The first time I saw The Dress hanging in the widow of a thrift store, I noticed its intricate beading and full pick-up skirt but kept right on walking. “I don’t want to look like I bought my dress at Goodwill,” I thought. “It’s probably not even my size.” But when I walked by again that evening, I thought, “why not just try it on? If I’m swimming in beads and silk, then I don’t have to buy it.”
The clerk who pulled it out of the window told me it was $50—a serious bargain, especially by bridal standards. And not the kind of bargain that involves shoddy craftsmanship or cheap materials, as tends to be the case with brand-new wedding dresses at super-low price points. (Unless you’re shopping a sample sale or a warehouse sale and I’d already struck out there.)
I took it into the dressing room and somehow managed to lace up the back without help. Even with florescent lighting and my powder blue running shoes poking out at the bottom, I felt like a picture out of a bridal magazine. The lace-up back made the dress fit without alterations. The sweeping silhouette of the train reminded me of a Victorian ball gown, while the strapless neckline gave it more modern twist.
I’d pictured myself in a simpler wedding dress, maybe an A-line with a sweetheart neckline and a little ruching along the waist, but somehow this felt right. After several minutes of twirling and iPhone-photo snapping, I emerged from the dressing room and brought The Dress to the register, where it rang up as $35, not $50. Even better.
The train had a few dirt smears along the bottom so I brought it across the street to a dry cleaner who told me the starting price for cleaning a wedding dress was $85. No matter, because when I got home and Googled the designer, Da Vinci, I discovered that The Dress normally retails for $700 brand new. I can’t imagine spending that much money on a dress I’ll only wear once (even if it’s supposed to be single most important day of my life), but I would have easily spent half that amount on virtually any other option.
So, when I walk down the aisle next fall, I’ll be wearing a used wedding dress. I’m not embarrassed, and frankly no one would know the difference if I weren’t so excited to show off my thrift store find. Afterwards, I’ll likely donate it so another bride can wear it ala “Sisterhood of the Traveling Wedding Dress.” Or maybe it’ll wind up as a costume in a local theater production. I’m just glad the bride before me thought to send it out into the world instead of leaving it to collect dust in her closet. And I’m equally glad that I gave into my own curiosity and tried it on.