I’ve been stomping on toes all over the place, so I might as well let you all know that I have never, ever liked strapless gowns, and especially not strapless wedding gowns.
They are not modest, not even a little bit. Please do not send me photographs of you, your sister, your daughter, your best friend, or your cousin’s step-mother’s aunt in a sleeveless wedding gown to prove to me that there are versions that can be modest. You will not convince me, and so you will be annoyed with me. More than you are now, I mean.
I do not understand why it’s considered attractive and elegant to be wed in a dress worn the same way you wear your towel after a shower.
Very, very few women really are at their best in this style of gown, anyway. Really. It is not a flattering style. I promise you, it really isn’t, unless you are quite a young Miss, you have the figure of a willowy and slender grecian statue, and the poise and posture of a dryad, as well as the skin of a newly picked peach. In other words, a Debutante, which is, socially speaking, who should be wearing such a gown, and even then, my objections on the basis of modesty remain.
It is also not an elegant style. Armpits are not elegant. They are armpits.
People have argued with me about this for years, but I am about to be vindicated:
Ivanka Trump chose sleeves for her wedding dress, and you’ve just got to see what the NYTimes fashion editor and other Fashionistas are saying about it.
The fashion editor: “We’re so used to seeing brides in strapless dresses that Ms. Trump’s gown made a fresh statement.”
Actually, the EC made a ‘fresh statement’ last year, and the HG made one this year.=) Friends of theirs made similar fresh statements over the last several years.
And Vera Wang, the designer who had to add the sleeves in the month before the Trump wedding (the bride had converted to her husband’s religion of Orthodox [Jew? the article presumes we know]) says:
“She was actually very much about being covered and I seized on the chance to do a dress that wasn’t naked and very Hollywood.”
… Did she think Ms. Trump might start a trend with her sleeves? “She might very,” Ms. Wang said. “Nothing would make me happier. I’ve been doing strapless dresses for 15 years. It’s tiring.”
‘Naked and very Hollywood.’ Why is that our model for elegance and sophistication?
This trend was old and tired the same year it came out- and three years ago Sylvia Rubin was writing this in the San Francisco Gate fashion pages:
Why do brides covet strapless gowns with an intensity that defies reason, given that this is one of the more difficult silhouettes to wear well? It’s not that women don’t instinctively know the hazards — the too-stiff bodice, the tugging, the back fat — but they cling to the fantasy that it will work out anyway, like dreaming that your betrothed will always pick up his socks.
And she had a lot more to say (really, read the whole thing). She says the penchant for the unflattering strapless gown is based on red carpet, hollywood starlets, and gossip magazines and their glossy, retouched photographs of models who have to stand perfectly still so the gowns are not wrinkled, the pouches of fat are not bulging around the stomach and arm pits and shoulder blades.
“Strapless gowns should be outlawed,” declares Meg Smith of Napa, one of the Bay Area’s most sought-after wedding photographers (www.megsmith.com). “Because even the dresses by the best designers often do not fit properly. They’re either too big and the bodice is like a shelf sticking out inches away from the body, or they’re too tight and you get that extra layer of flesh just bulging out.”
Then there’s all that readjusting. “The brides do this thing where they grab the top of the dress with their thumbs, pull it up and then do this hip shaking thing,” Smith says. This activity does not a good picture make. And besides, she continues, “strapless gowns are boring.” Through her lens, Smith says she’d rather see a dress with a beautiful sash or intricate lace or embroidery. “A strapless gown is not very playful, individual or different.”
And there’s more:
If you want to get technical about it, say the top etiquette experts, a strapless gown is not considered proper attire for a religious ceremony. The most formal wedding gowns — those worn by royals — are never strapless. So many women want to feel and look like a princess, but in real life, princesses cover up, either by royal protocol or personal preference and deference to history.
After all, says etiquette expert Letitia Baldrige, a bride is supposed to look beautiful, not like a babe, when she walks down the aisle.
“Until 10 years ago, strapless gowns were worn only by ‘racy’ traditionless brides,” Baldridge writes via e-mail. “If a young woman wants to make a statement of appropriateness and pride for being married in a religious ceremony in a house of worship, she will wear a dress that is not too low, and she will cover up her arms. … When you’re being married in a nightclub for the third time, who needs to be appropriately dressed?”
But I have saved the best for last. The wonderful Miss Manners writes:
That brides now wear debutante dresses is symbolically baffling to Miss Manners. True, this is only one of many bridal choices that she finds incomprehensible, quite aside from the bridegrooms. Why do brides want to schedule so many hours, even days, of activities that their guests end up crying to go home? Why do they serve elaborate desserts right before everybody is obliged to eat wedding cake? And why are they now wearing the sleeveless, often strapless, white ball dresses traditionally associated with ladies who are out looking for husbands rather than those who have found them?
Having admitted to such laxness, why is Miss Manners now balking at the bare-shouldered wedding dress? Because its symbolic message troubles her. She has discounted the symbolic associations with youth and innocence, but she is unwilling to let go of the symbolic evocation of solemnity.
A ball dress is a party dress, perfectly suitable for the celebrations that follow a wedding ceremony, but not for a momentously important sacrament or ritual (and easily attainable, by means of removing a jacket). This is expressed by formality, a fact which is almost universally recognized by the choice of clothes that are indeed formal, but merry-making-formal, rather than ceremonial-formal.
The wedding ceremony, which is not “about” the couple, as many mistakenly proclaim, but about their assuming socially sanctioned duties and obligations, requires a certain amount of awed modesty. One is not showing oneself off to society at that point but entering into one of its most cherished states.
Unfortunately, they are wearing those dresses in a religious ceremony because they think nothing of skipping off to church in skin baring and skimpy attire the rest of the time. We have altered our standards for elegance to the level of Hollywood, and Hollywood glamour is a sham glam, cheap and tawdry.
I am so glad to be on nearly the same side as Miss Manners in this matter.=)But for those of you for whom Miss Manners or your own good sense isn’t good enough, In Style also gives us all permission to wear sleeves now that Ivanka has:
nspried by Grace Kelly, Ivanka Trump commissioned designer Vera Wang to create her dream wedding dress for her October nuptials in New Jersey. The result? A stunning lace and tulle gown—with sleeves!
Now brides-to-be can use Trump as their inspiration and opt for something other than strapless on their big day. Check out our picks, hot off the fall 2010 bridal runways!