery wedding frocks in shades of white or ivory, I was definitely more drawn to the warmer colours.
Two words: Jenny Packham. When I started looking at bridal mags, blogs and pinteresting like a beast, I was becoming increasingly more and more allured to JP’s long, floaty, beaded and glitzy designs. We got engaged in the heyday of Gatsby anticipation. I fell in love with Willow and was adamant that I didn’t need to try on any other dress as that was the one for me (by-the-way we have seen Willow and some other fetching JP frocks in all their full glitzy glory on these very pages in real weddings A Norfolk Wedding With A Peruvian Twist, A Massive Party and Champagne In The Sunshine. As you would have gathered if you’ve been following my previous posts, I am a self-confessed glitter-a-holic and so a sequin/embellished/beaded/sparkly/glitzy wedding dress was an excuse to wear the most glamorous red carpet style dress that I’ll ever have the pleasure of wearing. Amazing!
Or dram back for short. Something that is definitely in bridal fashion Vogue right now. The dram back easily spills in to other categories but it’s such a feature that I considered it as its own entity. Jacko loves backs. Does that sound weird? You know you get boys who like boobs, some who like bums, well Jack is a back man. As a non-busty girl, this has always been an accessible look for me as I haven’t had to be committed to a brassiere. I love the sensuality of a veiled back. It’s less naked and more provocative in the most subtle of ways, just as long as there is no buttock cleavage, which is a serious no no. There are loads of brands that I love for backless frocks but Claire Pettibone, an American designer is winning in the veiled back stakes for me – deliciously romantic and feminine with just the right amount of edginess.
From thick pleats to dainty pleats – I love them all. Can you get much girlier or flirtier than a pleat that swishes and swooshes while you walk? Now admittedly, some of these styles tinker on the edge of toilet-roll-cover-lady as the style is easily dramatized with a meringue look because of all the layers. But the pleat has the ability to create really different silhouettes. If you are interested in pleats, there really isn’t a better take on it that Jill Stuart. Very romantic and almost period looking layers of voluminous lace. J’adore!
Fiercely clean lines and the antithesis to classic romance associated with wedding frocks. What I call modern wedding dresses don’t usually have a flowy fabric in sight, instead fabrics are weighty and often silk based. I also think a modern frock is depicted by pockets –we’ve had a lot of love for pocketed wedding dresses on RMW. This is a strong look and modern frocked brides exudes confidence and self-awareness. It really isn’t for the faint hearted but it is seriously, seriously cool. Everything else is kept really simple as the dress does ALL the talking. Ooh, I love these frocks!!!
Tulle and Lace
Probably the biggest category with many great options. It’s impossible to not fall head over ballet slipper in love with a tulle and lace dress. Bringing out the inner princess in any brideling, I think a tulle and lace wedding frock is the embodiment of charm and elegance. But there are many interpretations using these fabrics. Necklines, frock lengths, silhouettes, there really is something for everyone in this category. As far as who does this well, it’s more a case of who doesn’t do this well, you can walk in to any atelier and find the most fragile French lace to a much stronger webbed lace. You can opt for embellished appliques or crystals to give your frock that extra bit of sparkle under candlelight or go for a really traditional Spanish lace look.
So Many Rocking Styles, How Did I Decide?
I genuinely loved so many styles, I prepared myself for a marathon task of finding the one. I was also preparing my girls to be patient as I was expecting it to take a loooong time. I knew I wanted to put on at least a Jenny Packham, Claire Pettibone, Vera Wang and Oscar de La Renta for good measure. Of course I didn’t have a bottomless budget, so some of those would have been for the fun of it, but I will only get to do the dress hunt once and so I was prepared to go at it full throttle.
After getting engaged in July, 2012, because we were living in Sydney at the time, I wanted to wait until we went home for Christmas so that I could try on my first ever wedding dress with my Mum and sister, I really wanted it to be a shared experience for all of us. We didn’t have a lot of time to travel up and down the country so my sister booked me in to a bridal shop that I was very familiar with in Cardiff called Allison Jayne. I had seen this shop every week for most of my teen life having had weekend jobs working on various make-up counters or clothes stores over the years. We were just going there to pop my wedding dress cherry together and we knew I would be hot footing it in and out of bridal shops for the impending months until I found the one.
When I walked in, I left my prejudice and fashion ego at the door. Allison Jayne isn’t exactly the most fancy of stores and doesn’t carry any of the designers that I really wanted to try on, but they did have a huge range of frocks that suited the aforementioned styles I was drawn to.
As much as I was excited to try on some designer frocks, I wasn’t going to allow the label to sway me (everyone remembers what happened to Carrie the moment she “upgraded” from the vintage label-less dress to the Vivienne Westwood!) I would highly recommend bridelings on the search for their dress to remember this!
I also made the decision rather early on that I didn’t want to choose my dress based on whether I think I would look back on it in years to come and think “ooh, wasn’t it timeless”. Nope, not for me. I wanted my dress to be about who I am now and to remind me of that feeling when I am old and wrinkly. I think it’s part of the fun looking back at old pics and scoffing at what we thought was stylish and fashionable.
So with an open mind and excitement levels high I suddenly felt really, really nervous. As you get older you realize that you haven’t got many firsts left in your life. Anticipation is one of my most favoured emotions (waiting for holidays to come around, a trip home, a friend’s wedding or Christmas!). I was about to kiss goodbye to a sub-conscious anticipation that had gradually built up over many, many years. In the space of time it takes to get undressed in to your undies and slip a frock over your shoulders – Pop – the frock was on, my cherry had popped and I could never wonder what it would feel like to try on a wedding dress ever again. In exchange of anticipation, I now have a treasured memory of that Thursday 13th December with my Sister and my Mum when I tried on my first wedding dress (it was also my sister’s 30th birthday, a lot of bubbles were consumed that day!!).
I tried on about 11-13 dresses in loads of different styles, including a short 50’s style, which isn’t featured above as that’s not a style I have ever been personally drawn to, but in my open mind tried it on anyway. It felt amazing and fun and flirty. It was at that moment that I realized something else. I wanted to feel like I was a bride in a bridal dress. We hear this all the time, don’t we? I have been drawn to so many epic red carpet style dresses or couture dresses that have rocked Milan fashion week. I told myself that if I thought I could get away with wearing a particular dress to a swanky event one day then it wasn’t to be my wedding dress. That everlasting feeling of finding the one.
When I slipped in to the last dress of the day – I am sorry to sound cliché, but my sister and Mum welled up, as I looked in to the mirror and studied what I saw my sister exclaimed “that is the dress you are going to marry Jack in”. I don’t know whether it was because she reminded me that this fun day trying on lots of frocks was because I was indeed going to marry Jack or because I could visualize us being in our French chateau together in the dress I could see in the mirror, but I got that belly hop.
We left and headed out for my sister’s 30th birthday meal but headed right back to the shop for a second try on the following day. It really was lush.
I travelled back to Sydney with a very good contender in mind and was looking forward to hitting all the shops that I had become familiar with since being engaged so that I could tick off all those designers that I wanted to try on. My girlfriends in Sydney were excited to go dress shopping with me, but for one reason or another, I just couldn’t be bothered to spend weekends traipsing around shops trying on dresses. This was a weird feeling because I could window shop all day. I would still buy the bride magazines and look online and interrogate the fashion pages and this time, I got nothing. None of these were jumping out at me anymore. They didn’t even compare to that last dress that I tried on at Allison Jayne in Cardiff.
The next season’s stock was due to come out. I was starting to play a risky game. “My” dress wasn’t a classic design for that particular designer. If it didn’t sell well during the 2012/13 season then it might get discontinued. I had until May to decide if I wanted to pull the trigger or not. Without trying on another frock, at the beginning of March the waiting game was over for me. I called my Mum and asked her to put the deposit down and secure the design. I had lost my mojo for any other dress, I was simply in love with my dress.
The true test came when a dear friend who also got engaged while living in Sydney asked me and some other girlfriends to go wedding dress shopping with her. (She actually got engaged on a surprise trip to Hong Kong when her amazing boyfriend, and one of Jack’s best men, made a playlist of her favourite songs and dropped to one knee when Snow Patrol “Just Say Yes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW1hv37imjw came on – how cute!?) I had that feeling of dread that I was going to find something better that gave me second doubts on the dress that I had put a hefty deposit on. But to my absolute delight, after going to Sydney’s most stunning ateliers with the most scrumptious of fabrics and stunning dressing rooms, there was nothing that compared to my dress. Success!! A wedding dress has the most ridiculous amount of pressure on it and I have to say that I totally surprised myself with how easy it was for me to make my decision. What have been your highs, lows, surprises, lessons learnt along the way?
Some words Of Advice
Are you still with me…
I am going to wrap up this loooong post with some lessons I have learnt since saying yes to my dress.
Timings – as soon as I signed the contract for my dress I was told that my dress should be available for a fitting in the August. I planned a trip home in the September for a friends’ wedding which worked well with my wedding dress timings. Much to my disappointment I was then informed that the August date was merely a guide. Facts were that some dresses hadn’t arrived for October weddings (remember we were in the beginning of September!). Be sure to double check your timings before signing on a dotted line and ask for transparency on what is a guide and what is actual.
Trying on bridal party attire – After being disappointed that my dress wasn’t going to be available to try on, I asked if I could try the sample dress on again. My mum and sister were with me and we had taken my sister’s bridesmaids dresses along with us so she could try it on at the same time. We were informed that we couldn’t try a dress on that had been purchased outside of the store – it was policy. Unhappy, we asked if we could get the dresses out and hold them up against me in my dress to get an idea about what they will look like. No – we couldn’t even do that. Ask questions about policies when you’re trying on dresses. Many places won’t allow you to take photographs of dresses when you’re trying them on – annoying, but OK, I get it. Just ask a lot of questions about what you can and can’t do as you go through the purchasing and fitting experience.
Fittings – I’ve paid a fair whack to have my fittings done at Allison Jayne. When we discussed the fittings process, I asked all the right questions like how many fittings, what would happen in this scenario, what would happen in that scenario… and felt confident that I was going to get great care and attention to detail. I was aghast when I found out when trying to schedule a fitting that no fittings were available Saturday, Sunday or Mondays. I know I have quite intense logistical challenges, but honestly, I think most girls would struggle to make fittings that are only available Tuesday to Friday. Make sure that you ask about fitting schedules to make sure that it co-ordinates with your lifestyle. If you live and work in one part of the country but found your dress tucked away in a gorgeous boutique in another part of the country, on top of the logistics, there could be schedule issues. My issue was that they only use one seamstress. Luckily, to Allison Jayne’s credit, after a few frustrated emails from yours truly, they are being a lot more accommodating and have scheduled my fitting on a Saturday. I am very grateful for their flexibility. My advice to Allison Jayne – find another awesome seamstress who can work Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays so that you can offer consistently great service to your brides!!
So that’s it for me this week. We’ve heard lovely stories from Stef, Carly, Sarah, Jackie and Sophie about their wedding dress experiences and I can tell you that I will get a body-rocking-tingle when I see these femmes in their chosen frocks. So excitable.
How is your quest going? Did you have a similar experience to me? Was yours completely different?
Much love, Nicola