The Bridesmaid Dress Odyssey

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a flower girl more than anything in the entire world. The sole reason for this desire was because it came with a fancy, presumably long and full, dress. When I finally got to be a bridesmaid, the dress was neither long nor full and it fit very poorly. With no other weddings in sight, I decided to take matters into my own hands and eventually this evolved into my closet full of historic garments.

And, since I have plenty of places to wear my costumes (Old City, Italian Market, Ren Faire, Target), I don’t long for the occassional formal event. In fact, I have never been to a formal event where I could wear what I want. Either the dresscode is up to another person or I need to look fancy but normal. Even for my own wedding I toned it down although the skirt was very big and the train very long. So, when I’m invited to be a member of a bridal party, I’m perfectly happy to go with the artistic vision of the bride.

Compliance doesn’t mean easy and for an upcoming wedding I have gone on quite the bridesmaid dress odyssey. For one thing, you can get a wedding gown in Center City Philadelphia but national brand attendant-wear is located a bit of a drive outward. I feel there is a need for an attendant gown store where you can either new or used, like an exchange right here in the city but I lack investment capital.

The last time I needed a formal dress, after weekly visits to the Philly AIDS Thrift Shop for six months, I was able to score a lovely gown for $20 that I have since turned into not one but three gothy/historic garments of the Victorian persuasion. However, because I need to match other people, I knew I wasn’t going to get away with that.

About half way into the experience of trying on and choosing a bridesmaid dress, I started to have a “27 Dresses” moment and in the end, I tried on 22 dresses. The photos, for your entertainment, are below. And, as bad as it was for me, I’m sure it was worse for my husband who drove me to three different stores and endured the try-ons and took photos.

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