It was a modern day meet cute.
I posted an IGS from Happy Isles, the most amazing vintage bridal salon, where I had just purchased my dream wedding dress. Something White Styling liked the IGS, which led me to look at their page. I immediately loved the “cool bride” vibes.
Even though I was just a couple of months out from my wedding (we’ll get to why I was buying my wedding dress last minute), I decided to reach out and see if I could get some help creating an outfit for the welcome party we were throwing the night before the wedding. I had spent a ridiculous amount of time shopping online, trying to find the perfect thing to wear. I also needed help accessorizing my wedding dress for a cohesive look.
I wholeheartedly believe that if I had worked with Kate, the owner, at the beginning of my bridal wardrobe journey, I would have saved a lot of time, stress, and money. That said, it is an extra expense that not everyone can afford, so I’m sharing some of the things I learned below.
Here are a few takeaways:
1. It’s extremely helpful to have someone give objective feedback.
Or to quote one of my favorite movies, “speaking as a completely objective third-party observer with absolutely no personal interest in the matter.” Emotions run high during this time, and had someone more impartial been there when I purchased my first wedding dress, well, a whole fiasco could have been avoided.
2. Ask yourself the right questions.
Instead of focusing on specifics, take a step back to look at the whole picture. It seems basic, but this helped me take stock of styles I feel good in. And I still refer to this info when shopping. These are several questions Kate had me answer after our first Zoom meeting.
- What necklines do you typically gravitate towards—halter, strapless, one shoulder, scoop, sweetheart, v-neck, etc.?
- What silhouettes do you typically gravitate towards in dresses—fitted or more bodycon, flowy (boho), A-line (fitted on top, flowy skirt), straight (column dress), etc.?
- How would you describe your style?
- Any fabrics that you really like or do not like?
3. Don’t get so set on “must haves” that you potentially miss out on something better.
To paraphrase Gretchen Weiner, you could think you like something, but you could be wrong.
Most of us aren’t shopping for gowns on the reg, so how do we know that we’ll love the way a mermaid cut looks on us? There is nothing more disappointing than finding a look that checks all zillion boxes on paper, only to find out that it doesn’t live up to your expectations. Ofc, I’m not saying don’t try it on. Just be open to other silhouettes/shapes/styles.
4. A style board helps immensely with decision-making.
One of my favorite things Kate did was put together shoppable boards, so I could see all the looks side by side. I was open to midi dresses, mini dresses, or separates for my welcome party, so she put together a board for each.
I also had no idea what accessories to wear to turn my shoes and vintage dress into a cohesive look, and she also pulled together a board for that.
It made it easier to hone in on what I actually liked. Kate had me go through each outfit on the board and give her my thoughts. I was surprised at how many times I said some version of “I thought this would be something I would love, but seeing it next to that one, I can tell I like it so much better.” Without that, I could have waffled indefinitely between outfits without being able to make a gut decision.
5. Have someone take pictures of you from different angles.
Not selfies! You’ll get a better idea of what the outfit will look like when taken by someone else. When I was torn between two looks, this is what Kate had me do. I shared them with her for feedback, and I was so grateful for her kind but honest opinions.
It’s a good exercise to see not just how you look in the outfit, but your body language and facial expressions can give some insight into how you feel in the outfit.
(Please be kind to my makeup-free face and unwashed hair haha.)
Maybe this isn’t totally from my personal styling sessions, but I think it plays into what I talked about above—go with your gut.
When I first started shopping for my wedding dress, I knew in my bones that I wanted it to be vintage. But I ended up going to a traditional bridal salon and purchasing a beautiful dress according to the traditional one-year-before-your-wedding timeline. When it came in a few months later, I realized it wasn’t me at all. Cue a freak-out and a serendipitous available appointment at Happy Isles, where I found a vintage Blumarine Sposa gown that I describe as giving ’90s-does-medieval qith a touch of Baz Luhrmann Romeo and Juliet and a lil splash of Galadriel.
My two favorite things I picked out on my own (which were purchased around the same time of my regrettable dress choice) were my Mach & Mach wedding shoes and the Selkie dress I ended up changing into after the reception. I saw them, and I just knew. I had no internal debate. Even though it took months for my shoes to arrive (having ordered them at a trunk show), I am still just as in love with them as I was when I first saw them.
7. Clothes look different on the hanger and online than they will on your body.
If there’s an aspect of a look that speaks to you, but you’re not completely sure, it may be worth trying on. Clothes look much different on bodies, obvs. The outfit I ended up choosing for the welcome party was one that I was initially drawn to and loved the most, but I was worried it wasn’t as “flattering” as the other option I was considering. Ugh, I know. Again, this is when an impartial and expert eye comes in handy.
8. Look in your closet, be flexible, and have fun.
I had originally purchased some beautiful, expensive strappy sandals for the welcome party, and Kate kept those in mind when creating my outfit boards—as well as the location and vibes of the party, obvs. We held it at an arcade bar, so the vibes were pretty specific.
However, I ended up not wearing them, deciding at the last minute to wear a pair of silver Zara platforms I’d had forever that were so much more comfortable.
Two of the best decisions I made when planning my wedding were a) hiring Emmily Jones of Gatherist as my planner and b) getting an assist in the wardrobe department from Kate. I was so stressed and stuck in decision paralysis, and she managed to help me find an outfit that I never would have chosen on my own but somehow was completely perfect. If you’re like me and have trouble putting together a cohesive outfit, I highly recommend.
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