I was honored to be asked to stand with my friend at her wedding this fall.
Then five seconds later, I realized, I have to wear a bridesmaid dress next to other women who haven’t had babies and who aren’t currently breastfeeding. Oh dear!
So, I ordered my J. Crew bridesmaid dress–a silk taffeta chocolate number that’s strapless, corseted, high waisted, and it has three-inch pleats around the skirt which hits just above the knee. When I placed my order, the super-friendly person on the other end of the phone kindly told me I was between two sizes for the bust measurements. Oh dear!
Since I’m expecting my bust to get smaller as opposed to larger five months from now, I went with the smaller size. BIG mistake.
The dress arrived and I snapped and zipped it up after sucking in my ribs, turning slightly blue, and wishing I hadn’t had that slice of carrot cake over the weekend. The look on Steve’s face told me how I looked before he actually opened his mouth and said, “Woah.” It wasn’t a good, “woah” as in “woah! She’s Hot!” It was as in “woah, you paid for that?!”
I quickly ran into the bathroom to look in the mirror which only revealed what I looked like from the waist up. The corset lines were bunchy, and I barely had enough bust to hold up the dress. But, I felt like I needed to fidget with it to keep hoisting it up. That’ll be a lovely image at a wedding: me grabbing the top edge of the dress, pulling it up, and wriggling around to stay put. Oh dear!
Then, I ran into another room that had a slightly bigger mirror to get the full effect of the dress in its entirety.
Oh . . . my . . . Goodness! Look at my butt! It looks sooooo BIG. Like a bumblebee butt. Like Calvin’s bohemoth cloth diapered bottom at nighttime.
Three-inch waistline pleats on someone who actually has curves, well, let’s just say they parachute and magnify exactly what you don’t want them to.
I actually called two girlfriends (both of whom are moms and former brides and bridesmaids).
What do I do? I don’t want to be bridesmaidzilla, but I really can’t be seen in this . . . in public (heck, I think it made Steve gag in the bedroom!) I don’t want to complain to the bride, but I don’t know what to say if she asks me what I think about it.
I’m typically a straight arrow when it comes to my opinion about something. If I don’t like something, it’s no mystery. I do my best to be diplomatic, but I felt like I was in the midst of a frock tragedy. Overwhelming encouragement from my girlfriends was unanimously the same:
Well, Dolly, the bride’s gonna look very beautiful standing next to you. After all, that’s what it’s all about . . . the bride!
I know that doesn’t sound like the best pick-me-up of encouragement, let’s face it, it was girlfriend-speak for “suck it up, sistah!” But, it was actually what I needed to hear. I chuckled as one of my friends related her bridesmaid horror stories . . . from the ugly dress to the horrible haircut and dye job. Perhaps I can have one of those funny stories to tell . . . one day soon!
On Saturday, I tried on the dress for my sis-in-law, a.k.a. seamstress extraordinaire. When it comes to voicing her opinion, she’s like me and Steve. If it looks like I’m wearing a burlap sack that’s cinched too tight, then, she’ll tell me. She suggested I take a photo of myself in it and send it to the bride and tell her, “You want me to wear THIS?!?”. Interesting idea. I wasn’t about to take my chances having THAT PHOTO accessible on the internet. No way!
My nine-year-old niece was just as informative,
That dress does NOT look good on you. It’s so short and little. My [twelve-year-old] sister could wear it!
So, this is what I did. In a moment of desperation, I called the bride. She didn’t answer her phone. “Whew!” I felt relieved, and I didn’t leave a message. She called back later and immediately asked if I’d received the dress.
Bride: “What do you think?”
Me: “Well . . . it’s kinda funny, actually. When I called, they said I was between sizes. I went with the smaller size thinking I’d be slimmer by September rather than fuller. That probably wasn’t the right decision.”
Bride: “My other bridesmaid is a size 0 or 2. She ordered a larger size . . . a 4, and it looks great on her!”
(Me thinking to myself) “Oh dear! I’m standing next to someone at the wedding who’s got the same waistline as my 7-month old! She went up 1 to 2 sizes to get a 4. If I order a larger size, it may fit better, but I’ll look like I’m wearing a tent!”
Bride: “You know, that particular dress runs small. You could exchange it for the next size up and it would probably look great.”
(Me thinking to myself): “Doubtful, but I need to just go with the wedding flow and make the best of this situation”
Me: “Uhm. Okay. Yeah, I’ll call ’em.”
So, I called J. Crew and spoke with a God-send of a sales rep, Tina. She has 5 kids. While nursing, she was a bridesmaid in 3 weddings. Tina could totally relate to what I was going through.
Tina: “I’ve been there. You get all frustrated about the number of the size because it’s a number bigger than what you used to wear, and then you get self-consious about it. And, you feel like you never really know when you’re going to lose the rest of that baby weight. Also, while you’re nursing, you don’t know if your breasts will get smaller later. It’s so hard to figure out what you need to buy now (while it’s available) that will look beautiful on you several months down the road.”
Tina had somehow managed to read my mind.
OK, so I won’t relate the entire 30 minute phone-order-exchange conversation. But, I will mention that Tina should be recognized as J. Crew’s Sales Representative of the Year because of her amazing ability to read the mind of a breastfeeding woman who’s trying to buy a bridesmaid dress. Nursing women who are in weddings need an empathetic ear paired with sales knowledge. Need a bridesmaid dress? Call J. Crew. Ask for Tina, because she’s THE WOMAN! She got me through this.
I ordered the next size up because 2 sizes up would just swallow me. She told me what strapless bra to buy, where to buy it, and when it would go on sale (this particular bra company is not co-owned by J. Crew . . . she was just being extremely helpful). Tina even mentioned that if I leaked, since I’m a nursing mom, that milk stains would look like grease spots on the breast areas of the silk taffeta. She recommended nursing pads. She was even going to allow me to keep both dress sizes until right before the wedding, and then simply return the other and get credited back the amount (typical returns must be done within 60 days–she was extending it for 5 months). This was a super mom making my life and dress decisions so much easier.
I’ll receive the dress tomorrow. The exchange was done and J. Crew is eating the shipping. I haven’t even received it yet, however, after speaking with Tina, I’m full of hope and promise that perhaps even I can pull off this dress at the wedding and look . . . GOOD!