Saturday, January 10, 2009

Part 2: My dress search, a story in many parts

We all know a story like the one I'm going to tell. A good girl, went to church every Sunday, volunteered at the soup kitchen on weekends, had her first kiss at 22, with a nice boy from her book club who held her hand and told her she was pretty and then one day- BAM- fell in love with a Hell's Angel biker and spent the next 3 years running after him while he treated her badly and dated strippers.

I thought I knew what I wanted in a dress. I wanted simple, not too frou-frou, not too poufy, not too complicated. And the good girl in my story thought she wanted a nice boy who would treat her right and call her everyday. But really we both wanted something edgy and different, something unacceptable and wrong, something we couldn't really ever have.

That's the analogy I've come up with to describe my feelings for the Pnina Tornai dress of my dreams.

I was at Kleinfeld's Bridal with IC's mom when she saw a row of dresses across the room and said "those are Pnina Tornai dresses". Apparently, Pnina is a huge star designer in Israel and, as previously mentioned, IC was born in Israel. In the U.S., her dresses are exclusive to Kleinfeld's. We picked out a Pnina dress, and several others by other designers, and headed to the dressing room.

I don't know about you, but I've never thought the words "wow, I am a princess" ever before. I looked AWESOME. Pnina's style is a corset top and big poufy, flowing bottom. I couldn't stop looking at myself in the mirror and twirling all around. This was it. This was it! It felt so good! It had to be right! Pnina was actually in the store and she was completely sweet and came over and chitchatted with us. I was babbling. "My fiance is from Israel, my ring is from Israel and maybe my dress will be from Israel!" Lalaland. Clearly, no dress could be better than this dress.

But, like the girl in my first paragraph, the dress was as wrong for me as the biker was for her. Sure, it felt good and I suppose she and I both daydream that we could fix this crazy, mixed up world so that we could be together (her with the biker, me with my Pnina dress), but we can't.


Oh, did I not mention is was ELEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS?

It's not the fault of the woman helping me at Kleinfeld's. When she asked me my budget, I said "I don't have one" because I thought I was already looking at the highest end dresses at like 6k. I was totally wrong. I was nowhere near the ceiling.

Also, and this part hurts the most--the dress and I are just not right for each other in the long run. The plan is, and has always been, to get married on or near a beach. Where am I going with my poufy dress? How poufy is it? Very:

Posting this pic brings me to one of my top pet peeves throughout this whole process--why do some gown stores, such as Kleinfeld's, not allow photographs (Kleinfeld's goes the extra mile and requests "no sketching"). It's entirely possible that had IC's mom taken a photo of me that day in my perfect Pnina dress that I would have looked at it every day and finally decided, to hell with right or wrong, I'm marrying the biker! Or, something. But I have no image to remind me how perfect that dress was on me and how I had never put on anything so beautiful. And, if I wanted to steal the design or "sketch" it, couldn't I just do it from the photograph on the website? So silly to ban photographs when a girl is trying to spend thousands and thousands on a dress. I might buy a dress from a place that doesn't allow pictures, but it's really unlikely. A purchase this expensive requires thought and consideration and staring at a photo of myself saying "I love this dress, this is the dress I will buy." And frankly, I look better in this dress than the model. Yes, I have a swelled head but really, I have boobs whereas the dress looks big or off-center on her. This picture does the dress no justice.

It took me a long time to get over the Pnina dress. Even now, I sometimes check the boards on Wedding Bee or Craigslist hoping someone is selling their Pnina, maybe at a fraction of the cost, and maybe we can make it work. I realize it's the equivalent of looking at the biker's Facebook and Twitter. But I'm trying to move on, I'm keeping busy, trying to look at other dresses--but you just never forget your first love.


  1. Don't give up hope, mine was a limited edition and I hunted the country and it was a "whoa that's the cost of the wedding" type dress. I found it on ebay two weeks later being sold by a woman about 20 miles from me.....and I do not live in a town or city!
    Enjoy the plans! Whats for you and all that xxx

  2. But I'm not anonymous--I've been told I'm very distinctive in a "Wanted For..." kind of way!

    Eleven thousand dollars?!! For a dress? Yeah, better not let pics get taken--cops might be able to identify the thieves involved in the robbery!

  3. That's the thing, if a dress is costing that much, or forget the totally-never-paying-over-ten-grand-for-a-dress, even 6k, even 4k, even 2k it's got to blow me away. And this is the only dress that has done that but it really just isn't right even if the price was half the cost.

  4. Yeah, that's why I didn't even try on dresses over 3K -- I really didn't want to spend even that much (and I didn't) but when my mom brought over a beautiful but almost 6K dress for me to try on I didn't -- what was the best that could happen? I hated it? If I loved it best, was she going to pay for it? (no, she was not). I await Part 3 and the finding of the perfect dress, it will happen.

  5. I am certain you will find something that's you. Have you tried the dry cleaners? There are a couple in Edinburgh (I know, a bit far) that sell of dresses that people never come back to collect for around £100-200 for charity.
    It sounds daft but when I called once they had sooo many designer frocks. I never went as I found mine but if you have that option there it may be worth a shot? If you don't mind wearing a second.

  6. Can I suggest that you go back with a little spy camera? For our sake, if not yours? (Those'd look smart on IC's mom, and you know it.) And have you contacted anyone in Israel to see if they're any less expensive over there?

    Also? Holy cow. I don't like weddings or dresses (as previously mentioned) but this one made my head spin around six times and then fly off across the room.

  7. I feel like I should be singing a line from Les Miserables every time I sign in as Anonymous...

    Have you tried going further afield in the States, also? I mean, the most expensive I've heard of a dress out here in flyover country is 5k--and that number was spoken of in "so wasteful" tones. Just throwing it out there, but it might be worth the plane ticket from NY to Wichita, Omaha, KC, St. Louis, etc. to knock 4k off a dress you desperately want to have.

  8. Are we going to see you in that d@#$ Kleinfeld's cable show my wife watches?

    Unsolicited wedding suggestion 10^5: Ask your saleslady about dresses appropriate for beach weddings. Perhaps some designer has made a line for a location that isn't that unusual anymore.

    Unsolicited wedding suggestion 10^5 + 1: Find a shop that carries second-hand bridal gowns and find a good dressmaker to alter one to fit you.


  9. Your blog is so much fun!! I love it. I feel the same way about Kleinfeld's photo policy. It's just so silly. You really can get a much better feeling for a dress from a pic. Def keep trying ebay, craigslist, etc. You never know!!

  10. they don't let you take pics b/c they think you will take it to a seamstress and have them make it for cheaper. or that you will go to another store and get it for cheaper (sometimes they cut out the tags so that you don't eve know which designer you're trying on for this reason!)

    have you been to a place called monica's in sheepshead bay? i think that's what it's called. anyway, my sister tells me it has beautiful dresses and it's a gorgeous shop much like kleinfelds. you may want to check it out. also, that dress you posted is very pretty, but there are tons of designers that do the strapless top poofy bottom combo. check out amsale and also reem acra. you will find the one and it doesn't have to be 11k :-)

  11. before the couture hounds kill me for even suggesting this - I must say it: you should check out Maggie Sotero gowns if you like corset-style. They max out at $5k, and the higher-end silks and satins are the same ones that Pnina, use. But I also must tell you that I got the first dress I tried on because I loved it and I didn't care that it was slightly above my $3k limit (anne barge, got it at the old kleinfeld in brooklyn).

  12. If anyone is looking for a Pnina gown, I am selling mine after my wedding in May 2010. I just got a sample from Kleinfeld in NYC as this gown was the dress of my dreams after seeing it on another girl at her wedding. It has her signature corset style and is adorned with hundreds and hundreds of swarovski crystals. I cannot WAIT to wear it- it is the most beautiful dress I've ever seen in my personal opinion. It retails for 24k!! I did buy a sample- still a LOT of $$ but I am up to negotiate for around 8k. Trust me, its WORTH IT. If anyone wants to see pictures please feel free to email me at