Thursday, 7 July 2011

Dress shopping

I had my first foray into dress shopping last Friday.  I was scared, I'll be honest.  I'm a size 24 and so I knew, KNEW, there would be nothing in there that would fit and that I would probably leave feeling dejected about having been so crap at dieting for the last 6 months (3 years!)

I had a rough idea of what I wanted, dreaming endlessly about a frothy, polka dot tulle Candy Anthony number. I knew that Candy Anthony was way out of my budget.  Now, let me set it straight, my budget is TINY!  And it's even tinier given the fact that I'm saddled with huge debts from my uni days and have zilch left each month to save (get those violins out for my poor ass!)  So when my mum told me that a friend of hers had bought a Pronovias copy from China for £200, I entered, '£200' into my spreadsheet and carried on my merry way!

So I reluctantly booked an appointment to try some on 'just to see what was out there'.  I chose Cloud 9 Bridalwear in Cheam Village.  I have two bridal shops within a 5 minute drive of home, the first one I tried, well, despite leaving a voicemail message and an email, failed to get back to me - oh well, you won't get my 'business' (I use quotes because as I said, I had already ruled out being able to afford anything in these shops!!).

Cloud 9 it was, and I'm really glad I chose them.  I was greeted by Tracey into the tiny Tudor house, packed literally to the rafters with yards of Tulle, silk, satin, lace and taffeta, all stitched into some gorgeous (and some not so gorgeous!) dresses.  The first dress Tracey whipped out was the Chanticleer Babilee, as I said it was one I had seen on the website and that I wanted a 50s tea length look:

Chanticleer Babilee - Source
It was nice, but, obviously it didn't fit and because I'm already short and fat it made my look even shorter and fatter.  Fail.

So, next, onto a full length gown.  Tried a couple on, neither really inspired me although they did fit so my mum instantly thought I should buy them but quite frankly, they were horrid and I hated every minute in them.  They were too fussy, too bustled up for me.  I felt too trapped and constrained in them and really, I wanted something laid back and funky, not traditional and naff (no offence...!)  Cue awful pictures of me in the long dresses:

Hahaha, and look at my awful tan lines!

'Scuse the bra!  You can see I just look pissed off in that dress!
The last one I tried on (I did attempt a couple of others but I couldn't even get through the openings to be pinned in so we'll move on!) was the Chanticleer Monteverdi.

Chanticleer Monteverdi - Source
Chanticleer Monteverdi - Source
Chanticleer Monteverdi - Source
And now for the awful pictures of me in it!!

With a pretend halterneck strap (detached from the Babilee)
Bodice detail
Well, what can I say!  It had the huge tulle A-Line skirt I was after.  Gorgeous lace and beading, sweetheart neck bodice and being floor length it meant I didn't make me look too short (although, if I lost some weight, I may still get it made tea length.)  It comes with an ivory satin sash but the shop lady fetched a purple sash for me and I quite liked the look of it.

Looking back at the pictures, I know it really is the one I want.  The only problem is that because it was a size 14 the boob 'holes' are in the wrong place so it looks a bit odd, but you get the idea right?!

I'll definitely go and try on some more but ah, will any live up to the Monteverdi?  The only one I didn't try on which I'd like to is the Chanticleer Aurora:

Chanticleer Aurora- Source
Having seen Lou from Met My Match in hers last weekend it looked gorgeous on her (probably look crap on Hobbit sized me!) but it is one I'd like to see.

Now to either find someone to make me a copy or start saving up.  The problem is, we're so poor most of the time, that spending a months wages on a dress for one day is quite frankly just way too eye watering to consider.  Conundrum!

Be interested to know what other brides have done when faced with this decision (without prejudice, we're all friends here!)

P.S. It's taken some guts for me to post these pictures of myself - be kind!


  1. You look so pretty in all those dresses! You are a natural bride, unlike I was (seriously dude, I use phrases like 'seriously dude' without irony).

    I tried on a lot of dresses- I desperately wanted an empire line 'Jane Austen' - and once I found what suited me I went round all the top-end-high-street (Monsoon, Coast, Phase 8), found a cream empire line evening/wedding dress, and spent the money on a statement gown and hunted a thrifted handmade tiara (£40, originally £200, handmade). My final look cost less than my mum's.

    For a 50s look, would Poppy Valentine or Vivienne of Holloway be good to source a made-to-measure gown, then style it up with accessories? Or a local seamstress if you take these pics...

  2. Doh- I meant 'statement veil'. With the money I saved on my cheapo Monsoon dress.

  3. I'm definitely going to look at Monsoon. Will look up Poppy Valentine. I think VoH are going to be too short (from what I've seen). But I think I am going to have to find a local girl to make something for me. (I live in hope one exists somewhere around here!!)

  4. i think you look pretty in all of them! i really like the one with the purple sash :)

    I can't wait til I can go wedding dress shopping one day! I know I'm going to have the same dilemma - wanting a fantabulous dress, but not bearing the idea of spending so much.

    I think that when the time comes, my parents will probably want to buy my dress for me. Which would be lovely, but then comes the guilt of asking for an expensive dress! You can't win either way!

    Fingers crossed you find a wonderful vintage dress for a good price! Do you read Rock n Roll Bride? I'm pretty sure I saw a post on there recently, recommending a website for vintage dresses in larger sizes....

    Good luck! x

  5. Ah yes my dear...seems like we had the exact same seems that long may be the way to go if you are short.
    And I actually think you look gorgeous in the dresses xxx

  6. I got my dress from a little boutique in the end. It's not a traditional dress by any means (it's knee length and champagne coloured) but my budget was £300 max and it cost £90, plus it's pretty unique and I can wear it again! :)

    Have you thought about maybe renting a dress? I looked into that and it's miles cheaper than buying one - you just have to be careful you don't rip it or spill something I suppose!

    Littlewoods have an eBay clearance shop which is pretty good - all their dresses (& some suits) but much much cheaper. Most of them are probably the more traditional styles but maybe worth a look? :)

  7. Hey Sarah, I never knew you could rent dresses over here, my South African friends all rented their dresses as it's apparently the done thing over there, but at the same time, my dad says I'm going to get Snakebite down my dress (classy!) so perhaps renting's not a good idea!!

    Will definitely look at Littlewoods though, I had seen one on their site a while ago (pre-engagement-head-in-the-clouds) but had forgotten about them so thanks for the heads up on the eBay store, will go have a look!

    I bet your dress is lush, totally 'you'! Hope you're well, nice to hear from you.

    Thanks for the comments girls!

    Oh and P.S. I'll withhold my comments about RnR Bride....

  8. I looove that dress on you! What a gorgeous ride you will make...whichever one you wear!
    I bet you could find a local seamstress who could help you work out a perfect design and make it for you! I love the idea of something somewhere between the VOH dresses and your lovely Chanticleer dresses- bet you would look fab.

    Good luck on your hunt lady!


  9. Hi Amy,
    Thank you so much for the reply. I haven't made a final decision yet - however I've been able to find the Mondiverdi for £750 in a sample sale plus I'd need a few alterations. I'm still toying with it....
    Thanks again for all your help!


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