This post would not have been out of place in the AOW A-Z of Getting Married. It’s a rant and a rage (oh, my favourite kind of wedding planning post) and it’s against my sworn enemy, Bridal Shops and all their ilk (wait…some are ace. I take that back). Oh, and Society. And its Expectations.
Katy went shopping for clothes with her mother, for her mother to wear at Katy’s wedding. And experienced scams, patronising attitudes, attempts to manipulate and assumptions. Katy can tell you better than me. And I do believe she’d welcome some advice:
I have recently gone through an experience that many brides must go through in their time. Shopping for the Mother of the Bride outfit (I’ll pause here for screams of horror etc etc…).
I loved, absolutely loved, going shopping with my Mummy. She is a beautiful person, she is fantastic. She wasn’t at all difficult or picky. But I’m her only daughter, she will only be Mother of the Bride once (hopefully!) and she wants to look amazing.
She wanted to have the same kind of experience that I had shopping for a dress, trying on everything out there and feeling absolutely beautiful in something. And why not? In fact I found a lot of similarities between bridal shopping and MoB shopping!
We travelled to a good few ‘Mother of the Bride’ style shops, peering into the racks and pulling lots of things to try.
(To clarify the rest of this post, I know there are lots of options outside the traditional MoB shops. My mum just wanted something really special that there was no danger someone else would buy in Debenhams and turn up in, you know?)
We waited with baited breath as they zipped up the outfits, put on the jackets and carefully placed the hats on her head (for all MoB outfits must be a dress and jacket combo (with optional hat, fascinator or hatinator), don’t you know?)
But… Well…. It just didn’t happen.
This is what we were faced with:
- Strapless dresses
- Low cut dresses
- Sleeveless dresses
- Backless dresses
- Black and white
- Baby pink and lilac in abundance
- Silver, taupe, beige, grey, other shades of ‘boring’
Am I alone in this?
The average age of a bride in the UK is 28.5 (source: Wikipedia (yes, good source, I know)), and the average age of a mother when she gives birth is 29.5 (source: ONS 2010 so maybe younger in 1985). OK, so let’s be generous and say the average age of a MoB is 50.
I ask you this – what 50 year old woman wants a strapless, low cut, sleeveless dress?
I ask you this – what 50 year old woman wants to look at an outfit on a 19 year old size 6 model? (sometimes the same as the model for the bridal collection)
I ask you this – why must women over the age of 50 wear only black, white, other monochrome colours and baby pink? Why can I woman not wear bright colours, or other colours? Surely there are many women who don’t want to wear black or white to a wedding?
AOW, I am frustrated. Am I a freak or has the wedding industry literally got this so wrong? My mother does not want to be boring and beige. She also does not want a strapless or sleeveless dress, or to be told she can “just wear the jacket” for an August wedding (this was as the spring/summer collection of outfits had come in).
Worse than this, AOW, I am angry. These shops all employ, basically, scare tactics. They buy each outfit in a couple of sizes (never more than 1 per size), and then they tell you that if you do not commit there and then they cannot order you a different size or save it for you!
Oh really, shop assistant lady? Really? You think I am incapable of writing down the outfit number, phoning up another store that stocks that designer and asking for it in my mother’s size?
I’m sure somewhere in the country in the many boutiques that stock that particular designer I could find another dress. Do you want me to call them?
You think I am about to let my mother (or she is about to let herself, she’s not an idiot!) be scared and pressured into buying a dress because it “might not be there in a week” when she can bring back my dad for approval (which she really wanted to do)?
I understand that it’s an emotional purchase; they want to look special and are maybe easy targets. Maybe some women do get emotional and scared and carried away… But how do they get away with these scare tactics? I remember them coming up when I went dress shopping (“oh the designer could stop accepting orders for that style at any time…”) but I wasn’t expecting it when MoB shopping. I wonder how many women fall for it?
To be honest the entire experience made me happy, so happy. I had some lovely days out with my mummy, which is special. She tried on lots of nice expensive clothes which is exciting. She looked gorgeous in the end, and we struggled to fit the hat box in the car. So win all round J
BUT the industry made me angry. Not only do lots of these dresses not seem to be appropriate for the target audience, but they also play on the emotions and fear of their customers. I understand that they want to sell their stock, but surely ordering them in a different size isn’t that difficult? Obviously it is as we came across this problem in multiple stores…
Also, really, what is it with those models?
So, to conclude, that was a rant. Sorry. I will end with some advice:
- Go shopping with your mum if you can!
- Be clear early on if you really don’t want her to wear a specific colour (black/white/same as the bridesmaids), but remember it’s a special day for her too!
- Take a sample of your colour to check it doesn’t clash horribly (think of all those photos)…
- Make an appointment. Take shoes and tights and a strapless bra.
- Take a camera. Take a notebook and pen. Be prepared to write down or take a photo of outfits.
- Don’t compromise. Don’t feel pressured to go strapless and ‘add in straps’ (suggested so many times!). Find something you love.
- Try high street. Try designer. Try having it made. Get it altered.
- Check where else stocks the designers in the shop you’re going to. Feel free to tell the assistants you know they all exist and you will call them if they don’t offer to find what you want in the right size.
- Make it fun. It’s a special moment. Drink Prosecco.