Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What to wear: reader question!

Good morning!  Today we are answering a Weddings Fresh reader question.  Here is what bride-to-be Charmaine had to ask:

I'm getting married in beautiful old colonial park this July, and it is Chinese tradition for the bride to have 3 outfit changes - a wedding dress, an evening dress (typically something cheerful and colorful), and a traditional Chinese qipao.

I've found my other two dresses, but I've been looking for an evening gown for the past few months and can't seem to find options that are affordable and fit the bill for a garden wedding. Most brides wear floor-sweeping evening gowns in silks and jewel-tones, but that doesn't quite fit the aesthetic of an outdoor party. I'm having trouble finding an appropriate style that's floaty, light, and fun to dance in! I've considered shorter styles, but because I'm very petite (5"1), I'm worried that they might look very nondescript (and too informal) on me. On the other hand, the only floor-length styles I've liked (in terms of print/colour/material/aesthetic) are maxi-dresses that tend more towards being too informal-looking, because they aren't very tailored or fitted.

Three dresses in one day?!  Girl, that sounds like a dream!  But I understand the dilemma.  Trying to find a formal gown that fits the less traditional atmosphere of a garden wedding, as well as looking elegant, sophisticated and chic all in a tiny 5'1" frame.  I'm going to preface all of suggestions with this:  get a tailor. Or at least have one on standby.  To ensure the best fit and look for your petite figure without sacrificing style, it will be in your best interest to use a tailor to finish off your look.  Perhaps even working with a local designer to create a dress just for you would be helpful as well.  I'm not sure if you live here in Portland, but I would recommend Sarah Seven for a custom design.

With that said, here is what I have found:
I would choose a longer dress to stay true to the formality of the evening.  It will help add elegance and sophistication.  As far as the fit of the dress, focus on defining the smallest part of your body: your waist.
Adding a fitted bodice will also keep the dress from looking like it's swallowing you up!  As for as the skirt, I am loving flowy chiffon or silk.  Dresses in these fabrics are absolutely ideal for your garden setting and so very chic this summer.  These enchanting dresses look perfectly dreamy in the twilight breeze and are airy enough to get your groove on until the late night.

The first 4 dresses are a little more on the glam side of things.  Malene Birger, Antik Batik, Rachel Gilbert & Marc Jacobs all are show-stopping choices but if your budget doesn't include a designer price tag then perhaps not the choice for you.  But that doesn't mean there aren't more dresses!  As I searched through a ton of online stores and designers, I chose mostly from the Spring 2012 Amsale bridesmaid collection.  I know, I know, it may seem unconventional to use a bridesmaid dress but what I have found is, it offers the unique balance between respecting the formal tradition of a wedding and the need to look chic and youthful.  The silk chiffon fabric is stunning and the movement of the collection is breathtaking.  Not to mention, Amsale offers a gorgeous array of colors that will fit your creamy sorbet color pallet!

I also spotted a couple other options from  But I do caution you: the more voluminous the material, the greater the chance the dress could start wearing you, rather you wearing the dress.  But with that said, it all depends on what it looks like once you put it on your body :)  So I have chosen a couple other dresses that are a more than little of a step up from the everyday maxi dress but offer the same appeal and look as this hot summer trend.

I hope this helps you and your search for the perfect dress!  We would all love to see what you choose if you want to share!  Best to you and all of your wedding planning :)

{Malene Birger, Antik Batik, Rachel Gilbert & Marc Jacobs via Net-a-Porter}
{Sarah Seven image: Brandon Witzel}
{Amsale dress images:}
{Shopbop dresses: 1. Catherine Deane; 2. Thread; 3. Matthew Williamson, 4. Adam}

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