Dress, similar here
Recently on a plane, I asked the stewardess to hang up my garment bag. "Is it your wedding dress?" she asked.
Stewardess: "Is it white and beautiful?"
Passenger seated in front: "When are you getting married?"
Another stewardess: "You're getting married in Paris? How romantic! Let me see the diamond."
"It's grey, I think it's beautiful, I got married two years ago, and I don't have a diamond," I answered.
"Oh," said the first stewardess, losing interest. She dumped the garment bag on her colleague and walked away.
"No diamond," the passenger mumbled, burying her head in a book.
"Why carry the dress around?" the other stewardess asked. "To wear," I replied.
She unzipped my garment bag and eyed it critically. "It's just a regular dress," she said, pursing her lips. "Are you really married?"
Before becoming my wedding dress, this was my favorite dress. I bought it (for $13) at a thrift store in 2010, so it's probably six years old, fully lined with a woven label and built-in bra. It fit perfectly, didn't need any tailoring, and gave me the illusion of sloping shoulders- in reality, they're shaped more like ginsu knives, the kind you buy at discount department stores. Elastic stays kept the neckline in place, so when twerking emerged as a mainstream form of self-expression, I was ready.
I liked the wool, the subtle sparkle of chevron beading, and how the silk felt on my skin. I threw a cardigan or skirt over it for work, and wore it alone to cocktail parties. At the time, I lived in a sleepy suburb, but dressed for a fantasy life in Paris. Once I paired it with my friend's leather jacket and went to a Natas Loves You show at a filthy venue. The dress took me from vintage shopping in the Marais to Notre Dame de Lorette to the ferris wheel, Le Meurice, the Tuileries, and Strasbourg Saint-Denis.
When I visited Paris again, I wore it to dinner at a French blogger's apartment. My now-husband picked me up on his scooter. We sat on the floor eating burgers and went to Silencio after; that's how old this dress is- Silencio was cool then.
When we were engaged, my undergraduate studies in sustainability cast a pall over dress-shopping. Anthropocentric interests played a major role- clouds of tulle never appealed to me, and wearing white made me feel like the Hindenburg. I read somewhere that French women wore nice, normal dresses to get married, so they could wear them over again. Now that I live here, I see that's completely untrue, but relying on this information, I decided not to spend six months' mortgage on a dress I'd wear once.* Back then, I didn't have a Pinterest account to convince me otherwise.
An adjunct member of Asia's number one market for luxury goods, I briefly considered designer gowns before remembering my clumsiness and tax bracket precluded couture. Secondhand stores yielded November Rain-worthy, Princess Di-inspired options. I tried my grandmother's wedding dress, but couldn't zip it past my rib cage. It was frustrating. I just wanted to get married in my favorite dress.
Most brides-to-be never dream of being married in everyday clothes, and if they do, they at least want something new for the occasion. Not me. The dress was part of our history, both together and with Paris. I wore thrifted Miu Miu d'Orsay pumps, which I later gave to my friend Natalie (now a bride-to-be herself)- my husband loved it.
Even after a few years, I'm not sick of my wedding dress. I've tailored and worn it as long as I can- a concept my French friends accepted readily- but it's too big now. I don't feel right keeping something hidden away in a closet when somebody else could enjoy it. Everybody's relationship with their wedding gown is personal, but memories and emotions don't depend on physical objects. I hope the next owner finds this dress as useful, special, and beautiful as I did.
*Genevieve Antoine Dariaux wrote, "It is no longer unusual for a bride to wear... an elegant ensemble, such as you might wear to a smart luncheon- a suit or wool coat and dress, in any color you like, including black." However, all the French brides I've seen- 17 of them- wear white or ivory knee length dresses to the Mairie and princess gowns at the reception.