Post # 1
Alright girls, I definitely need advice.
My awesome friend Jen has scheduled a full day of San Francisco dress shopping next Tuesday. We’re going to Haute Bride, Bridal Galleria, Glamour Closet, Amy Kuschel and I’m not sure where else.
What do I need to do to prepare for this day.
Did you make notes beforehand, spreadsheets, other tools?
I’ve looked at dresses online and know what I *think* I like, but I have no idea what will really look good on me.
What did you wear, what did you bring, what else do I need to be prepared for?
This is way girlier than anything I’ve ever done!
Post # 4
Go in with an open mind and try on whatever catches your fancy – no matter how silly it seemed. I didn’t know what to expect at my first dress shop, so I pulled all the dresses that appealed to me to get an idea of what shapes were flattering (or not). Even though I did NOT want a big white dress, I tried one on "for fun" and it turned out to be THE dress. In my defense, it is ivory, not white, but still – you never know what will click.
Wear reasonable underwear – sometimes people help you get into the dresses, so plan accordingly. 🙂
Most importantly – enjoy and have fun.
Post # 5
Wear underwear you’re not embarassed to be standing around in. If you have a strapless bra you might bring that; I just tried on dresses in my panties. The shop will have a long-line bra that hundreds of brides have used, but since most dresses have some boning in the bodice, you don’t really need anything on top unless you’re quite well endowed.
It helps to take some photos of the kind of dresses that interest you. There are lots and lots of kinds of dresses, and sometimes it’s hard to explain what you like – and a picture is worth 1,000 words, right? You can tear pages out of bridal magazines, or print them from the internet. I took in about a half dozen photos of dresses in the style I liked – the shop actually had three of them for me to try.
Have an idea of what you want to spend. If you tell the bridal consultant that (for instance) you don’t want to spend over $1000, they shouldn’t show you anything outside your price range.
Although a lot of shops won’t let you take pictures, you could bring a camera on the off chance that they will.
I second that an open mind is a good idea. While I actually bought one of the dresses that I had in my little stack of photos, I also ended up with a veil – which I had never thought I wanted.
If you find a dress you love, try to wear it for a while. Sit in it, walk in it, dance in it. Try to figure out whether you really will be comfortable in this dress for around 7 hours – which, with photos, is about how long you’ll be wearing it.
You really don’t need to worry about shoes, the exact undergarments you’ll be wearing, or anything else until you have bought a dress and are having it fitted.
Post # 6
Bring chocolate, champagne, an adorable pen and notebook, and tissues. One thing NOT to bring, the fantasy of finding "The Dress." That fantasy is a lot of pressure. My first time dress shopping I was so overwhelmed (they are all so pretty, how am I going to choose, they cost so much $ – what if I make the wrong choice, why aren’t I crying and finding the one…). Go with the attitude – I’m going to have so much fun with my friend. After my first day of shopping (and lots of tears because I was so overwhelmed), my mom, sister and I took the fun approach (with champagne and chocolate at EVERY shop) – and had a blast – and ended up with a fabulous dress. Have fun!!
Post # 7
Tell your consultant that you want to try on different shapes. I ended up with pick ups and that is something I never would have guessed. My cousin got a mermaid style and this was something she didn’t even want to try on at first. So have the consultant pull one of each shape and go from there. Pictures don’t translate to your individual shape. Good luck and remember to have fun and don’t feel bad if you don’t find anything your first time.
Post # 8
Bring printouts or magazine pages of dresses you like. Point out the things you like about them to your consultant, just so they have an idea of your tastes.
Wear heels. You’ll stand differently and be taller, so dresses will look better on you (and more like they will on your wedding day).
Bring a hair elastic or barrette, so you can pull your hair back if you want to see what an updo would look like with the dress.
Have your friend bring a notepad to sketch out the dresses if they won’t let you take pictures. That way you can keep track of what you tried on, and what you liked/didn’t like.
Have fun! Try on lots of different dresses, even if you’re not sure you’ll like them. When else will you get to try on so many expensive articles of clothing? 😉
Post # 9
I really just brought myself. I had no idea and I was wearing a thong but I am sure they have seen worse! Just go and have fun. The only thing I would say is there might be too many places for one day. It gets overwhelming and with going to 4 places you could easily try on over 20 dresses so maybe save some for another day.
Post # 10
Be prepared for irritating consultants. Some are helpful and most are awful — you know, the kind of ladies where if you’re laughing and having a good time they don’t think you’re serious enough to drop a lot of cash in their store. Or the ones that keep insisiting you try on some hideous frock instead of a dress that you picked out and actually want to try on. Or the ones that think trying on a dress or two is enough when you’ve made an appointment and driven all the way over to the store and there’s no one else in the place (and so you’re not hindering anyone else’s oppurtunity to try on the dresses)…
Be prepared for some of that and laugh at all it’s silliness when it occurs.
Post # 11
I think I’m at risk of repeating what others said, but granny panties! More specifically nude colored no line would be great. I stood around in a shealth dress not realizing my bright pink panties were showing, not cool. Also, if you plan to try on any more form fitting gowns wear some sort of shapewear. It makes a world of difference on how it lays and your opinion of the gown. Pictures too! Some dresses look so much different in the mirror than in camera. If they don’t let you take pictures, I would highly suggest sneaking them in the dressing room with your cell (I know, I’m bad). Try on everything! It’s hard work but maybe you’ll have a good laugh or maybe you’ll find something you would have never considered. Good luck and have fun!!!
Post # 12
Oh, this is a goldmine of advice! Thank you so much.
I wish I could spread out the try-ons so that I’m not going to so many places in one day, but this is my one chance to go to the places i want to check out in San Francisco. But I do have to be mindful of the fatigue factor, since I can’t even handle shopping for regular clothes most of the time!
I think I might run out and buy a bustier type bra before I go, just to get the best idea of the dresses.
I would bring heels, but I doubt that I’m going to wear any to the wedding. I put on heels maybe once a year, usually whining my way through a benefit dinner or something. I don’t want to just remember foot discomfort from my wedding (which is pretty much all I remember from the fancy events that I wore heels too!)
Did you all wear regular street clothes to these sessions? Part of me is tempted to throw on something like a track suit, but I suppose that will really make the sales people inattentive!
Post # 13
I tried to wear something nice so as not to appear like riff raff and get thrown out of the fancier stores.
Oh, and if you find certain elements that you like that don’t seem to be in just one dress, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a dressmaker to see what they can come up with. I found a lady whose work is beautiful and will custom make me a dress out of good silk fabric for around $1200 — includes all alterations and bustle. (Giddiness!)
Post # 14
It was February and we had just had a huge ice storm, followed by two feet of snow. I wore jeans, a v-neck sweater, a down jacket, and hiking boots. It really does’t matter what you wear – you’re going to spend most of your time standing around in your underwear anyway.
I personally think it shouldn’t matter how you’re dressed, as long as your clothes are reasonably presentable and clean. If you get some kind of really snotty staff at one shop or another, don’t be afraid to just leave (as pointed out, you’ve got a serious schedule anyway). There’s no point in making the experience unpleasant. And you’re just shopping for fun anyway, right? I’m guessing you’re not going to buy a dress in SF – is your wedding in Seattle? There are plenty of great bridal shops in Seattle.
However – thinking about that – it will be even more important to get (sneak if necessary) photos if you find something you really like, if you’re going to try to go back home and locate the dress at a shop there. Often the sample gowns have the labels removed, so unless it’s a style you recognize from the internet or a magazine, you can’t really be sure of the designer or style.
As far as what to try – it’s really up to you. I never tried different silhouettes, or wildly different styles. If you really don’t have a good feeling for your personal style, or haven’t worn many formal dresses, it’s a good idea. If you already know that you want a particular silhouette or cut, there’s no point spending your time trying something that isn’t it (IMO) – unless you just have fun trying on dresses. Don’t be afraid to NOT try on anything that you know is wrong for you. For instance, because I wanted NO sequins, NO beads, and NO lace, the first shop we visited kept bringing me slinky slip-type gowns. I was also pretty adamant that I wasn’t getting married in anything that I wasn’t comfortable wearing in front of my dad, my elderly uncles, and DH’s teenaged son. If you’re not up front with the bridal consultants about what you don’t want, you’re not likely to see a lot of what you do want.
And once you find The Dress (or once you’re just overwhelmed and tired of it all) don’t be afraid to quit. I found mine at the second shop we visited, and cancelled three other appointments. It’s supposed to be fun – there’s no reason to flog yourself from shop to shop if you’re not having a good time.