As you may remember, I shared a blog post less than a month ago about my prom outfit, including a gorgeous mauve colored tulle dress, elegant make-up, a curly up-do, and silver accessories. I also mentioned my “dress debacle” although I did not disclose the full story. That’s the purpose of today’s post, as well as sharing my first experience with a tailor.
Many years ago, my aunt was cleaning out her house and found some old prom dresses that belonged to her three daughters. She offered them to me, and thus three gorgeous dresses landed in my closet. At the time, I had nowhere to wear them and they were much too large. Unless you’re a famous child star, you probably don’t go to many events that require a formal floor-length gown, except for… prom. I attended prom last year (my school offers it to both juniors and seniors), but being the procrastinator that I am, I waited until two days before to buy a dress. I don’t know why stores think every girl is a six foot model because they make dresses way too long. Most of us are short! Anyway, my only options for buying straight off the rack were short dresses (you can read about why wearing a short dress to prom might be the better option).
With prom my senior year, I figured it was my last chance to wear a gown and feel like a movie star—and the last chance for me to wear one of my cousins’ old dresses. Of the three dresses, one was a cherry red, strapless, straight-cut gown covered in beading. I knew I could never wear it because of the size of the bust and the difficulty of tailoring anything beaded. I also don’t wear strapless dresses. The second dress was a very classy black gown, with a slit and asymmetric beading along one side (spoiler alert, that’s the gown I’m wearing in this post!). That dress was also too long and a few sizes too big, but it was much closer to fitting me than the red one.
But then, there was the third dress…It was such a showstopper. This dress was also black, but it had streaks of shimmering sparkle along the front and bottom that looked like flecks of starlight. Not too much to be gaudy, but just enough to catch any onlooker’s attention. It had an almost straight-across neckline, with super thin, barely-there black straps, and the front of the dress was form-fitting (it was a nice stretchy material, so it didn’t look scandalously tight). The real draw-dropping effect happened when I turned around. The gown was completely backless, coming down to just above the bottom of the spine (in a tasteful way, not those disgustingly low butt-crack dresses). The thin straps from the front of the dress wrapped around the arms and connected right beneath the armpits on the sides. There was another thin strap across the low back, just below the midline. You guys, this dress was so stunning. And for years, ever since my aunt gifted me those gowns, I dreamt of wearing that black sparkly backless number to prom.
So thus began the dress debacle.
Flash forward to this year, about three weeks before my school’s prom (the first of two proms I attended). I realized, Uh-oh, I can’t procrastinate this time around! With the help of a friend, I found a local tailor to whom I wanted to bring my sparkly dream dress.
I have never been to a tailor before, and I didn’t really know how the process worked. This particular place did not require me to make an appointment; rather, they provided their store hours, and my mom and I went in on a Saturday. The skies were raining, as if to cry in anticipation of the bad news I was about to receive.
The office (is that what you would call it?) was in the basement of a building downtown. There were no windows, and when we walked into the small room, my mom and I instantly started sweating. It was so hot in there! Inside, there was one man working on a garment, hand-stitching away in the back corner. One of the walls had a rack full of labeled clothing, most of it with pins in it, and the back corner looked like a sewer’s fantasy: row upon row of thread in every color imaginable, and swatches of gorgeous fabric spread haphazardly in boxes and on the table. I ended up bringing both the black dresses under my mother’s suggestion. We went to the man and explained that we had some prom dresses, and he ushered me to the changing room. If you ever go to a tailor for a specific event, make sure to bring any clothes, accessories, or shoes that you’ll be wearing that night. I brought the silver heels I planned to wear, and while neither of my dresses required a bra, you should bring the exact bra and undergarments you plan to wear—every detail counts when it comes to tailoring and the perfect fit!
When I came out in the stunning backless dress, the man started poking around and tugging on fabric, making quiet grumblings about stuff I couldn’t understand. He tried to pull in the sides of the dress along the seam, but doing so distorted the elegant backless design. After a few minutes of toying around with it, he tried to communicate to us that he wouldn’t be able to tailor it. He didn’t speak great English, so my mom and I were trying to understand why exactly it couldn’t be fixed. We ultimately decided that it had to do with the lining under the top of the dress and that the way the slip attached to the back was poorly made to begin with. The man seemed pretty unconcerned about not being able to mend the dress, but I was fighting back tears–his words had crushed me. The thought never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to wear the dress I was dreaming of for so long.
When I got home, I cried for an hour and then was in a sour mood for the next two days. Nothing compares to the disappointment of a fashionista who had her heart set on a dress for years. And there was lot riding on this prom because my boyfriend was coming from a different state to go to the dance with me; I wanted everything to be perfect
Luckily, my mom had made me bring that other black dress. I put it on, the man played with it and pinned it along the sides, and then he made me carefully take it off with the pins still attached. I was glad I had my mom there to help me remove the dress without stabbing myself in the eye. After putting my regular clothes back on, I took the dress to the man and he brought me over to the counter, where he started playing around with a calculator. My mom asked him how he determines pricing, but he didn’t really have a definite response. It ended up costing $58 dollars to bring in the sides a few inches and hem the bottom.
Now here’s the timeline: I went to the tailor on Saturday, March 17th, and he told me it would take a week to alter it. Unfortunately, I left for spring break that Thursday and wouldn’t be back until the Monday the week of prom (which was April 7th). That meant I wouldn’t be able to try on the dress until 5 days before the dance, in which case I’d be SOL if the gown didn’t end up fitting properly. That’s why during spring break, my mom and I went hunting for another dress just in case the black one didn’t turn out. Plus, I had a second prom to attend, so it wouldn’t be wasteful if I ended up with two dresses. That’s how I found my mauve dress!
In the end, some people might find it silly that I got so upset over a dress. But it really had been a dream of mine to wear it for so long, so the news came as pretty upsetting. I still occasionally thought of the gorgeous sparkles and the low back. However, when each prom night came and I slipped into my two beautiful dresses, I forgot all about the other one. I guess it turned out alright in the end. 🙂
This post turned out to be way longer than I imagined (and I still didn’t even talk about my accessories!), but I figure I should let you go before you lose all interest. If you ever have questions about going to a tailor or prom or even have a dress debacle story of your own, feel free to share in the comments below! I always love hearing from you gals.
Have a fantastic weekend!
Miles of smiles,