Sunday, September 16, 2012

Don't Say Yes to the Dress, I Guess

What David's Bridal is selling these days
The fashions in clothing for females alternately amuse and exasperate me. Boys go about in "shorts" that nearly graze their ankles, while many girls' shorts end just under their hips. Boys' T-shirts cover the chest and have sleeves that flap around the elbows, while women's feature huge scoops and tiny sleeves (if any).

Why such fabric allowance inequalities?

Me, I get cold, so I search in vain for more substantial clothing, then add socks and scarves and sweaters. Until the fashions make a major swing away from skimpiness, I'll struggle to find clothes in which I feel comfortable and not exposed.

I was interested to read a set of guidelines for dress from a conservative Bible church. No, not what clothes their members should wear... or wear at church. No, these were rules governing what a bride and her attendants could wear if they wanted to get married in that particular church.

As you may have noticed, sometime in the 1990s, fussy or flowing gowns disappeared. Now they are nowhere to be found, new or used (though no doubt there are still some in spare-room closets and attic spaces). Any girl who expects to buy an off-the-rack wedding dress or bridesmaid gowns will discover what I did, that most or all today's formal wear is designed to show a lot of skin, or shape, or both.

But this church doesn't want wedding parties to wear what wouldn't be suitable "to wear to church."

Apparently a committee of mature women evaluate the gowns, saving the pastors potential shame and embarrassment of telling a girl she's just too dang sexy. Because that would be awkward, no? I hope the question would actually be resolved in advance, not after the clothing had been selected...

Got these for my bridesmaids,
from J.C. Penney's. Also some
shawls if they needed the warmth,
as it turned out they did.
Personally, I would prefer to wear (or see other people wearing) clothing that passes all these tests. But not sure it ought to be mandated. And, practically, it creates hardship for someone who doesn't want to do their own sewing or invest a huge amount of time and energy in wedding planning (which is quite stressful and expensive enough already).

What do you think of this list? Most all the formal-wear I found broke one rule or another.

1. No strapless gowns or dresses.
2. No spaghetti strap gowns or dresses.
3. No bared backs below the normal bra line.
4. No visible cleavage; the breasts must be covered at least two or three inches above the beginning of any cleavage.
5. Sleeveless dresses must have snug armholes.
6. No dresses cut above the bottom of the knee (that is, while sitting).
7. No slits that bare the thighs; slits must not come above the bottom of the knee.
8. No “mermaid” dresses that snugly follow all the contours of the body.

I think my wedding party would have =almost= passed. But not quite.


Barb said...

You've seen Laura (Fritz) Phaladi's dress? Strapless and gorgeous on her. I thought very modest but wouldn't pass this church's test. But I remember a wedding Dave did a few years back where the bridesmaid's dresses were strapless and a few of the maids were very well-endowed. One's eyes were afixed, wanting for a wardrobe malfunction!

Jessica Dougherty said...

Sounds like the rules that my high school had for our Banquet Formals. All dressed needed to be brought in and approved by a committee or told what needed to be altered and re-approved prior to the banquet. I understand wanting to ensure modesty - but it was an overkill; not to mention next to impossible to find something that didn't need major alterations!

Marti said...

Maybe whether a strapless, bare-backed or low-cut dress looks good on the girl at all - or looks too provocative - depends a lot on the shape of the girl in question? I've seen some brides that seemed to be spilling out and other that looked great in the same style. If you have half a dozen bridesmaids of different shapes and sizes that does make things tricky!

I was prepared to shop for add-on sleeves or little jackets if they seemed necessary... since I was totally opposed to strapless for myself and really didn't want something that showed off my armpits, either. In retrospect I think I could have done a mass mailing to friends married 10-20 years earlier asking who still had their dress, was more or less the right size, and willing to lend/give it away. As it was I found something I liked in a consignment shop.

You're right, though, Jess, "next to impossible to find" is the issue with "modest" formalwear. Especially since beauty, color, affordability, and not looking like a dork are considerations too.

Maybe I'll post what the pastor who wrote that booklet had to say. You can really tell it wasn't written by a woman!