Saturday, February 12, 2011

Honest, I’m not looking.

I’ve been asked by friends “Why do the sales women at formal places always want to come into the change room? That’s just freakish and weird!” Honestly, I’ve got no interest in seeing you in your skimpies. It’s to protect the gowns. But, in the big picture, it’s also to protect you.

In our shop we are surrounded by several thousands of dollars in satin, taffeta and tulle in a rainbow of gowns created especially for making you feel like a princess. The company’s don’t lend us these gowns, we buy them. We spend hours going through designer catalogues and choosing gowns for the next season hoping that we’ve chosen well and one of our gowns will be ‘the one’ for some lucky shopper.

We wait long months until our choices arrive and enjoy the thrill of Christmas as we unpack and rediscover the beauty in the colors and jewel work of those gowns we’ve brought in.  And yes, be also become strangely emotionally attached to those gowns.

So when we come into the room to help you with lacing and zipping and making sure you are clipped in correctly, we are there to help you look your best, but we are also there to protect our babies. A hard tug at the wrong moment or a lace pulled to tight can result in that horrifying noise no woman wants to hear in the dressing room. Rrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiip.

Last night watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ my husband - no, he wasn’t watching, no man points lost. He was earning husband points by allowing me to watch without complaining while he checked out the hockey updates on his lap top. My husband asked me “If a sample gown rips, who’s responsible?”

Well, if I’ve suggested the gown, then I am.  If I am in the room helping you, then I am.

But, if I’ve told you it won’t fit, you shouldn’t try it or that it is too small. Or if your sister, best friend or mom has snuck a gown into you and you decide to try it on, then you are responsible. And if it tears while you are trying it, then hey! Congratulations!  You have just bought yourself a gown!

What it comes down to is that a formal wear consultant has a job. She is basically your fashion guru and handmaid for the duration of your appointment. Take advantage of that! Relax and let us cater to you and make you feel like a queen for an hour. I promise, you’ll have a much more successful shopping trip if you do.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wedding Gown Shopping 101

So now that I get to play dress up with brides, I’ve learned a few things that will make your gown shopping experience a little easier and more fun. So if you’re in the market for a gown here are a few tips for you.

1.       Book an appointment. Yes, even in small town Saskatchewan I have busier times and slower times. A bridal gown appointment will take you about 1 to 1 ½ hours. And in order to have the best possible experience you want someone who can focus on you and your needs. By calling ahead you can arrange a time that works for both you and the store and as a result you get the best possible service.

2.       Come prepared (i.e. Please shower and bring/wear the right undergarments). The first goes without saying. Would you want to try on a gown knowing the bride before you had come straight from the gym without detouring past a shower first?  Exactly. As for lingerie, if you want a strapless gown, wear a strapless bra. lol The right bra makes a huge difference and nothing ruins the look of your dream dress faster then what a sports bra will do to your figure. The same goes for things like Spanx, if you know you plan to wear them on the big day, then please bring them to your gown hunt.

3.       Arrive with an open mind. Chances are, shortly after you become engaged you hit the web and bridal magazines, hunting down the latest in gowns and day dreaming of what your gown will look like. But until you try on a dress, you don’t really know what it will look like. Sometimes those daydreams are exactly what you take home. But in only three months I’ve already lost count of the number of girls (brides and grads) who have come in with one specific idea and gone home with a dress that made them feel amazing, but looked nothing like what they had imagined. If you dismiss a gown or style without trying it on simply because it doesn’t match your mental image you may miss out on the perfect dress.

4.       Ask your consultant for tips. We get to see every body type trying on different gown styles. Our job is to listen to what you want, but it is also to help you feel beautiful. If your consultant says “let’s try something” or “indulge me for a minute and try this”, do it!

5.       Know your price range and stick with it. If you are reading this blog you have likely seen ‘Say Yes to the Dress”. Nothing is more heart breaking then having a bride fall in love with a gown that they just cannot afford. And once you’ve shopped around a bit, you will realize that many stores have very similar prices for the same gown. This is because we are told “This is your manufacturer suggested retail on this gown.” And we are supposed to stick to that. You do not need to spend thousands on a gown. But knowing what your limit is will make for a more positive buying experience.

6.       If possible, start looking for your gown 9 months or more ahead. Most brides will be ordering their gown, and most wedding gowns take about 6 months to come in. And it’s not often you end up choosing a gown your first appointment. Meaning you need to leave time to choose, then time to order and finally additional time for any alterations needed to make it YOUR perfect gown.

Most of all have fun! Buying a bridal gown is an adventure, not a chore to cross off the list. You deserve to feel like a princess and knowing you have chosen an Unforgettable gown will help make your photos and memories of your wedding day ones you will cherish forever.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

tentative steps into the blogosphere . . .

For the past two years I’ve been the ‘Tupperware lady’ to my customers here in South West Saskatchewan. I made it to Star Director and had teammates across the country. But I travelled more then I wanted to and I was thinking it might be nice to have a ‘real job’ again rather than a 24/7 lifestyle that is a home based business once you get into the higher ranks.
Back in September my husband and I were on a road trip and he casually mentioned that the local bridal shop was up for sale. He caught my interest in a heartbeat.  You see I have a secret. I LOVE fancy dresses. The kind you pay too much for, wear once and gaze lovingly upon as they take up space in your closet. He told me later he had thought and prayed on this for two weeks before telling me, because he knew I’d be jumping in with both feet.

Much worrying, planning and praying later, I took possession of the bridal shop October 18, 2010. Those weeks in between were exhausting.  We had decided to move the store out of the mall space it currently occupied and head downtown. I wanted a welcoming atmosphere with a layout that makes you feel like you’ve walked into a wealthy woman’s closet with her permission to explore.  I expanded the clothing lines to include not only bridal and grad gowns but also more party dresses and dressier business wear. Phone calls, e-mails, late night web browsing to find suppliers and pricing. Researching mark up standards and basically trying to figure out exactly how a person runs a retail store. At the same time, hours were spent painting the new location and working with the contractor to make my fantasy closet a reality.

November 9, 2010 I opened the doors to Unforgettable – Bridal, Business, Party and Prom. Our new downtown store has shoes, jewellery, belts, watches, women’s suits, slacks, blouses, dressy sweaters, party dresses, formal gowns, Mother of the Bride gowns, Grad Gowns, Bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses and of course, Wedding gowns.  And every day is an adventure.

In this blog I will be sharing my stories, the bride’s stories, the fun adventures in shopping, fashion shows, and the occasional rant. I will let you in on the behind the scenes stuff that happens. What’s up and coming, cool new discoveries in designers and product and the ‘this is the dress” moments I get to be a part of.

I hope you’ll join me in this adventure as I navigate my way though the sometimes turbulent waters of retail. I know I am having a total blast here at Unforgettable, and I hope you’ll enjoy the ride with me.