Not another strapless white cream puff!
May 19, 2015 5:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an alternative wedding dress-- something that doesn't feel like a white princess costume, but also doesn't feel like a 100% rejection of all things wedding, like a purple silk jumpsuit.

I'd love to find a dress that references "wedding" but is a little more unexpected. I'm veering more toward Wai Ching-- love this and this and let's not forget about this.

I'm pear-shaped and like dresses that have some sort of sleeve, and a neckline that frames the face. I like longer dresses/gowns, and am going more for "elegant" than "sexy." I'm in my late 30s and don't want to look like a pretty pretty princess.

Are there other designers/stores/boutiques/services that offer something that feels special and wedding-y, but isn't a flouncy ball gown? Something with a splash of color or zest or personality? Wedding hivemind, I beseech you.
posted by airguitar2 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I wore a white and black lace cocktail dress (I preferred the shorter length) from Temperley that I got at ShopBop.

But I also tried a lot of dresses from the contemporary wedding boutiques at both Nordstrom and Bloomingdales.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:34 PM on May 19, 2015

look up 'dip dye' wedding dress. it's weddingy but still different and lovely.
posted by koroshiya at 5:37 PM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also wore a white cocktail dress (sleeveless for me) with black lace on it. Along with my grandmother's veiled hat. It was a chance find at a local store (Eeva and Eve) on a shopping trip with my best friend. But since my wedding theme was "getting it done as cheaply as possible while still having a bit of fun", I wasn't really set on anything in particular either.

I think anything that's primarily white, even with other accent colours will still read "wedding", especially with the right accessories.
posted by Kurichina at 5:41 PM on May 19, 2015

Don't look at wedding shops. Look at high-end designers in similar price ranges for a cream, Ivory or other pale color and you'll get a much better dress at the same price point, that was intended to be a party/cocktail/evening dress. Bonus is that if you buy a dress from a designer boutique they will often help tailor it to fit you better, although if you buy online you can get steep discounts and pay for your own tailoring. No-one will care it's not an Official Wedding dress and a beautiful dress is a beautiful dress.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:56 PM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

All three of the ones you link to are dip dyed or 'ombre'. You could replicate that look by finding any white or cream gown you like (using the advice above to not look at wedding gowns specifically), and then getting the bottom dyed in whatever color you want! (You could do it yourself too but I personally wouldn't risk it.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:00 PM on May 19, 2015

In addition to what people have mentioned, consider what I did: I shopped higher-end bridesmaid collections, in part because I didn't want something crazy structured and didn't want to spend a ton of money (fancy non-bridal gowns are also fairly costly). I got a (non-strapless, long) bridesmaid dress in cream or ivory or whatever it was, I think the cost was in the $500 range. You could get one in some kind of white/cream in another color you like (a thing that's nice about stuff aimed to bridesmaids), and/or you can accessorize with color.

A different friend found a local-to-us designer who made her an absolutely gorgeous non-traditional dress is some kind of floating yellow with blue accents. It was really stunning.
posted by vunder at 6:16 PM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, if you're interested in going the route I did, unfortunately the place I shopped is now closed, but I also visited Bella Bridesmaids, which conveniently also lists the designers they work with. Perhaps one of those designers will appeal to you.
posted by vunder at 6:23 PM on May 19, 2015

They're not dip-dyed or ombre, but the dresses at BHLDN are absolutely gorgeous. Very elegant without being puff-ball tulle princess. Make sure you look at the wedding, reception, and bridesmaid dresses. Many of the bridesmaid dresses come in white, cream or champagne and look quite bridal. The mother-of-the-bride section has some gems too.
posted by barnone at 6:29 PM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I tried this dress on once at Anthro and decided it would be perfect as a wedding dress. It fit amazingly well.

Picture doesn't actually show how amazing it is.
posted by superfille at 7:06 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Tadashi Shoji? Plus size, straight sizes. I think they're a bit more Intergalactic Empress than pretty pretty princess--I wish I had an excuse to drop several hundred dollars on one!
posted by wintersweet at 8:09 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Consider J. Crew. I think many of their dresses are very elegant and many of them come in at a much lower price point than most wedding dresses.
posted by town of cats at 8:10 PM on May 19, 2015

What's your budget?

Houghton's bridal collection is pretty nice and offbeat-ish though it does skew white-and-wedding-y overall (and also occasionally kind of weirdly, unsexily sexy). I'm a little obsessed with this long sleeve column, this washed silk and bead bus to crazytown, and this jumpsuit which I actually would just like to wear all the time, forget getting married.

Other places I like looking: Tadashi, nice details and interesting shapes, lots of < $1000 options. BHLDN, which gets pretty girly but does have some gems. And definitely don't overlook non-bridal collection dresses; I often check out Shopstyle when I want to see a billion options of something fairly specific—it aggregates offerings from tons of retailers and brands that you can search and filter.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:43 PM on May 19, 2015

I had a purple (!) knee-length wrap dress that fitted me, suited me and was all stitched down so nothing could unwrap at an inopportune moment. This was too plain for your liking, I think, but the important things were ...

a) I hadn't spent a million pounds on something for one day
b) I was comfortable
c) It helped me look like "the best version of me" rather than Wedding Stranger Woman, which was important to me.

In general terms, I echo the advice to go to department stores and visit the occasions or higher-end, or designer-diffusion sections, which will have dresses that say "This is a NICE thing" without being a meringue. And good luck and have a lovely day!
posted by LyzzyBee at 11:25 PM on May 19, 2015

Response by poster: These are great ideas. Peachfuzz, my budget is about $700, though I'd welcome the opportunity to go lower. I like the idea of just going with a designer, and not even looking at wedding shots. I'd much rather look like "the best version of me" than "Wedding Stranger Woman"... which I do feel like with even less puffy wedding dresses.
posted by airguitar2 at 7:33 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Whatever you do, DO NOT dip dye using red. The dye in the first dress looks like blood to me, and the associations with weddings is just yuck!
posted by raisingsand at 8:28 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ooh! That first dress was my wedding dress! I had the best experience ordering from Chrissy after a tearful day at a fancy cream puff bridal salon. Me mail me if you have any questions :)
posted by checkitnice at 4:56 PM on May 20, 2015

I wore a blush Mother of the Bride dress from Teri Jon, it looks more bridal in the pictures than it actually was, especially with the veil, but it was comfortable and not white princess costume-y.
posted by doublenelson at 12:30 PM on May 22, 2015

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