Category Archives: the dress


On my recent travels up and down the east coast I stopped in Baltimore to hang out with Veggie Sister Carrot. During my visit we went to a nice big Anthropologie store, a special treat for me since they have yet to expand to New Zealand. (Anthro- If you’re looking for a kiwi store manager, I could be convinced to take on the job). I wasn’t really looking for anything particular, but if a dress happened to fall into my arms that could work for one of two upcoming friends’ weddings, my bridal shower, or our rehearsal dinner, I wouldn’t turn it down.

Going into that store is a huge excercise in self-restraint. So, before going in I had to give myself a little motivational speech. I reminded myself that between my four sisters and the superbly fashionable Momma Veggie, I have five closets worth of dresses that could work for these events. I reminded myself of the US-Kiwi exchange rate, which is not that favorable for purchasing yummy frocks on my meager NZ salary. I reminded myself of the things in my life that make me truly happy, and make me feel beautiful. And then I tried on about a dozen dresses. 🙂

I ended up with two contenders:

and The Two-Wheeler Dress (which has very little arm holes that would have needed some tailoring to fit these Veggie guns).

Sorry if these are old news for you, but they were brand new for me. Turns out that Anthro doesn’t put everything on their international site that they have on the US site. So you lucky ducks have access to some exclusive items that us Anthro-philes abroad never even get to see. I liked both of these dresses, and could see either of them working for at least two of my upcoming wedding events, but I walked out of the store empty handed. I thought I would just think it over a bit first. Good Veggie.

And good thing I did, because when I got up to Momma Veggie’s house in NJ she took a look at the pictures and said, “Oh I have something like that in my closet”. My rehearsal dinner dress hunt went from an anthropologic expedition to an archaeological dig through the depths of Momma Veggie’s closet. Turns out that “something” was a vintage dress that belonged to my Great Grandma Veggie. Doesn’t it look weirdly similar to the orange anthro one? Sweet!

Add a black grosgrain ribbon around the waist and pin the lapels open and I am all set. Woo hoo! One more family treasure that is making its way into our wedding. Hooray for free recycled beautiful things.

Have you been on any archaeological expeditions into your parents’ attics or basements for wedding goodies? Were you pleasantly surprised or did you find some things that are better off staying in the past?

Taming the Train: Part Deux

When last we left off I had a train the size of a small vehicle prominently protruding from my derriere at precisely the level and location of my butt hole. It works for some I’m sure, but it wasn’t working for me. I also happened to have a dress that was too big in the boobs. Honestly this has never happened before, and will probably never happen again. So I grabbed a good friend/neighbor/seamstress and we came up with a plan. Here is the end result:
Me working it with the newly “french bustled” back (train at maximum length here, approximately 6-10 inches from the end of the dress).

Much like Ms. Paisley (except without the rad hatchet-throwing resumé) when I see these pictures I am astounded at the sheer breadth of my shoulders. Go-go gadget surf paddling guns.

Me working it some more with the bustled “french-bustled” back.

Me trying to work it with a dress that fits in the waist and boobs, but getting upstaged by some very cute kids. Hey you. Yeah you, adorable polite kids with the incredibly cute kiwi accents. Get outta my shot. There’s only room for one star here.

Sorry for the low quality pics. Mr. Veggie took them in said friendor’s living room while trying to kid wrangle. Yeah, he saw the dress. I really can’t keep anything a secret for too long. It was bound to happen some time, so at least I could make use of it by having him take some pictures.

I am thrilled with the way Dominique (mom of cute kids/seamstress/friend) altered my dress. Tucking the train under the layer of fabric was an easy fix (I’m taking her word for it) and made a huge difference in minimizing the length and pointy triangle-ness of the train. She did such a good job fitting me too. I loved my dress before, but now having it fit just right makes it perfect.

And what did she charge me for such expert crafts-womanship? An hour for hour exchange babysitting the above children. That means for getting all of my alterations done, I am paying with just 4 hours of my time that will be spent with some rad kids. I immediately told her that was crazy and that her skills as a seamstress were worth twice of what mine were as a babysitter. While this left her a little worried about leaving her children in my hands, I eventually got her to agree to this deal, plus a bottle of wine from me. Hooray!

Have you altered you dress in a significant (or insignificant way)? Are friends helping you make your day happen? Do you ever get upstaged by cute kids (or do you just lure them in the opposite direction with candy and soda)?

Taming the Train

For some reason none of the pictures of my dress online ever showed the train. Or they did, and I wasn’t paying attention. And since I never actually tried on my dress before buying it, I got a little surprise when I put her on for the first time.

Oh yeah, that’s right. Baby got back. And I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Not only is it the train super long, but the way that it comes out from the bodice kid of reminds me of this thread. The pointy-ness and the fact that it comes from right around my bung-hole kind of makes me looks like I’m farting a big piece of fabric. Plus, I’ve never really pictured myself with long train, especially since we’re having an outdoor ceremony and a barn dance. Even when its bustled it still didn’t feel right to me. I suppose it didn’t help that Mr. Veg let me know in no uncertain terms how he felt about it (Note to all men: don’t tell a bride that any part of her dress looks “silly”, even if you’re only talking about what you think is a minor detail, and even if you preface it with the words “kind of”).

Anyhow, lucky for me that one of our good friends here is a seamstress and will be doing all my alterations. When I went in yesterday to get my first fitting I voiced my concerns and we had a bit of a play. She said she could easily remove the train all together, but was worried about how the seam would look. It was important to me that whatever we did, it kept the light feel of the dress and didn’t add tons of fabric to my butt or hips. In the end, this is what we came up with.

She is going to leave the train on, but tuck it under and sew it so that it ends up coming out from under the top layer of the dress. This make the pointy-ness less noticeable and shortens the train. Sorry I didn’t get any pictures, but I did whip up these handy drawing in MS Word so you can see what I’m talking about.So, what do you think? Am I crazy and overanalyzing a detail of my dress that no one else will notice? Am I being swayed too much by Mr. Veggie’s comments and an unrelated Weddingbee thread? Am I destroying the designer’s intention for the dress by changing the train? Do you have any other suggestions on altering the train?

Finally! (A Dress Arrival Photo Essay)

It’s finally here. No words could do justice to such a happy day. OK, maybe a few words here and there.

Out of the box and onto the bed.

Hmm… How does this thing work?

It fits!

Put the hair up, toss on a headband. What do you think ladies?

Wait what’s this?

Ooh a train. A really long train.
A little big in the boobies. (I’ve actually never had that problem before).

Try to ignore the silly face, ridiculous looking collar-bones, and absurd tan lines (how can I have tan lines and be the whitest girl ever at the same time?). Let’s focus on how the dress will look once it’s taken in a bit on the sides.
Whoah. Who is that lady looking all elegant wearing a wedding dress?

Oh right. It’s me. I’m getting married!!

Not Proud- But the Tears Came Out

I’m not a crier. I mean I cry when something really sad happens, like when watching “Once Were Warriors” (best NZ film ever, rent it), but I don’t cry in front of strangers. And I definitely don’t cry, pout, or whine to get what I want. I used to think I was morally opposed to all that, something to do with being a strong independent woman, and earning things of my own accord. Yeah. About that.

On Friday I got a letter in the mail from the lovely people at customs. Like some of you suggested in my last post, they were holding my dress for an import duty. I kind of had a feeling that this was what was happening, but I was in denial. Sure enough when I opened the letter there were the famous words:

“We are writing in regards to a package that has been sent to you from overseas”… blah bah blah… something about a fee… and then the total… $315.00. WHAT!!! $315.00?!?!?

Granted, that is kiwi dollars, but seriously? That’s about half of what I paid for my dress.

Apparently they had determined that my thrice-used dress was worth over $1,000 kiwi, which made it subject to an import duty of 10% and then because it was clothing it was subject to Goods and Services Tax of 12.5%, and then there was a fee for having them open the box and of course tax on the cost of that fee. I freaked out a little.

After 2 hours of talking to two different very unfriendly and unhelpful customs officers at the national call center, one who referred me to a fake local office that didn’t exist, and another who wanted me to hire a customs broker, I finally got the number to a smaller somewhat local branch of customs. At this point I was feeling quite frustrated, a bit sad, and just overall defeated. I was thinking about a conversation I had with Mr. Veggie that morning about our budget and how important it was to stick to it. I was thinking about how many hours of work $315.00 would equal. I was thinking about how it had been almost 4 weeks since my dress got sent out and how many times I had called the post office to see if it was in. I’m not proud of my next move.

Customs officer Andrew picked up after about the 15th ring:

Andrew: NZ Customs how can I help you?

Veggie: (sob)

Andrew: Um, I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand that.

Veggie: (sob) Bride. (sob) Wedding dress. (sob) Fee. (sob) Can’t afford.

Andrew: Oh, I’m so sorry let me see what I can do.

Ten minutes later my dress was through customs and on its way to my door. Supposedly it will arrive on Monday. One step forward for my wedding dress… one step backwards for women’s lib struggles worldwide.

Have you pulled out the bride card to get what you want? Or even worse the ultimate combo of crying bride?

Patience Is Not My Strong Suit

Why the bleep isn’t my dress here yet? As previously mentioned, the lovely Adriana sent it out ages ago. And according to the USPS package tracker (which I may have checked, oh I don’t know, about 1,000 times this week) here is the status:

There are a few weird things about this:

#1- Why did it take 5 days for my dress to get from Miami to Auckland? I mean I’m assuming it went “por avion” because a boat definitely would need to depart from a west coast port, not Miami. Unless of course they went the scenic route. And in that case, kudos to that ship captain for hauling butt and circumnavigating the globe in 5 days. But honestly 5 days to fly to New Zealand?

#2- What reason could there be for my dress to have to enter customs twice? A long history of wedding dress drug trafficking? Oh, I guess so. Fair enough. Check it twice.

#3- Even if you do need to be extra careful to ward off drunk trafficking bride-zillas, how long could it possibly take for a dress to get through customs? They’ve had it for NINE days!

I’m freaking out here! Of course there’s absolutely no reason for me to freak out, I have tons of time to do alterations, and I could actually call customs to see what’s up. But all the same, the anticipation and waiting is driving me nuts.

Dress Dilemma: Over

I bought a dress today. (Insert girly shriek here. OK- I’m done now. No I’m not. eeeee!).

The story starts in December:
After drawing out the dress saga for many months I turned to the wedding bee for help. I had settled on buying used and even had an idea of the specific dress I was looking for. After dwelling on the Nicole Miller HG0013 for a few weeks I found the IK0004 online and just kept coming back to it. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It’s just so pretty without being too formal, and comes pre-wrinkled! I looked online at the pre-owned websites, but even a used IK0004 was well out of our budget. It also seemed to be a pretty in-demand dress, only a few out there and many brides wanting it. I thought I’d throw it out there to the hive to see if anyone had any ideas.

So, my pre-bee self posted a question to the boards. “Anyone have a used IK0004?”. I didn’t have high hopes.

But a few days later, this:

After a few emails it turns out that she had gotten the dress from another bee (who also maybe got it used?). Wait pre-pre-used? That’s even better than pre-used. And since this dress is in it’s third (or is it fourth) generation as a gown, she offered it to me for a great deal. A hmm..-I-can-actually-afford-this-dress-now deal. Yes, yes, yes.

All I had to do was wait until she got married at the end of February.

Fast Forward to March 1:She said she was getting married at the end of February, would it be too early to email her? I better wait a bit.

March 2:
Um, hi. Is my dress (I mean your dress), ready yet? Oh it is? Hooray! Oh you have pictures from your wedding? Do share!

Without further ado, OUR dress, as worn by the beautiful Adriana in her February wedding. It was shipped out last Thursday and is making its way across the Pacific as we speak. I suspect it could be here as early as Monday. (eeeeek!)

OK, enough of the girliness, lets get down to business. Because, for me, more important than getting a specific dress, was getting an ethical dress with a small eco footprint. So how does mine stack up?

– Sweatshop free? Yes. Nicole Miller is an advocate of fair labor practices.
– Eco-fabric? No. Metal taffeta does not sound even remotely eco, but I feel better because…
-Re-used? Yes. In at least 2 other weddings. Hooray!
-Low price? Eh. Low for a designer wedding dress, yes. But still way more money than I’ve ever spent on a single piece of clothing before. But the price is within our budget, and is a number I feel comfortable with. Plus, since the dress is in demand, I think I’ll be able to resell it and pass it onto yet another bride (Assuming I don’t spill red wine down the front ).

Dress Dilemma- Chapter Three: New Zealand (Again)

When we last left off I had gotten over my painful breakup with Adele Wechsler by trying on some pretties by Nicole Miller. But I still wasn’t sure that a brand new dress was right for me.

A few weeks later, after visiting several bridal shops in the U.S., I went back home to New Zealand empty handed with a picture of Nicole Miller HG0013 firmly positioned on the desktop of my computer and a better idea of what I was looking for in a dress. I had bookmarked the websites of a few used-dress websites and checked them daily, ok, more like hourly to see what was on offer. Turns out there were more used dress options than I knew existed. They were gorgeous, reasonably priced, and reused. I was sold. This was definitely the route I was going to take.

But then, one day while killing a few hours in Hamilton waiting for Mr. Veggie something caught my eye. How could I have not seen this store before? It’s only two doors down from the Salvation Army (a must-visit whenever I’m in the big city). And look at this pretty little number. Pay no attention to my angry looking face or body language, I was actually very happy. Note to self: no hands on hips on the big day.

Yeah, I know its blue. Just ignore that for a minute. This is the Didion Rose dress made by Annah Stretton. She is a Kiwi designer that uses kiwi fabrics.

My thought line here is this: buying kiwi-made supports our local economy. It also saves me from having to ship an American bought dress over to NZ for alterations, thus lowering the carbon footprint of the dress. And, although it is a fairly expensive dress, it is still under $1000 kiwi, which with the exchange rate comes in way under the price of any American dress I found.

But local doesn’t necessarily mean eco. And, this is still a new dress that would be made for me for just one day.

So I did what any sensible girl would do. I went to try it on three more times with various girlfriends. The third time they had the ivory color in stock, so I took some more pictures (with a cell phone, sorry), so I could truly deliberate.

In the end I decided that I liked it, but didn’t love it. The shape wasn’t the most flattering (hello hips). Neither the eco footprint or the pricetag were low enough to justify me buying a brand new dress. Goodbye Annah Stretton. You really are fabulous. Maybe we’ll meet again some day.

By this point the dress hunt was making my brain hurt. Local or not? Eco fabrics or conventional? Used or new? What size, what style, what color? Sanity gone. I need a break from all this dressing.

Was your dress hunt stressful? Please tell me I’m not the only one. What were you most worried about? Any thoughts on how I should proceed?

Dress Dilemma – Chapter Two: New Jersey

When I last left off I was sitting in a puddle of my own drool admiring the Adele Wechsler EcoCouture collections. Well, reality check time. Those gorgeous frocks are way out of my price league. I mean way out. Like half of our total budget out.

We run a non-profit organization and have dedicated our lives to living simply. While financially it would be possible for me to get one of those dresses with a ton of scrimping and saving, I just cannot justify spending that much money on a dress I will wear for one day. I understand that some brides work really hard to find ways to buy their dream dress, and I appreciate that, but that’s just not me. Honestly, (please don’t kick me out of the bride club), its not that important to me. When I walk down the aisle I want to be feeling my absolute best, which means knowing that I am wearing an ethical dress from an ecological standpoint, but also a social one. Spending thousands on a dress is not a responsible decision for me to make right now.

Having said that…. I want to look pretty on my big day! Small tantrum over. I promise.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was home in the U.S. visiting with Veggie Sis K (for Kale?). (There are 4 Veggie Sisters, E-Eggplant, T-Tomato, and C-Carrot, will also make appearances). Sis Kale got married in 2005 and still had a surprisingly large stash of bridal magazines. Knowing that I wouldn’t buy these for myself, she had them waiting for me upon my arrival. I promptly dug in.

Wait. What’s this beauty?Source

It looks so airy and light. Elegant without being stuffy.

Me: Who makes this?
Veggie Sis Kale: Nicole Miller.
Me: Isn’t she the one who does those funny fabrics with prints of sunglasses and wine bottles?
Veggie Sis Kale: Umm… yeah, in 1992. Welcome back to the world of fashion.

A few weeks later Mamma Veggie, Veggie Sis Kale, and Veggie Sis Eggplant brought me to the Nicole Miller Boutique for our bridal appointment. The consultant was fantastic, if a little confused by my wedding-day wishlist. I surely didn’t help the matter by being a bridal dunce. I wore the wrong undies, the wrong bra, and didn’t know anything about what I was looking for. Luckily Veggie Sis Kale took control of the situation. I ended up finding a few Nicole Miller dresses that I liked, although my top choice was still the HG0013. Could it be the one?

I went home and did some research. (Pro) The price was better, (Con) but at retail value, still a lot. (Pro) Nicole Miller is sweat-shop free and made in the USA, they also support animal rights. (Con) The dress is made out of metal-tafetta, surely not an eco-fabric. (Con) It is still a brand new dress made just for me for one night.

Best to sit and think on it a bit more.

Dress Dilemma – Chapter One: New Zealand

I’ve talked about Mr. Veggie’s outfit, the veggie dudes, and the bridesmaids. I’ve posted about the veggie sprouts. But, I haven’t talked much yet about my dress. Maybe I’ve been avoiding the subject because it is steeped in inner conflict. Let me set the scene.

A well-intentioned me sits at my computer surfing the web for wedding ideas. On one of my shoulders (shall we say the left shoulder) sits a beautiful eco angel. She whispers encouraging words in my ear and fills my head with lovely wedding-day dreams. A petroleum-covered slug sits on the other. The eco angel is winning the battle. She is armed with our electronic save-the-dates, our local and organic inspired menu, and our beautiful travel-minimizing venue. But the petro-slug isn’t done yet. He has an armament too. What card could he possibly hold that might pull me out of my eco wedding bliss?

He has Lazaro LZ3700.

And LianCarlo 2891.

Oh and Sposo Di Gio (style #?).

Oooh. Pretty. So very, very pretty.

But eco angel, you have your own armament of eco-friendly wedding dresses, right? Please tell me you do.



Note to designers: not all hippies want fairies and toadstools on their wedding gowns. Some do, but I don’t. And, not all eco brides want to turn their wedding into the rennessaince festival. And furthermore, I appreciate that many eco-friendly brides are going for a casual look. And, usually I would be right there with them. But this is my one and only day to leave the Birkenstocks behind and feel all glammed up. And I want to go for it. Isn’t there any designer who understands that eco doesn’t have to mean hippie-casual? Is there any eco designer who has braved the elegant couture bridal scene? Can I have eco and elegant?

Yes. Says Adele Wechsler.
The Sunray.

The Haze.

The Magnolia.

Swoon. Let me try one of those puppies on. Stat.
Oh yeah, we live in New Zealand. No such luck.