Hey All –
I thought that you guys might be interested in this: why are wedding dresses so expensive? What makes a dress worth all that money, or at least, what makes people think that they should charge so much?
I looked this up, like a good little geek. And I found an article from NPR (again, a good geek source) that interviewed Anne Barge. And she rattled off all the typicals: the fabric is luxury, the workmanship is impeccable, there’s hand-beading…but when faced with the fact that all of those things together don’t add up to the $8000 dress she was hawking, she rationalized with ‘It’s the dress of your life, and if there is ever one picture your [descendants] have of you it’s the one in your wedding dress’. In other words, she’s selling Emotion.
All righty, then, let’s get Emotional. This’ll get us into the mood:
This dress? Cost £250,000 ($400,000). Which is all well and good. But Anne, I think that my descendants would be prouder of me if I put my resources into supporting the values I hold, not spend crazy money on a dress. Yes, it’s an incredibly important garment for an incredibly important day. I get that. Oooboy, do I get that. Every dress I make is the most important one in the world. Seriously. But to charge all that money simply because there’s a ‘wedding’ attached?
In other words: are there real differences in a cheap dress v an upscale one?
I had the chance to test this out during my ‘buying up all the silk dresses in the world from eBay’ phase last year. I wanted to reclaim the resource of yummy silk that was just waiting around, unused. So I bought lots of dresses (verified silk, yes) that no one wanted and were waiting to be re-born and loved. Many of them were unworn, living their lives as display models in bridal shops. And now they live with me. I’ll make them new and shiny and ready for a walk down the aisle.
[NOTE: Some of these dresses I’ve passed along to lucky brides who wanted a designer dress but didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars (I’m sure as heck not going to charge thousands of dollars, especially for a dress I didn’t create). I sold them each for a few hundred, which was 90% off of some of those original price tags. And everyone was happy and the dresses got a new home. I might spotlight some of the dresses I still have in future posts, cuz they deserve it.]
But I digress. I’d found a silk satin dress that had been for sale in a shop in Chicago that had gone out of business. The dress had listed for $4000. From the official description:
‘This was bought from one of the most upscale bridal shops in the city, Palazzo Bridal. This boutique has several upscale salons all over the country; they are known for making simple, elegant, classic gowns with the best fabrics in the world”.
Right, then. We are paying for a Name. Plus possibly really nifty fabric.
Here are some stock photos of the dress. I didn’t take these photos; I think they’re from the salon:
and the back…
aaaand the side:
So, yeah. This dress is simply seriously gorgeous. But is it $4000 worth of gorgeous?
Let’s look at it from a dressmaker’s view:
One thing that’s a challenge to do is make the seams match up perfectly. It shows real technical chops and real attention to detail. Lots of people don’t notice, but I sure do. And so does pretty much every other person who’s ever sewed with Intent.
The bodice totally demonstrates this point:
Look at those seams! Look how they match up! My OCD is totally satisfied.
So, the dress passes the ‘attention to detail/well-made’ inspection. What about the materials?
I wish I could do a feely-post so you could feel the silk. It’s really among the best stuff I’ve encountered. Silk satins range as wide as grades of maple syrup. Wider, actually. Some are thick and spongy, some are slippery and flowy. Some glow off-white and some are pale cream. The silk in this dress is grade A; all soft and smooth and supple-y.
But what gets me the most? is what’s underneath. Looooook:
OMG a self-lined bodice! This bodice uses the same silk on the inside as it does on the outside. And the boning is perfectly and securely in place. Take it from a bodice-maker, this is a work of Art. I couldn’t do better. And I don’t like to admit that.
And the rest of Dress Underneath?
Silk lining. My heart sings. I have never, ever encountered silk lining ever in a dress. I know that it must exist elsewhere, but maybe I just don’t run in those circles. Most linings are scratchy acetate cheap stuff. It’s why I used organic cotton or reclaimed bamboo in my linings; it just feels better. Breathes better too.
But this lining? It’s not the same silk as the dress, but a softer, finer type. And I’ll bet it feels amazing to wear.
Plus, there’s no bling. None at all. The lines are clean and uncluttered. The more bling on a dress, the more shortcuts it can hide. The shoddiest dresses I’ve ever seen have been covered in beads and stuff. This dress hides nothing.
So, am I sold?
With all the swooning, you’d think so. If any dress were a ‘luxury’ dress, this would be one. If I were to get married again, I’d seriously consider this dress. It’s not perfect, though. There’s dirt on the hem (it was a display model). And it’s a smaller size, so I’m not sure how much alteration wiggle-room there would be.
Would I spend $4000 on it. Assuming I had that much to spend on a dress? Hellz no. There’s much better places to put that money, IMO. I’d spend it on the food and support a small business like mine, if I could. But I’m biased. That’s what my husband and I did for our wedding.
Would I part with the dress if someone really wanted it? ::ponders:: I think I would, if it were to someone who’d love it as much as I do. And I suspect that won’t happen. So for now, it’ll stay safe and sound with me.