Conscious Elegance

 

 

An eco wedding dress should answer questions, not create them. We’re happy to help. If you don’t see your answer here, feel free to contact us anytime.

 

What's the process? What can I expect when I order?

We made a blogpost! Here’s more details. If any questions come up, please ping us!

Why would I choose a custom wedding dress?

Why? That’s easy: you get your dream dress that’s made exactly the way you want it, for you and only you. How many times in your life do you get to call the shots that way?

Why one of our dresses? By working with us, you’re directly supporting indie artists who are living their dream. You get to interact one-on-one at a personal level with your dress’ creator(s) and you have an intimate say at every step.

You don’t need to be an eco-warrior to want to avoid an off-the-rack petroleum based dress that smells like chemicals and was mass-produced in some distant underpaid overseas factory. A handsewn creation made for you, from sustainable materials that won’t deplete the earth, is a joy to wear and makes a special day all the more special.

How can you say you're 'ethical' and still use silk in your dressmaking?

Yeah, lots of eco-chic designers say that they are ethical and yet use silk, which is a fabric usually created from killing living creatures. What makes us different?

The silk we use in our designs is reclaimed silk, harvested from unwanted dresses which would eventually end up in a landfill. Some may not agree, but we believe that by giving these dresses a new life and extending their usefulness, we not only honor the initial sacrifice of the silkworms but we honor the laborers who wove the original fabric. We do this by reclaiming and re-using a resource, rather than consuming new materials.

All that said, we also offer new hempsilk fabric in our designs because we want to support the hemp farmers of the world, since hemp is eco-friendly and gives back to the earth. To the best of our ability to verify, the silk in our hempsilk blends is cruelty-free, meaning that the silkworms are allowed to exit their cocoons before harvest and live out their lives in peace.

Do you offer a guarantee? A return policy?

Of course. We are aware that we differ from the standard of most made-to-order companies, who may tell you that they cannot refund any part of your purchase. We first and foremost guarantee our workmanship: should the gown arrive to you in a damaged state, we’ll fix it for you at no charge. If you need to cancel your order before the gown is completed, you will only forfeit the deposit. Should you find that you are unhappy and must return your gown (has yet to happen but could), let us know and we’ll invite you to send it back to us in unused condition within 3 days of receipt. We will refund the balance less the initial deposit and will reclaim the fabric to avoid waste.

We understand that unforeseen circumstances do occur. And we’re human and make mistakes. If mistakes happen, we’ll do our best to fix them; we consider it part of our excellent service. Please refer to Our Policies for further details.

Why wouldn't I just go to a bridal shop?

Simple: you can save time, money and resources. Many people want a special wedding dress but don’t want to deal with typical boutiques. We’ve heard complaints of:

  • Driving all over town and wasting time and gas.
  • Trying on dress after dress in semi-public with their mother/friends/total strangers critiquing.
  • Up-selling and often rude attitudes of salon staff, who are paid only to make a sale.
  • The need for expensive alterations. And oh, do they add up quickly! (Translation: It’ll cost you but you’ll never know how just much until later.
  • The fact that dresses in the shops may only be samples; if they are for sale, they are rarely the correct size. It’s not easy to tell how a dress will look when you can’t close it properly in the back.

It’s no crime to admit that not many of us really want to deal with a bridal salon. Who needs the headache? You’ll save so much energy in simply choosing your design and sending us your measurements. Our clients prefer to use their spare moments and extra funds for more rewarding pursuits.

It’s also less hassle to manage your gown online, day or night. You can show the designs to your people anytime. And your dress will be delivered directly to your door.

If you feel that your figure is hard to flatter and do wish to make the effort, we invite you to send us photos of yourself in clothing that you feel good in. We can advise you as to what types of dress elements might work best. We want you to feel confident that you’ll look gorgeous on your special day.

What do I get for my money? What's included?

You get a gorgeous wedding dress sustainably made for you and only you, to your own measurements and specifications. Your dress is made in the USA, for a fair living wage. And quite simply, everything is included.

Our dresses are hand-created from high-quality sustainable fabrics like hemp, silk, and organic cotton, with meticulous individual construction. Your dress is made how you want it: we can change the straps and tweak the train and all there is in between. Your toile (mock-up) is covered by your initial 25% deposit. All of your alterations are included in the price, as well as a personal final fitting (geography permitting). Extras like including fabric scraps for laundering and experimentation are part of the service. We tell you the final cost, right up front, and budgeting is a snap.

Why do many of your dresses cost over $1000?

Try finding a real silk dress, made to measure with alterations included, for even a little less. Alterations themselves can add hundreds of dollars to a gown’s cost. Add to this that our dresses are made individually and not in a sweatshop and the question becomes, ‘Why don’t they cost more?’ Frankly, it’s because we don’t add a mark up. We ask a fair price which pays a fair wage. Period.

If I order online, how can I be sure my gown will fit me?

As is traditionally done in fine dress-making and couture houses, we create a simple cotton ‘toile’ mock-up for you (we repurpose unwanted bedsheets) that can be fitted perfectly to your dimensions. You can see how the design of the gown will suit you, make adjustments to flatter your shape, and highlight your best features. The toile comes to you at no extra cost: your 25% deposit covers our time and materials and you can keep it afterward if you like. We can send your toile by post or if you’re local we can arrange a personal fitting.

Besides all this? Our gowns feature our signature lace-up bodice. The lace-up back allows for fitting all sizes and shapes, and your bodice is infinitely comfortable because you can adjust it throughout the day as needed.

How long will it take to make my dress?

Since we needn’t consort with intermediaries, we can have your gown on its way to you within 4 weeks of our receiving your fitted toile (that’s usually around 6 weeks after we receive your deposit). If we happen to be immediately booked, or if you are ordering well in advance, we’ll work with you to choose your preferred completion date.

Rush orders are possible. See How to Order for more details.

We’ve noted that 6-10 months’ advance is the norm for many bridal salons. We can only guess that such long turnaround times are due to the many middlemen through which their gowns pass.

Why create a new gown at all? Isn't second-hand eco-friendly too?

Absolutely. A second-hand dress is a wonderfully sustainable option! We adore thrift stores and we support them with donations *and* purchases! But not everyone has access to a good shop or can find a dress that they love. And not everyone wants to take the time to go out and search.

Consumption isn’t a bad thing when done responsibly. We reduce needless resource depletion by upcycling previously-loved garments, then we create our designs to be re-usable if desired. We also prioritize materials that are sustainably cultivated. That benefits all of us, from the farmers to the artists.

Why are wedding gowns so expensive, anyway?

Manufacturers in the Wedding Industry are notorious for mark-ups of 300-700% (!). Then the bridal salons impose their own mark-ups, often over 200%, which pay the wages of staff and import-houses. This is why you’ll often see a vague range when looking for a price on a gown (like $ – $$$$$). The pricing is deliberately hidden because the manufacturers have no clue what their authorized representatives will actually charge.

There are no mark-ups or hefty surcharges in our pricing. We give you a clear number right up front so that you can budget without difficulty. Our garments are sewn in a private studio, not in factories. Each gown is priced specifically according to the required materials and the time and attention needed to create it. We believe that our prices are fair and provide a working, living wage directly to the creators, under safe and respectful working conditions.

We do not support low-wage exploitative labor, even though that would result in a less expensive gown. Those gowns that one sees in the shops or on eBay for unbelievably low prices? They are usually the result of synthetic/petroleum-based fabric and shoddy construction for pennies, often assembled by underpaid factory workers overseas under questionable conditions.

Keep in mind that as our gowns are made individually on single machines, each will have an unique character and full quality is guaranteed. You will know that your gown was made lovingly by experienced dressmakers.

Is there a shop where I can try on a sample gown?

Yes! We understand how important it can be to see how a gown will look before committing to such an important purchase. Our studio is north of Boston and you are most welcome to visit. In our studio, we keep floor samples of most of our current (and some previous) designs. Let us know when and we’ll put the kettle on.

That said, we do not currently lease a brick-and-mortar retail store; this saves the resources of powering a separate commercial space. It’s one way how we are able to keep our prices so reasonable; we aren’t paying extra overhead. We use our website as our shop, which can be open and accessible 24/7. Electrons are much cheaper!

Do you provide alterations to your dresses?

Yes! Final alterations are included in our service if we can see you in person. If geography is a challenge, you can use a local person should the need arise for fine-tuning. Though with our lace-up bodice closure, there’s rarely a need for extensive tweaking. If you don’t already know someone who can sew, check local listings for skilled sewing-folk and support small businesses whenever possible.

What if I want to change or adapt a design you already offer?

We are happy to make minor changes at no extra charge. It’s a simple matter to shorten a sleeve or adjust a waist. Straps can be added to a strapless gown if you are concerned about support. Depending on the designs involved, we may be able to mix and match (for example, *this* bodice with *that* skirt). Please ask us and we’ll let you know if such a change would work with your dress design.

There’s also the option of ordering something similar to what you’d like and have someone local and clueful make adjustments; we can include extra-wide seam allowances just in case.

If you decide that you’d rather DIY it after all, we invite you to order your material by the yard from our Etsy store and have your gown made locally. Or, if you are willing to visit our studio at least twice, we can create your dress to your own design. Obviously such a personal service needs you to visit us in, well, person.

We aim to keep these FAQ’s current; contact us if you have ideas to contribute.

Namaste.

Our Ethical Pledge

The silk we use in our designs is either new hempsilk or reclaimed silk fabrics, repurposed from unwanted dresses which would have eventually ended up in a landfill. We believe that by giving pre-loved dresses a new life and extending their usefulness, we not only honor the initial sacrifice of the silkworms but we honor the laborers who wove the original fabric. We do this by reclaiming and re-using a resource that would otherwise be wasted.

Conscious Elegance Unique Eco Wedding Dresses

Email: lori@consciouselegance.com :: :: :: Studio (call for appt): 781 572 3039 :: :: :: Text 857 259 8476:: Stoneham, Massachusetts 02180

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