In my ongoing quest to find the perfect dress I felt a pilgrimage to that altar of TV consumerism, Kleinfeld Bridal, was called for. So we made an appointment, and off we went. For 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon, the place was pretty busy, and after watching some of the familiar faces from TV schmoozing with family in the waiting area, we met our bridal consultant, Ingrid, and off we went.
Ingrid’s room was significantly smaller than the ones you see on TV, but there was enough space for MM and I to talk to her and try on dresses. I made it perfectly clear what I wanted; form-fitting, show off my figure, no A-Line, and most importantly; something that I could actually try on, not “examples” of dresses that might look good on me.
Ingrid pointed out that her samples were mainly size 10’s, and that despite my being an 18 she was sure that with my narrow waist I could fit into that in some fashion. My waist is only narrow in comparison to my bust, and I told her that as a 16-18 in street clothes my chances of fitting into a 10 were non-existent. She then, of course, asked the magic question; what was our budget for the dress?
MM told her $10,000, but that I was considering a separate dress for our welcome party event the night before the wedding, too. Ingrid then asked if the budget was firm, as she had a couple of ideas that she thought would look great on me, but were a little pricier.
MM told her that he was flexible, but when I reminded her that I was only interested in dresses that had samples I could try on, she dissembled a bit, and then admitted that there were no larger sizes to sample in those pricier dresses. I guess they don’t expect a plus size woman to spend more than $10,000.
After a bit more discussion, Ingrid went to pull some dresses. She came back with three dresses, all Pnina Tornai. The first one I tried was a beautiful beaded crystal fabric in a mermaid design (at $8400), that looked good, but simply had the wrong neckline and couldn’t be modified due to the beaded fabric (straight across necklines in strapless give me the giant “uniboob” look I hate).
The next dress, also a Pnina, just didn’t look as good, and the third was in far too small a size. Ingrid then took us to a small storeroom and told us to pull some dresses that we thought would work. There were about 40 plus size dress in this space, which I presume was the higher-end plus size closet. Note: all these dresses were labeled BG- which I think meant big girl- jeez- couldn’t they think of something else?
We pulled our selections and went back to the changing room. This dress was the best of the bunch http://digitalperf.com/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1.jpg It really did a good job of accentuating my figure and had excellent structure in the bodice of the dress, much better than any other dress I have tried on. It had two problems, however. First, for $7300, the Swarovski crystal appliqué at the neckline looked really cheesy. I was told it could be removed or replaced. The second problem was the appliqué and the location at which the skirt was gathered. Its location drew the eye directly, as I put it, to “the magic kingdom.” It also drew the skirt forward in a way that just wasn’t esthetically pleasing, putting a “clump” of fabric directly in front of my feet. But this dress fit extremely well, and that was a major plus. Note: For $7300 I expected a dress to be perfect in design and fit.
I tried on a few more dresses including a couple of Lazaro’s that didn’t look as nice as the Pnina (the difference in structure in the bodice was really noticeable) and, a Maggie, that was brought in under Ingrid’s protests (she didn’t want to show me a $1000 gown) that was just ugly. Other than the Maggie, Ingrid didn’t bring in any dresses under ~$6K or so; it seems that she was going for the big sale or nothing at all.
Ingrid then brought in her last offering, another Pnina that was brand new to the collection and I was the first to try it on. It was definitely the silliest looking dress I had tried yet. http://digitalperf.com/albums/userpics/10001/normal_p2.jpg I have no idea what Pnina was thinking when she mixed the two designs together but the dress looks significantly worse in real life than it does in the picture.
It was clear to Ingrid that she couldn’t find the right combination for me and she didn’t even ask the famous Randy to help us out.
When we were leaving I spent a little time watching the girls in the main salon- the one they show on TV. There, Sarah, Joan, Randy, Keesha were helping out younger, thinner brides.
All in all the experience can be summed up by a paraphrase by the Cathy Bates character in Friend Green Tomatoes—“Honey, Im older than you, have more money than you, and know what I want” and it wasn’t at Kleinfelds.