Last weekend I was invited to an Iranian wedding, which posed a new challenge to my usual ‘what to wear’ quandary, Normally, at weddings I err on the more quirky, dressed down side of apparel, which allows me to pair a dress with flat, smart, arthritis-friendly shoes such as brogues and not feel out of place. I would happily wear trousers to a wedding, if I could ever find a pair that fitted really well (as anyone with a big bottom and small waist knows). However, Iranian weddings are very glam affairs, black tie rather than morning suits, and I wanted to be able to rise to the occasion.
So problem one: I am not a very glam person, but I like a challenge. I also wanted to feel like myself and not like I was wearing someone else’s clothes. In addition, my hair doesn’t do glamorous shiny mane, it only knows how to do fine and flyaway. I’ve learnt to live with this and purposefully style it a little messy, so there was no point going for a super-smooth dress, it just wouldn’t look right on me. So, the challenge was to find a glamorous dress that still felt like I was wearing it, rather than the other way round.
So, first off, I decided to check my wardrobe for anything suitable, as I try to avoid buying new things just for the sake of it. As I said, I’m not a big dresser upper, and I don’t often go to black tie events. I have one ancient blue dress from Phase Eight, which is very nice and drapey (if a little dull and uninspired) that I have worn for every black tie event since I bought it:
It’s a flattering dress but I’ve worn it so many times, it bores me rigid. I needed to lift my game a little and get something a little more interesting; I decided to hit the virtual shops and found a number of really nice outfits that would work well with flat shoes:
I swooned over all of these; however they weren’t quite right. The Diane Von Furstenberg dress is a stunner, but way too expensive for me (even at the reduced price). The colours on the Mango dress are divine, but as I have discussed before those straps wouldn’t work on my big boobs (and I hate wearing a strapless bra, it’s just something else to worry about). The Finery dress is beautiful, and a shirt dress is an acceptable way to wear white at a wedding, but it wasn’t glamorous enough (and looked a little ungenerous in the boob area). And the Needle and Thread skirt is a good option for those, like me, who are long in the body and find the waists on most dresses sit high. However I have a shorter version of the tulle skirt and it’s not a flowing fabric, it really emphasizes my hips, and that wasn’t what I was going for. You may find these dresses perfect for you, however, so I’ve included my browsing finds as they’re all fantastic.
I begrudgingly decided that the best route for me to go was a typical ballgown, even if that was the predictable route. And I dragged myself to the shops to make sure I got the right fit. I ended up in Coast, which is a shop I tend to avoid when looking for wedding attire, because EVERYONE gets wedding outfits from Coast, and you wouldn’t want to wear the same dress as someone else at a wedding, photo evidence is mandatory! And then I found this dress:
This was perfect, and it fitted like a dream. The skirt is swishy and flows nicely over the hips, and I love the polka dots. They’re a bit retro and a bit unusual on a ball-gown type dress. It also lends itself to being blinged up with a bit of sparkly jewellery. I was sold.
Problem two: what to wear on my feet… this problem was easily solved for me as I knew I wanted something sparkly. I had bought these diamante cage shoes from Dune a few years ago, and they are really comfortable, despite being quite flat and unsupportive:
The reason I think they’re so good is because the zip at the back allows you to take them on and off really easily, and also, the sides of the straps are elasticated.
This gives the shoe a surprising amount of flex, so there’s no restriction of the foot’s movement. This is important when you have arthritis, as your joints are often moving in unusual ways. As I said, I bought these shoes a long time ago, but there are similar shoes in Dune, with a trendier higher heel, which is probably more comfortable, and the strap across the foot is elasticated on the inside.
In the end, I think I scrubbed up OK despite a bit of a rush to get there on time and an incident with some false-eyelash glue:
The wedding itself was held at the lovely Danesfield House, which has really beautiful formal gardens, and the shoes held up well for a little wander.
The back of the house looks out over the Thames in the rolling Berkshire countryside, which shone on the idyllic summer’s day:
And most importantly, the newly wedded couple seemed to be having a whale of a time. The bride was radiant, the groom was so happy. The food was excellent and the champagne flowed. It was idyllic, and I also learnt some excellent Farsi swearwords – a perfect wedding and nobody else wore my dress!