Monday, 17 September 2012

Dress to Impress

       Sometimes, a dress makes all the difference.

       Even if a girl lives in blue jeans all her life, the famous allure of the wedding dress is not always the hardest thing to push aside.

I met my best friend and MOH Lizzie at College nearly seven years ago during our first English Language lecture. She was wearing jeans, a red jacket and a nifty-looking hat, and I sensed in her a sort of kindred spirit. I sat down next to her, and as Bogie once said, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Since then I’ve seen her in jeans, comfy slacks, pyjama bottoms, miniskirts and going-out dresses. But the first time she came out of the changing room at the bridal shop, a little tear escaped my eye. Wedding dresses are just...different.

I don’t know if you’ve been following the car-crash viewing that is My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings on Channel 4 but the dresses that the young Gypsy wives insist on wearing look like Barbie and the Disney Princesses fighting inside an Eton mess. The cakes are thirty tiers high – some are merely decoys covered in icing – and the decorations look like Christmas in Bel Air. But then, the day after the wedding, the wives start a whole new life: cooking and cleaning for their husbands, not being allowed out without permission, bearing children and doing little else. It’s a very surreal experience – you go from chuckling at seven-foot-wide wedding gowns to wondering how this sort of oppression is still acceptable. It’s as if their day in the spotlight is their wedding day, and they spend the rest of their lives paying it off.

My New Years’ Resolution was to try on a dress, so I took Liz and my darling Mum to the bridal boutique down the road.

If you’ve ever been dress shopping (either for yourself or with a lady), you probably know that there are lots of rules. Here’s the abridged version: not every dress suits every girl. So my plan of action was to try on a range of different styles. I’m not going into details here, mainly because my future husband reads this Blog, and the little devil's itching to know details that I don't wish to pass on.

I’ve worn quite a few dresses in my time, but nothing quite prepares you for the sight of yourself in a wedding dress. I’ve seen other people in them, I’ve seen plenty at the wedding fayres I’ve been to, but it’s nothing like actually wearing one. Unlike any other dress, they’re designed to fit you like an extra layer of skin; they’ve got more layers than an onion and more often than not you need an extra pair or so of hands to help you get into them. It’s all very princess-like.

Luckily I’m not a Gypsy, and Brawny doesn’t expect me to give up my individuality in exchange for a lavish wedding ceremony, but the dress is still symbolic of my transition from single girl to wife. Aside from your wedding, you never wear a dress quite like this ever again (unless Miss Havisham).

And so begins my quest for the perfect wedding gown. Like every other bride, I want to find the one that defines me best; the one that makes everyone’s eyes widen in that silent “Wow!” gesture as I walk down the aisle. But I’m a fussy creature: I don’t know what I want, but I know what I don’t want. Sort of. Wedding dresses have been used many a time as metaphors for finding the perfect mate; you desire something that complements you, fits you in all the right places, emphasises the best parts and skims over any unflattering bits. But Brawny was a lucky find in an unlikely place: the retail equivalent of finding an unworn Vivienne Westwood original at a car boot. Once you’ve found such a rarity, you won’t ever need to look anywhere else.

And that’s essentially what I want for my dress. Wish me luck!

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