Say yes to a coloured dress

I am unashamedly addicted to reality wedding shows, my latest dependence being TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress. The series documents the staff and customers of Kleinfeld Bridal in New York. There’s crying in clouds of tulle, countless asides on how the “perfect dress” will help overcome personal difficulty, overwhelming advice from overbearing mothers, budget concerns, and struggles with pre-wedding weight gain a la Bridezilla meets The Biggest Loser.*

A typical recap? “Kasey's OCD hinders her decision; Jackie's dress to mask her self tan; Angela has second thoughts ... Christie is a former stunt woman; Leah asks for a dress that doesn't have 'boob mirage.'” Basically, it’s everything you’d ever hoped for in a TV series and then some.  

My only qualm with the program is the sheer lack of alternative choices available to the bride, due partly to the overabundance of pricey eggshell, ecru and ivory Pnina’s on the showroom floor. As Randy Fenoli, fashion director of Kleinfeld’s and host of the show’s fifth spinoff series, SY2TD: Randy Knows Best, says, “If you want to wear color, you may want to save it for your shoes. This way your guests will only get a peak of color when the tip of your shoe is exposed from under your gown.”

To this I say poo-poo! When did wedding dresses get to be so, well, white? Brides in the Middle Ages would wear rich colours in luxe fabrics such as fur velvet and silk, Western Europe once favoured red gowns embroided with silver thread, while American brides donned a plethora of colours, including blue, yellow, brown and grey.

The double-wide white cupcake has only recently come into fashion with Queen Victoria in 1840, who wore it as a symbol of wealth and social status i.e. having enough money not to work and to dry-clean. Nowadays, you don’t need a white dress to flaunt your cash – show-off via vellum-overlay invites, fireworks, three-tier cakes decorated with gold-leaf icing and intricate scrollwork, and elaborate bonbonnieres. This site suggests a potted orchid? 

As SY2AD has taught me, a woman’s wedding day is all about her, a celebration of her beautiful uniqueness and a bold expression of her personal style. Thus, it’s ironic that the bridal industry presents us with such formulaic options. What if ivory or champagne isn’t your colour? What if you find the ever-ubiquitous strapless neckline particularly unflattering? As Slate’s Katherine Goldstein so accurately observes, visible tan lines, spillover cleavage, stick-figure arms, uniboobs and pouches of skin bunched up around the armpits become extra pronounced when wearing white strapless styles.

Thankfully, we need only look to the number of floral, red and black growns on the runway to realise that alternative dress styles are making a comeback. The unwritten rules of long, white and cap-sleeved have been jettisoned in favour of fashion-forward, statement-making gowns that need not be reserved for older brides or second-timers.

Isaac Mizrahi has jumped on the bridal bandwagon with an 18-piece collection, adding his playful touch with gingham sashes, pink lace, black embroidery and an all-black gown! The lady behind Priscilla Chan’s aka Mrs. Muckerberg’s dress, Claire Pettibone, has long favoured blue-toile lace. While Vera Wang, making her foray into the Asian market, has delivered a collection of 15 gowns in different shades of red, the colour of choice for brides in China, India and Vietnam.

What do you think? Would you ever wear a coloured dress down the aisle? Sofia Coppola wed her betrothed in lovely lavender by Azzedine Alaia, Cynthia Nixon looked a dream in seafoam green Caroline Herara, while Reese Witherspoon and Gwen Stefani both donned pink on their big day, if that’s enough to sway you?

*Intrigued? There’s also a fourth spinoff series, Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss, featuring Kleinfeld’s plus-size clientele.

 

15 comments

  • I wore a wonderful bright red Carla Zampatti dress on my wedding day, and I look back at the photos with a huge smile on my face. Not only was it a great way to stand out in the crowd (of brides that is), but with a few modifications I have a dress to wear to another party or function that holds incredible memories for me.

    Commenter
    Miss J
    Date and time
    June 06, 2012, 9:16AM
    • Wows, that comment could have come from me. I too wore a red Carla Zampatti dress for my wedding. I figured it was fitting given I'm not Christian and red is a lucky colour in my culture!
      Am yet to alter the gown, but definitely thinking about shortening it so I can wear it to cocktail parties.
      =)

      Commenter
      Name optional
      Date and time
      June 06, 2012, 9:45AM
  • I'm getting married later this year and have just bought a beautiful dark teal dress. I really really couldn't wear white!

    Commenter
    eshew
    Location
    here
    Date and time
    June 06, 2012, 9:40AM
    • Anyone who goes to a bridal shop for their wedding dress is crazy. The dresses are way overpriced and pretty much all look the same. You'd have much better luck going to dozens of other shops and finding something so long as it doesn't have 'bride' in the title

      Commenter
      Ailie
      Date and time
      June 06, 2012, 3:21PM
      • But that mint green Oscar De La Renta is gorgeous...

        Commenter
        Ailie
        Date and time
        June 06, 2012, 3:23PM
        • Jacaranda blue Thai silk dress and jacket for the first wedding. All black ensemble with red, black and cream silk jacket for the second wedding (mother-in-law was a bit stunned!). I look frightful in white or cream. And as for today, I am so over brides in strapless dresses. Wake up to yourselves, girls. Unless you have a perfect figure, they are not that flattering. Do something different. Stand out from the crowd on your special day, instead of ending up with photo albums you could mix and match with your friends because your outfits are almost identical.

          Commenter
          Elizabeth B
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          June 06, 2012, 4:34PM
          • Tell the bridal designers - I tried to find dresses that were not strapless but it was near impossible to. I am now getting a custom design to get the neckline I want, but I consider myself fortunate to be in that position because not all brides can afford that option, so just because you had a preference to get something totally different don't criticise those who want something "bridal" - many of us consider it an opportunity to wear a gorgeous white/ivory/champagne gown that if we don't take we wont get a different chance!

            Commenter
            andyjay
            Location
            Docklands
            Date and time
            June 11, 2012, 2:16AM
        • I don't understand why I can't click through the photos, and remain on this page. Being redirected to another page just to click through your photo gallery is clunky and counter-intuitive.

          Commenter
          Kit K
          Date and time
          June 06, 2012, 4:38PM
          • I wore a bronze-coloured dress that I designed with the help of a dressmaker. It ended up costing less than an off-the-rack dress and suited me much better than a white dress would have. I do remember being surprised when a friend mentioned that she wasn't going to have a white dress (she had a champagne dress - isn't that pretty much the same thing?). I am thinking about going into the bridal business at some stage and would love to introduce more colour to weddings, but I would probably be doomed to fail!

            Commenter
            Badbear
            Location
            Victoria
            Date and time
            June 08, 2012, 4:01PM
            • I wore a purple dress for my wedding. It suited me and my personality to a T and definitely way more memorable than the white/cream/ivory standard.

              Commenter
              origin2001
              Date and time
              June 08, 2012, 6:05PM

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