Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Yes, My Mom Made My Wedding Dress

My mom has always been a talented seamstress, making mommy-and-me dresses and Halloween costumes when I was growing up. Back then, I never would have dreamed that one day she would make my wedding dress. A few years back, she was on a big sewing kick (you've seen many of her designs on this blog), and I remarked that she should make my wedding dress one day. Little did I know that she began doubling down on her practice and tailoring thereafter.

When Sean proposed, I made a proposal to my mom as well. Would she make my dress? Like me, she said yes. Since we're not designers, I searched and searched for a pattern. I knew I wanted something that was both fashionable and classic and loved the idea of a two-piece design. We came up with a combination of patterns: a top from Simplicity and a skirt from McCall's. Neither of these were wedding dress patterns (most of what I found in that category were much dressier than I wanted and frankly outdated), but I had a vision and could picture the finished result in my head.

My mom trekked into the city and met me in the garment district, where we dug through aisles of fabric at New York Elegant Fabrics. We chose a delicate lace for the top and satin for the skirt. She made a test from cheap muslin and after a fitting, cut into the real stuff. 

At the final fitting, we declared a perfect fit and my mom told me I couldn't gain or lose a pound...I did—thanks wedding stress—but at the final, final fitting, my slimmer figure seemed to complement the dress even better; the skirt just hung slightly lower on my waist. 

I couldn't have been happier with the final result. Truly bespoke, my dress was so absolutely me, and all the more special that my mom made it herself. At our wedding, I was met with endless compliments on the dress and remarks from guests that they now understood where I got my fashion sensibility from. The biggest highlight came a few months later, when I interviewed Mark Ingram at his Upper East Side bridal atelier for Quest magazine. I told him my mom made my wedding dress and, before I left, showed him a picture. He was genuinely shocked and impressed, and he loved the dress. 

And of course, so do I, and it will remain one of my most prized possessions. Thank you, Mom. Read more about how she did it on her blog, here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Our Wedding: Virginia Vintage Meets City Style

Weddings are a funny, beautiful, crazy thing. The day Sean proposed last July was the happiest of my life, it was such an amazing high. We knew we wanted to have the wedding in Virginia due to its proximity to our extended families, beautiful scenery, and more-affordable venue options (the average wedding in Manhattan costs $88,000, just FYI). A fall or winter wedding was too soon, anything past June is just too hot down South, and we didn't want to wait to the following spring, so that left April 2018 and nine months to plan. At the time, that felt like a long time. But everyone who said it would blow by turned out to be right.

Slowly, we did the checking off of the lists. Ford's Colony Country Club in Williamsburg was love at first sight. It had gorgeous grounds and the reception space was open and airy—it had me at cafe lights. Sean and I both love purple, so we easily settled on a mauve-and-lavender color palette. For months, I scoured thrift shops for bud vases, dug through bridal magazines for ideas, and read vendor reviews on The Knot. We made the guest lists, sent save the dates, asked our closest friends to be in the wedding party. Check, check, check.

The more tasks we completed, the more real our vision became. And of course, there was the dress. My mom is an extremely talented seamstress, so I immediately asked her if she would make my gown, and she happily agreed. We picked the pattern, fabric, and fit, so it was completely personalized. (More on how it came together soon.) 

From there, the little details fell into place. Sean suggested doing something besides numbers for the tables and, since we're both English majors and avid readers, we quickly agreed on author names. I raided my dad's collection of classic, leather-bound books to give the tables more dimension and my friend Katie—who just so happens to also be a very talented artist—did the calligraphy for the table signs. From there, it only made sense to have bookmarks as favors. 

I picked my bridesmaids' dresses (if you read this blog, then you won't be surprised they were Rent the Runway) and Sean his groomsmen's attire. For the shoes, I was lucky enough to attend a press event for Shoes of Prey where we could design our own pair. When the publicist there got wind I was making my wedding shoes, she brought over company founder Jodie Fox, who helped me execute every detail. I ordered my vintage blusher veil for $20 on Etsy (the exact same one at BHDLN was $300), borrowed pearl earrings from my grandmother, and also incorporated the blue garter she gave me from her wedding to my grandfather in 1954. 

So here's the funny thing about weddings...You put all this planning into every little detail, and then the day comes and it all melts away and you're just so happy to have your friends and your family and most of all, your fiancĂ© there. And then, the day flies by and you process the memories and wait for the photos to come back. 

But when they do, all of those little details are so worth it. Everyone has been commenting how much the day just feels us. It does to me too, and it's thanks to all of those personal touches combined with all of the people we love in attendance. So even if no one reads this long post and just looks at the photos, I'm happy, because they speak to the day more than words can. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Photo Diary: Honeymooning in the Dominican Republic

 Bathing suits: 1//2//3//4

It can be a lot of pressure to choose the perfect honeymoon destination. Like all things wedding, high expectations are attached, as well as high price tags. Thankfully, Sean and I decided on Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic without too much difficulty. We had been on a long weekend a few years earlier and loved it. Most of the resorts on the island are all-inclusive, and surprisingly more affordable than destinations in Mexico or Jamaica. Plus, we ruled out more "intense" vacations like Europe in favor of a restful beach getaway. (Don't get me wrong, I adore Europe, but I always seem to come home more tired than when I left, and after nine months of wedding planning...) So, we stayed at the Luxury Bahia Principe resort for a steal, and we were able to splurge on massages and two excursions (as well as generous tips for our favorite bartenders). The food was excellent, the staff was friendly and helpful, and there was a ton to do—so win/win/win. Oh, and it's adults only, so one more win.

Although there were plenty of activities on the resort, we chose to spend most of our time hanging at the beach, reading and sipping cocktails. (Coco Loco, hers, and whiskey lemonade, his.) We took an all-day excursion to Saona, a private island accessible only by way of boat, where we had a cookout on the beach. Views of the Dominican shore along the way were unforgettable. On the way back, we stopped at La Piscina Natural—a natural pool in the middle of the bay that features clear water and shallow depths.

For our second excursion, we toured the D.R.'s capital, Santo Domingo, and learned about the island's history. We saw Los Tres Ojos caves, Christopher Columbus' tomb, his son's castle, and the first-ever sundial. It was fun to get off the resort and meet some new people, but we were pretty stoked to spend our last day lounging on the beach and taking in the sun. We had one whole glorious week, and of course it went by too quickly, but looking at the photos almost makes me feel the Caribbean sun on my face. All that's missing is a Coco Loco. Cheers!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Closet Chronicles: 10 Items to Invest in This Summer

Clockwise from top left: Bec & Bridge dress worn on our honeymoon in the D.R. // Saylor minidress for my bachelorette // Haute Hippie tux sheath and Loeffler Randall wristlet at a NYFW opening party // Alexis lace dress worn to my rehearsal dinner, pictured with our fab wedding party // Raga off-shoulder top worn to get our marriage license and to explore Santo Domingo on our honeymoon. All through Rent the Runway

As you guys know, I've been a Rent the Runway unlimited subscriber for almost the past year. It came in really clutch for the holidays, fashion week, and all of my wedding events. But now that all of the craziness is over, it just felt like too much of an indulgence (on top of moving expenses and new things for the apartment), so I recently cancelled my subscription. Then, I did a giant closet clean...For someone in a tiny New York apartment who hasn't bought really any clothes in the past eight months, I had a ton of stuff. I sold a few bags of clothes and shoes at Buffalo Exchange and donated another few at my favorite thrift shop on the Upper West Side.

There were some hard partings—like my "Carrie Bradshaw skirt," which I love but never wear because it's just so much, and my sparkly Shellys mules, which are a compliment factory but absolutely wrecked my feet during fashion week. But there were also some great discoveries, like the lace skirt set I forgot about hidden in the back of my closet and my favorite jumper from last summer. Yes, I loved RTR for its convenience, but it was also a solution to the fact that I couldn't see anything I owned in my closet since it was crammed with fast-fashion pieces I was over two seasons ago.

Post closet cleanse, I've been thinking about the next step. I toyed around with the idea of a capsule wardrobe (for those interested, Girl & Closet has amazing tips), but I don't think I'm quite ready to commit to 37 pieces or limit my color palette. Instead, I want to be more mindful about my purchases and stop buying cheap, fast-fashion pieces. (Because no one is indeed, forever 21.) I'd rather source good brands secondhand and invest in some good basics, which can last for years. That said, below are ten pieces I'm hoping to stock up on this summer to outfit my new walk-in (happy dance!) closet:

1. Trench Coat

A spring trench is a forever staple, but you guys, this is already hard. I immediately set my heart on this gingham coat, on sale for only $40. Yet, gingham is trendy now and will feel old hat in a few seasons. This French Connection jacket is still affordable at $100, is a better-quality name, and has a lot more staying power. Can I meet in the middle and go for the blush instead of the plain beige color?

2. Shirt Dress

A linen shirtdress is always classic and so versatile. I could see pairing this with jeans or leggings into the fall, wearing it open as a coverup at the beach, or tossing on a jean jacket for the office. 

3. Statement Jumpsuit

I live for jumpsuits. They are super comfortable, flattering, and so dang easy. Plus, you don't have to shave your legs so there's that. 

4. Non-Distressed Jeans 

I do own a decent amount of denim. The problem is, they are all either trendy kick-flare styles or vintage pieces that I've cut the bottoms off of. A nice, straight pair of jeans without rips or embellishments is a must for my big-girl closet. I can wear them to work and slide into heels if I ever need to be presentable for a last-minute meeting. 

5. Cropped Blouse 

The aforementioned high-waist jeans are just begging for a pretty cropped blouse. I can see this layered over a collared shirt for work or with a flirty skirt for a night out.

6. Striped Trousers

I love a pair of comfy trousers, which can dress up a plain T-shirt and sneakers or look super professional with a blouse and mules. If you're petite like me, cropped styles are a must since I'll step all over anything boot-legged. Bonus: these have an elastic "jogger" waistband.

7. Tan Wedges

I'm super excited to be in my girlfriend's wedding this August, and the bridesmaids will be wearing tan wedges. Since I've had my sights on a pair, I've noticed some really fab looks on Instagram rocking this classic style. Jess at The Darling Detail raves about these—comfy and adorable!

8. Minidress 

It just wouldn't be summer without showing a little leg, amiright? This Topshop style just feels like a vacation, but I could see it layered over a T-shirt or under a denim jacket for casual weekends or Friday at the office.

9. White Blouse

A classic white button-down is a forever staple. I love the subtle piping detail on this one and it's loungewear feel. It can dress up leather leggings, match with jeans, and layer over or under pretty much anything.

10. Denim Overalls

Overalls can be hard to pull off, but the right fit can be super flattering. I love the wide straps on this one that allows them to be worn without anything underneath. They get a new life in the fall layered over a striped turtleneck and paired with booties. Now that's an investment piece!

Product links: 1//2//3//4//5//6//7//8//9//10
Photo: Decoaddict

So, just for fun, I added up the total cost of those items if I were to order them all (which, I won't, since I'll start with my credit at Buffalo Exchange and then hit up TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc.). It racked up to $772. Say that was for my wardrobe from June through August, it would be $257 per month. Rent the Runway unlimited is $179 a month, and I'd get a lot more than 10 pieces. (Even if I subtract the cost of the shoes, which aren't available on RTR, it's still $230 a month.) Granted, I don't get to keep them, so you always have to have the subscription. Long blog post short, I think the idea is that, moving forward, I want to be mindful about what I buy and keep track of how much I spend. But I'm definitely not ruling out RTR in the future...How do you budget your clothing expenses? Leave your tips in the comments below!