LOVE/HATE: the barely there edition

In the pages of yesterday’s NYT, I learned that brides want to look HOT. Not wedding-y hot, with a saucy little dip in an otherwise pretty neckline, but ‘going to the gym seven days a week for five months’ hot. They want to be sure that if Paris Hilton looked them up and down in their wedding garb, her response would be, “That’s hot.” I’m talking about bare bellies, skirt slits that go alllll the way up, dips that end just above the butt crack, and mountains of cleavage.

Does this herald a few more trips to the gym?

Today’s brides, if the NYT has indeed hit upon an actual trend that will shortly trickle down to the masses, want to show some skin. I’m not entirely sure I buy that, however. It seems that every time I hit ya’ll up with dress that looks like it ought to be hanging in some Las Vegas showgirl’s closet, your response is rather negative. You gals have made it pretty dang clear that you want some sleeves and you want them now. The way I see it, brides-to-be encounter these gowns (and I actually think the middle one is lovely) and their perception of wedding garb is subtly changed.

To accommodate [these brides], the once rigidly corseted bridal industry has loosened its stays. At the spring bridal shows in New York last October, tastemakers like Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Reem Acra, Angel Sanchez and Carolina Herrera unveiled a preponderance of strapless styles, trumpet shapes and even a few above-the-knee looks. More-daring designers offered filmy peignoir dresses, two-piece looks and skirts slit all the way to the hip.

I’m cool with plunging necklines, shorter skirts, and even backlines that test how low you can go. But the midriff baring panels, exposed boning, and those dangerously high thigh slits? They, in my opinion, have got to go.

20 Responses to “LOVE/HATE: the barely there edition”

  1. Lynn says:

    Are these for the brides hoping to score with the best man? I think we can put these style dresses under the heading “How to spot a marriage that won’t last”

  2. Twistie says:

    I had to laugh reading that article. The author seemed to think strapless was something new and daring, rather than a sadly overdone trend that most of the world has become bored with.

    As for these…I adore the lines of the one on the left. If it wasn’t transparent through the middle, I would think it was gorgeous for a very tall, very slender bride. The middle one I’m not sure about that huge glop of what seems meant to be a flower…but it’s very early thirties overall, and I’ve always liked that line a lot. It’s sexy but dignified. And goodness knows a lot of those thirties evening gowns have that same odd floof at just about the same spot. Again, though, there’s just no wearing it if you aren’t pretty tall and very slender. There is no excuse for the one on the right.

    I can’t imagine anything I would hate more than being pronounced hot by Paris Hilton, since she seems confused about the difference between ‘sexy’ and ‘skanky.’

  3. Leah says:

    I can see the viewpoint of a woman who, having worked hard for her wedding body, doesn’t want it coverd in folds and folds of fabric. Also, since women are getting married (and remarried) at an older age, I think the “trend” is meant to appeal to a more mature (in age and sexuality) bride.

    In general, I HATE see-through panels (unless you are a 1)competative ballroom dancer, 2)competative figure skater, or 3)… nope, just those two.) But I think the ideas of the three designs above, and hopefully what designers for the masses will take from the coutour gowns, is slim lines, and an adult style. I really like the one on the right, because my legs are my best feature. If I wanted a long dress, I might go for a skirt like that one.

  4. Audrey says:

    I like the first dress more than the other two. The other two look more costume-y. The first one is sort of romantic with a touch of mermaid.

  5. colleen says:

    I would have laughed at this article a few months ago, but seeing how many girls buy those hideous Panina dresses on the TLC show “Say Yes to the Dress” has changed my mind. People really do have that bad of taste.

  6. Melissa B. says:

    I’m with Twistie — I would really like the dress on the left if they got rid of the dopey bow in between her boobs and took away that awful midriff-baring panel. The “bride” on the far right looks like a 1920s Parisian can-can dancer.

    As far as the NYT article goes, I think they’ve mistaken a trend among very wealthy brides buying couture gowns for a Nationwide Phenomenon. (This seems to be a recurring problem I have with the New York Times!) For every lean, “sexy” gown in most Midwestern or suburban bridal stores, there are ten — maybe twenty — A-line strapless gowns with huge poofy princess skirts. It seems that a lot of women still want to look like a princess on their wedding day. I’m not big into the princess thing myself, but it sure beats looking like Paris Hilton.

  7. Dianasaur says:

    Wow, I think I looked pretty “hot” on my wedding day, but in an elegant way, not a Paris Hilton way! I’m so tired of skanky being the new definition of beautiful. Plus what ever happened to function? As I was planning my wedding I watched lots of wedding dance videos online. Every single dance that the bride was wearing a strapless gown in, you hardly noticed the dancing because they were falling out of their dress, or constantly pulling it up to keep from falling out. I knew then and there that I’d want straps so I wouldn’t have to worry about that. I love my arms and wasn’t worried about covering them, but I didn’t want to worry about other things being uncovered!

    Ah well, I went to a bridal fashion show that had a skimpy short little white feathery dress that actually showed butt cheek! I was sure it was for the wedding night, but no, it was a $1300 wedding dress. I’m obviously not fashionable enough to understand.

  8. Cara says:

    I understand wanting to look “hot” and show off all your hard gym work, but umm.. I’ll do that by purchasing a (still tasteful) bikini or something “hot” for my wedding night. My grandpa/great aunt/uncle don’t need to see my tummy through see through fabric, or stare down at my almost exposed breasts because of my overly plunging neck line. I really think the NYT got this trend WRONG.

  9. Sarah says:

    I really disliked this article. It had such a condescending tone. Articles like this make me want to buy the shortest, sassiest, reddest wedding dress on the market two sizes too small and strut down every bridal aisle in the city! Bridal fashions of yesteryear had plenty of sex appeal–lifted bosoms, nipped waists, flapper dresses, regency gowns–all of which were most likely censured by cranky critics bemoaning the loss of a stiffer moral fabric.

    Traditionally speaking, a wedding marked the beginning of a woman’s sexual life. In some sense it is logical to dress in a manner that enhances her sex appeal on such a momentous day! At least it’s honest–it says “Hey! I’m gonna get laid tonight and you ALL KNOW IT.” Contrast that with the infantalizing fantasy gowns which seem to symbolize ignorance about sex and sexuality. These dress say “I’ll just close my eyes and think of England.”

    Well, maybe that’s taking things a bit too far…

    The truth is sex appeal is inherent in all sexual beings. Healthy, hygenic adult people are sexy, no matter what shape they come in or what measures they go through to cover it up or reveal it.

  10. Never teh Bride says:

    Healthy, hygenic adult people are sexy, no matter what shape they come in or what measures they go through to cover it up or reveal it.

    I’m glad to hear it, as I am sitting here like a freshly-showered lump in an old bathrobe 😉

  11. Kate says:

    I’ll admit the gown I’ve picked for my wedding is a bit on the slinky side…it actually looks a bit like the first gown, but without the tacky see-through panel, and a slightly higher square neckline. Still, it’s a gown that I feel totally comfortable wearing in front of the pastor, my parents, and my fiancee’s Pentecostal Christian family.

    Maybe these “hot brides” have parents who are swingers, or are free lovin’ ex-hippies, and aren’t fazed by butt cheek, prodigious cleavage, or even seeing the bride’s ladyparts.

  12. Blake says:

    Wow, I feel ambivalent here. None of those gowns look awful to me, but if I wore that one in the middle I would look like a circa ’70s Star Trek babe who got knocked up by an albino chinchilla.

    I think the NYT article (haven’t read, will) could well be on to something. Mainly because proms have been seeing this phenomenon for years, the increasing slinky/sultry/send-’em-home-to-change-ification of what the girls wear, thanks to red carpet trends.

    If you scan the big prom dress sites, in certain sections you see something akin to bare-everything fifteen year olds getting out of pimpmobiles with a trace of powder around their nostrils. I also know from a past life that “sexy prom dress” is a very popular search term.

  13. Twistie says:

    // but if I wore that one in the middle I would look like a circa ’70s Star Trek babe who got knocked up by an albino chinchilla.//

    Actually, Blake, I think it looks more like the Star Trek babe got knocked up by an albino tribble. ; )

    (is a massive, massive geek)

  14. Cassie says:

    You know, I think that the NYT is more concerned with how “hot” the average bride wants to look than most of the brides out there. I know lots of brides-to-be (and even though I’m not, I’m thinking about myself here as well) who are going to have older family members at their weddings who would be scandalized of any of the three dresses pictured. And if your family is religious? Please. Try wearing those in church/temple/mosque, you know?

    My own personal feelings on the three above? Left one looks like lingerie, but pretty. The middle is . . . no. But I may be more distracted by how gaunt the model looks. Give that girl some pasta! The one on the right would be good without the head. . . thing. It’s the one I’d wear, if I wouldn’t look like a ruffle monster from the great beyond.

  15. kate says:

    wait, what? from the second page: “She dispensed with the customary long, fitted sleeves and train in favor of a halter style that dipped to the small of her back.”

    CUSTOMARY LONG SLEEVES? oh, if ONLY! clearly the writer is on crack.

  16. As an American journalist living in Israel, I’ve written a couple of articles for American Jewish publications to the effect that “secular Israeli brides like to dress like whores at their weddings.” Not in those words, exactly, but as an American with an American aesthetic, I cop to being a bit condescending about it. The American and British wedding planners from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv whom I interviewed described themselves as being “gobsmacked” at how absolutely little the women here were interested in wearing when they got married (and how much glitter they managed to paste on to so little material). The multi-cultural, diversity-loving part of me says “It’s an Oriental aesthetic, and in Israel, looking sexy and looking glamorous are the same thing. Who cares?” But still, even the most non-religious Jewish bride in America will put a shawl on over her sleeveless dress for the ceremony. And NO ONE has a sheer midriff.

    I was happy to see that after one of my articles came out, a bridal store in a mostly American neighborhood, which previously had featured dresses in their windows that looked like bikinies with a little mesh holding it all together in the middle, replaced them with wares that cater more to their American-immigrant and American-visitor clientele: Dresses with sleeves and shawls (which to Israeli secular brides scream “too religious” for them to pick) Remember that Americans are Puritans at heart. That’s why, even when America exports sexiness and body-consciousness, they are ambivalent about it.

    Anyhow, given how happy I was that some Israeli stores and designers were starting to veer toward a more “classy” approach, imagine my dismay when the NY Times features one of the proto-typical Israeli wedding-dress designers: Pnina Tornai. No! No! The cultural influence is supposed to go the OTHER way! Nooooooo!

  17. Jennie says:

    Wear what makes you feel beautiful, won’t embarrass you when you show the pictures in 20 years, and for goodness sake, something that you can afford! Going into a marriage thousands and thousands of dollars in debt just to show off for 15 minutes is obscene….

  18. Ninjarina says:

    It’s a matter of taste but some women push it. For example, I think that if someone is going for the drama of a plunging back, it’s probably not the best idea to have it low cut in the front, halter style, and sans sleeves. The sexy-elegant way to do a plunge-back is to do what Hilary Swank did with her blue Oscar gown – long sleeves, high neck in front so there is a clear focus on the exposed back.

  19. Virginia says:

    The problem with these dresses is that 10 years and two kids down the line the bride is going look at the pictures and be just as embarrassed as her family was at the time. Maybe it’s my southern upbringing but I just find these dresses really tacky. And there’s no way you’d be able to get married in a church wearing something like that. There’s also no way my father would ever walk me down the aisle looking like that. I don’t care how great my body is, I’ll be showing it off on my wedding night and honeymoon; not in front of my great-grandparents.