Monday, September 12, 2011

Say Yes to the Dress & Heal the Past

What that corner looked like even before
Madame Baldwina's time
My grandmothers wedding dress (1932), my mothers wedding dress (1959) and my wedding dress (1983) were all purchased from the same wedding dress shop in the Bronx, NY, Madame Baldwina's.

I was the only one that could not try on her dress before it was ordered. The sample dresses in the store did not come in my size. Today bridal stores carry larger sizes, but not in 1983. Then the biggest size in the store tended to be a 16. I had to pick my dress from what I could see when I held them up to my body. Still I found a dress.



Madame Baldwina's is gone now but all three dresses have an afterlife. My grandmother's bodice is still in one piece in my cedar chest. the lace insets in the shirt were stretched on embroidery hoops and are now decorative wall hangings. the satin of the skirt and rosepoint lace from her veil were made into picture frames for family members. My mothers wedding dress was used to make a bassinet cover and a 'bridal doll' gown for my cousin's bridal shower. My wedding dress was a size 22 1/2 and it had to be let out before our wedding day because I gained a few pounds right before the final fitting. 

After the wedding I gained weight and the dress didn't fit again for many years. As I started losing weight I would try on the dress periodically, hoping to reach the point where it fit again. That day came - and went. The next time I tried on the dress it was too big. The next year it was even bigger. Finally last year it was like I was trying on a shapeless sack. It was far, far too big. 

I wear a size 8-10 dress. It is no longer fun to try my wedding dress on and see how big it is on me. It just makes me sad to realize how big a bride I really was. This week my husband and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. I am going to let go of my grip on the dress itself and just continue embracing the marriage the dress represents. My husband has loved me at every weight and everyday for 28 years. It never mattered to him that I was an obese, fat, chubby, full-figured bride. Isn't love wonderful?!

So this week I am going to do something empowering to me. I am going to a bridal shop and ask to try on a wedding dress. I am going to ask a friend to go with me to take a photo. Perhaps I will share it here later in the week. I say perhaps because integrity means I have to be honest with the shop. There is always the possibility that the bridal shop will not be inclined to allow me to try on dresses once I tell them up front that I am not planning a purchase. 

As for the after life of my dress, there is a part of me that wants to have it made into a cover for a future vanity table. Or maybe have it made into communion dresses for future grandchildren? (It could make dresses for triplets). Maybe it should be made into lots of puffy accent pillows to signify all the puffy pounds it once covered.

In keeping the pounds off I find it is essential to heal what I can from the past. Even seemingly silly things like trying on wedding dresses can be a source of healthy healing. It can be something that is only important to you and no one else. If it is important to you, it is worth healing. 

What action can you do today to heal something from the past? 

Jane~

19 comments:

that TOPS lady said...

What a great idea! If they don't let you, go to another one. Surely someplace will let you--especially after you tell them your story! And post it here! I can't wait to see it!

Vickie said...

second hand store probably will not think a thing about it (if the new store is hesitant).

This is a great post.

I think we have a lot of ghost issues.

Pictures, clothing, fitting into a certain seat (rides, planes, etc).

things that are unique to us, and might even seem silly to some, but occupy our thoughts. I think dealing with these ghost issues helps us a long in our process.

Crabby McSlacker said...

What an excellent idea! And how wonderful that your husband always loves you no matter what your size.

And heck, you are a well-respected blogger--any wedding dress store would be dumb to turn down an opportunity to possibly have a photograph of their dress featured in your blog!

Joan said...

What a bonus it is to even be able to identify an issue! About ten years ago I bought a teddy bear. It was around the holidays, and I just felt like wrapping a red and green bow around its neck and positioning it somewhere as a decoration. It gave me a deep sense of satisfaction and after the holidays the bear (minus its festive bow) lingered around the house after all the other decorations had been put away. Turns out that my mother was a great one for throwing out her kids' transitional objects when they became too ratty...

Munchberry said...

"I am going to let go of my grip on the dress itself and just continue embracing the marriage the dress represents."

I love that.

Congratulations to both of you. Life is so good when you have someone perfect for you to share it with.

Janis said...

"There is always the possibility that the bridal shop will not be inclined to allow me to try on dresses once I tell them up front that I am not planning a purchase. "

I think they will be charmed if you tell them why -- and if you mention that you'll give their name and address on your blog. :-)

bbubblyb said...

What a sweet story. I hope the bridal shop will allow you to try on a dress :) I think they too will enjoy your story and be happy to help.

Gen said...

I love this idea so much! What a great way to let go of the past. I hope they let you take pictures so we can see you. I also like the idea of repurposing your dress in communion dresses for grandchildren :)

Julie said...

Fitting back into my wedding dress was a magical moment for me. It has a 24" waist and buttons all the way down the back. Every button did up, albeit with some more effort than on the original day. Those photographs, 25 years after the wedding, are something I still look at with wonder. The dress is in storage and unlikely to be worn again a a wedding dress (the fabric is not great and the style pretty simple) but when we unpack out lives from storage I will wear it again and it will fit more easily than it did four years ago. I may take to wearing around the house, a la Miss Haversham :) Congratulations on your wedding anniversary Jane and Mr Jane! A patient, kind husband who can live with us through our weight ups and downs is a rare and wonderful man. Sitting in an airplane was another amazing event for me after losing weight. I honestly thought the armrests between seats automatically popped up when you sat down! Next on my list is trying on jeans in a fancy jeans only store not a department or chain clothing store. Before I always assumed they wouldn't have my size and have felt lacking in confidence. Not any more, next time in the city I am doing it - heck, I might even buy a pair!!!!

Gerri Helms said...

Jane, Dave and I were in Clermont this weekend and saw some cute wedding gowns in a thrift shop. Perhaps you could find something to buy for yourself! I suggest this because every year on our anniversary, I put on my wedding gown and we have some good old fashioned honeymoone fun! (saying more is too much information. LOL)

And if you need a friend to go with you, I'd love to!

Lisa said...

I cannot wait to see your photo! I think this is a wonderful idea.

No dresses were passed down in my family, which makes me a little sad--even though the styles are radically different it would be nice to have a tradition.

Diane Fit to the Finish said...

What a wonderful thing to do! Getting back into my wedding dress was a victory for me. I should put my pictures up at some point! Good for you!

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

I love your idea of going to a bridal shop and actually trying on a dress that fits your new and healthy size. Nice blog, I really enjoyed reading it.

Jane Cartelli said...

Where to start? At the top with TOPS lady of course!

Tops lady - I have asked and I am waiting for their repsonse. I was going to only ask 1 shop but then I thought "If they do not respond, I will ask a different shop."

Vickie - dealing with the past does help me heal. I have always believed in ghosts - but not the creepy kind. I believe well meaning spirits try to help us in our lives - but that is another subject and certainly a different blog. LOL

CrabbyMc - from your complimentary words to their ears! Hopefully they will agree with you.

Joan - your comment made me cry. My mom was the same way and I have to painfully admit I was that way - until I did this to my youngest daughter's oldest bear and caused an uproar. I made it my mission to get that bear back (and did). Since then I have better understood the emotion ties to comfort items and that helped me to better deal with the emotions around comfort food.

Jane~

Jane Cartelli said...

Munchie -
Thank you! My goal this week is to be an even better spouse to that good man.

Janis + Dawn - We will see.

Gen - When it happens there will be photos- promise!

Julie - Mr Jane and I thank you. Please let me know when you do the jean store. Sounds like a great gift to yourself!

Gerri - I will keep the Clermont shop in mind. My first choice is a real bridal shop though but we shall see. I did already ask someone to go with me but perhaps you would consider being my alternate if she cannot make it?

Lisa - You can start a tradition with your own. All traditions start somewhere. My husbands family as a tradition of everyone getting married in September. It started with one couple. :-)

Diane - We would love to see your photos!

Jane Cartelli said...

Ajlounyinjurylaw - I am glad you came by to read the blog. I hope you will continue and share your journey with me.

Jane~

Alison said...

I found your blog after reading your comment on another site. I really enjoyed this post! I definately think you should have the dress made into something like pillows. Something that you could keep around the house to remind you of your success!

Congratulations!

I'm sure you could find a bridal shop that would let you try on a dress, and I'd love to see the picture!!

Jane Cartelli said...

Waiting to hear from the bridal shop now. . . .

Jane~

Anonymous said...

Just finding your blog (through Crabby's) and enjoying it. Thanks for sharing.

Had a thought about the wedding dress and your anniversary... maybe if you ever feel inspired to renew your vows to celebrate, that could be a great reason for a new dress!