What Not To Wear?


This morning’s HuffPo wedding page features an article by Charlotte Peters giving advice on choosing a wedding gown. Her main thrust: don’t pick anything fashionable, because it will one day look dated and you will wince every time you look at your wedding photos.

After all, minis are on trend right now, but – according to Peters – you will regret wearing one on your wedding day for the rest of your life the instant minis aren’t fashionable any more.

Me, well, I wouldn’t choose a wedding look purely because it’s fashionable, but to assume you’ll hate your own taste in five years because Vogue is now showing something very different is frankly insulting. I’m gearing up to celebrate my ninteenth anniversary with Mr. Twistie, and my wedding album makes me smile. Why? Because it’s an accurate and beautiful representation of an important day in our lives. Because it’s filled with pictures of people we love, some of whom are sadly gone from this world. Because no matter whether the clothes are dated or not, we all looked good.

Peters goes on to say we should all follow the ways of the British royal family in picking our wedding gowns. They, apparently, and with the painfully blatant exception of Princess Diana, ignore fashion completely and thus wear entirely timeless wedding gowns that they can be proud of. Well okay, then.

Is anyone here honestly going to tell me that Princess Anne’s 1973 wedding gown doesn’t look like a gown from 1973? It does. It’s absolutely fashionable for its day… and it’s still a beautiful gown. But it got some serious chuckles in the eighties and nineties.

In thirty years Kate Middleton’s gown is going to look dated, just as Anne’s does today. That doesn’t mean either woman should have chosen a different gown. It also doesn’t mean that a woman with great legs who loves showing them off should cover them up on her wedding day.

Fashions change. That’s the point of fashion. Next week, whatever is in your closet now is going to be out of style. So my take is that you should choose what truly speaks to you. That way no matter how dated it looks, you can still look at it fondly.

You know, sort of like how you should choose a spouse by how well you get along and what values you share in common rather than choosing someone based on whether they’ve got a cool job or not. Cool changes, shared values are less volatile.

My wedding gown is as dated as it can be. Frankly, it looks like it stepped out of a production of Pride and Prejudice. I still adore it… and Mr. Twistie. Was it fashionable in its day? No, it wasn’t. Is it fashionable now? No, it isn’t. Is it timeless? No, it isn’t. Is it a perfect garment for who I was then? Oh, yes it is. Would I choose the same dress today? Quite probably not… and yet I still adore it. I still look at those photos happily.

Oh, and before choosing a wedding gown, I would choose a date and venue. It’s far easier to decide what to wear when you know when and where you’re going to be wearing it than to fit the venue to the dress you happened to pick. Peters disagrees with me, believing that the gown should be your first decision. But then again, she also believes that choosing a dress that isn’t utterly timeless will ruin your wedding album, too.

Your wedding is a big day in your life, but it’s a particular day, in a particular year, in a particular place. Spending too much of your efforts on denying fashions you love is just as big a mistake as trying too hard to follow fashions you don’t care about or dislike.

I would never advise anyone to sublimate their own tastes to the whims of current fashion on a day that’s such an important expression of your individual tastes and beliefs. If you hate the currently fashionable halter necklines, be my guest and tell the consultant at the bridal salon that you don’t even want to look at them. If you loathe lace, buck the trend!

But if you are dreaming of a halter neckline, don’t let fear that it won’t be fashionable in a few years stop you from picking it. If you have dreamed for months of that cool detail you saw in Vera Wang’s latest collection, don’t worry that it won’t always be the latest thing. It won’t be. And that’s okay.

Don’t pressure yourself with adding being utterly timeless to the list of reasons to stress about picking your wedding gown. After all, you’ve got to worry about: budget, ordering schedule, fittings, payments, accessories, pleasing your intended and quite possibly your parents, making sure the gown fits your venue and general wedding concept… that one dress already has way too many pressures riding on it.

Relax. Pick what speaks to you. I do agree with Peters that worrying too much about being fashionable is not a good idea in picking a wedding gown. I just think she takes it too far the other way.

Your wedding is a day when you want to present yourself as utterly you. Whether that’s someone who’s always on trend, someone who bucks trends for breakfast, or – as is far more often the case – something in between, you should wear what makes you feel like you.

Maybe someday you’ll look at your wedding pictures and cringe a bit, but so what? Another day you’ll look at them again and smile. You’ll realize that the most important thing about those pictures isn’t whether your hairstyle turned out like you’d planned or whether you managed to make everything look ‘timeless’ but the fact that it’s a record of who you were and what you felt on that one day, in that one year, in that one place, with the people you loved best by your side.

That’s the part that’s timeless, even if one glance at your wedding album tells everyone precisely what year the pictures were taken.

3 Responses to “What Not To Wear?”

  1. Mirafin May 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    The design for my gown hasn’t been in fashion since the early 1870′s and probably never will be again. But it is pretty, the gown I’ve always dreamed of, and I made it myself. Those things far outweigh some fashionista’s advice to me.

  2. It’s always advisable to keep it simple yet elegant. It all depends on how brides carry their dresses.

  3. Twistie May 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    It’s most advisable to keep the gown in keeping with the bride’s personality, Steve. I don’t do ‘simple yet elegant’ well. I’m just not a minimalist kind of person. I’m Maximalist. I wore a fairly OTT outfit on my wedding day, and I’m still delighted with it.