One of the things I’ve found most strange about wedding dress shopping is that you’re in a totally artificial, strange environment. You’re suddenly shopping in places with chintzy carpets. Or treated to priceless statements like: “close your eyes and walk towards the mirror. Open them imaging your husband to be is in front of you and ask yourself is the image staring back at you what you want him to see?” It’s all very reverential and special – but also a bit strange. So there’s something uncannily genius about Net-a-Porter.com stocking bridalwear.
It’s a website you’ll no doubt be more than familiar with/bankrupt because of it’s amazing edit of the best designer pieces. And yet, because it’s a website you get to order and try on at home. In your own mirror. Without any of that fuss. Ok, with designer prices, you’ll probably have to put your selection of dresses on a credit card but there’s something about being able to gather your friends/mother/sister etc in your bedroom and try on dresses in peace. Plus you won’t be bound by any of those wedding-shop rules, like no photos and only two people accompanying you. And if you want to discuss anything about the dress – from alterations to what style suits you – there’s a whole team of Net-a-Porter fashion advisors available by emailing email@example.com or calling 0800 044 5701.
I was lucky enough to check out some of Net-a-Porter’s wedding dresses and accessories at a private appointment at their HQ in Westfield with Lupe Puerta, Global Head of Personal Shopping. And in amongst scoffing on strawberries (sorry), gathered a few tips from her on wedding dressing – whether you’re the bride or a guest.
If you’re the bride… Get to know your own body
So much of the time I (we?) wear what I like from the current trends/shops without much thought about whether it actually suits me. In fact, I’m not even sure what does suit my body shape. But you want a wedding dress to absolutely flatter and enhance your body, don’t you? And it was only by trying on loads of dresses with Lupe that I realized what I should be looking for in a dress. Something waisted, and something that shows off my shoulders/neckline like this Roland Mouret number. (A dress by a designer I’d never have dared tried on without Lupe’s encouragement either…) As she puts it: 'Brides should shop with an open mind, have fun, try styles you would never pictures yourself wearing normally.'
If you’re picking bridesmaids dresses… Don't think matchy-matchy
'Give your bridesmaids specific parameters such as hue, hem length, price and let them have fun choosing something they love and something that they will want to wear again and again,' advises Lupe. 'It will be an amazing keepsake of your special day.' So let's play fantasy bridesmaid dress shopping! I love Preen's neon leopard-jacquard dress (£785), Michael Michael Kors's sexy blue number (£170) or Issa's classic shape (£510). Pricey certainly - but dresses your bridesmaids would love you for.
If you’re helping the mother of the bride pick her outfit… Remember this is one of the most important days of her life too!
'Structured pieces that don’t stray too far away from her own personal style work best but encourage her to experiment when it comes to color,' says Lupe. 'A pair of comfortable heels is key and thanks to spring’s mid-heel trend there are a range of styles to choose from that are still super chic. Nicholas Kirkwood’s pumps are always outfit-transforming and I love Miu Miu and René Caovilla for gorgeous embellished styles with sparkling crystals and sequins.'
Giambattista Valli linen dress (£749); Giambattista Valli tweed pencil skirt (£708) and jacket (£1867); René Caovilla slingbacks (£674); Miu Miu heels (£370); Vera Wang brocade dress (£2270) Lela Rose colour block dress (£978)
If you’re a wedding guest…. Abide by the dress code!
'Consider the wedding location, the time of year and always abide by dress codes but push the boundaries when it comes to accessories,' says Lupe. 'Metallics and holographics are key trends for spring and will ensure you dazzle but not distract.'
Stella McCartney neon floral dress (£695); Oscar De La Renta printed dress (£798); Chalayan orange dress (£875) Jimmy Choo wedges (£395); McQueen gold skull cuff (£275); Lanvin cuff (£475); Kenneth Jay Lane coin necklace (£185).