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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Wedding Gowns (45)

Tuesday
Feb012011

David's Bridal vs. Vera Wang

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So everyone's heard the news, right? Vera did the unthinkable. She crossed the couture line and walked straight into David's Bridal. I believe there was an audible *gasp* in the wedding community. The tweets and posts were blowing up my Google Reader, that's fo sho! I had an email exchange with a designer friend of mine about it. Even The Candyman had an opinion.

You can look at this in few different ways, plus some I'm sure I can't think of. 

  • From the standpoint of a stylish bride on a budget: HELL to the YEAH! I get to wear Vera Wang and not break the bank!
  • From the standpoint of a stylish bride NOT on a budget: My "real" Vera Wang is way better.
  • From the standpoint of a designer dress boutique: What the hell is Vera doing? She's sending my customers to David's Bridal! That BITCH!
  • From the standpoint of David's Bridal: $$$$
  • From the stand point of Vera herself: $$$$

OK, maybe it's not that cut and dry.

Personally, I question the move. You have a high end, coveted wedding gown designer. She's appealing to the masses by making her line more affordable and available. One one hand, I feel like she's "dumbing down" her incredibleness. The moment you move from couture to ready-to-wear, you've cheapened yourself. She's cheapened her end product. On the other hand, she's made her incredibleness available to women who don't have $6K+ to blow on a gown. Had this happened when I was wedding gown shopping, I might have faced the horridness that I believe to be the inside of a David's Bridal shop, just to see what they looked like.

And what about those brides who do spend the $6K on a Vera Wang gown? Do we take those people into consideration? I think if I had a gown that cost me that much money and another bride could get similar for a mere fraction of the cost with the same brand name? I think that might piss me off. I don't know why. I don't think it would be the right emotion to have either, but I still think I would be at least mildly irritated. In all honesty, I think that would just be the snob in me being a big ol' bitch. It happens.

Now, if I were a designer boutique owner person, I would be pissed. PISSED! Sample gowns are not cheap. Running a luxury item business in this economy is not easy. Vera just made it even harder for these guys to eke out a living. These are shop owners who have supported her line for years. Yeah, I'd be super-pissed.

David's Bridal? Now they get some style cred above and beyond Oleg Cassini (*insert snarky comment here*). They get traffic into their stores. Win-win there.

Vera? She gets massive bucks. I'm sure her sales are not what they used to be because she's the supplier of a luxury item when the economy is in the Tinkletorium. She's probably protecting her own income. No one can fault a person for that, right?

What I think I am struggling with the most is what many people don't get: the DIFFERENCE between a Vera Wang gown and the David's Bridal White line by Vera Wang. Trust me, there will be a difference.

Fabric: Silk, satin, crepe de chine versus polyester. The major contributing factor to inexpensive gowns is in the choice of fabric. Synthetic fabrics have come a long, freakin' way in terms of aesthetics. Most everyday people walking around on the street cannot tell the difference between a poly blend and the real deal.

Beading: Hand-beaded versus pre-fab appliques or machine beading. Get close enough and you can tell.

Construction: French seams, built-in corsets, boning, lining, covered buttons/loops versus serged seams, standard fitting, zippers and little to no lining. 

Here, let's compare:

Vera on the left. David's Bridal on the right at $1200.

Vera left, David's Bridal on the right at $1000, $58 for the sash.

Vera on the left, David's Bridal on the right at $1200, crystal sash is $148.

Vera on the left, David's Bridal on the right at $600, with a crystal sash at $148.

Vera left, David's Bridal on the right at $800 with a $58 sash.

I could keep this up all day, the comparison of her couture line to David's Bridal. There are little differences, as a designer and seamstress, that I can see right away. On the first dress? All those layers on the DB version are most likely more symmetrical and easier to construct. Vera's original gown is much more random and artistically created. It's literally harder to make and takes mad fucking skills to accomplish. The top of the Vera gown most likely has a built in corset so that the sucker can be fitted to your torso and NOT MOVE AN INCH, while still being comfortable as all hell. The DB version? I'm going to guess it's lined and that's about it. Alterations on the DB gown will most likely be easier and less expensive to do too. The fit on a DB gown will definitely be different than on the real deal.

My first inclination is to say, "Hey! Just go try on one of each and see how you feel!" DO NOT DO THIS. If we've learned anything from "Say Yes to the Dress" it's NEVER EVER EVER try on a dress you cannot afford. Just don't do it. For your own sanity, please just don't. Why? Because if you do, you'll fall in love with it. You'll start to see the differences, the detailing, the weight of the fabric. You'll see how good really great designs fit and look and feel. It's a lot like flying first class and then having to fly coach. The comparison spoils you for life.

But the great thing is that there are designers out there that give you a little bit more of everything: fit, style, fabric, construction, all without breaking the bank. My Mikaella gown was $1300, as much as these new David's Bridal dresses. Overall, the thing that I "lost" on my dress was the overall construction. There was an issue with one of the straps, my pre-made bustle failed at the end of the night (I ripped it out dancing) and I needed serious bust alterations (*ahem*). I did try on gowns I couldn't afford, but I knew what I was getting myself into. Happily, the designer gowns I tried on weren't The One so I was able to shrug off the comparison quite easily. This is not something I'd chance to an inexperienced gown shopper.

But what do you, as an average bride (sorry, I don't mean YOU are average), care? Most people will just think you look beautiful in your dress. After you walk down the aisle, you'll still be married regardless of whether you wore Dior or Casablanca. You need to find The One and it can be done on a budget. I tried on over 100 gowns. That's right, over 100. It wasn't until I put on my Mikaela gown that I felt anything that I can only describe as "right."  It felt good. It felt right. I felt like me, cranked up a notch. I felt beautiful. I felt elegant. My photographer's wife cried when she saw me in it. My friends who I had dragged to various appointments all slowly nodded when I modeled it for them. I didn't want to take it off. That's how you should feel about your dress. Personally, I don't think that feeling comes with a particular price point attached to it.

So what's your take on the Vera thing? Does it even matter?

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Thursday
Jul292010

To DB or Not DB? Is That the Question?

 So, I uh - I think I accidentally had this post LIVE before I finished writing it. And didn't notice. Yeah, let me pull my head out of my ass and get back to you.....

OK, so let's start this post from scratch, shall we? I'm lifting part of this article from ForbesWoman. com. It's a great thinking-woman's website - without being all testosterone-laden like some other financial sites. And, it has a style section. Hooray for style sections! This week they posted an article on The World's Most Fabulous, Most Affordable  Wedding Gowns. I just had to post what they found as some of these are quite affordable - and pretty. Please note that the italicized dress commentary belongs to the article's author, not me.  

Project Runway winner and Houston-based designer Chloe Dao designs for real women with real budgets, and her wedding dress collection, launched this year, is no exception. Her Anna dress ($498, chloedao.com) is perfect for a bride looking to get more mileage out of her dress than a single wear.

T30SB Commentary: Sorta slutty, if you ask me. But I'm also a big fan of Dotted Swiss, so it's still appealing.

 

For a timeless wedding look, The Limited's Elegant wedding gown ($298, thelimited.com) fits the bill. The dress is a soft ivory, and has a tulle underskirt, which gives the dress a subtle ballgown shape.

T30SB Commentary: Love, but what is going on underneath this? Can you see those two hem lines underneath? Looks like cheap lining/tulle. WTF?

 

Grecian wedding dresses couldn't be hotter. Get the look with this Galina Collection Exclusive For David's Bridal, a soft chiffon A-line gown with one-shoulder floral detail ($399, davidsbridal.com). After the wedding you can shorten this gown into a cute dress.

T30SB Commentary: Eh. Good beach wedding dress.

Brides are no longer steering clear of short dresses (especially for a second wedding or to change into after the ceremony). Chloe & Reese's silk faille party dress ($460, chloeandreese.com) couldn't be any cuter, and it can morph into a party dress for post-wedding occasions.

T30SB Commentary: I mean, it's cute but is it wedding appropriate? Maybe for a cute City Hall type of affair.

This Ann Taylor silk strapless tiered gown ($495, anntaylor.com) is perfect for a beach wedding or a low-key backyard affair. Pair it with jewel-encrusted flat sandals and drop earrings to complete the look.

T30SB Commentary: Agree with the Forbes author. You could really bling this bitch out.

   

White House Black Market's bridal gown ($498, whitehouseblackmarket.com) was an instant hit at launch earlier this year and remains backordered until July 16. The strapless bodice and asymmetrical hem make the dress fashion-forward, and it flatters a variety of body types.

T30SB Commentary: Not a huge fan of asymmetrical hem lines and this model looks a little confused.

 

While BCBG doesn't officially sell wedding gowns, the retailer has noticed an uptick in its white gown business thanks to brides looking for chic off-the-rack options. BCBG's tiered lace gown ($548, bcbg.com) is a perfect choice for a black-and-white-themed wedding.

T30SB Commentary: Again, bling this baby out, change up the sash.

  

Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can't have an opulent-looking dress for your big day. Tadashi Shoji strapless silk organza gown with metallic trim ($798, nordstrom.com) is chock full of fun details and looks far richer than its price would have you believe.

T30SB Commentary: I wore a dress like this for a fashion show and I want to warn you - these dresses are a bitch to walk in. The layered tulle or feathers or whatever a dress like this might have? Well, it falls beautifully at the hem - but when you take a step, all that beauty goes sort of flowing underneath the main hem and you step on it. And trip. All I have to say is THANK GOD I was able to trip and catch myself all underneath the gown without faltering from the waist up. Catlwalk mishaps are NOT on my list of things I want to be known for.

For brides wanting to get that Audrey Hepburn look, J.Crew's silk taffeta Caroline gown ($900, jcrew.com) is a great choice. Complete the look with pearls and a fun vintage hat.

T30SB Commentary: Very pretty for a modern bride, but kinda expensive for what it is, dontcha think?

  

Perfect for city brides, Nicole Miller's Georgette drape bridal gown ($990, nicolemiller.com) looks like it could have been ripped from the runway. Keep your hair and makeup simple, and go with killer shoes to complete the look.

T30SB Commentary: Eh. Again. Not loving it, but someone else might.

So what do you think? I like some of them, but definitely not all of them have quite a gown type of feel to them. You don't necessarily want to wear just a dress. At least I didn't. The same day I read this article, I had also decided to go into David's Bridal. I know. Did you just throw up in your mouth a little bit? Yeah, me too. But I had seen an add on TV that they were having a $99 dress sale. I needed a cheap gown for a photo shoot, so ran in at lunch just to see what they had. Happily, because I was all, "I'm just here for photo shoot stuff!" they left me alone. I didn't have to fill out any of their bullshit or wait for a consultant to be all smarmy to me or whatever. I just started digging through the sale rack. All the sale stuff was reaking of David's Bridal Hell, so was on my way out and decided to check the bridesmaid dresses that were on sale 50-75% off. And guess what? I found a wedding gown over there for $79.99! And I kinda liked it. And it was my size.

So I think you guys know what happened then, right? Because who am I to pass up an opportunity to try on a wedding gown at any place, at any time? So I'm all, "Hey, just gonna toss this on to see how it falls, OK?" and ran into a fitting room before they could stop me. It was cute. Really cute. So boogied over to the register, she rung it up and it was HALF OFF. I got a freaking WEDDING GOWN for $43.69. No shit.

So I took a second and walked around the store and looked at the display dresses and I think I have to admit - they were cute. They were. So I left and didn't think much more about it until I started writing this post and I think I've figured it out. The dresses I saw displayed and liked were these:

$549

$950

$950

$850

The dress I tried on and bought was a strapless shirred tulle number in ivory with some lace overlay and a tiny bit of beading. Do you know what the common factor is on all these dresses? Tulle and layers or organza and layers. Tulle is tulle people. You CAN find silk tulle, but it has a totally different hand than your standard nylon tulle. It's really drapey and soft and even sort of stretchy. I personally don't care for it because of the drapey/stretch factor. And it's expensive as shit. Then there's your cheap organza and your silk and/or pricey organza. If you were to put a bolt of synthetic organza next to a bolt of silk organza, you could totally tell the difference. If you were to layer it in one long piece over satin, someone with fabric knowledge could tell the difference (yes Flo, I'm talking about you). If you were to ruffle it up in layers? Not so much. And at that point, who cares really?

The materials that I think have given DB a bad rap are their satins and silks. Oh Lord, help me they are so bad. And then they do horrid things like embroider and bead them and it just looks terrible. These are going to be your culprits:

Fake charmeuse doesn't do any one any kind of good.

The top part of this one would probably look OK, but the bottom will definitely not look as good as this photo.

Ditto on this one. Too much cheap beading will make it look cheap.

Oh, y'all - shiny is just baaaaaaad. And I have no idea why they would have a plus size dress in shiny fabric. Any material that shines or reflects (like sequins) makes you look bigger than you actually are. Duh.

So I think I might have changed my mind on the whole David's Bridal thing. Might. Cheap fabrics are OK, as long as they don't look cheap. How you use an inexpensive fabric is key. Once I get some pics of the DB dress I bought, I'll show you. Or I don't know, maybe just wander into DB and claim you're there for a photo shoot for your Etsy shop and they'll just let you be. Explore on your own. And you know what? I am TOTALLY going to just wear that wedding gown I bought whenever I effing want to. Why? Because it was forty bucks and I can. I think I might vaccum in it later tonight.The Candyman will be so pleased.

So, who is going to give DB a chance? Or, if you already have a DB experience, feel free to share it. Change my mind about the place. G'head. Give it a shot.

Tuesday
Apr202010

I Fell Through the Ceiling and Wore Priscilla of Boston, III

 

 

 Yeah, that's right. I just gave you the money shots right out of the gate! Blammo! How's this for bling first thing? Love it, right? Me too! OK, first is the crazy-big-sexy-pearl-bejeweled-bedazzled chest plate of a necklace. I LOVE IT! Sadly, I did NOT get to wear it. *pout*

 Next in the line up of holy-gorgeous-goodness is ruffled and bejeweled cuffs!   They tie on with pretty little ribbons. That front pattern was really cool! It was bling mixed with a raw cotton material and a satin ribbon. It was just a really great mix of color and texture and was elegant and totally hip at the same time. Loved it! I didn't get to wear that one either. *pout*

 The third one was a little more rough and tumble - lace with leather and antique brooches and Cameos. Not sure about the snaps though - not very bridal in my eyes. But then again, I'm sure a super-cool chick could rock that look, right? Cool, regardless of use. I think we can all agree to that, right? No, not these either. *POUT*

OK, so maybe I saved just a little sumpin'sumpin for the end....

 OK, not a very good picture on my behalf, but still shiny and sparkly and blingtastic, right?!? And you guessed it. *POUT* I mean damn! What's a girl gotta do to get some bling on? Poo.

Last, but not least, a big schmooshy hug to Charlotte from The Bride Room! Thanks for letting me rock some fly dresses! I guess I can't pout too much.

SQUEEEEEE! Look how giant I am and how petite Miss Charlotte is! This picture makes me smile.

 

 

Monday
Apr192010

I Fell Through the Ceiling and Wore Priscilla of Boston, II

Aiy. I am so sore. Even though I only have a few bumps and brusies (OK, one bruise is particularly heinous) I didn't feel all the bad Sunday morning. By the time I got home from Carnevale, I felt like I'd fallen through a ceiling or something!             Oh yeah, riiiiiiight.

OK, so Carnevale. I don't think I've ever sat in a salon chair for that long before! Whew. There was inordinate amount of time spent on hair and makeup!  I think it would have been more fun if I hadn't felt all totally old and shit. I mean, my God, some of these girls had to have been born when I was old enough drive. When I hang out with people my own age, you don't feel quite so old as when you're hanging out with the younger crowd. It didn't help that the stylist called out my hair as a mess. Yes, a mess. A mess because I have gray hair. A lot. I found my very first gray hair on the morning of my thirtieth birthday. No lie! I've been rapidly graying ever since and have been coloring my hair for a looooong time. If y'all haven't noticed, I'm fair with freckles and I have kinda auburn-ish hair. That auburn is my actual color, just "enhanced." And it's REALLY hard to find a colorist who can do true auburn hair that doesn't look orange or purple.  I don't want to do full color because it's harder to control roots that way. I like the way I have it now. I LIKE a little of the gray showing. In fact, I pay an ungodly amount of money to keep some of that gray in. I don't mind it. In fact, it's the one thing about aging I'm cool with. I totally plan to go totally gray. I'm so going to be that crazy, wild-haired old lady. But you know, when I'm 60. Not now. So I was feeling a little self-conscious about my age and I get a comment like that from some twenty-nothing with face piercings, a weak chin, bad skin and a dye-job that indeed, was a bit of a mess. Yeah, I know - but she started it!!

Anyway, I lost a little of my mojo that day. Feeling self-conscious, none of the "models" were being super-friendly. I was SOOOOO happy the girls from The Bride Room were there. Those chicks are so cool and so much fun - even when they're all crazy busy in the middle of a fashion show. I was impressed.

The best part of Carnevale was definitely the fashion show though. The dresses were so gorgeous. There were some interesting hair-do's too. 

  

 

 

And then there were hair toys!

 

 

Are you inspired at all? I REALLY liked the hair in the very first photo. It was by the far the most naturally pretty of all the hair. I wish I had taken a picture from the front or other side. It looked totally romantic with the lace Amsale gown she was in. I liked the red head with the braids too, but it could have been done so much better! For her last dress, it was thrown up into a messy bun to go with the gown she was rockin'! Look how cute she is. Oh and this dress? To die for!

I love the messy pearls! Tell me she's not adorable. It was her first fashion show too!

 

So in love with these gowns!

I was a little nervous about walking down the runway. No one wants to trip and trust me, this catwalk was a bit scary! The thing that calmed my nerves was that I saw Eugene at the very end of the catwalk and was so at ease! Eugene? Oh, he's a part of Heather and Eugene from 2Duce2 Videography. I love them. See:

So I have a confession and I don't think Eugene is going to like it. I did NOT want a videographer at our wedding. Did not. I HATE being filmed. Hate it. Eugene knows this. Cameras are OK, but video? Uh uh. But ya wanna know the truth? When I saw Eugene at the end there, I just relaxed. I felt completely at peace. Perhaps that would have happened if we had hired them. So I'm going to say this, if there's something that you don't want to do, maybe hearing out an expert or just reviewing another option might be worthwhile. I'm just sayin'.

Oh! This totally reminds me of something! I need to pass on information that I think is pretty important. Brides, if you meet with a vendor and for whatever reason you do not decide to go with them, let them know. Particularly if you know you are NOT moving forward. A quick voice mail or email of "Thanks, but we've decided to go with another vendor. We appreciate your time and thank you for meeting with us." is plenty and is all any sane vendor will need. You do not owe a reason why. Keep it simple and clear.  It will save a vendor a lot of time and worry wondering how a meeting went for them!

On that note,  I will end this post on the one half-way decent pic I have from the show so far. It was right before our first pass. I was wearing Priscilla of Boston (duh) and it had POCKETS! It felt incredible regal and quite comfy. The girl next to me looks amazing in her gown, no? Love the ruffles!

 

Hopefully, I'll have a few more (and better pics) to share of all the gowns. I do have more bling to show! You'll have to wait for it though.....

 

Thursday
Apr152010

It's an Ivory Orgasm. 

I'm going to have to defer to the pros on this one...I'm hoping the ladies from The Bride Room will chime in on this one since there were actually there. This past week was the big reveal for Spring 2011 in the wedding gown world. New York was hoppin' with all the shows. I was following twitpics where ever I could. You know what? iPhones dont' do those gowns justice.

I'm just sayin'.

In my personal review here's what I saw a lot lot of:

One shoulder action = Hot.

The big, giant flower has migrated from our heads to the gowns. Accept it. It's here to stay for at least another year.  Personally? J'adore.

PEPLUMS! Those of us with saddle bags thank you.

Ruching seems to have taken on a less gathered look and more of a pleated look. I think this is good.

Pockets = Still totally cool. Every bride needs to stash a little sumpin'-sumpin.

Tulle - Layer it over, under or all over the effin' place.

The Drop Veil - An interesting approach that I can't quite get my arms around.

Bizarre-o Pick-Ups - SO much better than the all-over, symmetrical pick-up look. No one wants to look like meringue.

 

Here are some of my faves from Bridal Bonanza Week!

Amsale

Amsale

Angela Sanchez

Angela Sanchez

Carolina Herrera

(DYING! LOVE IT!)

Christos

Christos

Douglas Hannant

Douglas Hannant

(STUNNING! A personal fave!)

Dress Me Fancy

(Love it, shoes and all!)

Ines Di Santo

Ines Di Santo

Ines Di Santo

(GASP!)

Jenny Lee

J. Crew

J. Crew

Kenneth Pool

Liancarlo

Melissa Sweet, Priscilla of Boston

Monique Lhuillier

(It's like she's a Bridal Cloud, floating down the aisle.)

Monique Lhuillier

Oscar De La Renta

Oscar De La Renta

(Interesting. Interesting. The jury is still out, but I am intrigued.)

Oscar de la Renta

(Dotted Swiss? Purrrrrrr.)

Platinum, Priscilla of Boston

Reem Acra

Reem Acra

Rivini

Rivini

Romona Keveza Couture

(A feather crumb catcher? Hell, yes.)

St. Pucchi

St. Pucchi

Ulla Maija

(I can't decide if this is my favorite...)

(Marie, this isn't the dress for you, but it's close. I see you in something unique like this; somewhat classic with a suprise, funky edge.)

Ulla Maija

(...or if this one is.)

Ulla Maija

Val Stefani

 

The End.

What are you loving/wanting in a dress? I HAD to have a low back and it could not be white-white. It had to be champagne or ivory (I look washed out in bright white). What is it about your dress that is a signature of YOU? Do tell.

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