Dresses for the Maidens

Bridesmaid dresses.

I shake my head at the thought of them. The dresses I’ve worn. The dresses I’ve seen. The tulle, the satin, the money. All lost on a dress that will probably not(except yours, Freed!) be worn again. In some cases, it will be made into throw pillows that will go on my bed.

Imagine my dismay when I realized I am now in charge of picking out the dress that “you can totally wear again”.

Originally, I was going to go really simple. This is when I thought my dress was going to be really simple. But I had to go pick something not really simple and ruin my plan.

Right away I knew that I would stay away from the typical bridesmaid shops. I know that anything under the description “bridesmaid” is usually not very cute and the material makes me itch. And if the dress actually is cute, it’s not very cheap. Why is the bridal community determined to make your bridesmaids look uncute or take all their money? And sometimes make them look uncute and take all their money.  If brides are really that insecure about being upstaged in beauty by their maidens, they should rethink their maidens or get some therapy.

And so, some internet hunting began.

I scoured blogs and etsy and modcloth, JCrew and Ann Taylor. I live with the Maid of Honor. Usually, she just smiles and nods when I talk about wedding stuff (which means she’s not listening but trying to sound supportive). But on this topic, she was very vocal.

Finally, I found a dress that I loved. And wouldn’t you know…it was going to steal all their money.

And so we decided to have them made.

I have a wonderful “adoptive” grandmother. My grandma passed away in 1999, leaving Kate and me grandparent orphans. That is until Arta stepped in. She had been a long time friend of the family, but with Gramma gone she began to fill in the missing pieces. Baking cookies, mending clothes. She even moved somewhere warm so we can visit her.

As soon as the ring was on my finger, she was sending me an email to let me know she wanted to help anyway she could. I cannot begin to express how wonderful this woman is and how much she is doing for this wedding.

She’s coming in April for a little bridesmaid dress making wedding weekend (minus one Matron of Honor).

But then, we had to hunt for fabric.

I really was looking for a beautiful (and inexpensive) purple brocade fabric. I started with Mood in New York. I’ve never watched Project Runway, but I was told this is where I should go because they go there. It was like walking into another country. I don’t speak fabric, so I just walked around looking at all the pretty colors. I didn’t find what I was looking for. And I came home empty handed.

So we set out on one more adventure one Saturday in January.

I’d like to say the fabric shopping part of this day was the overall highlight. It was not. We went to two places. And one of them smelled funny. The last stop seemed to be promising since there was a Chicago magazine cover of the owner with the headline “The King of Fabrics”. It also had a lot of stars on yelp. But alas, even the King of Fabrics himself could not find the fabric we were looking for. Apparently, brocade is no longer popular and nobody makes it anymore. No wonder that modcloth dress is so expensive, they got the last bits of brocade.

It was not a worthless trip into the city. We stopped by 3rd Coast (my most favorite Chicago café) for the Karrie/Kate special. Kate orders the Turkey and Brie. I get the Chicken Salad sandwich. And we get a half of each. And since, we were originally going to start our hunt in Evanston we had our hopes set on some coffee from Kafein. So we decided to drive on up the lake shore.

In the end, the day was filled with conversation, laughter and good food as it always is with Mindy and Kate. And on our way home we stopped at good old suburban JoAnn fabric. My headquarters for wedding craft supplies. And although we didn’t find the brocade fabric I was looking for, we found a great runner up. It is better than any of the other options I’d seen. And it was 30% off. And JoAnn has a wonderful teacher discount. God bless her.


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