Consider Not Wearing a Strapless Dress, Unless...

["Consider Not Wearing a Strapless Dress, Unless..." by Cornelia Powell reprinted from Weddings of Grace online magazine.]

Dear beautiful bride-to-be! You know what’s pretty on a runway model or a movie star on the red carpet is not necessarily the same thing that works for your body in real life, yes?

And when it comes to selecting your wedding gown, I realize that it’s hard not to get carried away with some starry-eyed, romantic notions that sometime blur your vision! So when you’re trying on dresses, you’re not always thinking about practical considerations, like how it will “move” on you (or not move on you); or how revealing it is (the good, the bad, and the unflattering). The truth is that you can’t see 360 degrees of yourself, even in a three-way mirror, so you don’t really see some of the exposed body parts, or unflattering areas (like others can.)

Plus, I understand that some unique feature of your body—like a well-endowed chest, or heavy upper arms, or long torso, or short torso—may cause a number of off-the-rack wedding gowns to not fit you well. (And having a gown custom designed and made just for you may not be in your budget.) So you opt for a comfortable, trendy style because you think it looks great on you. And I truly get that you want to be comfortable when dancing the night away at your wedding. 

But, ladies—let’s talk about those strapless dresses! I appreciate that they have a sexy allure and offer some freedom of fit, but they simply don’t look good on many body types, and even when they do, they have their limitations. From years and years of observing this “strapless trend” that has lasted longer than most marriages, I ask you to please consider this:

Don't wear a strapless gown UNLESS... 

   1. love your underarms and everything about your upper arms. (Strapless gowns camouflage very little and usually expose much more than you ever imagined! Trust me.)

   2. know that your bare shoulders and bare back look pretty from every angle that a camera is going to find and capture them for all time—and then some.

   3. promise that you will not tug on it constantly in front of everyone during your wedding ceremony or at your reception even if it feels like it’s falling off—which it will! The worst, but typical “tug” in my unofficial survey: Taking your hands and grabbing the edge of the gown on each side at your underarms, then trying to yank the gown back into place! I see this mindless and unattractive “strapless reaction”—even by women who have great poise otherwise—happening over and over at weddings (especially at the reception when the bride is moving around and more relaxed.)

 4. ...the styling of the gown—or a well-made corset—holds your breasts where you want them to stay. (Otherwise, they won’t!)

 5. never plan to lean over during the entire wedding festivities.

 6. understand that when you move, your gown doesn’t necessarily move with you! (Like turning from side to side, or especially when you raise your arms to dance or to hug a tall person or to toss your bouquet or etcetera. Yikes!)

 7. really want to exasperate your photographer.
A well-known photographer friend related this dialogue to me between herself and a bride-to-be during their pre-wedding interview: 
          Photographer: “Is there anything you’d like me to know?”
          Bride-to-Be: “I don’t like my upper arms. Could you, maybe, not get them—or camouflage them somehow—in the photographs?” 
          Photographer: “Okay. What style gown are you wearing?” 
          Bride-to-Be: “Strapless.”
         Photographer: [stunned silence]

 8. can’t find any other gown in the world you love that fits and looks great on you. (Then wear your strapless in good health and re-read and take to heart #3 in this list!)

I'm sorry to disappoint anyone, but I’m attempting to save you from yourself  here! What this is about, dear beautiful women, is for you to not lose your good sense in the flurry of planning your wedding—nor lose an opportunity to look like a dream.
What I’ve found is that much of what you “imagine” (the key word here) that you gain by wearing a strapless wedding gown, more often than not, you lose in the reality of actually wearing it! (See 1 through 6 above.) Struggling and tugging at your gown all day or night is not what makes a beautiful bride, nor how you want to remember your wedding, or to have that be the image your guests remember. (Unfortunately, that yanking and tugging by the bride is what comes to my mind when recalling some otherwise beautiful and happy weddings!)

And again, I’ve seen many brides in person or in photographs that look attractive in their strapless gown—perhaps it was you! But I bet at some point during the wedding festivities, probably several times, they/you did that awkwardly unattractive little “yank and tug”! (See #3)

Okay, one more thing. You would have to have been wearing a bag over your head the last few years not to realize that showing off one’s d├ęcolletage is the norm these days—including at casual daytime outings or at business functions. But even if your wedding is not “religious” in any way (with some sort of dress code), it is still not a sexy beauty pageant designed to show off your “falling out of your dress” breasts! (Call me old-fashioned, but this ranks top as the “most unattractive” feature of the bride’s appearance in my “unofficial survey” of recent wedding guests of all persuasions—whether the dress was strapless or not.)

However, if you choose to wear a strapless gown, just be aware of its limitations and special requirements. Here are a few tips and suggestions:
  • Do a “moving around” dress rehearsal with someone watching that you trust to be honest with you (as well as for you to get use to how the dress feels after you’ve been moving in it so you won’t be prone to take an “unconscious tug” in public!)
  • Ask one or all of your attendants (or an eagle-eye aunt) to be on “strapless gown watch” during your wedding in case something needs adjusting.
  • Plan to take a few extra breaks during the reception to adjust your gown in private.
  • Stay present during your wedding festivities (i.e., don’t go on automatic with those tugging hands.)
  • Keep your focus on giving your loving attention to your partner and to your guests.
And then wear your gown with the joy and confidence of the beautiful goddess you are! ~

[PHOTOGRAPHS (of above beautiful brides) by: Jason Hudson]


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