Less Strapless

Part of my Sunday ritual is to sit at the breakfast table and read our local paper.  This, before I start in on my all day ritual reading of the New York Times.  But for a quick perusal through our community news I generally start with the most important section, the wedding announcements, and I’m invariably astounded by the bridal gown choices.  I don’t mean to say that on that all important day every woman shouldn’t have her dream dress, her idea of glamour and grace.  But really, isn’t anyone advising here?  I KNOW that strapless is very popular these days, but this is not a look that everyone can wear.  Seriously.  While all things fifties and sixties have become enormously popular, the population that wore such outfits looked quite different than the betrothed of today.  And don’t even get me started on the brides over fifty.  Ladies, that strapless ship has sailed.

First off, while women back in the day of those Mad Men were often curvier, there was not the, shall we say, prevalence of zaftig-ness that we are seeing now.  Strapless is NOT for everyone.  You know what I’m talking about.  I’ve seen more spillage on the social page than from the Exxon Valdez.  And secondly, back then women wore undergarments, a word currently in such disuse as to be practically Shakespearean.  The strap is your friend.  Embraceth the strap.

Now I’m not talking about those skinny loops that are hanging on the inside of your dress’s armpits.  Those are not straps.  I say this because I have actually seen someone who is usually very well dressed, wear these over her shoulders.  Those silly strings that look like very skinny ribbons are for hanging up your frock.  But you are going to cut them off before the first wearing because, M’Lord knows, you do not want one of them poking out the minute you start the Hokey Pokey.  And you won’t need them anyway because after you wear your dress and have it dry cleaned, you’re going to store it in a box (if it’s a wedding gown) or hang it on a skirt hanger that has those padded clips so that the bodice keeps its shape and doesn’t look like a Shar Pei the next time you put it on.  Get what I mean?

But I digress.  As I said, every bride wants the dress of her dreams and of course she, or he for that matter, should have it.  It’s worth considering though, that if you are publishing a wedding photo in the paper, chances are it will only be from the waist up and you want to look like you’re wearing more than just skin.  Face it, not everyone has the upper body for strapless and this is not tragic.  There are so many beautiful looks, sleeved and sleeveless, that will flatter and allure, not to mention stay up without the benefit of double-sided tape.

Look at Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.  She channeled Grace Kelly in her beautifully retro-ish, long-sleeved wedding dress.  And if anyone has the stems for strapless, she certainly does.  I’ve no doubt that besides style, comfort figured into her decision.  A wedding can be a LONG event, even without a coach ride and balcony waving from Buckingham Palace.  The last thing any princess needs on her special day is to be worrying about her dress gravitating south.  And really, it’s so unattractive to be hoisting and adjusting every five minutes.  Wouldn’t you rather be dancing?  Or watching the jousting match?

Three-quarter sleeves are a nice choice that flatter most shapes and look elegant.  That said, no matter what the sleeve or lack thereof, the proper undergarment (forsooth) is ESSENTIAL.  A long line backless bra will make everything hang and look better and this goes for any black-tie-attire gown, cocktail dress, what have you.  First off, it creates a seamless line from bosom to waist without any nasty bra-straps or fastening visible across the back and secondly, it preserves the shape and integrity of the bodice fabric, just the way a slip does with your skirt (See “Going Undercover”).  And these bras are not that difficult to find.  The best and cheapest (!) is made by “Carnival” and at $38 it’s a bargain.  It comes in Ivory, White, Nude and Black and it’ll last forever if you wash it in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle and hang it to dry.  I have every color.  Of course you can pay more for such an item, but why?  And even with the proper bra, not everybody needs to go strapless.  What was that 16th century lady’s name?  Greensleeves?  The chick was on to something.







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5 responses to “Less Strapless

  1. I stopped wearing anything sleeveless since I was twelve. I envy women who have toned arms. I day dream of beautiful, sculptured, lean arms. But my new motto is — I don’t have to look 25. I just have to look good for my age. That I can do. “Can you make these sleves a little longer, please?”


  2. joodles

    Wow! The photo accompanying your blog is stunning!! What a beautiful couple!


  3. joodles

    You know, I’ve thought this for a while…especially for weddings held in chilly weather. The strapless gown is beautiful but really they’re all starting to look alike. To be a standout bride today, I think some kind of sleeve is a good way to go….says the woman who wore a long sleeve wedding gown…a long time ago.


  4. Thanks!! Where’s the picture? Would love to see it!


  5. lovevtlife

    Oh my gosh, Helena, I laughed out loud 3 times! Great column!

    And FYI, my dress had an illusion top and a built in bra. Who doesn’t have built in bras? That’s my brother with me, and my dad is behind him.


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