Why can't I find a dress?
October 28, 2010 8:07 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I are getting a civil union (yay!). I need a dress (ugh). This should be easy; I live in Manhattan.

Maybe I'm just overwhelmed. I don't want to spend thousands of dollars on a dress that I'm going to be wearing for a few hours. I do want to look super cute. I normally buy dresses from Old Navy or ModCloth, but would like something a little fancier for the big day.

Suggestions for where I might look? My mom will come into the city to go shopping with me, but I need a plan.

Caveat: I am super pale, and probably won't look too good in white.
posted by roomthreeseventeen to Shopping (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
First rule of wedding dresses is don't use the word wedding. It will automatically be cheaper.

Do you have any further ideas on what you'd like and how much you'd like to spend? There is a row of cute shops on 9th st. btwn 2+3rd aves.

There are also a lot of thrift shops on the Upper East Side, or discount stores like Century 21 downtown or the whole Union Sq Marshalls/Nordstrom's/Filene's thing.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:17 AM on October 28, 2010

Congrats! J.Crew does lovely wedding dresses, which you can get on Ebay for less than $100. I disagree that you wouldn't look good in white, or off-white. Think English rose. (I can't open your link at work.)
posted by Dragonness at 8:18 AM on October 28, 2010

J. Crew Wedding. They just opened shop in Manhattan and they have some super cute stuff!

Also - Zachary Smile(in Greenwich Village and Noho) has some great, fancier, vintage stuff.

Congrats, lady!
posted by Siena at 8:18 AM on October 28, 2010

Take the B/D/F to Broadway-Lafayette, and check out the off-Broadway side-streets between there and Chinatown. Thanks to the hit mom-and-pops are taking from the miserable economy, you can get something very nice in a SoHo boutique/consignment shop for a reasonable rate.

If you don't want to do boutique, give Anthropologie a shot.
posted by griphus at 8:21 AM on October 28, 2010

I am also super pale, and wore a light silver dress for my wedding. I'd recommend Jill Anderson boutique on E. 9th Street between 1st and 2nd Aves - she has great washable silk dresses that are not so wedding-y at a reasonable price point. Do you have a specific budget in mind?
posted by bedhead at 8:23 AM on October 28, 2010

J. Crew recently opened up a "bridal boutique" somewhere, on the Upper East Side, on Madison I think. Previously, they only sold their wedding dresses and bridesmaid's dresses online, but they realized (duh) that people like to try that sort of thing on.

Here is their selection of bridesmaid's dresses online. Prices range from $50 to $300. Styles are all over the charts but are mostly pretty plain, solid colors. But check out the store in person.

That's all that immediately comes to mind to me as a one-stop, no-fuss, all-bases-covered, reasonably-priced type of store. You can also try the formalwear departments at Macy's and Lord & Taylor.
posted by thebazilist at 8:24 AM on October 28, 2010

J. Crew and Ann Taylor immediately come to mind. They both have some lovely ivory or cream dresses, but I'm sure you can find appropriate dresses at boutiques too, especially in NYC. Also, consider contacting local dressmakers (you can find some on Etsy) who wil work with you to design something in your budget and style.
posted by darsh at 8:25 AM on October 28, 2010


Do you want a wedding dress, or a dress that is fancy and possibly white?

If you want something that is formal in a "wedding" sort of way, what about a prom dress or a bridesmaid's dress? They tend to be a lot cheaper than the dresses sold as Wedding Dresses. This also goes for the J. Crew line. Their bridal dresses are cheaper than, say, Vera Wang, but they're not quite as cheap as the dresses they sell for formal events or bridesmaids.

If you want a fancy party dress that could say "wedding" - try a store like Anthropologie which tends to carry lots of party dresses. Find something that says "I'm Getting Married" to you. Whether that's something in a pale white-like color (cream is supposed to be better for more skin tones), or just something gorgeous that would make you feel special.
posted by Sara C. at 8:26 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My budget is pretty much whatever my parents are willing to spend. :) Probably $300-$500.

Don't need a wedding dress, per se.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:32 AM on October 28, 2010

With that budget, definitely check out Jill Anderson. She has a line of dresses that many people use for weddings, but aren't so wedding-y that they can't be worn for other occasions. And she'll make it in a custom color and length for you and still be within your budget. I've purchased several custom dresses from her and they were all sub-$300, though I think the "wedding" ones I am talking about are a little more expensive since they have more complicated construction than the ones I have.

posted by bedhead at 8:36 AM on October 28, 2010

Yeah, I came in here to say Jill Anderson. Also Meg, across the street. Both shops will pin the dresses around you and send them off for alterations so that they will fit you exactly, better than off-the-rack ever can. At Meg they'll also do stuff like switch the straps and other customizations to get you exactly what you like.
posted by xo at 8:40 AM on October 28, 2010

Anthropologie! I sort of went shopping for you on their website.
here's a nice one.
and another.
and another!
posted by smirkyfodder at 8:50 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm also a fan of Darling, though the dress featured on the main page of their website is hideous.
posted by Sara C. at 8:53 AM on October 28, 2010

I wore a brown J. Crew bridesmaid dress (the "Lorelai") for my wedding, with a bright orange vintage petticoat underneath and felt happy and pretty. Wear colors that make you feel good--definitely don't feel obligated to wear white!

Mazel tov!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:03 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! Just wanted to second the idea of getting a nice dress that you can wear to weddings and other occasions, rather than a Wedding Dress. Might as well get as much use as possible for your money and closet space.

I can't suggest specific stores, but here's another idea: get something tailor-made. For your budget it would probably have to be simple, but then it would be something you could wear to non-weddings so that's fine. When I got married I wore an emerald green silk Thai-style suit (like the hostesses at Thai restaurants wear, minus the glitter), which I had gotten from a tailor in Bangkok a few years before and had worn to other big events. I'm not Thai but the suit was beautiful, elegant, and different enough to be kinda cool. You're slender, so some traditional Asian garments might suit you - maybe a cheongsam from a tailor in Chinatown? Skip the brocade and go for plain solid-colored silk to make it less costumey.
posted by Quietgal at 9:44 AM on October 28, 2010

Have you considered indiebride?
posted by jchaw at 11:10 AM on October 28, 2010

I went with a friend to Kimera in Brooklyn and it was great. Lots of choices for adding color to the dress. Really nice people. It was fun to shop there and the prices are amazing. Plus, the dresses are made right above the shop, which is cool.
posted by Shebear at 5:05 PM on October 28, 2010

I am equally pale-skinned, and my silver silk wedding dress photographed like a dream. So if that's a colorway you like, think about that--also bronze silk.

Beyond 7 and Diane T. are two stores that have interesting dresses, but pricey. I know someone who gets great special-occasion dresses from eDressme; the advantage there is that they have a staff of shoppers who look through the stock with you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:32 PM on October 28, 2010

Ivory looks wonderful on really pale people (this is why most redheads get married in ivory rather than bright white). I know it's probably cheaper than what you're looking for, but I love this recent dress listed on ModCloth.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:26 PM on October 29, 2010

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