Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Channeling Sophia

Diving into the world of the bridal salon was an eye-opening experience, and I'm not speaking in terms of a cultural critique here. First, those dresses are forces unto themselves. They come with foundation garments completely built in -- all they lack is the underpants. They have so much structure, they can stand up and walk around on their own. The amount of fabric in some of them probably comes close to being about as much fabric as makes up my entire day-to-day wardrobe. Getting into them is either like climbing a small mountain (stepping into the dress) or undergoing a rebirthing procedure (having the shop attendant pour it onto you from above).

What was truly eye-opening, though, was the styles that looked particularly attractive on me. I've been envisioning full-skirted Fifties-ness, petticoats and all. Just for yucks, though, I put on some that were ruched, wrapped, surplice numbers encasing the body rather far down the hips in close formation, and lo, there I stood channeling Sopia Loren, which I have to say is rather an ego-boosting experience.

Now, I'm still not going in for the pale wedding gown thing. I want a party dress, not a wedding dress, but the experience of trying on genuine wedding gowns gave me a much better notion of what would work than would trying on ready-to-wear "formals." Poking around Saks and Nordstroms, I only found a bunch of unstructured stretch polyester and polyester taffeta hardly any different from what I would find at Ross Dress for Less. At Saks, I tell you. It was shocking.

The dress in these Sophia stills is the 'gawdy' gold dress given to her character, Cinzia, in the movie Houseboat by Carolyn (Martha Hyer), who recognizes Cinzia as a rival for Tom's (Cary Grant) affections. Carolyn picks this dress, because in its original permutation, it has a long string of nasty lavender flowers cascading down the diagonal seaming, and it's clearly meant as a message to Cinzia to stay in her 'lower class immigrant' place. Cinzia takes the flowers off, does a little tweaking, and comes out looking unbelievable. Of course.

That's what I'm talking about. More examples of that surplice styling on the sidebar slideshow titled "Channeling Sophia"....

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