“How can a dress make you fat?”: Judging my value by more than my clothes

Guest post by Zwergin

Pink wedding dress close upRecently, I overheard a (rather curmudgeonly) acquaintance complaining, “These days, no one cares about who you are inside or what you do anymore: you can behave as hatefully as you want, as long as you wear the right shirt.” At the time, I rolled my eyes, and he backed down from such an extreme example; but when I returned home and was fretting about wedding things again, his remarks came back to me.

In fact, his remark cut the Gordian knot of a wedding dilemma I'd been suffering recently.

At this point, let me emphasize that I totally respect goths, steampunks, rockabillies, and all others with great, creative, high-maintenance aesthetics: this post is just about how I, personally, dealt with the fact that I found some elements of the cultural narrative around weddings more difficult to escape than others.

You see, it is true that Anglophone media — especially publications aimed at women — often do assign women value based solely on the clothes we wear. Take the Mail Online (which reportedly has more female readers than any other newspaper): roughly 75% of its sidebar last week consisted of stories where women's value was judged solely based on the clothes they were wearing.

Admittedly, these judgements are often implicitly influenced by other factors — Kristen Stewart's appearance is “disheveled” when she is misbehaving and “sexy” when she's just released another blockbuster film — even if the actual content of her appearance has not been vastly altered. Nevertheless, it is significant that these judgements are only expressed in terms of comments on clothes. We can't admit that Anne Hathaway is an incredible actress and singer, we can only talk about her clothes.

Perhaps this focus on clothes stems from a reluctance to seem too judgmental about any significant life choices, or to celebrate particular talents at the tacit expense of those who do not have them. These are not necessarily negative impulses; however, there is a danger that by focusing solely on clothes, clothes are elevated to the sole measure of a woman's worth. If your clothes are the only things on which you can be openly judged, then women feel extreme pressure to get their clothes “right,” because clothes have become the sole locus where value is openly placed and decided. You and your value are defined by what you wear.

Considering this gave me a wee epiphany about wedding planning.

I began to wonder if other wedding decisions were coming easily because I did not feel like I was being judged for those things to the same extent that I felt like I was being judged for my choice of clothes.

Recently, I had been fretting a little too much about my choice of dress, my choice of headpiece, my choice of everything appearance-related. My dress is not quite a sheath, but a bit more flowy: would that mean that I would look too frivolous? Will my friends think I am too ditzy? It's one-shouldered: is that too weird? Am I too weird? Will my fiancé wish he'd married the type of girl who'd wear a strapless dress?

By contrast, all the important decisions I had to make about the ceremony, or about how to furnish the house we're moving to in a few weeks — all that came easily. I began to wonder if those things were coming easily because I did not feel like I was being judged for any of those things to the same extent that I felt like I was being judged for my choice of clothes.

Perhaps this problem is unique to me: I can be extremely internally snarky about other people's clothes (so my own insecurities are richly deserved payback). Nevertheless, it is also fascinating to me how well my internal anxieties match up to the Mail Online's sidebar of shame. Perhaps social elites have conditioned my snarky impulses. Even though I try not to wear makeup and generally shun the mainstream media, I can't escape the billboards, and the articles people link. It's curious (and makes me think about medieval monks and their perceptions of social roles, etc, but that's another story).

In order to remember not to fret when silly worries about appearance and value weasel their way back into my thoughts, I've got my patient fiancé's most excellent responses to remind me of what's really important. Some men just don't seem to feel the same pressures or to put the same emphasis on appearance. Therefore, my fiancé has been able to bring some excellent perspective… for instance, when I make an offhanded comment about the possibility that my dress might conspire to “make me look fat,” he replied: “How can a dress make you fat? You don't eat it.”

I might judge my own value too much by my clothes, but it's nice to know that someone else is more concerned with what I do and who I am instead. Therefore, I'm going to try to stop worrying about cultural narratives about “The Dress” or “the most photographed day of your life.” I'll try to remember instead that I am not what I wear.

Are you having fashion-related insecurities and freakout moments? Let's talk about 'em.

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Comments on “How can a dress make you fat?”: Judging my value by more than my clothes

  1. It’s funny, I study the history of clothing in the late 19th-early 20th century for graduate school. One of the key underlying notions that I think is telling and problematic in those time periods is the way that often women were judged 1) solely by their appearance, and 2) often reviled by men for being too vapid or focused on clothing.

    A great deal of the time there is far more complex stuff going on within these narratives, but I find the seemingly anecdotal sections of literary works or Op Ed articles from MANY newspapers on issues surrounding women’s clothing, its impracticality, and the unfairness of judging women solely based on appearance.

    The terrible fact is that just as many Op Eds, articles, and scholarly work comes out now that points to the exact same notion: women are more than their clothes. (This same issue could be manifested as: women are more than their bodies, since clothing can do a great deal to create optical illusions regarding specific proportions of the body, enhancing or deemphasizing specific areas.)

    I do find this problem to be the strongest in the wedding world now. Unfortunately, it comes up pretty much everywhere in which women are publicly on display: news anchors, politicians, actresses, performers, professors, teachers, etc.

    • Yeah, it’s an interesting conundrum, being judged for your appearance, and then judged again if you’re “too concerned” with your appearance.

  2. I’ve been in the search of the perfect dress almost since I got engage 7 months ago… I still haven’t found it and my wedding its in 5 months.

    The problem is probably the same that everybody, some dresses have too much and other too little and most of them don’t go well with my petite size D:

    Beyond my physical appearance there are my views about how a dress should be that prevent me from falling in love with any dress. I don’t want to pay a huge quantity of money for something I don’t fully like and don’t want to spend the entire wedding budget in a dress that I will never use again :S. So yes it needs to have a logical price.

    I’m not the kind of girl that you will see every weekend on shopping new clothes, I’m the opposite, I look for clothing just when is strictly necessary. Still I have to say I have enjoyed so far to trying more than 50 fancy dresses and having more than 160 pictures of them XD. It might sound obsessive but I’m the kind of person that will google reviews before buying any new electronics. Why shouldn’t I do the same with such an important dress?

    My fiance got me a little more worried when he mentioned that the dress is like a engagement ring, is like a present to surprise your significant other. So I want also to find the perfect dress to astonish him and if that happens then my work will be done :-). I really hope I do it on time :S ..

  3. “How can a dress make you fat? You don’t eat it.” AGELESS WISDOM.

    This man, he is a gem. Treasure him always, as it is clear he treasures you! 🙂

  4. You’re totally not alone in this.

    I find myself worrying more about how I look when I head out of the safety of my apartment than anything else. Does this outfit convey how I want people to see me? Will this dress stand up to the image I want people (that I haven’t seen in a year) to remember? Is this flow-y skirt too girly? Do I look fat (not “am I fat” but “will people see me as fat”)?

    In contrast, when I work from home I wear what I’m comfortable in; not just the requisite comfy sweatpants, but things that make me feel like me. I feel self-conscious wearing those outfits out into the world, knowing that people will judge me by them.

  5. We had 3 and a half weeks from the date we registered our marriage to plan our elopement. Of course, I couldn’t commit to anything look-related for myself until I had the dress. I tell you, ladies, there’s no hotter poker up your butt than a tight deadline poker to get said butt in motion! I bought my dress from the high street in one single afternoon 2 weeks before our wedding. (It was a stressful and not an impulse purchase. But I had to work with my resources.) And it looked nothing like what I imagined in my head. I was imagining light colours, floaty fabrics, maybe a floral motif… Instead I ended up with a bold French navy, structured 1950s type dress. Not only that, but it was the shape and cut I’ve always dreamed of wearing but never dared because of my body shape. So, suffice it to say, it was a tentative – VERY tentative – purchase. I was terrified of wearing it because it was out of my comfort zone and I was worried what my mother, my best friend, and even my fiance would wonder I had been smoking when I decided that dress was doing my figure a favour. I was worried that me in this dress would scream “reject kid at prom!”

    But despite my trepidation, I embraced the novelty of this pretty frock and hatched a plan; Instead of fitting the dress to my ideas of what I should look like, I let the dress dictate my entire image. It inspired me to go for a nautical theme because that blue was just MADE to be paired with white and red. (This reminded me of Ariel’s post about working with people you like to let them make your wedding happen versus getting people to bring your preconceived wedding ideas to life.)

    So I hope I inspire even just one of you to not stress so much about your dress. I appreciate how very important it is and I’m not saying I threw caution to the wind selecting mine. But finding a dress that looks different to what you had in your head isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it might inspire you to create an even more fabulous look. Don’t forget, this is supposed to be FUN!

    Know what works for your shape, but be open to trying new styles. Know what you like (and what you hate), but don’t let those parameters crush you into a tiny ball of anxiety with no options. The dress is like love… the right one will find YOU… if you’re open to it.

    • My fiance was in a similar position. She loves her jeans and Cons when paired with vintage inspired tops with polkadots or stripes, and bold colours like red, blue and white. She just isnt a dress or frilly kinda girl, so we weren’t sure how she was going to go. She’s got fantastic curves, but in wedding world everyone looks like models so looking at most wedding related websites was just disheartening (here being the exception!)

      We eventually found a rockabilly/vintage inspired dress in satin with lace detailing over the shoulders and bust. The right balance of vintage without being too grandma-ish, girly but not too girly. We went to order the white but the manufacturer was out of stock of their white lace. After some deliberation we made the call to go with the same dress in their burgundy red. Best. Move. Ever. She loves the colour, it looks great against her fair skin, but most importantly she feels ‘herself’ in it.

      My folks are fairly traditional, so we just showed them the pics of the white dress and said she’ll be wearing that. Can’t wait to see their reaction on the day!

    • Yep, yep, yep…I totally get your scenario. I’m not eloping, but for months I agonized over the dress. My budget was really tight (like $300 or less) and I really, really didn’t trust ordering something from China (besides – the working conditions are probably so deplorable, I don’t want to support them anyway.) I started out with a red dress (not really a white wedding dress kind of girl), which switched to trying to get someone to make a $3000 dress for far less that I fell in love with…it switched a number of times & I hemmed & hawed until I finally decided on it. So, I had the dress all picked out – in red again…it wasn’t exactly what I wanted – but it was darn close…and then I went to order it & lo & behold – what did I see? A new dress on the same website – white with red trim, absolutely gorgeous & I was in love & it was in my price range. So – the jewelry I planned would still work, and while I had issues with changing my decision (once I’m set on something – it took a bit to realize that it’s okay to change my mind) – my fiance` was “nope, you have to get that dress. it’s perfect.” And it was called the “swan” and since my email & username everywhere has been “swantail” since I can remember – it was pretty much fate. So…yep, the dress will find you – it might not be what you thought you wanted, but in the end, it will be the right one. I never in a million years thought I’d be wearing white…but the dress came 2 days ago & it is literally the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen! And it looks pretty darn amazing on me too! 🙂

  6. I’ve been engaged almost 2 years. Still no dress. At first I thought to make a dress because not only do I dislike the BWWIC and commercial clothing sales in general, but I’m afraid I won’t find anything “right” for the occasion anywhere. It can’t be long, it’ll drag in the mud. It can’t be white, it’ll get ruined. It can’t be sleeveless, we’re outside in October in the Great Lakes and I hate shrugs/shawls/boleros. It can’t be fully sleeved, the animals will tear it up (it’s a wildlife center where we work and we’ll have critters out). I can’t balance what everyone will expect of “bridal” with the sheer practicalities of being in that environment. So this “women are their clothes” mentality makes me jump to either I’m not “bridal” enough (and what’s *enough* if the paperwork is signed in the end?) or I’m going to spend more money than I want on a dress I don’t want and may not even like, made with near-sweatshop labor and environmentally shitty practices for a day that ultimately I’m not going to enjoy because I’m worried about my freakin’ *clothes*?!?!?! Forget that noise! I might just say “screw it,” put everybody in the wedding party in khaki’s and button downs and get married in hiking boots, because ultimately the clothes should be so much less important than they are. And yet, I just can’t force myself to make that decision. Looking “right” is so ingrained in Wedding lore that even with great reasons, I can’t overlook the attitude. :/

    • This seems like the kind of situation that just begs for a custom made dress. If you find a good person (I think there are some in the offbeat bride vendor lists), they can help you design a dress that is precisely how you want it, for around the same price as a sort of mid-priced wedding dress (like $500-$1000). No sweatshop labor, too. I think you could come up with an absolutely phenomenal elbow-sleeved, calf-length but bridally full-skirted, khaki colored button-down shirtdress design (or whatever it is that fits all your needs) that would be a great hybrid of bridal and outdoorsy! And if you used a normal cotton khaki cloth it would even probably be quite inexpensive to make – you could even get a pair of boots to match (in my mental image they look like Frye’s “Melissa Tall Lace” model of boots).

      • I just had the most awesome vision of what you described except why not just a white/off-white/whatever colour calf length skirt and wear a casual white with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows! Instead of someone making it for you it can be purchased from the high street ready made at a lower cost. It doesn’t have to be an all in one dress!

      • There was a photo recently of a bride who wore the denim button up shirt that she wore on their first date with a BIG, poofy, ball gown white skirt. She looked AMAZING and it worked! Please don’t spend any more time on the “should.” Whatever you decide to wear will also look AMAZING and YOU!

    • You’re getting married in a wildlife center and you’re worried about a dress?! No! My dream & you get to live it! The wedding dress is something you WANT not something you NEED to wear.

      And what you said about the Khakis & hiking boots – loving it…

  7. “How can a dress make you fat? You don’t eat it.” — This sounds almost exactly like something my fiance would say. He has a very refreshing, if not very literal, way of responding to all the little-picture things I fret about on a weekly basis.

    I absolutely hate that strapless dresses, and spaghetti strap dresses, are the norm in bridalwear. I would never wear a strapless/spaghetti strap dress or shirt in my daily life and I don’t plan on starting the day I get married and have 800 professional pictures taken of me. I discussed this with a guy friend of mine several years ago (before I was engaged to anyone) and he was SHOCKED to hear me say I wanted sleeves on my wedding dress. For a minute, I was really thrown by his reaction and thought about reconsidering my stance on the type of dress I’d wear. In the end though, I have to do what is right for me. And you have to do what is right for you. People may judge you for not having a standard WIC strapless gown, but it should be kept in mind that the wedding gowns that we have today was not what our grandparents would have had at their weddings. The strapless white gown is neither traditional nor required in order to be married.

    • I was the same way – I was very set against a strapless dress. But I couldn’t find a dress with sleeves that I felt comfortable in. So I got a beautiful strapless dress and wore it with a bright yellow cardigan.

      I stressed about not “looking like a bride” until I decided that why should I wear something on my wedding day that I would never be caught dead in on any other day. So I went for what I normally wear and feel comfortable in – just fancier fabrics!

  8. Oh man, this brings up so many FEELS. Thank you, zwergin, for starting the discussion.

    I hate feeling like I’m judged by my wardrobe. I am so much more than my outfit or my body! I love my body, and I love the very basic jeans-and-tees outfits I mostly wear. But those are very PERSONAL things. I feel angry when I think about someone using those things to judge my worth.

    I try as much as possible to not perpetuate the issue, by not listening to those judgy voices when I buy clothes. If I base my wardrobe decisions on the perceived judgments of others (especially such a symbolic, personal wardrobe decision as a wedding dress), then the judgy people win. I start letting them indirectly make my wardrobe decisions for me, and I start thinking hurtful, negative things to myself about how my body looks in my clothes. If I step back, I realize that I would NEVER say to another person, “honey, tea length gives you cankles,” but somehow I’m saying it to myself. When I go down that path, I become as caustic as the Daily Mail “sidebar of shame”.

    Instead, I try to focus on how I feel in my clothes. Does it look great? I personally think so. Does it feel great? HELLS YES! The wedding dress I ultimately chose is nothing like I pictured in my head, but it’s swishy and flowy and I feel awesome in it. And it has geometric patterns! Awesome!!

    And no one, not even the Daily Mail “sidebar of shame”, can take away those happy feelings. 🙂

  9. Dude, if you actually dress like Willow Rosenberg, I think you look amazing. Haven’t even seen you, know you look amazing.

      • It’s funny…I knew exactly what dresses they would be before I even clicked on the link! 😀

        Those dresses were absolutely gorgeous, and I would happily wear a white version of Tara’s dress on my wedding day!

  10. Love the comment “how can the dress make you fat?” Isn’t it weird how the notion of “the dress” can mess with your head.

  11. I’ve struggled with this over the years. I’m a plus-sized woman, and not only that, but I’m very tall. Even if I was at my ideal weight, I’d still tower over my petite friends. So my strategy has always been to look like the best version of me. Does this shirt flatter me more than this shirt? Regardless of how it would look on anyone else. I didn’t even really look at commercial wedding dresses, because I didn’t want to see how it would look on me compared to another woman. I wanted a dress that would bring out the best in me compared to other clothing I would wear. So custom was the way to go.
    Are there still days when I wish I had another body type? Absolutely. But looking my best to me means looking like the best version of me, irregardless of anyone else. It’s never effortless though.

  12. Thanks for this, as I can totally relate.
    I’m having the opposite problem. My entire life I have said i would never wear a white wedding gown. Then I told everyone I know, my dress will be black!! Guess what? I bought a white dress. Off white sure, but still. Now I’m paranoid and keep going back and forth on it. Do I even like the stupid dress?? It did make my heart go pitter-patter once, but why?? Is it way too traditional?? I’m going to visit a seamstress next week, to talk about adding as much black as possible, but its a huge thing looming over me that i hope will pass.

    • It WILL pass! I had the same with my navy dress (see comment left above). I had one day when EVERYTHING felt wrong! And I mean everything. I wanted to return the dress, return my matching Irregular Choice Miaow boots and scrap the whole theme. I felt like I had made a big mistake.

      So, right or wrong, I sought second and third opinions. I live with my fiance (now husband) and although he hadn’t seen my whole outfit put together, the dress wasn’t a secret. I badgered him and my best friend in Dubai over BlackBerry Messenger for what I knew would be their honest to god opinions. And they assured me my reservations were unfounded and that the dress looks fabulous. Desperate, but it gave me enough of a boost of confidence to soldier through the doubts. (I did not show my mother because she tends to be critical on the negative side and I could not afford to risk anything planting any bad seeds in my brain.)

      So yes, it will pass. And I liked wearing something “new” to me. Not newly bought; new in concept. It makes you feel special and festive. It really doesn’t matter if SOMEone thinks it’s traditional, if it’s “bridal”. You ARE a bride! And a wedding, no matter how nontraditional, is a sort of tradition – a celebration of a marriage. So it’s a waste of energy worrying about whether the dress is too this or that. My fiance would have said: “Yeah but does it make you smile?” And that’s the most important thing. Even if it’s not your usual style. Go on – BREAK YOUR OWN TRADITION! Challenge yourself to channel your inner bride. You know no matter what colour your dress, you will never be ordinary. 🙂 (And honestly, when would you ever get a chance to wear a whitey dress again?)

  13. “Will my fiancé wish he’d married the type of girl who’d wear a strapless dress?”

    Thank you thank you for this! Literally made me giggle choke my coffee.

  14. OMG, how true is this post as well as everyones response. I never had a dream wedding in my head since I was six, I’d rather have chosen to elope, and if it were up to me I wouldn’t wear a long white dress. It however is impt to my fiancé to have those above things (though now I sort of think why wouldn’t he want me to be me.). So I decided i wanted a vintage dress, flowy and NOT strapless (despise them). But vintage with my bust size was challenging and I refused to go to David’s bridal even after friends and future mother in law said I “should” so not only is the culture to look bridal but to make sure it’s marked as a “wedding” dress.

    Out shopping one day, we stumbled upon a designers boutique that i wanted to check out, just for the clothes, not to find a dress, and that’s where my dress was hanging on the back rack. Even after trying it on twice and hearing everyone’s raves, I felt out of place in it. Like I looked fat or worried what people would say. But then after some minors tweaks all of a sudden the dress seemed perfect. Bought it and left it with her to alter. Then a few hours later I freaked. It wasn’t vintage, it wasn’t me. I felt uncomfortable in it….my fiancé was great and said he wanted me to love it and if it meant forfeiting the $200 we would. But I decided to wait a week til the alterations were done, and fell in love with it again. To note I am in no way an impulse decision maker, and i think that played a big part in it. So when it all comes down to it, you can appreciate people’s opinions but the dress will find you. And ironically after I bought a vintage capelet to wear with it, I felt like a bride, and it in the end is totally “me” and can’t wait to wear it..now to find the perfect shoes.

  15. Reading stuff like this makes me praise my mom’s huge “fuck you” to WIC and fashion in general. She got hitched in Vegas wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. She wore a veil, though.
    It feels shameful to be so concerned about a dress making me look “fat”, but I fret about this with clothing in general. I hate clothes shopping and avoid it whenever possible. My torso is too short and I’m busty so everything just makes me look like “Here’s some tentboob” and I know CLOTHES shouldn’t bother me…but I hate looking disproportionate. 🙁 I like what I see when I’m naked, why can’t clothes make me feel the same?

  16. Don’t hate me, photo-loving people, but I think part of the reason the dress issue becomes so big is that people really want to like the photographs. If we think of wedding photographs as one of the most important parts of the wedding, and the way we and everyone else, even our descendants (!) will remember us, that puts a lot of pressure on “looking good.” Plus, most of us are extremely critical of our appearance in photographs.

    I know caring about the photography doesn’t have to lead to obsession and worry about appearance, and a good photographer can take good shots and cull bad ones. Still, a photograph is a visual project and thus to an extent focuses on appearance.

  17. Oh wedding dress shopping! I actually found (and bought) my dress before I was engaged- not at a bridal shop either. I work in retail, we got a dress in, and I immediately thought, I want to marry my sweetie in this dress. It was inexpensive($25!!!) so I bought it despite not having a ring on the premise that I could always wear it for something else. When my sweetie proposed the following month, I thought “awesome! I’m all set!” And then doubt started to set in. My best friend got married a few months later and had a gorgeous wedding dress- strapless, full skirt, white, from an actual wedding shop… She glowed!! And I thought about my ivory, 3/4 sleeve, just above the knee dress, from a not wedding shop and thought- that’s not a wedding dress. I decided to go dress shopping. And while it was fun, nothing really grabbed me. Plus the sticker shock was, well, shocking!
    My mom happened to be in town, and I showed her my dress and told her my doubts and dilemmas. She said to me “honey, if you wear that dress the day you get married, it is a wedding dress. If you love it, then it is the right dress.”
    Sigh of relief
    I have since shown the dress to several friends who have all said that they agree and think it is perfect.
    Every once in a while I think maybe I should get a different dress, but I have learned that generally speaking my first impulse/thought/reaction is the best and truest one… Not the doubt-y negative voice that comes after.

    Good luck out there… We can be our own worst enemies. Tell that doubt-y negative voice to shut it- its a liar anyway.

  18. While my BFF/maid of honor were picking out wedding dresses at one point she turned to me and said, ” Damn it woman. You could get married in a burlap sack and nobody is allowed to give a shit. It dosnt matter what anyone else thinks about your dress except you. You have the most amazing fiancé on this earth and he loves you. You could get married naked and he would call it a perk! Stop worrying you are bueatiful in whatever you choose just as long as you love it.”

    Her pet name is anvil of sanity.

  19. My dress is red. People have lots to say about it but getting married is about putting your NEW family first and your current family agreeing to support you two in your union. The dress is the first in a long line of decision they will have no say in. Whenever I am about to make a decision that others will dislike I ask myself 2 questions:

    Is it hurting any one?
    Does it make me happy?

    Everything else is just noise.

    • Fellow red dress wearer here! I’ve had some snide comments, but the people I was most expecting to kick up a fuss (my intensely WIC-esque grandmother) absolutely adores it.

      When my mum told my godmother that I was getting married in red, though, my godmother turned around and said, “Well she wouldn’t be getting married in white, would she?”


  20. So needed to read this today. 45 days and counting til the big day and at the back of my brain I’m totally freaking out about my choice of dress. I’m having the “I look stupid! I look fat!” moment because the photo my mum took when I was with the dressmaker is less than flattering.

    Exactly three people have seen me in my dress – my bridesmaid, my mum and my dressmaker (who didn’t make the dress – I bought it online – but is making a few smaller alterations). They seem to think I look great but all I see is the body that’s not meant to be in a replica 1920s beaded flapper dress. My boobs are too big, my belly too flabby even with the waspy clinching me in. Part of me wishes I’d gone the traditional route but that would’ve meant not being true to myself. And I’m not a poofy princess dress kind of girl. Still doesn’t stop me from freaking out though.

    Deep breaths! Deep breaths!!

  21. This is why I sew. No, really, and I’m not dissing on anyone who doesn’t. But in addition to being extremely plus-sized (I currently take a size 30, though I’m working, and working hard, on changing that), I am also excessively long-waisted and have a proportionately large bosom. The average distance from waist to widest point of the hip for women is around nine inches; you’re long-waisted if it’s 7 inches. For me, it’s a little less than FIVE inches. Dropped waists tend to sit at my natural waistline–and let’s be honest, even stores that carry plus sizes don’t usually carry anything that comes in my size. Plus, if I’m paying that much for a dress, I’ll obsess over it being Le Perfect.

    So I’ll sew it, instead. The fit will be better, because I can design the pattern to fit my specific measurements. My budget will be happier, because you can get way more fabric for $1000 than you can dress. And most importantly, to keep myself from obsessing over whether or not it’s “perfect,” every member of my bridal party will help make it, even if it’s just stitching on a few beads or tacking a few stitches in the hem. Then the dress will be perfect because it’s got MEANING, rather than because of how it looks, and I won’t fret at all about wearing it.

    Even if you’re not a sewer, you can use the same technique, though. You take a dress you’re happy with, even if it’s not “OMG The One,” and you gather your bridal party, or your entire wedding party, or the family members who won’t be able to be physically present, or even the local school kids you work with, and you have each one of them sew on a bead or a button, or make a ribbon flower, or pin on a ribbon, and then your dress is truly and totally unique, and you wear it knowing that you’re literally wearing the love of those who support you–and no one is more beautiful than someone who knows they are loved, regardless of what they’re wearing.

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