I have a new clothes-related TV addiction, a program on TLC called “Say Yes to the Dress.” It’s a reality series about the sellers and shoppers at Kleinfeld Bridal, which advertises that it has the largest selection of wedding dresses in the world.
Of course, I’m mesmerized by all the dresses that parade across the screen in each episode, but I’m even more fascinated by the ritual of wedding dress sales. For example, almost every one of the featured brides-to-be asks for a dress that’s not too poufy, and almost every one of those brides has purchased essentially the same dress. It’s strapless, white, drop-waisted, and, oh yeah, POUFY.
One bride actually purchased this OTT gown. She brought it back to have the skirt substituted for something less poufy. It was still horrible. Sorry, Charlie!
The process of shopping at Kleinfeld is strictly controlled. Each bride makes an appointment with a consultant who picks the dresses that the bride will try on, unless she or her mother or her wedding planner can elbow their way through the phalanx of managers and consultants guarding the stockroom so they can browse themselves. The consultants are under considerable pressure to sell dresses so they can meet their monthly quota, and sometimes they have to make that sale within an hour-long appointment. Hell, it takes me longer than an hour to buy a run-of-the mill dress, and even then I make mistakes. Perhaps the consultants push the strapless/white/poufy numbers because they know young brides (or their check-writing mothers) can’t resist the whole princess thing. Whatever; it’s obviously a formula that works. I very amused, however, watching the brides try on dress after nearly indistinguishable dresses until they announce with glee that THIS white, strapless, drop-waist poufy number is The One.
I also find it remarkable that the most of the brides filmed (obviously a very small percentage of Kleinfeld customers) bring their Moms to the appointment but don’t bring photos of dresses they like, fabric or color swatches, or a digital or Polaroid camera so they can see how the dress photographs and just get a record of the dress for reference. Actually, considering that there have been several scenes involving brides claiming that the dress that arrived for fitting, some months after it was purchased, was not the dress they ordered, I’m surprised Kleinfeld doesn’t keep snapshots to cover its own ass. (Besides, as a fan of “Muriel’s Wedding,” I think it would also be cool for a bride to keep a Muriel-style scrapbook of the dresses she tried before finding The One.)
"I'm too sexy for my bride, too sexy for my bride, so sexy I'm tired. . ."
In one episode a bride was shown trying on an otherwise lovely dress that had a low v-front and was obviously intended for a woman no larger than a small-B cup. The bodice barely covered the front of the slightly larger bride, and she looked distinctly uncomfortable as the consultant was yanking it up to show how it could be tailored to prevent nuptial nipple slippage while Ronnie Rothstein, one of the co-owners of Kleinfeld, tried to talk her into buying the dress because it was sexy. Yes, I’m on record as a cranky old crone who sincerely wishes the rest of the women in the world would keep their naughty bits out of my face, but even so, isn’t a sexy wedding gown rather pointless? After all, the whole wedding schtick is designed to show that the bride has already snagged her man, and, at a minimum, she shouldn’t be trying to attract another man at the ceremony. That’s what the honeymoon is for . . .
As you can see, “Say Yes to the Dress” gives me a lot to think about, including what shopping for a wedding dress with my hypothetical daughter (hereinafter "Hypotheca") would be like. I’d probably embarrass her by schlepping photos, cameras, screenshots of my favorite movie wedding gowns, assorted foundation garments (for her) and shoes (for her) to the appointment. She would probably hate all of my ideas, preferences and selections. I might scar her for life (again!) by telling her that the strapless dress gives her underarm overhang or that the poufy dress makes her ass look big. The consultant would want to strangle me for taking too much time and making her late for her next appointment. It would be another character-building experience for daughter’s memoirs or mine, I’m sure.
The kind of a wedding dress only a cranky old Mom could love.
Just for the hell of it I’ve included this photo of a Victorian taffeta ballgown for sale at Vintage Textile because it’s my idea of what a perfect princess wedding dress should look like, i.e. elegant, not poufy. *Le sigh.* Hypotheca would probably hate it.