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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

Say Stress to the Dress

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I am a grown-ass woman. I have degrees. I’ve won awards. I can go on national television. I can do home repair. I’m generally pretty confident in myself and my appearance. So why is it that some 22-year-old working in a formal shop can make me feel about as insecure as a teenager in front of her first crush?

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The wedding is slated for October. It will be a very simple affair – a private outdoor ceremony in the Smoky Mountains followed by a dinner celebration at our favorite restaurant back in Atlanta. No pomp. No circumstance. No stress.

Well, other than the dress.

I’m not really particular about the “look” of the wedding, but it is important to Brock. Even though I still have several months, I wanted to try to find a dress today. Partly because I had a day off work but mostly to leave myself plenty of time in case it became more difficult than expected. I asked a friend to accompany me and to act as a guard against those scary 22-year-old dress sellers.

Not the shoes I’m wearing but they’re good for a laugh:)

For my first wedding, I ventured into a Dillard’s alone and found a prom dress for $98. It had a satin bodice with some contoured seams and a long chiffon skirt. It was simple, elegant and cheap. It was perfect.

I wanted something similar again. It’s difficult with second weddings. I chose a ring, a dress and a wedding location the first time around that fit me. I don’t want to repeat that but those same aesthetics still appeal. My idea was to go to the mall and scour the racks of formal (non-wedding) dresses and hope for a similar find.

My friend suggested that a stand alone store that specialized in wedding attire first. She had been in there previously and remembered that they had some budget-friendly items.

I felt like I was walking in to some five-star hotel designed by Disney. There were glitter and rhinestones everywhere. The place was full of employees, dressed head to toe in black, scurrying around to attend to their charges. There were brides everywhere, most accompanied by their moms, choosing dresses and accessories. Everything was over the top and designed to make women feel like princesses. Along with the princess price tag. After talking with the consultant (I’m assuming that’s the proper term), we learned that their dresses started at $2,000.

Started. At. $2,000.

Who buys these things? After saying our “thank you’s,” we promptly left and got into my car (current value – not much more than $2,000).

After touring a few department stores at the mall, we knew we were on the right track. Our last stop? Dillard’s. And they came through again. Even in that more relaxed environment, I was still tense. Sometimes, I don’t understand myself. I’m completely fine trying on bikinis. No sweat. A formal dress? Yeah, that brings out all of the body insecurities. I feel silly in super feminine things with my athletic build and casual nature. It can be frustrating to have arms and shoulders that burst seams and to have trouble fitting my lats into a dress. Would it be out of place to get married in a bathing suit in the mountains in October? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

To complicate matters, I’m weird about spending money. Especially on myself. I feel guilty. Somehow I don’t feel like I’m worthy of spending money on. It’s frugality mixed with a dash of neurosis. I wish I could find a way to keep my thrifty ways but nix the guilt.

I only ended up trying on one dress. It’s formal but not bridal, which apparently is good for a 90% discount, as it was only $200. It’s simple and elegant and relatively cheap. But it’s different than before. It fits my frame, showing off my muscle in a flattering way and the sleeveless style gives my shoulders endless room to move. I can borrow jewelry from my friend and I should be able to find shoes once the weather warms up. Mission accomplished.

So now the dress is hanging in the closet waiting for its fall debut and my blood pressure is slowly returning to normal. I should be okay now as long as those 22-year-old dress consultants stay away:)

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21 thoughts on “Say Stress to the Dress

  1. Your dress sounds great. Your post made me smile. The consultants at make up counters make me feel the same way. How can you feel like such an ugly ducking when faced with someone who has clearly had the trowel out to apply their foundation – but it does it every time to me!

    1. Oh, don’t even mention them! I usually put my head down, put a scowl on and barrel through that area!

      I guess their sales are all based on making feel like how we are isn’t enough.

    1. Sounds awesome – I love that color!

      What, you don’t want the shoes for your collection? It was fun for me (at 5’2”) to see the world from a “normal” height. Don’t think it’s worth the glitter, though:)

  2. Oh, let me commiserate with you!! It’s miserable shopping for a second wedding dress– trying to be reasonable, trying to stay grounded in “you”. I found mine on Etsy. Send my measurements overseas and had it shipped to me for less than anything that I saw on a rack. Phew. People thought it was a huge risk, but those people hadn’t faced off against the 22 year old sales reps who want to cover you in bling and squeal about getting marreeeeeeeed.

  3. Congratulations! So happy for you. I wrote two very funny posts about shopping with my daughter for a wedding dress. “Say yes to the dress” & “Say yes to the dress part 2.” Funny stuff!

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