Saturday, 21 March 2015

My Wedding Dress Journey: Dress Shop 3 of 4

This post is long overdue.

Mae Bridal in Witney Oxfordshire was by far the prettiest shop I visited, there is only one range of plus size dresses, but they are seriously awesome dresses.

I didn't buy my dress from here, only because I'm from Yorkshire and went up there to try dresses with my mum and we ended up buying one together (an experience I wouldn't change). If I could have bought 2 dresses I would have bought one here for sure! (I nearly did!) So since I didn't buy a dress I thought I could at least write a post to tell other plus size Oxfordshire ladies about my experience.

Every inch of this shop is perfect. Here are some pictures to prove it (Incidentally I snapped these pictures when I had my hair and makeup trial, with Jules hair and makeup who runs some of her trials out of Mae Bridal)

Under normal circumstances I would not have gone into Mae Bridal... let me explain my logic: growing up plus size in the 90's I soon became to realise that there is nothing in a boutique for me. Boutiques are stunning places with filled with dresses dreams are made of, the size lables however stop at a 20 (If you're lucky). Over time I just got into the habit of walking past boutiques and not pausing to look in the window.

I found Mae bridal through searching for stockists of a particular brand of dress: Sonsie by Veromia, and here they are:

There's lace and beading and sparkles, not cheap sparkles but glorious beautiful bling!

If you are bashful this shop is for you! Trying on wise, Mel left the dresses behind a big (and luxurious) curtain (see picture 1), then I stepped into the dresses by myself and Mel popped in and fastened me up, then the curtain was pulled back for my party to see. If you are bashful about anyone seeing you in your underwear then this is great! Take note: most shops involve someone seeing you in your underwear! Mel's approach is a real rarity.

Mel was really friendly and I didn't feel uncomfortable at any point. Sometimes you get a vibe from someone that they are holding their feelings about your size back (badly!) out of politeness, Mel wasn't like this at all. It's hard to be plus size not to feel judged, wedding dress trying on brought these feelings to the surface for me, largely because you are forced to scrutinize yourself and there is so much pressure for everything to be perfect something bigger gals are told that they can not be. (Incidentally wedding perfection is an impossible goal, something WILL go wrong on the day to some degree, I promise! -Ours was a missing cravat which my groom went dashing into Oxford for, a couple of hours before he was due to tie the knot!) Anyhow off topic, apologies. 

I guess I should show you some pictures of me in some dresses then! (direct links don't work so each link will take you to the Veromia webpage, then just look for the number) 

With blogging pictures paint a thousand words, so I'll let them do the talking, pretty gorgeous dresses though! I can of course chat about any of these dresses, just ask in the comments.

There was one dress I liked a lot (which I haven't shown you... yet!) it went into a sale and Mel remembered me and e-mailed me to let me know which was really sweet. (Like I said I nearly bought a second dress!) I know someone will have got an amazing dress though!

Another big advantage for me was that Mel was really good at communicating over e-mails, with my job I found it hard to phone places in opening hours.

Mae bridal really was breath of fresh air, a beautiful boutique with beautiful plus size dresses! If you are in the Oxfordshire area and are planning to tie the knot, give Mel a call!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

My Wedding Dress Journey: Dress Shop 2

Shop 2

Shop 2 was an outlet.

By the time I visited Shop 2 -The wedding Collection in Beverley East Yorkshire I was starting to narrow down my ideas (these shops are in order of dress success, not chronological)

I was hopeful I would be able to try on a few dresses, but with an outlet what you see is what you get! Plus size dresses were far and few between, in all honesty I was trying on the biggest dresses in the outlet (size 26-30) to put this into perspective I am usually a size 22. I was not going to buy a dress I was in danger of not fitting in to, hence I was only trying on dresses I could actually wear. Unlike many brides I did not set out to drop dress sizes for the wedding, 2014 was a busy and stressful year, I was a bridesmaid and I was a bride and I had both wedding cakes to make! On top of working full time with a long commute. I was not going to put all that extra pressure on myself, just no.

I guess another important point with outlets is that they are not private appointments. This did not feel like shop 1 where a whole room was looking at you, it felt friendlier and nicer I found myself chatting to another bride quite easily.

I only have pictures of one dress as it was the only one which I considered buying. So here are the pictures:

This was another phenomenal dress in its own right, the rouching around the waist was a great design feature and really drew in my waist. The tulle skirt was spectacular it had a superfine glitter making it shimmer and sparkle. It came in around £900 (down from £1300), expensive but understandably so. 

Sadly this dress is discontinued but it's by Veromia.

At this poin I knew I could be pickier. Nothing could have stopped me comparing any of the dresses here to another dress that I had found...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

My Wedding Dress Journey: Dress Shop 1

Dress Shop 1

Not the first I visited, but the worst experience for me. (I will stress for me... they knew what they were doing and they were polite, but were more geared to smaller gals)

Having visited this dress shop with a friend (when she was trying on dresses) I asked if they would have dresses to fit me. The lady was confident she had LOADS of dresses I could try on... I was skeptical but after all I am standing right in front of her and she could see my shape and size so I booked an appointment.

I tried on 3 dresses here... well 4 if you count the one that was pinned to my front!

Also the appointments were not private, so when I was squished into dresses that were too small I had to walk into a room full of strangers in order to show my accompanying party. Now I'm fairly robust, I don't hate my body I just accept it, people are different... if I spend my life wishing I was different life will pass me by! Anyhow I didn't experience any negativity (maybe I was just lucky, or naive)

So let's have some pictures! 

I don't have any of the details for these dresses to put in this post, so apologies for that. (If any brides to be think that they might like one of these dresses I can supply the shop details on request!)

The first dress was too narrow from the hips downwards, the chiffon type fabric was not for me, also it wasn't comfortable in any way, which is so important! (It's a long day, everyone who has been a bride will say that, they are not REALLY is!) The internal structure of the dress felt flimsy like the bones would bend and it wouldn't stay put! I knew I didn't want a dress that I would be adjusting all day, there is a lot of attention on you and I didn't want to be wiggling and adjusting as someone is always looking at you!
The next dress was also not for me (I had the same comfort and fit concerns as dress 1) also my mum hates duchess satin! I must say I'm not keen it was really heavy! 
The third dress was amazing in it's own right, this pose was me with my fairy princess wand! 
That's my mum in the background she is so cute! 
As amazing as this dress was, it was not the look I was going for.

I should have left it at that! Then this happened:

To be fair this doesn't look as bad as it felt but the memory of having a dress pinned to my front and having nothing on the back wasn't great..  my back really was against the wall for a reason! It's important to be strong, if you don't want this experience, say so don't let it happen.

Let's face it I didn't fall in love with any of the dresses. I must stress the shop was not for me, there was not enough choice and I wasn't willing to settle for a dress because it's all I could get. 

The dream shop is out there I promise... I found it!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

My Wedding Dress Journey

My wedding dress journey.

There are not many pictures in this post, I promise there are pictures coming soon, tons of them!

If there's any time in life where your emotions (and purse!) get turned upside down has to be the big W... not a shocking realisation I hear you say... I mean I should know that right? Weddings are stressful everyone knows that?! I just don't think I was quite prepared for how much this process was going to affect me. Before being engaged (lets call it before engagement BE) I was a sensible reasonable girl, after engagement (lets call it AE) not so much, I think being engaged changes your brain chemistry. Suddenly simple, and seemingly pleasant decisions turn into the most difficult thing in the world.

BE: This venue is nice, we can afford it, I'd like to get married here some day.
AE: This venue is nice, but what will other people think? what does it say about us as a couple? Is it too flashy? Is it not flashy enough? what if its not as good on the day? Argh I just cant commit, I must research 50 more venues immediately.

BE: I'm crafty I can add elegant and classy touches to our wedding with confidence.
AE: My craft mojo has disappeared, what if it just looks like glitter threw up on everything.

BE: I like this dress, but it's a bit expensive, better not, I'll just dream about it.
AE: Nice dress, A million pounds you say seems reasonable I'll take it.

Naturally wedding dress shopping has to be one of the most daunting experiences of the lot, especially for someone who has been 'bigger than the average bear' for some time... well forever actually. The thing is I have always been body positive, I work with what I have. I dress carefully for my shape and I generally don't let how I look stop me form doing anything. A big white dress though? White is not my friend!

The Beginning: Research. 

Pictures of other plus size brides, for someone who loves to read blogs its the first place to start.  Slightly trickier than blogs at first but once I got going I found some great places:

Facebook, plus size dress shops pages (and of course their associated websites)

Then there's wedding forums, specifically plus size gals in dresses:

And Pretty Pear bride, the worlds only plus size bridal magazine!

I lost hours to all of the above!

Size Acceptance, An Important Truth to Realise:

Wedding Dresses are stupidly sized. Don't take this personally if you have to try on dresses that are 2-4 sizes bigger than you are on the high street, I repeat do not take it personally! (Incidentally wedding shoes are the same, when you get engaged your feet shrink, it's the only explanation as to why none of the shoes fit!

The Next Step: Budget

New wedding dresses cost the earth. Why shouldn't they though? The fabric is luxurious, they are often heavily hand embellished and they have to be perfect. Someone will have spent hours and hours on THE dress. Designer wedding dresses are carefully thought out, the designers understand the fabrics and the fit. Professionals do not work for free, would you? 

There is sometimes a way to get dresses cheaper, with regular dresses its either discount codes, the sales, blog sales, clothes swaps or e-bay. Of course you can get wedding dresses cheaper but you most likely will have to compromise, unless you are extremely lucky.

There's always e-bay, if your dream dress comes up in your size, then go for it.

Then dress shops selling sample gowns, that one involves a lot of leg work!

And don't forget outlets! I visited this outlet in Beverley:
I had a great time  See 'great time face':
and the dresses were cheaper, but I didn't find my dress there.

another outlet that I came across is this one:
Elite bridal (but I didn't go to this one)

Anyhow, budget is really personal, but expect perfection to cost more and don't forget about accessories and alterations.

Trying on! Eek! Exciting!

I went to four places to try on dresses and my experience varied wildly. I am going to start with the worst experience and then work up to where I bought my dress from. I'll do this in forthcoming posts.

Collectif Faye Doll Dress

Well it's been a long time!

The last year has flown by pretty quickly. Fashion wise I have been in the doldrums - I haven't bought anything as all my spare cash has been funneled into the wedding! (We got married in December)

There is of course a wedding dress post or two coming up, but by way of warming up, I thought I would kick off the blog with a dress I bought a whole year ago from Collectif. Being a bit of a fan of vintage but not catered for by many of the repro-vintage outlets I was very excited to see collectif had a couple of plus size items (you know- properly(ish-more about that in a minute) plus sized, not just a small cut 22 with no stretch, which is more of a 20).

This is the Faye Floral Doll dress in a 3x. Sadly the plus size line was short lived, this dress was in the sale for quite a while and was not redone, but that may have been because the sizing is a bit odd, this dress fits well at the waist, the bust  is too big. In these pictures I am wearing a corset which pulls my waist in a bit but more importantly pushes my bust up and out a little - this just about fills the dress (which is still a bit baggy at the arms) but it is not my natural shape, I couldn't wear this dress with a normal bra without the dress looking too big at the arms.

Aside from the sizing issues this dress is amazing, it is frothy and swishy and so so good to dance in no petticoat required. Quality wise it is is top notch, but then it should be for £130 full price.

Collectif currently have this dress in the a fore mentioned not-plus-size 22 in the sale Faye dress in teal if this is your size then I heartily recommend it.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Cut for Evans

So on Wednesday I had an epic trek up to London, despite the weather. I'm quite British so I love to queue, drink tea and battle through bad weather for business as usual!
I'm so glad I made the effort though as it was great to see the cut collection and lots of lovely bloggers too.

The cut collection has the twitter community split, some like it some not so much. I love colour and print so when I saw the Alice Farrow kaleidoscope collection,  I was excited I certainly fall into the like category. The Rebecca Partington skyscraper is less my cup of tea but I know it went down well on the night it's fashion forward (and if anything I'm maybe not fashion forward enough!) and I'm sure will do well.

So I took a few bits of the kaleidoscope collection into the changing room to try on. I really like the print on the jumpsuit, I took a 24 in which was fine size wise but just not for me! (no pictures I'm vain!) I am so sad this is not a maxi dress as I think it would have had broader appeal. 

The blue blouse and pink pencil skirt are both gorgeous prints perfect for summer
The pencil skirt is a great shape (this is a 22) but i just wouldn't wear it, so sadly it didn't come home with me :-( The print on the top is also great but the straight hem on this shirt is not for me it just doesn't suit my shape as well as the pink blouse (this is a size 24) and came home with me (yes I got my purse out!)
This photo above does not quite do it justice so since it was valentines day on Friday I donned this shirt again and tweaked the styling a bit. Again the photo does not do this shirt justice since by the time we were ready and snapped some quick pictures the light had gone (so you get a rare shot inside my house!) we went to dinner with friends which was odd in a restaurant full of couples but so much fun!

Incidentally I had my nails done at the cut event and they match the shirt which is cool! 

I chatted to some familiar faces and met some new ones (I did a lot of squealing and waving my left hand around, apologie folks!) anyway as usual I did not get nearly enough pictures but here are a couple that I did snap:
The fantastic Caroline and Georgina
Isha and Debs
Charlotte Rosie Caroline and Hanna
George modelling complementary prints looking awesome!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Glinting into 2014!

So once again long time no blog. The last couple of months have been a strange old time. Christmas came and went in a whirlwind, blogging took a back seat as I spent my time keeping on top if work and festive preparations and as we travelled to see family and friends. I had a small and rather sensible flirtation with the January sales which involved getting some practical work tops and trousers and not much else!

Something well and truly made my Christmas this year though; a proposal!

I have been waiting a little while for a proposal, 12 years to be exact! So let's just say I have had a while to think about rings! I was a bit worried about how my long suffering other half would cope with sorting me out a ring, me being exceedingly fussy and all! In the end we went down to Brighton together and visited every jewellers in the Laines! Brighton is a special place for us (I have a slight Brighton obsession don't you know!) and choosing an engagement ring together was a memorable experience. I tried on every ring style out there but having pork sausage fingers inherited from my Dad the delicate solitaires didn't look quite right!(aka a bit lost!) I toyed with emeralds, rubies and sapphires, but in the end we decided on a five stone Edwardian diamond ring.  This ring was made in about 1910 and has 5 'old' cut diamonds, these are hand cut rather than modern machine cut diamonds, and oddly diamonds are just about the only thing where being 'vintage' makes them cheaper! One of the ladies in the shops told us that old diamonds glint and modern diamonds 'fizz' because they have many smaller facets, and I couldn't agree more.

Anyhow, I wanted to share this news on the blog but please forgive me as it has taken me a little while to get used to the idea! I promise I won't bombard you with wedding posts but for a lady who has been patiently waiting for her man for12 years I just had to share my joy!