I was going to write today about sample sizes, but I realize its been a few posts of advice and info, and a while since I gave you any gossip from my dressing room. So I'll put off my post on sample sizes, and I'll tell you a story.
Not too long ago a bride came into my store. She was a plus-size girl (by bridal standards) who had a bit of a challenge with standard sample sizes. She was an in-between size, so she tried some of my plus-size samples, and they were large on her, and she tried on some standard samples and had a hard time envisioning them because they wouldn't pull all the way up her arms or come down over her hips.
She had brought with her a large group to help her choose her special gown, including her Mother and Aunts. These individuals appeared to have maybe not seen each other in a long time, because there was much storytelling and laughter going on outside the dressing room as the bride and I struggled to find the right dress.
Each time she came out of the dressing room to show the group a dress, it was met with responses of "you look like a cupcake" or "that dress makes you look like you are wearing a doily," and there would be guffaws all around. The bride would ask questions like "what do you think of this neckline on me?" or "I like this shade of ivory, what do you think?" to try to elicit some sort of positive response from the group. After all, she was shopping for her wedding gown, and although they might not have cared for the exact dress she had on, the bride had picked it to try on for a reason and she wanted to find out if the things she liked about it were working on her. She was unable to get any positive feedback.
Her Mother spotted in my headpiece case a crown. It was enormous, and they pointed and laughed at it. I explained to her that it was not a bridal tiara, but a quinceanera crown*, and that was why it was so big. Her Mom asked her daughter if she would try it on. She responded that it was way too big and she was focusing on finding the right dress first. Back in the dressing room, I supported her decision to not be distracted by her group but to continue with the wedding gowns.
Two dresses later, her Mother walks into the dressing room holding the crown. She says in a serious voice that she would very much like to see her daughter wear the crown with the next dress, and she leaves the dressing room. We put on the next gown and the bride really likes it. It has a fit she likes, she loves the beading, and the price is nicely in her budget. She dons the enormous headpiece and exits the dressing room. The moment she is within sight of her group they all burst into guffaws and jeers. She stands on the pedestal waiting for the group to settle down, but this doesn't happen. She is waiting for someone to notice the beautiful dress she loves, but the focus is on the large crown on her head. Eventually, she turns and heads back to the dressing room.
I am walking behind her and carrying her train so I don't see the tears until I close the curtain behind me. "They all think this is a big joke," she sobs to me, "I just want to be beautiful on my wedding day, and they just want to make fun of me. I don't want to try on any more dresses." I nodded my understanding, and encouraged her to return at another time, perhaps with just her maid of honor, to try on dresses again. She said she would try, but she was from out-of-town and had planned this trip to come see me and my great selection of plus-size gowns and didn't know if she could get back. As she walked out fully dressed, her Mom said, "What? Is the fashion show over?" and the group left the store.
I have thought about her from time to time, but haven't seen her since. I sincerely hope that she found a beautiful dress, and that her fiance and friends tell her how beautiful she is, because her Mom and Aunts certainly won't.
*Quinceanera is a "Sweet 15" celebration in certain Mexican and Latino cultures, the equivalent of a bar/bat mitzvah or a debutante party. It is traditional for the girl turning 15 to look much like a cross between a bride and a beauty pageant contestant, with a white dress and over-the-top crown. She will have attendants, like bridesmaids and groomsmen.