Down With The Gown

Wedding dresses.

Bane of my recent existence.

Short, long, meringue, mermaid, strapless, layered, rouched. Just stop. Whatever your preference, the only thing I ask is that the architecture is well-designed.

Yes, you heard me. Architecture.

I’ll skip over the inexplicable fact that most bridal stores only stock size eight to twelve samples.

(Me to the shop girl: “Well how am I supposed to buy a dress if I can’t try it on?” Shop girl: “Most brides just hold it up to themselves in the mirror and decide from there.” Me to the shop girl: “……………………” True story.)

Let’s not discuss that and instead let it simmer away like a privatised and overpriced natural spa facility until a later date. I’ll presume instead that we’re all a healthy size six to twenty-four and continue with the real logistics of wedding dress shopping.

Let me ask you some questions. Are you (YOU, the reader) made of rigid, moulded plastic, like a Barbie doll? Is your size sixteen skin un-dimpled and streamlined? Do your boobs stay perfectly still when you jog? Do you realise on your lunch break that you’ve forgotten to wear a bra to the office and laugh to the person next to you before turning back to your computer with nonchalance? Are your muffin tops… Well.  Let’s just stop there.

Architecture. It keeps stuff from flopping, stretching and generally getting on your tits, while simultaneously and ironically …being on them. In this particular case, the architecture I’m referring to is the functional, logistical, steel-boned, tight-laced inner-core that not only keeps your gown from falling to the ground, but smoothes the bumps, lifts the humps and sucks you in where it matters. In short, the element that truly makes you look your very best.
It’s the least you can expect when spending a small fortune of the gown of your dreams, especially one that takes almost half a year to custom-make in lord-knows-where.

Somewhere between the early 1960’s and the sexual and feminist revolutions of the 1970’s, women burned their bras along with all memory of good-quality, steel-boned corsetry. I should note that I love my feminist friends, both historical and modern, along with all their hard work. But I also believe that a feminist in this day and age can choose to embrace and exaggerate her natural figure, (in much the same way a Mr Universe contestant may) without being accused of intentionally drawing the male gaze.

That said, if you’d like to wear your pyjamas to your wedding, by all means, I commend you. But if you are the kind of lady who likes the idea of a fluffy white dress, that’s cool too.

But, Alas! Maybe it’s all too late. Half the women I know wouldn’t know a corset from a crumpet and even less would know where to source one. (The rest of the women I know are burlesque performers and are therefore, exempt from this social commentary).
The main conclusion that I reached while shopping for wedding dresses was that the bridal industry was having a laugh at the expense of the majority of modern women.

Now, I consider myself to be fairly well educated when it comes to shape wear. Being pretty curve-tastic, I’ve tried them all – from corsets to vintage reproduction girdles and even the substantially more unfortunate-looking flesh-toned bodysuits. But then I’ve always been interested in that sort of thing.

For my wedding shapewear, I had a custom corset made by Heresy Corsets for a very reasonable £140, and then went in search of the perfect accompanying bra. You know, the kind laced with Lycra and rubber bands that bite your skin. A well-known high street lingerie retailer led me to their “bridal range” of strapless bras. Yes, they looked pretty. But did they look like they could manage to uplift so much as a pea? Hell, no! I lament the busty bride-to-be who puts her faith in this high street store, carefully packing away her lacy new under-things, ready for the big day, only to find on the way to the church that she’s having to hoist her dress up to her chin every thirty seconds for fear of losing it altogether.

It’s a scary thought. Scary, but avoidable, if you’ve got the right advice from the right sales people.

However, I was to find that it was not only brides-to-be pretty much completely clueless when it comes to the simple issue of shaping up and smoothing over. In the early days of my wedding dress search (not that there was much of a search – I only tried on five dresses before decided “That one’ll do”), I walked past one bridal store and popped in to ask about a lovely piece displayed in the window. It was a heavy satin gown, single shouldered with an impressive train.

“How much is this one in the window?” I asked the young sales assistant. The price, I was informed, was just over a grand. Reasonable, I thought. Eye-catching, classic and elegant. But did the architecture match the exterior?
“It’s boned, isn’t it?” I asked, noting the girl’s furrowed brow as I spoke.
“Oh… yeah.” She replied, uncertainly.
“And what are they made of?” I asked, rapidly losing faith.
She looked at me with a quizzical expression.
“Is it steel? Plastic?” I urged.
She shrugged. “Plastic?”

The Victorians new how to keep a wedding gown where it was supposed to be.

The Victorians new how to keep a wedding gown where it was supposed to be.

I ran a hand down the bodice of the gown. It was plastic alright.  What a waste. And what an insult to today’s brides-to-be!

I found it sad that the majority of dresses I looked at featured barely-there interiors. And taking into consideration the relatively small amount I paid for my wedding corset, you’d think that more corsetiers would be working alongside bridal companies to offer the type of shape wear one would have worn underneath a heavy gown in centuries past.

We may be living in an era of body perfection, but let’s think rationally. Not every bride is going to be a size eight gym junkie with silicone boobs. More than once, I’ve heard the voice of Mugatu in Zoolander shrieking, “Am I the only person who sees this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!”

Does the bridal industry not see this? Many designers kindly offer a “plus size” range, but rarely do you see a plus-sized bride clutching onto a tree while being laced into a proper, honest-to-God, ass-kicking steel-boned gown. Frankly, you more likely to see an insipid plastic, made-in-China basque (a BAAAAAAAAASQUE for Christ’s sake!!!!!). The kind you wear to a hen party at Wetherspoons for a laugh. The kind you use once and destroy.

Give me a proper corset you can bet your ass will be auctioned off in 2113 on Antiques Roadshow. A corset that does the job and THEN some.

Give me a plus-sized bride that get’s what she paid for.

Give me a bridal industry that does it’s homework.

Screw it, just give me a Jack and Coke.



2 thoughts on “Down With The Gown

  1. What about girls with the opposite problem? No chest whatsoever? I will be wearing some sort of suctioncup device in a vain attempt to push the skin in my (alleged) breast area up into a cleavage type arrangement (something i am a little worried about).

    What about if you DON”T want strapless? Not every bride suddenly gets a ring on their finger and thinks “finally, my moment of shoulder freedoom has arrived. I am not against strapless dresses as a style, i just know they don’t suit me, i have nothing (besides reams of hollywood tape) to hold them up and I would feel uncomfortable. Seems I am the minority. I was on the end of more than a few quizzical looks when the sickly sweet sales assistant asked what my “dream gown” looked like (I don’t have one. I was too busy dreaming about winning an Oscar, entering into a sordid affair with Ewan MacGregor, and living at Lake Como. Obviously i should have been more focused on lace and tuille), and I stated “not strapless”. I swear it was going through their minds “she won’t even make it to the ceremony, she clearly does not want to get married, i won’t waste my time here”. One assistant even said “you might struggle to find anything to suit”.

    Well you know what shop b-artch, I did find something to suit. In spite of my no boobs, and the fact that three months out i know i am going to have to don the spanks to hide the flabby tummy, and i’ve never seen this dress in any bridal magazine which suggests it was a sample that no one loved.

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