Getting married: What should I wear?
December 1, 2014 12:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting married and would like to look nice for the occasion. I'm not a fancy person, have a funny body shape, and am not interested in a traditional dress or its accoutrements (veil, train, etc.). We will get married indoors, so not too many weather-related concerns. I'd like to spend less than $100, in the SF Bay Area. A similar thread from a few years ago shows a few options, but for a different setting and with many expired links.

I'm 5'5, 120 pounds, size anywhere from 0-4, depending on manufacturer. I have a longer torso with broad shoulders, and short legs with slightly chubby thighs. I think A-line skirts look good on me, and empire waists may be a little high/maternity-like. I've looked at department stores in the area, and everything seems either too casual (cocktail dress, business casual, trendy) or too prom-like. It would be nice if I could get more than one use out of the dress. Open to vintage shops (which ones?) or vintage looks. Would prefer not to do online ordering due to time constraints.

Suggestions greatly appreciated!
posted by stillmoving to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I really like what the bride at 2000dollarwedding did - $15 sun dress from Target.
posted by cnc at 1:06 PM on December 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

I vote for a Mexican Wedding Dress. It's what I wanted for my wedding and I still regret not getting one.

Here are some on Etsy, but go down to the Mission, you should be able to find some there.

They are simple and beautiful, and if you're marrying a Man, he can wear a guayabera.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:39 PM on December 1, 2014

I'm hoping locals have shop names for you, because other than thrift stores (and maybe you don't have time for that) I don't know where you should go to look. However, I wanted to encourage you to keep looking at vintage stuff--you sound like you might be the perfect size range for most of the actual vintage you'll see.

I know you said you'd prefer not to order online, but just to point out the option I thought I'd mention a vintage-style/repro company I've had really good experiences with, Trashy Diva. They have a dress on their sale rack right now which would fit your budget (and I'm not sure but I think the current discount code would further apply?) and is still available in a wide range of sizes.
posted by spelunkingplato at 1:42 PM on December 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

1. Do you want to wear white?
2. Do you want it to be floor-length? If not, what length do find most flattering for you?
3. Do you want to wear heels or flats?
4. What will your spouse-to-be be wearing? (How fancy will they be?)
posted by amaire at 1:43 PM on December 1, 2014

I think a cocktail dress is perfect if you don't want to go full on prom/ballgown. You could go to either a thrift store or Nordstrom Rack and just start trying on dresses -- whichever one fits well is the winner. Or if dresses are too hard to fit right, an A-line skirt with a pretty blouse and/or sweater.
posted by Margalo Epps at 1:44 PM on December 1, 2014

Can you talk a little bit more about what you're looking for in a dress? Do you want it to be white, if not otherwise traditional, or are you looking to break from tradition with color as well? (I'm personally a fan of that approach, but know some people think that's going too far.) What are some examples of dresses that you like, but maybe don't fit for this occasion because of X? How fancy do you want it to be?

I think this is pretty. Currently a bit over $100, but would be less with the 40% off sale they are currently having.
posted by tan_coul at 1:45 PM on December 1, 2014

I went to a wedding and the bride wore a pale blue silk knee length dress. It was beautiful. I think a color such as pale blue, pale pink, champagne, blush, peach is beautiful if it goes with your skin tone.

I agree with Margalo Epps, try on lots of dresses and go for the one that looks great and feels great. Nordstrom has sale prices on many of their dresses, including pale blue.

posted by Fairchild at 1:49 PM on December 1, 2014

Since you want to be able to wear it again, I'd think something tea length. The $100 limit is tough (though I'd kill for your "funny" body shape!!). I know you'd prefer an actual store, but what about a retro dress like this online? You have to get a crinoline petticoat to go with it, but they are having a 25% off sale right now. So even together it's not far off your $$ limit, and you could have it dyed after if you wanted another color for everyday wear. You could dress it up with a colored ribbon sash for your wedding too.
posted by cecic at 2:08 PM on December 1, 2014

Thanks for the great suggestions--please keep them coming!

tan_coul, I was just looking at that dress in the wine color they offer!

In response to some of the questions:
- White is not necessary, but my skin tone doesn't go well with peach/pastels. I am drawn more towards jewel tones.
- I am open to floor length or just above the knee; mid-calf and mid-thigh look funny on me
- I will probably wear flats of some sort
- Not sure what spouse-to-be will wear yet, but probably just a suit that he already has.

I appreciate the online links--they are great for ideas. We are getting married in a couple of weeks, though, so I fear online shopping/returns will take too long.
posted by stillmoving at 2:45 PM on December 1, 2014

I, too, was recently in search of an affordable wedding dress in the Bay Area. I had the best luck at vintage shops and department stores. Boutiques and even most everything at David's Bridal is out of the question in that price range. (The one possible exception is Glamour Closet, which might be worth checking out, but I'm not sure there's anything there under $100. If you're set on having a more classic wedding dress, perhaps call and check before trying there.)

I wandered around the Haight, checking each of the second-hand shops. The selection was not vast, but a number of the shops had a handful of wedding dresses and other dresses of that ilk, mostly in smaller sizes. I found and purchased a dress at Held Over for $45. I had second thoughts about it later and ended up wandering around the Westfield Mall. I found a long, white dress at Bloomingdales (this one) on sale at the time for $50. A really great sale's associate there helped me find it.

I know you said you were pressed for time, so online might not work, but if you come across a dress you adore but can't find in the right size or at the right price, consider trying ebay, which is where I got my shoes. There's a lot on there, and a great many sellers offer expedited shipping and allow returns, too.
posted by reren at 2:47 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can get to vintage-styled dress emporium Tatyana on Haight Street today, I recommend trying on some of the dresses, which start at XS and go up to 4X. They are 50 percent off today, including online, with free shipping!

You might like this Alika green circle retro dress. I have this one, and I promise the latticework doesn't look too naughty if you put a cardigan or shrug over it.

Some of the dresses look super-slinky on the website (I had no idea Dita Von Teese wore their dresses; I just happened in there last week), but you should search for "circle" rather than "wiggle" for something a bit more sedate. The clothes are really well made and the cut is flattering. And the staff are all super-friendly and encouraging.
posted by vickyverky at 2:49 PM on December 1, 2014

Buy a few dresses from Modcloth and return the ones that don't work for you. Vintage shopping is fun but fairly time consuming.
posted by barnone at 2:50 PM on December 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I got married in a knee-length, bright red cocktail dress with a floaty skirt. It was just what I wanted so I fully support brides getting exactly what suits then in terms of color and cut.

Some romantic and classic choices from Nordstrom:

Portrait Collar Pleated Mesh Gown

Beaded A-Line dress

Embroidered Lace Sheath Dress - knee-length and many color choices

Chiffon Halter Gown

'Julie' Twist-Waist Silk Chiffon Gown
posted by Squeak Attack at 3:45 PM on December 1, 2014

Congrats! I did something similar and just had a simple black sheath dress from my closet altered for a better fit.

For me it was all about the wedding pictures, what do you want as a visual reminder for yourselves and to show others now and later?

Can you let us know where you usually shop or some looks you like so we can get a feel for your style?
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:19 PM on December 1, 2014

I got married in Florida a couple years ago. I found a terrific dress at TJ Maxx for, oh, maybe $30 or so. It was an off-white, somewhat form-fitting, sheath-type, cap-sleeved dress that ended just above the knee. It had a bit of beading on it and was lined underneath. Super comfortable. I wore it with white sandals.
posted by _Mona_ at 4:39 PM on December 1, 2014

Once you find your dress, take it to a tailor and have them alter it so it fits you perfectly. A great fit can turn a good dress into a fabulous dress.

The Salvation Army at 26th and Valencia has had a good selection of formal dresses when I've been there. They have a fancy section at the back that holds the fancy clothes.
posted by bendy at 7:30 PM on December 1, 2014

Thanks for the additional suggestions! These are great. I am generally a pretty unstyled person (I get my clothes at Crossroads, Target, or even REI) although I think I have a fairly high standard for myself when I do look nice...but there's no real place that embodies my style. I do appreciate things that look well put-together, but nothing too on-trend or fancy would best describe my look. I am open to new or vintage, and so appreciative of all of the ideas shared here.

Thanks again, and others should please feel free to add more!
posted by stillmoving at 8:58 PM on December 1, 2014

Have you considered using a personal shopper at Nordstrom? I've heard very positive things about their service. It's free and you talk to the shopper before the appointment so they know what you're looking for and your budget. My husband has had suits altered there with great results as well. Whatever direction you choose, congratulations and have a lovely wedding!
posted by killy willy at 9:33 PM on December 1, 2014

I got married in a dress from I have a funny body to fit, so, I gave them my measurements. I choose a dress that was a not a bride dress, something vintage-cute. It fit better than anything I'd ever had. Couldn't have been more pleased.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:40 AM on December 3, 2014

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