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Seven Tips: One White Dress

I feel bad for neglecting this blog as long as I have, but I've had no inspiration - no real updates I felt worthy to share. If my explanation doesn't suit, the 9-5 (or, in my case, the 7-4), summer - now fall - lovin' and the general chaos of life are also on my list of excuses.

Since my last post, finding the perfect outfit has been my primary objective. The parameters of Operation White Wedding include(d):
  • Casual/Comfortable/Classy/Color (not white)/(un)Common
  • Cost: $500-$550 range (If using TheKnot.com's price scale, it'd be represented as one "$")
  • Cut: Devote self to gym and high-veg diet plan (15 pounds to date!)
Initially, my eyes had been set on this fabulous Betsy Johnson dress (below) that she had never made for purchase. I spent hours searching and meeting with dress makers with the hope that they would be able to convince me of their ability to recreate this dress for my body from these five small pictures.
Dress - Betsy Johnson; images from Brides magazine, Spring 2007
Unfortunately for this dress, it wasn't in the cards. Great idea, but not enough guts to execute. I realized that by focusing on a specific fabric, I was restricted to a certain price range, so I refocused and found "it."

For those on the gown hunt, here are a few pointers for finding "the dress" without sacrificing your budget:

  • Prioritize. Decide what's the most important thing about your dress. Is it the cost? Cut? Color? Initially, I thought that finding something unique was my goal. When I learned that eyelet cotton + custom = expensive, I realized that price was my priority element.
  • Don't settle. Your dress is out there, so arm yourself with the fact that your qualifiers will be matched - it certainly takes the pressure off.
  • Try it all on. Keep your options open until you've tried it on. What I thought I wanted (see Betsy Johnson pics above) wasn't the most flattering shape, and I ended up picking something that wasn't in my original silhouette list.
    • Look everywhere. I spent way too many hours online looking for dresses similar to the one I liked, but I also looked at once-worn stores as well, such as Recycled Bride, White XChange, OnceWed and PreOwnedWeddingDresses
    • Get creative. For a custom design on a DIY budget, start with Etsy for up-and-coming designers with great prices and savvy needle skills. Another great place I found was Aria Dress - affordable, with great fabrics and cute styles for brides/bridesmaids. 
    • Walk away. If it's not in your price range, don't give in - call around first. If this were a car, you'd get a price check. This is a dress you're going to wear one time. It's worth the investigation. Check with bridal salons in other areas to find out what they would charge for the dress. Each county and state has different tax rates. The farther the salon is from a metropolis, the more likely you'll get a steal of a deal. 
    • Verify the facts and the source. Honest and reputable salons will tell you the name and style of dress. Take that info and research bridal salons that sell that designer in other counties and states (I called ones I would be visiting and states I knew people in).
    My scavenger hunt for the perfect deal resulted in a savings of more than $150! Salon #1 quoted me at $698 (excluding tax). Salon #2 ordered me the exact same dress for $560 (including tax)!  In the end, I guess it was worth all the hassle... Now, to get to the gym. Bleghck.

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