Style SOS: AOW needs you

A few days ago we received an email from a reader that sent Anna and I into a bit of a panic.
You see, it was style related, and the AOW resident style guru is most definitely Aisling. And Aisling is currently away sunning herself and wafting around in maxi dresses looking all elegant and glowing (jealous, us?!)
Anna and I are literally unable to make a fashion based decision without her. You want an example of how reliant on her we are? Ok,  Anna was attending a wedding last weekend, and after an hour long conversation going around in circles debating the merits of blazers vs cardigans, and pearl vs diamond, not to mention our total innability to successfully drape pashminas, we came to the conclusion that WE NEED AISLING FOR THIS.
Ultimately we ended up channeling our bessy mate Pip who always looks stylish and elegant, and Anna got several lovely comments on her outfit. But it was close. It could so easily have all gone horribly wrong without Aisling there to guide us through the complex accessorising process…
So when long time reader Katie asked us for our help with customising her dress, we realised that we weren’t qualified to deal with this. But we know that you lot are all not only stylish, but always willing to help out a bride in trouble, so please please help US out here and leave lots of comments with your opinions below…so that when Aisling comes back, she won’t be horrified by the advice we’ve given….thanks.

Hello Clare, Aisling and Anna
Hope you are all keeping well.
I love your blog, and could do with some advice from honest and stylish ladies, such as your goodselves.  I have had “dress issues”, and would be very grateful if you could let me know what you think.  I’m hoping virtual friends will be so much more honest than real life friends! 
My wedding dress is too short, it arrived from China shorter than the perfect length sample.  I have been to see a wonderful seamstress/ dress maker/wedding shop owner (not the lady I bought the dress from), and these are the ways around it:
1.       Lace at bottom of dress only (sewn underneath hemline?  I’m not au fait with sewing terms).  The lace will go all the way around bottom of dress including train.
2.       Lace at bottom of dress only (sewn onto dress – all the way round).
3.       Lace top and bottom of dress.  The lace at the top will go all the way around neckline (will cover my back neckline).
4.       Lace top, bottom, and on veil.  The lace will go all the way around the veil edge (mantilla style). 
We have just tacked the lace on for now.   
My  mum loves option 4, which may be rather fussy, but possibly suits our country bumpkin wedding.  I’m not at all certain, which one to go for.  I’m not really a sleek stylish person, so I don’t mind the overall effect being rather old-fashioined.   If it is of any help, the wedding will be rather agricultural – my boyfriend wants cow breeds for table names.  Parents and boyfriend are farmers, and I complete agri-environmental grant applications for farmers, for a living.  We are having a marquee at parents farm,with the wedding being a good knees up for all our friends and family.  I like looking at pretty pictures on the internet, but it’s usually a case of me not choosing the pretty option but going for practical/ cheap/ easy as possible.  Considered making fancy invites, but instead ordered off vistaprint.  The emphasis being on good food and lots of drink, rather than sophisticated do. 
There you have it ladies – we really really want to help Katie out here, so leave your comments below please…
 (also, can I just say, I tried on a dress with a very similar neckline and loved it - good choice Katie!)
Categories: Ask Anna, Ant and AOW, Wedding Planning, Wedding Pretty
33 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted June 8, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I'd go for either 3 or 4, both look great and tie it all together nicely. But more than that, I'd be kicking the arse of the shop you bought the dress from!

  2. Posted June 8, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I think option 3, I feel like lace on the veil as well is a bit fussy – I think the plain veil will give contrast to the beautiful lace, but that's just my opinion. I LOVE the lace on the neckline, it shows off your neck shoudlers and decolletage to perfection. Whatever you decide to do will be beautiful and you will look stunning! The wedding sounds FAB as well! xx

  3. Posted June 8, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Clare, your intro made me laugh SO MUCH. It's so true. Aisling would disown us if she knew how long it took for us to dress me appropriately, and for me not to end up looking like a baton-twirler.

    Katie, I think you look great in all of them, and so it just comes down to personal preference – whether you are bothered about a "fussy" or a "clean" look. I like 3. As Amy says, it ties it all together. But if you're definitely wearing a veil, then you can't go wrong with 4.

    And LOVING the cow breed table names! x

  4. Posted June 8, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I vote for option 3, the lace is an amazing addition to the dress, especially around the neckline it looks lovely but I think a clean veil makes a nice contrast.

  5. Katie
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks all. I'm thinking if the lace is added to the neckline, then the lace needs to be snipped away, where it hangs down my shoulders/arms?

    Good point on contrast with plain veil and lace on dress. I'd not thought of that.

    Thanks again, Katie x

  6. Posted June 8, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I'd be taking up the issue with the supplier. They should deliver what you ordered.

    However, of the alternatives you've suggested I think 3 is the nicest – I think 4 looks too fussy.

    Is that the veil you will be wearing, with or without lace, or is that just for illustrative purposes?

  7. Katie
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Rach, the first dress I bought, had three small stains on, and I asked for another dress to be made up. The second dress arrived from China, and stupidly I thought this time it would be fine, checked it for stains, signed for it, paid the balance, and took it away. I stupidly did not try it on for length in the shop. I was meeting friends for lunch, and thought they would get it right this time. It turned out to be shorter than perfect length sample dress. The wedding dress shop, would not let me change it. They suggested I wore flat shoes instead.

    I also contacted the wedding dress supplier, Phoenix Gowns, and had no joy.

    I would have pushed it further, however with it being less than two months to go till the wedding, decided to not spend the time arguing, but draw a line under it, and work with the dress I have.

  8. Katie
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Sorry, last comment was for Peacock, Feathers and Diamond Rings.

    Yes, it it the veil for dress. I spent longer choosing the veil, than the actual dress. The shop, that are doing the alterations, are going to steam the wrinkles out of the veil for me.

    I always think the long plain veils, are quite ethereal looking.

  9. Esme
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Go for 3 – that looks great. I think the best thing about the veil you've chosen is that it's simple and elegant, so don't change that now. I would keep the lace on the top of the dress as it is in the picture – I think it looks really lovely.

    If you wanted to continue the lace theme, how about something in your hair?

    I think the whole wedding sounds lovely! It's all about what YOU like, not what blogs/magazines/industry tells you should like. I'm all for the good food and drink too! xx

  10. Posted June 8, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    As someone who wore a lacy dress and a plain veil, you might think I would say option 3, but actually I love option 1! I know, I'm going against the majority vote here, but hear me out. I love the clean lines of the portrait neckline and the elegant simplicity of the dress as it is, with just a little bit of added lace peeking out the bottom – it's subtle but still so pretty. Plus with the asymmetric lace appliqués already on your dress, I wonder whether it might be a bit much and detract from them to have lace all over the neckline and over the bottom of the skirt as well? Also, does the additional lace match the lace of the appliqués? Because that makes a difference too, you don't want it to look like an obvious addition if the lace over your neckline is obviously different from the lace on the bodice.

    My gut reaction is to go for option 1, with the lace peeking out the bottom, and you could combine this with the mantilla veil, but without the lace on the neckline (I agree with the others that a lace neckline and lace on the veil might be a bit fussy and too much. So either a plain neckline and a lace veil, or a lace neckline and plain veil).

    Whatever you go for, though, I'm sure it will look amazing – it's a gorgeous dress and the veil is LUSH.

  11. Posted June 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Lovely neckline! I just bought my dress too, with the same neckline. Great!

    I really like option 2. I love the streamlined straps and elegant decolletage you have with an unfussy neckline, but I love the layer of lace at the hem to balance the bodice.

    Good luck!

  12. Posted June 8, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh, poor you – what an absolute pain! And completely understand you not wanting a big fight over it at this stage.
    I'm with Kirsty on this one – I love the neckline on the dress, and am not sure you need to add anything there.
    Utimately, though, it's about what makes you feel happy and comfortable….

    Oh, and fabulous sounding wedding, by the way!

  13. Posted June 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    For me, option 1 – lace all the way round. With a lace edged veil – you will look stunning and perfect for your country wedding x

  14. Posted June 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I would say option one. I think you won't even notice the lace around the bottom so it is probably nearest to what you wanted at the beginning.

    Personally although the lace round the neckline is beautiful I do think it detracts away from the gorgeous neckline {well done on the choosing of the neckline, so pretty!}the dress originally has. And finally I think it will look more ethereal looking with you beautiful veil, oh how I love a veil!

    But you will look amazing whatever you choose, but lets us know your decision!


  15. Posted June 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I'm also going to go with #1. I think the simple neckline is very flattering on you, and the lace takes something away from that. In this case, less is more.

  16. Posted June 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I'm baaaaaaack! And oh good lord this made me laugh. How I wish I'd been around for the what-to-wear discussion…I can't wait to see the pictures Anna!

    So. Katie. AMAZING dress and figure and skin and just an all over gorgeous look Katie…it's definitely the dress for you, stupid Chinese short-sighted dressmakers besides the point!

    I'm either with the lovely Kirsty…hi Kirsty! in keeping it dead simple with a little lace at the bottom…I think you could then do the lace-edged veil too for interest up top. Otherwise…and it might be a little 'fashion forward' (!) but what about shortening the front another couple of inches and having a kick-ass amazeballs pair of shoes on display?

    Whatever you do I think you should keep the neckline plain. It has a very Pronovias look about it and gives you a gorgeous regal appearance with that creamy skin and graceful neck.

    Oh…it's so good to be home!

  17. Katie
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks everyone. Aisling, you flatter me (blushing).

    Having some fabulous shoes is possibly too fashion forward for me, and I find it impossible to find fabulous shoes that fit. I have very wide feet, and fab shoes never ever fit. Thanks very much for the suggestion though.

    In the photo’s, I like option 1 best, however in the shop, I preferred the lace sewn onto the dress (option 2).

    The lace at the bottom of the dress, has to be done, and so I am thinking to go with my preference in the shop. I know this isnt the general consensus, but I recall feeling happiest in option 2.

    I am also thinking no lace on neckline. Just need to sort out a decent bra for neckline.

    I chose the dress very quickly, without trying very many dresses on. I tried it on, liked it, saw that it was less than half my budget, and decided to buy it there and then.

    I am still undecided on veil – lace or no lace? I like the contrast of no lace and question whether the lace on veil would be too much. On the other hand, I think it may tie the outfit together, if I proceed with the lace. Also, it is a cascade cut veil, and I think the lace on veil, might add some weight to it, and make it fall better?

    Your thoughts on veil, would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you, Katie xx

  18. Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Katie, what an annoying situation. I guess, sometimes, however much you want to fight things, it's the smarter and saner thing to do to just decide what can be done to fix it.

    I know I said option 3 above, but part of that was based on the fact that the sleeves look tricky to contain the bra you were wearing. If you can get a decent strapless bra sorted, I like the neckline plain. The lace gave more depth to hide your bra straps.

    Whether to have lace on the veil is up to you. If you are going for a plain neckline, lace might be a nice contrast. Also important to consider how you will wear your hair and whether you plan any jewellery. I would venture to suggest that a necklace, earrings and a lace edged veil might be too much. Will your veil be attached to a bun or roll of hair, in which case will carry the weight of an edged veil all day. Do you plan to do your hair yourself?

    Questions, questions :)

  19. Katie
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Hair will be in a 1940s style bun. I have an ivory organza flower, which may or may not go under bun. It was only £10, so I will make up my mind, once I have seen the complete outfit. I also bought a silver wire mesh flower, but I don't think I will be wearing this.

    The earrings and necklace will be the ones I am wearing in the photo's, as they were a very lovely present from my boyfriend.

  20. Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Ok, now that other people have commented (you guys are all AMAZING by the way) I'm going to be brave and give my opinion. I was definitely most keen on 1 or 2, and it seems like you were too, so that seems the best way to go. Ultimately you are the one who has to feel happy and comfortable on the day – not your mum, and certainly not any of us.

    Re the veil – i think you could go either way depending on how you want to look. You mentioned how it falls, but I think it looks like it falls beautifully as is, so no need to change it for that reason. I also noticed that you had a flower in your hair in one of the pictures that you sent me – will you be having the flower on the day?

  21. Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I should really check that there are no new comments before posting.

    So you might wear the flower? I think if so, no lace (it pains me to say this as I was all over lace for my wedding, but even I didn't have alace veil because it was just too much).

    Either way though Katie, you will look amazing, and I actually want to come to your wedding please?! Cattle table names? A focus on good food and drink? On a farm? Yes please!

  22. Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Right. So. Lace aaaallllll around the bottom of the dress. Yes. Train and all. Go for it.

    I think mirroring that detail on the veil would look gorgeous and tie the two in together nicely, and I do love a lace edged veil…

    As for the underwear, I'd almost definitely go for a corset or a 'body' type number. They collect everything and make sure it's all in it's rightful place, and you won't have to worry about 'hoisting' a strapless bra up all day and night. Win!

    This is too much fun to be having on my first day back at work in 3 weeks, surely?!


  23. Katie
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Clare, thanks for your reply. If I go for the plain veil, I will be wearing the flower.

    I suspect if I have a lace edged veil, the flower will be too much.

  24. Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    And I should also check that Aisling isn't about to write the complete opposite of what I said. OOPS!

    But totally go with Aisling – she is the style queen, and I know nothing.

  25. Katie
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I would like to second Clare – you are all AMAZING. Thank you.

    Clare, you clearly know something about style, as you looked breathtakingly beautiful at your wedding.

    Will the lace veil compliment the lace on gown, or will it be too much?

    I just remembered, that yonks ago, I admired a photo of Mark Owen (Take That) wife's dress with a mantilla veil. I have just googled it, and she had embellishments on her dress, and the veil works.

    It is looking like the lace veil.


  26. Katie
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    UPDATE: Just confirmed order with Trisha (seamstress), which is photo 2, plus the lace for veil. Will send AOW some wedding photo's.

    Thank you for all your help!

    Katie xx

  27. Posted June 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Oh, readers, you are all so wonderful. I could never have imagined everyone would pull together like this! And we now have an AOW-inspired wedding dress!

    Katie, we cannot WAIT for your wedding photos. You are gonig to look absolutely edible. Not in a weird way. In a beautiful way x

  28. Posted June 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    i love option #2! gah, so sorry you're in such a predicament, but they're all beautiful options…i think option #2 keeps the beautiful simplicity of the top and adds that extra somp'nsomp'n at the bottom.

  29. Posted June 9, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Yay, exciting! Definitely think you made the right decision. Can't wait to see!

    Just to maybe give you an idea on the hair flower, here is a picture of lace-edged veil WITH a hair flower which I've always thought was beautiful:

  30. Katie
    Posted June 10, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Thank you Kirsty. It was really lovely having everyones thoughts. It felt like I had a team of stylists helping me.

    I will definitely try the flower with the lace veil, and if it does not go, I can always wear flower in evening (after veil has been removed). I bought two hair accessories on the internet – both second hand ebay purchases – a posh designer silver crystal flower slide, and a cheap fabric flower. I much preferred the cheap fabric flower.

    Does anyone ever get the complete outfit right first time? I've bought two hair accessories, and I have friends who have bought more than one necklace, shoes, bra, dress etc.

  31. Polly
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I like option 2 as the neckline is lovely and simple. I also like the option of option 2 but with the veil from option 4, keeping the neckline as it is though. Either way it would look lovely. :)

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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