Now that I've been able to get a little distance from the relentless dress disillusion that consumed me last week, I'm in a much better place to continue sharing this story with you. So let's clear the room and then get back to it.
When I left off, I was on my way to see the Maggie Sottero gown in person. When the woman brought the bag into the dressing room I found myself already hoping I'd have that 'it's the one!' feeling because it was just so lovely. The material and shape was so much like the others I'd tried on that I was certain it would look good on me. But it was the beading at the waist that really sold me - part sparkly and part metallic, it felt like just the amount of bling I'd been hoping for.
The woman helped me squeeze myself into a sample that was much too small, and I stood in the mirror for a very long time trying to imagine how this gown might look if it were the correct size. Logically it felt like it should work - right fabric, right shape, right detailing, right color, right price. I checked off each of those items multiple times in my head while the clocked ticked off minutes going on hours. As I stood there. In the dress. Uncertain.
At one point I remember saying to her, "This whole time I've just been looking at the dress, but it's hard to look at me in the dress." The shape and fit were bad, but I was assured that was just a sizing issue. The dress felt too low at the top, but the saleswoman confidently said that in my size the top would come a bit higher and the dress was "meant to be low like that" so it actually "looked better than I thought it did." I was trying hard to convince myself that I loved it. Because I did love it, didn't I? I loved it online, I loved it in person, and I wanted to love it on me.
I asked myself again and again, "Is this the one?" Waiting there by myself in the dressing room, I didn't hear an answer. All I could think about was how much time I'd put into finding dresses like this, how few other options I'd been able to uncover, how much I liked the idea of this dress, and how little time I had left to buy something. I heard the voices of so many people telling me not to worry because alterations can work wonders, and I heard myself wanting to make a decision so I could move on to another project.
So I bought the dress. I put down the non-refundable deposit, paid the $100 fee for the plus size "pattern change" as well as the extra fee to have it rush ordered so that it would arrive no later than the last day of September. There were no tears of joy, no quiet certainty, no sense of relief. Instead there was just extraordinary hope that I was worrying for no reason and that somehow it would work out.
To try and alleviate my concerns, I decided to take a bit of a road trip the next day to a store that had a slightly larger sample gown in stock. Thinking positively, I'd brought with me some jewelry and hair accessories because I wanted to get some idea what was going to work with my dress. Seeing it in that store, it was just as beautiful as I remembered it. I was able to slide on this sample, and I waited for her to clip me in it before I snuck a glance in the mirror. "Please let it look amazing. Please let me have no worries about the top of this dress."
But again I was confronted with the knowledge that the top of the dress was uncomfortably low for me. Trying to quell my impending freak out, the super nice saleswoman offered to call Maggie Sottero to ask about how increasing the pattern size would increase the height of the top. In the meantime, I grabbed a beaded lace jacket and stuffed it into the top of the dress to try and visualize what adding some trim along the top might look like.
I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. Throughout my dress hunt I hadn't been particularly fond of lacey looks, either for me or for the style of our wedding. Adding that trim along the top and then considering adding a bolero of the same material really altered the feel of the dress in a way I wasn't sure I liked. When the saleslady got off the phone, she didn't have good news for me. The person told her that going up in size only changes the circumference of the gown, so the difference in the height of the bodice between a size 2 and a size 20 was only half an inch. HALF AN INCH!
That was it for me. In that moment, less than 24 hours after I'd purchased it, I knew for sure the dress wasn't going to work as-is. And I won't lie - I was devastated. It took a few days for the information to sink in and for me to gather up the energy to start thinking about some resolution to the situation. But I had a very cathartic conversation with a good friend who confirmed that the dress I ordered was going to be too low and that I needed to just think about this dress hunt as my full time job right now. That was so nice to hear because somehow it gave me permission not to focus on anything else for the time being and to do whatever is necessary to find a dress that I love. (Thanks for that, L!)
So... I'm back on the hunt for both dresses and alterations, and I promise to keep you posted on my progress. Thanks for all your support, Hive! I'm feeling really, really hopeful that I'll have good news to share with you soon.
I'd love to hear from those of you out there who also second-guessed your dress decision or who ended up being a two (or more) dress bride. How did you live with yourself through this process?! :-)