Friday, April 13, 2012

Saying 'Yes' to the Dress

I realize that is the world's most unoriginal title for a post about dress shopping, but I'm too lazy to come up with anything more creative.

Before I dive into this post- Mr. Geek, if you're reading this, GO AWAY.

Just a month after we got engaged, I flew down to Mobile to meet my family for Christmas.  A lot of the women in my life live in Mobile, and I wanted them to feel like they had a chance to be involved in the wedding planning process, so I thought I'd schedule a dress shopping trip at a boutique during my visit, just to try on a few dresses and be girly for an afternoon.  I didn't think I'd actually find anything on my first trip, and I certainly didn't think I'd buy anything.

Spoiler alert: I WAS WRONG.  Big time!

I have nothing but positive things to say about this little boutique in downtown Mobile, The Timeless Bride.

The Timeless Bride: Terribly cheesy website, absolutely wonderful shopping experience
The website included the tagline "A creative bridal experience" and said the shop carries approximately 1000 vintage dresses from as early as 1920, each of them one-of-a-kind.  I figured there couldn't be any harm in looking, and such a unique little shop would probably mean a fun afternoon, so I rounded up my mom, my sisters, Mammaw, my aunt, and my cousin (one of our flower girls) for a little excursion.

The shop is arranged in 3 sections: a front room full of veils, headpieces, and shoes, all as old as the dresses; a dressing room area with elegant little chairs, a couple of floor-length mirrors, and a platform for the bride to stand on; and a large warehouse-style room full of racks and racks of dresses.  The dressing room is also lined in racks of dresses, and the walls are decorated with bridal hats- this is Alabama, after all.

The store only has 2 consultants on staff, and only one was in that day, so for my appointment our party had the store all to ourselves.  Everyone took a seat and the consultant pulled out a questionnaire to go through with me.  She asked things like when and where the wedding will be, whether it will be indoors or out, daytime or evening, formal or casual, and so on.  Then she asked for my budget.

Like any bride (or almost-bride), I've wasted way too many hours of my life watching "Say Yes to the Dress" and weeping silently when the bride provides her answer to this question.  You see, Mr. Geek and I had made a budget by this point, and we had budgeted exactly $500 for the bridal ensemble- INCLUDING shoes, veil, jewelry, and dress.  "Say Yes to the Dress" had taught me that you can buy a veil for $500 (maybe), but not an entire outfit.  I was already assuming I'd be going over this portion of the budget, and that it would be difficult to find dresses to try on that were $500-600, much less dresses that I actually would want to purchase.

So it was with much trepidation that I whispered, "$ more than $600," in response to this kind woman's question.   I expected to be laughed out of the store, or at least to receive a little lecture on the ins and outs of quality craftsmanship.

"Sounds good!" is what I got instead.

Finally, she asked if I was looking for anything in specific.  I told her about my Mammaw's dress, how it was so beautiful but hadn't been properly preserved and was much too small for me anyway.  She pulled out a scrapbook full of past clients whose vintage dresses The Timeless Bride had restored and refashioned, convincing us to at least grab Mammaw's dress to have them clean it.  They could definitely make her dress bigger to fit me- they would have to install a panel and corset lacing in the back, and the train would have to be removed because of damage to the lace, but it could be done.

The only problem was I didn't want to wear a shorter version of that dress that had corset lacing...I wanted to wear that dress.  So we decided re-making Mammaw's dress wasn't going to be the right option.  I didn't want to completely dismantle the beautiful thing in the hopes that maybe my little cousin or, heck, my future daughter would be able to wear it as it is.

I explained the elements of Mammaw's dress that I liked the most: the sleeves, the lace, and the full skirt.  However, I knew a shorter dress would probably be more within my budget, and if that was the case, I was willing to go with a tea-length dress instead of one with a train.  Basically, I was looking for either Grace Kelly's gown or Audrey Hepburn's iconic dress from Funny Face.

This {source}
or This {source}
 Before I get to the fun part- PICTURES- I need to rave here a little bit.  This was the best shopping trip of my ENTIRE LIFE.  My lovely consultant (whose name I unfortunately can't seem to remember) pulled dress after dress from the racks around the room for me to try on, and every single one of them was the style I described, my size, and most importantly WITHIN MY BUDGET.  Watching "Say Yes to the Dress" had me convinced that all sales consultants are sneaky and that I'd be trying on dresses and falling in love with them, only to find out they were all way out of my price range.  Each dress in this shop was labeled with the measurements, the designer, the year the dress was produced, and the price.  As I was pointing out dresses I'd like to try on, she'd show me the tag, and a couple of times she even pointed out, "Oh, that's a bit out of your range!" because I hadn't noticed.  Moreover, because she only picked out dresses that would fit my measurements, EVERY SINGLE ONE FIT PERFECTLY.  Ladies, be honest- have you ever gone on a shopping trip where EVERYTHING you tried on made you look amazing?  As my mom and sisters helped me in and out of dresses, she stood respectfully out of the way and listened to our comments.  If someone mentioned how much they liked a particular sleeve or fabric or collar, she'd quietly pull another dress off the rack with a similar feature and have me try it on next.

If anyone lives in or near Mobile, AL, I HIGHLY recommend you shop here!  This was a one-of-a-kind shopping experience that every bride deserves!  I wanted to stay all night and try on everything!

Okay enough blabber- time for pictures!

Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture of the first dress.  It was from the 60's and was the most unique wedding dress I'd ever seen!  It was an ivory colored crocheted short-sleeved sheath dress.  Yes, crocheted.  The dress remained a contender for a while, but for some reason we didn't get a picture of it.

This dress is from 1948!
The second dress I tried on was originally sold in 1948!  It had everything I loved about my Mammaw's dress, and I'm sure you've already noticed- from the lace to the button-down bodice, it looks awfully Princess Grace!  The first thing I said when I looked in the mirror was, "I feel so...regal!"  The collar stands up to frame the face and reminded me of the collar on Snow White's dress.

Okay, so her's is more pronounced {source}
Very 70s!
I tried on a few dresses from the 70s.  This one made me look really skinny!  I wasn't a huge fan of the very visible zipper down the back, or the flouncy sleeves, but the consultant assured me they could take in the sleeves to make them fitted, and even pinned one in for me to see the difference it makes.

More 70s!
Because we all liked the neckline on the previous dress, she pulled this one for me.  I liked this particular neckline even better, but I didn't like the pattern of the lace on the sleeves.  The way the detailing on the bodice ends right at the waistline made me look skinny in this one, too!

Short sleeves!
This dress was also from the 70s.  I really really liked the lace collar on this one and the detailing on the train, but it, too, had a very visible zipper.  The sleeves would also need to be taken in once again, but a couple of pins showed me what they would look like fitted, and it was beautiful!

This was the oldest dress in the store...from 1920!
 Finally there was this beautiful dress.  The picture on the left is kind of awkward because short little Mom Geek took it while I was up on the platform, so you can't really tell how slimming it is- but trust me, it is.  I don't remember why my sister is holding it closed- either the closures need to be repaired, or I was in the process of taking it back off when we decided to get a picture.  The lace detailing on the sleeves is absolutely divine, and that train is detachable at the bow in the back, leaving a statuesque column dress perfect for a reception.  The consultant even pulled out a birdcage fascinator to complete the look!  I felt like I should be attending one of Gatsby's dinner parties in this gorgeous dress.

So which one did I pick?  Because, SPOILER ALERT- I picked one of these!  You'll just have to tune in next time to find out!

Would you ever consider wearing a wedding dress that had been worn by someone else?  What kind of boutique did you buy your dress from?  Did you find *the one* on your first trip?

Much love,
The Geeks


  1. I love the first dress! I mean, I think you look AMAZING in all of the dresses, but you look so happy in that one!

    1. Thank you! They were all so pretty...and honestly, I could've tried on the whole store!