To set the scene for this next "Tale From My Dressing Room", it is important for you to understand a couple of basic points.
First is that I am no skinny minnie. I have had a couple of children, and let's face it, it has been years since anyone would have described me as "svelte." In my case, much of this girth comes in the form of an ample bosom. When I have the pleasure of trying on wedding gowns at my store, I find that the 18s are what fits me best through the bust, and that I would need alterations to take them in through the waist and hips. I even overheard another consultant refer to me by name in a closed-curtain conversation with one of her voluptuous brides, "I know exactly the dress you should try for your bustline. One girl who works here, Fiorella (real name excluded!), is VERY chesty, and I saw her try this on and it looked great!" But I digress - my point is that I understand the frustrations of trying on sample sizes that don't fit.
Point two is that in my business, I have become accustomed to vanity. Beautiful girls with lithe bodies finding a millimeter of skin to pinch and muttering "fat!" to themselves. Mothers telling their toned daughters that they should try some arm exercises before the wedding. Brides who are wearing dresses that fit them as close to perfectly as one could expect a sample to fit, pulling at different areas of the gown and asking how they are supposed to make a decision if they can't see the gown fitting them? My outward response is always reassurance and understanding, but inside I am doing a little eye-rolling. I mean, everyone knows that alterations are required for that wedding-day fit, right? So how much better do they expect the sample to fit? And could they please lower their voices in consideration of the girl in the next dressing room who is clearly a women's-size figure? Stop pouting already!
So imagine my mindset when I had a bride in my dressing room who spotted a size 10 dress on a mannequin she LOVED. She just HAD to try it on. I squirmed on the inside, and gently warned her that this dress was a very fitted mermaid, and although we had managed to get several size 10 samples onto her size 20 body enough so she could get an idea, this one would likely prove more challenging. She insisted that she just HAD to try.
I began to put the gown over head. I succeeded in getting the hipline of the dress down over her bustline, but it became clear that it was going no further south than that. I looked at her, the torso of the gown bunched around her middle, giving the illusion of a knee-length skirt with great volume and train. Her arms were stuck straight up in the air. All I could see of her face was her eyes, just peeking over the top of the strapless neckline, the scalloped lace detail covering her nose and mouth. My heart stopped as I had visions of her bursting into tears in self-loathing and frustration as she realized that her dream dress was not to be. I took a deep breath and held it as she turned and faced the mirror. Her eyes grew to the size and shape of silver dollars. Here it comes, I thought, be ready for support and reassurance, and the ever-present box of tissues.
"I LOVE it!", she cried, and sighed with delight!
Lesson learned. I have always been very secure with myself, and have no hangups with the way I look or the size I am. The number sewn into my clothing has never played an integral part in my identity and how I value myself. But years of working with brides and playing into their vanity has jaded me into believing that low self-worth is the norm. Cheers to this bride for having vision and seeing how beautiful she really was and the potential in this dress!