Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Are YOU a Sample Dress Bride?

Going along with Ms. Charleston’s post – I thought I’d follow up with some more things to think about when dress shopping. I agree with all of her advice – definitely have an idea of what you think you might like going in – neckline, color, material, embellishments, but try on any and everything you can get your hands on. I had a word document with dress pictures that I loved, and then stores that carried each designer. But we all know that the dress looks WAY different in a glossy magazine, with teeny tiny model showing the dress off. So my most favorite and valuable nugget of advice was to search sites that sell pre-owned wedding dresses, even if you don’t think you’ll ever buy a “used” one, so that you can see what a type of dress, or even, if you get very lucky, the exact dress you’re looking for looks like on a real girl.

Long story short, while searching for v-neck dresses (which I thought looked the best on me – Mr. OBX has a thing against strapless, and I am fidgety, plus, I seem to have a disproportionate amount armpit fat that never looks good with strapless and until they invent an exercise that targets that area, no strapless for me – though I tried lots on), I came across MY dress online at one of the resale sites. I knew I had to have it. V-neck dresses themselves are a bit more difficult to find, plus I wanted embellishments on the TOP of the dress, and this dress (the one in the center in the pic on the left) was just it.


I set about finding it in a store in DC, because I knew I had to see it in person. I called the designers headquarters in NY and found out that it had been discontinued, and that my only hope was finding a sample. So I googled and googled, and called stores across the country, to no avail. And then I called Hannalores on a whim, knowing they carry the designer, and they HAD the dress. I was jumping out of my skin, made an appointment for that same afternoon, went in, tried it on, it fit like a GLOVE, and was CLEARLY the dress (plus it was 50% off – which put it actually somewhere near my price range). Of course, I doubted it (and made things WAY more difficult than they have to be – which has become a hallmark of my wedding planning process), and didn’t buy it then and there – I spent the weekend trying on other dresses at Lady Hamilton, Rosalins, Katherine’s, Hitched, and back at Hannalores to try on “the” dress again. I didn’t hesitate this time and I bought it!

The store said they would take care of cleaning the very minimal marks on the dress, repairing some of the beadwork, etc. and would have it ready for me in June to pick up for my fittings. And then I freaked out – I bought a “used” (crinkle nose when saying this) dress for the most important day of my life, it had been in the store for a long time – what if it had changed colors (and my internet research confirmed that this could be a reality), what if the front was too low cut, what if they couldn’t MAKE it perfect, what if this WASN’T MY DRESS after all?

After a slight miscommunication, the store made good on its word, and their seamstresses/repair department made the dress perfect (even to my discerning eye). Pamela did an amazing job at easing my concerns when I was in a tizzy that “I was not meant to be a sample dress bride, I’m way too anxious” – we took the dress outside, and my fear that the dress had turned yellowish was alleviated, and she convinced me that there is no stigma to buying a sample. So, after that very lengthy post – here is my (very biased) list of things to consider before buying a sample:

  • Take a deep breath and think about what a sample is – yes it is probably a great deal, but the dress you are looking at WILL BE the dress you will wear down the aisle, and other people have tried it on, and it may not be the letter of perfect. Think about whether this will cause you more worry, stress, and anxiety than the great deal is worth.
  • Get unbiased advice on the alterations (and what is possible for your specific dress) before you buy!
  • Really examine the dress for wear and tear – be picky and be pushy. In addition to the things you can see, consider the traffic/business of the store, and how long the dress has been in the store. Go over the dress with a fine tooth comb with alterations staff (not salespeople) when its hanging on the hanger in a well lit area (dresses CAN turn yellow after a long time under fluorescent lights, in plastic bags – and there is very little that can done about this).
  • Discuss every imperfection and whether it can realistically be fixed. Of the things that can be fixed, negotiate with the store what you expect to be fixed, how you want it fixed, and when it will be done by. Make sure the seamstress is present for this discussion. Get this in writing. Take pictures (if you can) of all marks or changes. Of the things that cannot be fixed, ask for more discounts (but really consider if you are okay with having the mark, or rip, or whatever).
  • Do your research and figure out what the dress sells for new, and how old the dress is (what year the designer first offered it). Be able confidently negotiate based on how old it is, the retail price, and the condition of the actual dress. Realize that you are helping the store recoup their costs on the dress, that you are NOT a second class shopper because you are looking at samples, and that you deserve the same level of service as everyone else – they need you more than you need them.
  • Be prepared for a no-return policy and don’t let anyone pressure you into buying the dress until you are certain that it is the dress for you. It is likely that the dress will still be there tomorrow or next week. As soon as the dress leaves the store, it will be YOURS, so don’t take it until you are satisfied with how it looks.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm so a sample dress bride. and i highly recommend it to anyone out there, but you make really good points about how it's not for everyone.
for me it was an easy decision and some of the dresses you can get as samples for a steal are just amazing! it just takes a little more hunting : )

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 1:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG, Miss OBX, that picture of you hugging the dress is just the cutest thing ever. I did the same thing when my dress came in! It's not a sample dress, but only because the one i happened to fall in love with is still being made -- i looked at plenty and would've been perfectly happy with a sample!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 9:09:00 AM  

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