So you’ve just tried on a wedding dress in a bridal boutique and you are surrounded by a select committee of friends and family. You ask the customary question “What do you think?”
The truth could be that you look a hot mess. How many of us are lucky enough to be told the truth? Especially after you let’s say declare your undying love for the dress?
You are likely to meet a slightly shifty chorus of mixed ‘hmmms’ in an array of intonations whilst each person tries to decide how to sugar coat their response, or even hide their true feelings…
It is difficult to escape this sophisticated echo chamber built on decades of the salty tears of brides-to-be, and centuries of female insecurities.
After all, who wants to be solely responsible for a heartbroken and despondent bridezilla devoid of all hope and rationality?
The truth is that most brides will know how they feel in a dress once they have it on… What they truly probably need to know is how they look.
Now there are those who don’t give two hoots about anybody else’s opinion and would rock a bin bag held together with safety pins, but in reality, were this to go wrong, most of us would turn to
our trusted advisors after the fact and ask in horror, “Why the hell did you let me wear that?!”
The reason this forum has become so important is that brides are expected to be almost ethereal in appearance and have a desire, often hidden, sometimes blatant, to be admired by all. One who is perfection embodied.
Unfortunately this culture of weighted expectation has created brides almost crippled by the fear of being anything but perfect. From living on strained celery juice for months beforehand to blowing any semblance of a budget to afford THE dress, brides who succumb to this are ever more dependent on the approval of close friends and family.
It is for this reason that a bride should expect and demand total honesty. She doesn’t need to be told that there are angels weeping in heavenly realms at her beauty, but rather whether the dress suits them, their style and shape.
This paves the way for the alternative. The dress doesn’t quite complement their body shape, or that the style of dress is somewhat at odds with their personal style. Of course this can only best come from those who know the bride well.
Perhaps a few guiding principles may be of benefit. The following should be considered undesirable at fittings.
We can all smell this from a mile off. From the facial muscle spasms from forced over smiling to the stumbling of words as they fight each other to escape insincere lips.
Avoiding eye contact
There is just something dehumanising about watching someone’s hope crumble as you look into their eyes, so these friends will suddenly developed a squint or become captivated by your hair or neckline.
Everybody has their sensitivities, even Kate Middleton or Beyoncé. Spaghetti straps may well make you look like you belong in a rugby scrum but being told that “your arms look chunky in that” is just plain cruel.
A close cousin of insincere praise, the “That looks amazing, it really hides your tummy.” type of comments really do deserve to be banished to the land of shoulder pads and bum bags forever! Even if the dress looks good you are left feeling rather deflated.
Let’s face it, there is very little you can do to control these factors you might say…
Firstly, the presence of these 4 patterns of behaviour should alert you to less than honest, or, unhelpful advice. This is not to say you then stamp your feet and boot them out of the fitting immediately, but this should empower you to either request their true thoughts if you feel you can handle it. Or, you may just choose to consider their non-verbal and indirect cues that this may not be your greatest look. For those who truly offend, you might wish to make a mental note for your seating plan and allocate them to the hotly contested seat next to great aunt Gladys with the loose dentures and questionable table manners.
Secondly, this is a reminder of the control you do have in this process. If you’ve decided that you are going to have a fitting, you absolutely get to choose who is part of this selective club of yours. They should be those who understand you, your style and your sensitivities.
Don’t allow yourself to be guilt tripped into including anyone whose transparency you aren’t in tune with.
Ultimately, armed with an understanding of the potential awkwardness posed by your invitation to dish out the honest truth good or bad, you should be prepared.
You are giving friends and family the power to be an instrumental part of your dress choice decision making process, therefore those you give this privilege to should be chosen very wisely.