Saturday, May 20, 2017

Money Talks

It’s something we’re taught not to talk about. Something not polite to discuss among friends or family. It’s even considered rude to ask someone how much one paid for something. Unless you’re in the business of finance or money management, how much is not acceptable. Oddly you can’t win here. If you talk too much about money you’re boasting. If you don’t talk about it enough you’re naive.

When I was training to be a consultant/stylist, I was always reminded to be very sensitive to the money subject. If a bride was accompanied by friends and or family, I was told to make sure I was discreet in asking the bride’s budget as to not embarrass her in front of her guests. Many times I avoided the budget question altogether and waited until the opportune moment to approach mom or the bride herself privately to go there about money.

After doing this for a while, I realized how foolish it was. As I became more adept at my job, it was clear to me I needed that vital piece of information almost immediately after introductions. In fact, a stylist cannot do their job well or at all without talking money from the get go.

Well trained experienced stylists will ask you for a budget. It’s very important to establish this before your boutique appointment. It may or may not be a conversation you want to have with yourself or the one paying the bill, but it’s quite important so that you’re prepared when the stylist asks. Today designers accommodate many price points. Your choices will not be restricted based on budget. The industry prices are mostly based on designer, fabric and manufacturer location.

Image result for brides and budgets
photo Glamour Magazine
When a bride is searching for her special dress, it’s understandable to get carried away with the excitement and glamour of the boutique’s lovely assortment of gowns. All brides should experience that moment of walking into a wedding shop filled with all things girly and romantic. The fantasy is in full force and the bride is a little girl again playing dress up. I never want to take that feeling away as she floats in dreamland, but finding that sweet spot in her budget is key.

The money talk could and sometimes does bring her back to earth, but it doesn’t have to. After the budget is ascertained, the floating can resume and the stylist can go to work. A good stylist will maintain the bride’s dreamy state with tact, product knowledge and a bit of magic :)

Finding the bride her gown, seeing her and her loved ones cry continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Plentiful tears are normal and beautiful when she finds the one dress she’ll remember for a lifetime. No stylist wants a bride to shed tears post appointment when she stares at her bank account in shock.
Keep floating, keep dreaming, keep smiling, but keep the money talking.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Upon first gaze it had me. When I first heard the sound of fabric colliding along the breeze of movement, it captured my heart. It's the skirt of a ballgown. The sight and sound of swingy swish, puffy, angelic layers of ethereal fabric creates an indelible image of femininity and grace I adore.

The recent movie I just had the pleasure of seeing delivers that skirt with lots of "swish". Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" floats in her yellow ballgown. It was beautifully designed by costume designer Jaqueline Durran. She updated the look of Belle's ballgown without sacrificing the dreamy romantic garment we associate with Belle as she glided over the dance floor falling in love with her prince.

These iconic images of fashion in pop culture do unknowingly permeate our minds. When brides shop for their special gown, perhaps they turn to those ballgown images that conjure the level of "swish" they want. I have to admit when a client asks for me a ballgown in its truest form with yards of skirt fabric, "swish" and that sound only a ballgown makes, my heart skips a beat!

2017 "Beauty and the Beast" Costumes by Jaqueline Durran

The movie obviously made every effort to give the audience Belle's iconic dress as it is almost a character itself. There were dress sneak peaks and interviews with the designer well before the movie opened to market the film.  Miniature Belle gowns were stocked in toy departments everywhere to give little girls that anticipated excitement of Belle on the big screen. Disney released another gown photo not revealing when it would be worn by Belle. 
"Beauty and the Beast" Belle's celebration gown

The use of ballgowns to market a film stresses the importance of these garments and their imagery.  Whether you choose lots or very little "swish" in your gown, you will still glide across the dance floor as you fall more in love with your prince. <3

Friday, January 27, 2017

Victoria Effect

Elie Saab
Vera Wang

Queen Victoria as a bride in 1840

Victoria you're on my mind. I've been enthralled with the US debut of "Victoria" on Masterpiece Theater. She was a young bride at 21, but already known as a trailblazer and cultural revolutionary as evident in her choice to wear white on her wedding day. Before this shift in garment hue, most brides dressed in their Sunday best of perhaps blue or green. Headstrong Victoria wouldn't have it like most, and chose what would carry on over 175 years later to today's wedding white.

Many designers have challenged the fair hue with exemplary choices available to brides today. I have a particular fondness for a bit more color saturated gown, but they are not for everyone. I've worked with brides who initially tell me they want color because they chose a non-traditional wedding. To her surprise, however, she usually purchases the traditional off white or ivory gown. (Today most brides opt for off white/ivory, which is still considered a white gown). That's the Victoria effect in action as a bride's final gown choice is ultimately what she believes a bride should wear. I always ask my client if she feels like a bride. Interestingly, most have a common belief what a bride should look and feel like. The Victorian bride still lives!

Some might balk at this comparison arguing we are not living in the 19th century and women today prefer modern 21st century gown choices.  This is very true. Thank God brides have come a long way in all aspects of the marriage ceremony, wedding aesthetics and most certainly the wedding gown. However, I would implore you to scrutinize the next bridal gown you try on. The style and cut may reflect modern design elements, but fabrics, embellishments, general construction have remained constant since Victoria's glorious white frock and precisely why I adore wedding gowns. They reflect today, but hark back to the days of exquisite detailed fabric and a special custom dress fit for a queen.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mad Rush

This time of year should be about peace and goodwill toward humanity, but ironically peace does not describe life before the holidays. Similarly, like the holiday season planning a wedding might feel like peace deprivation. Why does the holiday season seem like a mad rush when it should be a time for anticipation, reflection and joy? Can't we stop or slow down to catch our breath long enough to gaze at the December sky whispered with milky clouds, cool air and early dusk?

Once engaged many brides commence the gown journey with a new Pinterest boards, planning apps and appointments at boutiques. Instantly brides are immersed in the wedding industry's clutches. This is exhilarating, but often overwhelming and stressful.

I've heard or observed "the sigh" of a bride many times. This is when I know she's amidst the mad rush. When she's in the dressing room not able to make a decision between two gowns she adores, it's time to step away from the rush and breath.

The beauty in the fine details of the wedding are what should be relished. The hand stitched embroidery on your gown. Your favorite color palette woven through the day. The supple silky petals on your bouquet. The sweet embellishments on your invitations. The ethereal billow of your veil.... These are the treasures to behold and remember.

While taking that breath and break from the rush as you reflect on the glorious details of your wedding day, your blurry vision will begin to adjust with reprieve. It is then that the grip of the rush will release and you'll truly capture the true meaning of your betrothal. The quick beat of your heart will not be from stress, but from genuine bliss only a bride can reap.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Rack Revelations

"Posh Bridal" photo
So much of life is about perspective. What I see may not be what you see and vice versa. Those distinct tastes and opinions make this world the way it is. When I see a rolling rack with wedding gowns draped from pretty hangers, I always catch my breath. This time of year when designers proudly present their new collections at bridal market, I pinch myself when I gaze at the rack morsels. Fabric on utilitarian metal racks is a feeling like no other!

Conversely, you may walk in to a boutique with such racks of splendor and all you seem to feel is nausea. The overwhelming feeling hits you hard. How do I find my dress in this totality of fluff? Where do I begin you might say. Or some brides feel like a kid on Halloween feverishly riding on adrenaline grabbing every dress they can. The result in both of these scenarios is usually frustration, confusion and ultimately the "rack loathe".  

Ideally, the boutique you visit should have the gowns organized to facilitate ease of selection. Many small boutiques use the gowns on racks to highlight the aesthetic of the boutique making the room of dresses very inviting. The process should not be intimidating, but enjoyable with a stylist at your side assisting with gown selection. Never pull more than 3 gowns at at time and remove all eliminations quickly to make for clear decisions. The stylist should assist with this process through out your visit.

Many brides enjoy the freedom of rifling through the dresses to perhaps behold that special one! You should be involved in the process, but allow your stylist to lead through the maze of fabric, price points and styles. This will alleviate your stress and build the important client stylist relationship needed to find the perfect gown for you.

When a wedding gown is chosen from a rack, tried on and magic happens, that is the true crux of my passion. Beautiful dresses on racks are only ornamentation until one is selected for a bride. Maybe by the time the wedding day arrives, your rack ruminations will be forgotten and you have your own to show how really lovely they can be.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dream Daze

Most people remember their dreams.  At the very least they have dream recall on occasion. Dreams fascinate me on many levels, but mostly because they have yet to be fully understood.  A purge of the  subconscious? A brain unload? A fantasy buried deep within us only our dream state can reveal? Not sure we'll ever know what our minds are fully capable of. I see dreams as a gift to embrace and behold.

Planning a wedding is living a dream for many. It may not seem like it as credit cards are stretched and stress levels rise with deadlines, but ultimately like dreams they are a glorious, finite time. Weddings harness a deep energy and passion of our minds that manifest the depths of our souls. Well, perhaps I'm being a bit dramatic. I can't help but romanticize this time in a woman's life as extraordinary.

When I ask a bride to describe her ideal wedding gown I frequently hear the words princess, glamorous, sexy, classic, elegant. Beneath those words are her dreams. The way she imagines herself as a bride. Maybe those details were what she dreamed since childhood. It's my job to capture as many of her dreams as possible and translate them to reality in the form of her special gown! Listening to a bride is one of the most crucial parts of my job as a stylist. If your stylist is not listening to you, it might not be a healthy partnership for you or the boutique.

I also hear many overwhelmed brides say they can't focus on what they really want. They love everything and can't decide on one special dress. I would say they are fighting that dream daze that lives inside. It is there waiting to be embraced and the only one that can evoke it is the bride herself. When I have a block and dreams aren't surfacing, I scour the internet to find images that speak to me.

Illustrations for me are heavenly to look at. When I find one that makes my heart skip a beat, my  dreaming resumes.
Katharine Asher Illustration
What's your dream daze? Where can you find it without visual overload? Explore with your eyes, imagine with your mind, take a breath and unlock those dreams. Never believe dreams don't come true. You and I are living proof they do.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

It's a Girl Thing

"Love Story" by Taylor Swift

As the song goes "pick out a white dress" and we have for over 100 years. Since Queen Victoria started the trend of white wedding gowns our Western culture equates all things wedding with wedding gowns and vice versa. Of course there are exceptions as some brides elect to marry in shorts and a t-shirt, but for the majority a wedding gown is usually included in the festivities.

You can always analyze each layer of "the gown" and talk about the style, the color, fit, the venue it will coordinate with, the wedding palette, the theme, the accessories, etc,etc.. All of which are very important of course! What intrigues me the most is what we can learn from past brides. What can a modern 2016 bride can take away from a 1916 bride? What do the brides from the past have in common with brides of today???

1950s bride
A modern bride of today perhaps doesn't want to be compared to a bride from the 1950s like the above. "I would never wear that!" or "I don't want to look like my grandmother!" "I want to look modern" a today bride might say. What is the definition of modern? As a stylist, I've learned this definition is not a one size fits all. Likewise when I ask "Do you feel like a bride?" That loaded question always conjures an image of a bride that is unique to the individual. What makes one girl feel like a bride might be the polar opposite for another.

Ultimately, brides today decide on a gown they adore not because they feel like they are true to the times, but because they feel beautiful. The bride who falls in love a second time (the first love is of course with her groom!) with her dress does not look in the mirror and say thank goodness I don't look like my grandmother (with all due respect). She usually says I feel a-mazing and cries looking at the gown she will wear down the aisle!

Can we learn from the past? Always. There was elegance. A demure innocence when I study photos of past brides. Many times they were very young women under the age of 20. They sometimes look frightened and for good reason. In the 1800s you were not to smile in your wedding photo! Aside from facial gestures, I adore photos of brides and their attire from all of the decades photos were available. The styles, fabrics and accessories were so indicative of the times and each bride wore them with feminine grace. It is our duty to carry on that grace. Most designers of today do capture it from the inspiring brides from the past.

If you have an heirloom wedding gown available to you take it out, examine its grandeur and give homage to the woman who wore it. Like you she was a girl who liked pretty things and she was a bride.