Now is the season of impending nuptials.
At least I think that’s what Shakespeare said.
June is a month where at least two things are guaranteed to happen – neither of which include the bizarre combination of sunshine and thunderstorms that we’ve experienced in the North West of England over the past 24 hours:
- I’m going to turn 32
- Two couples that I know will be wed at ceremonies that couldn’t be more different from one another if one were taking place in Mordor, and the other on the outer rings of Saturn
As you’ll know by now if you’re one of the few regular readers of this waffle (or if you subscribe, which I deem to be nothing short of a miracle), I am by no means a dedicated follower of fashion.
I don’t shake my little tush on the catwalk, and I’m certainly no style queen. So when faced with the prospect of two totally opposite celebrations I’ll admit I was a little sceptical that I’d be able to summon up the will to drag myself around shops long enough to find suitable attire.
There are several reasons I don’t enjoy any form of clothes shopping that involves leaving my house; most of which will be all too familiar, to women at least.
- I have bosoms, which basically means I must purchase clothing two sizes bigger than the bottom half of my body to avoid looking like Dr. Bruce Banner post metamorphosis.
- Changing rooms. You’re guaranteed to smell feet, underarms or a heady combination of both. The floor will have a fine coating of at least three different types of body hair from previous visitors, and the lighting is guaranteed to make you look jaundiced, with legs like badly bruised corned beef.
- Crop tops are back in fashion.
- Any item of clothing you happen to like (if you need size 14+) will have been ram-raided just before you arrived at the shop, leaving a few sad looking options behind that you’ll be lucky to squeeze your left buttock into.
- The ‘shacket’ exists.
- It’s usually hot as balls, so if you haven’t sweated your make up off by the time you’re trying to shoehorn your face out of something that barely pulls down beyond your shoulders, you definitely will by the time you’ve reached the exit.
Alas, it was with this quandary that I was faced when I thought about how I would select my wedding attire.
The first hurdle was trying to decide on an appropriate look for the wedding of my mother-in-law, Bridget, who at the ripe old age of 71 (I think) will be marrying her childhood sweetheart and travelling companion of six years (I think), George.
With the ceremony taking place at a church in Abergele, you’d think my biggest concern would be bursting into flames upon entry, but because this is me we’re talking about, I was more anxious about finding something flattering that wasn’t going to give the vicar an eyeful from the front row.
The second, was the wedding of my dear friend Anna who I’ve missed terribly since she rather selfishly abandoned me in 2013, emigrating to Singapore with her boyfriend, Myles, to make a mint doing what she does best; PR’ing the shit out of things.
The ‘festival wedding’ taking place in Yorkshire at the end of June marks the first time I’ve ever been to one, so I have little to no concept of what it involves other than drinking heavily, wearing wellies and dancing until 4am. Needless to say, it’s going to be a belter.
I started my journey in the online sales because, as mentioned, there was no way in hell you were getting me over the threshold of a changing room, without luring me in with a Five Guys.
Here’s how it went down, along with a few recommendations for how you should approach shopping for wedding attire online with four weeks to go and a complete disinterest in fashion.
Keep your expectations low
If you’re anything like me in this era of bodycon dresses and the Instagram duck face, you’re going to venture into this online shopping thing feeling out of your depth.
Don’t expect to be wowed by the first thing you see. Expect to trawl through 17 pages of misses before you get a hit that’s A. Your size and B. remotely appropriate for a wedding.
After trawling around the interwebz trying to reason away how much I could spend (interspersed with quick top-ups of my cosmetics wish lists), I finally landed on Boohoo; a site made popular by low prices, low necklines and speedy delivery.
Although I’ve shopped with Boohoo before, I’m not entirely convinced by their sales patter. Use of the (so-called) word ‘bae’ immediately marks them down for me. I also don’t think pouty faces and come to bed eyes are necessary when you’re a woman shopping for a dress to wear to your mother-in-law’s wedding.
Nevertheless, I soldiered on and was surprised to identify a ‘bodycon’ style dress that was just the right amount of pretty, came down over my knees, and looked comfy enough for a full day’s wear. As it turned out, this would become the best choice by far for Anna’s festival nuptials as it’s wedding guesty without being out and out frumpy. Something which becomes harder to avoid as you age.
By now the concept of ‘buying online’ versus ‘reality’ is a very real struggle for many of us. We’ve all enjoyed the endless memes showcasing this exact scenario, played out countless times.
It’s rare that as a woman you’ll be able to say, ‘that would look good on me’ and have your expectations matched by the time the thing arrives. Look at the people modelling the clothes and accept that the outfit you purchase will most likely NOT look like it does on the model; but provided you’re choosing the right fit and style for you, you’re going to look and feel fantastic in it regardless.
It was here, in the sale of all places, that I discovered the Holy Grail of fashion.
A dress to flatter big bosoms.
Admittedly Scarlett & Jo London isn’t a brand I’d heard of previously, but the price point (£60 for a dress) was reasonable, and the shape (a 1950’s style with underskirt) an absolute dream! I ended up going for two of the same style in different colours because it’s practically unheard of for me to find something I anticipate feeling comfortable in all day at a formal occasion.
Buy different sizes
With my orders placed, I waited with trepidation for what was to come. This is usually the time where I cross my fingers and hope that the fashion gods will be kind to me, and that any of the items I’ve bought will be vaguely suitable without having to traipse back and forth to the Post Office with returns.
Whilst 3 out of the 5 dresses I tried were pretty much perfect (the aforementioned Debenhams and Boohoo purchases) two of them of course did absolutely nothing for me, and to add insult to injury I’d failed to stick to my normal routine of ordering two different sizes of each item to avoid multiple orders.
Lesson learnt. Save yourself time and hassle by ordering the same item in multiple sizes to avoid the intense ball ache that is returning packages via Royal Mail and getting stuck behind a man with 15 bags of pound coins that need to be cashed up.
If I’ve learnt anything this week that I wasn’t already certain of, it’s that internet shopping is the angst riddled woman’s saviour, sparing us of a four-hour trek around the Trafford Centre that will inevitably end in the food court.
I’ll be checking in after each wedding with an update on how things panned out, so if you’ve read this far, thanks and I’ll see you on the other side.
If I make it out of the church alive.