Here Come the Bridesmaids

It was like being caught in an undertow of taffeta, sequins, and snarky sales-woman infested waters. Every ill-fitting strapless dress my mother, grandmother, and even mother of the groom threw at me, pushed me further and further under, as I held my breath, nodding and smiling at each shiny and overpriced gown suggested. Shopping for bridesmaid dresses is an inherently flawed process—not to mention shopping for bridesmaid dresses with a matrilineal train following your every step. The idea behind squeezing several (or in our case, fortunately, two) women into the same dress has always baffled me, and I feel it has remained an unspoken—and, in some cases, blatant—joke on the entire bridal industry. With upwards of 14 sizes between myself and the other bridesmaid, I figured the most difficult part would be finding a silhouette that we both felt confident in—the thought of pleasing the entire bridal party at the same time never really crossed my mind.

My sister selected her wedding gown with minimal objection. Years of guilty Say Yes to the Dress and Wedding SOS pleasures under my rhinestoned belt, I knew how important it was to take the back seat when it came to dress selection, Ohhhing and Awwing at every ruffle and lace-up bodice and puckered skirt. When she finally found one that she loved, my family followed suit, telling her what a beautiful choice she had made.

Grandmother and Grandfather of the author and their bridesmaids, 1959

Weeks later, it was my turn. With the help of my fellow bridesmaid, I zipped up the back of the boat-neck cocktail dress. The sample I tried was clearly too big for me, a fact that I wished to exaggerate by putting on a pair of satin pumps that on my 7.5 feet, looked like they belonged to RuPaul circa 1992. As my sister (who had no strong opinion on what dress we wore) opened the door, I was hit with a wall of silent indifference, bordering on dissatisfaction; standing on a foot-tall pedestal, I never felt smaller. As the door closed, my mother’s question, “that’s the one she likes?” echoed in my sartorial lobe.

If hours of pillaging my closet before simply running down the street to get hot chocolate from that handsomely bearded barista had convinced me that it wasn’t myself who I dressed for, this experience taught me the contrary. Though my mother’s comment and the general lackluster response to the dress hurt, in the end, it didn’t alter my decision. If this was the dress I felt best in, this was the dress I would wear.

A friend once noted a defense mechanism I unknowingly reverted to when showing him a new garment I had purchased. Before giving him—or anyone, for that matter—the chance to state an opinion on whatever splendid trappings lay before them, I would blurt out, “Well, I like it”— simultaneously affirming my confidence in the garment’s beauty and shutting out potential naysayers. Though I didn’t verbalize this in the moment, the sentiment stands firmer than any starched crinoline or organza swatch. Like the old saying goes, “No one puts Baby in a corner.” And no one—not mothers, grandmothers, or saleswomen—puts Casie in a bridesmaid dress she doesn’t like.

text by Casie Brown

Cayley Wornette

Hola, comme estas? Mi nombre es Cayley James… and that is the extent of my conversational Spanish. I’m a recent graduate from University of Guelph with a degree in English and Theatre Studies. Since leaving the Royal City for the T.Dot, clutching a BA in my sweaty palm, I’ve been repeatedly faced with the terrifying question: “So what are you going to do now?” The truth is, I haven’t the faintest idea.

I’ve spent the past twenty-two years on this planet consuming culture at an insatiable rate — anything I could glue my eyes to or get my hands on — I devoured it. My first introduction to fashion was probably Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Audrey and Fred were swell in their sweet little romance, but it was Kay Thompson as a Diana Vreeland-esque editor that made the movie soar. Spouting names like Dior, the New-Look and couture, it was like mid-century fashion Cliff Notes to 9-year- old me. My risky sartorial choices at that point had only really gone as far as OshKosh and Land’s End jeans with an elastic band in the waist. Funny Face led to the opening of many a Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. It’s films that have always been a touch-stone for my sense of style. The meticulous, character-conscious costumes that populated Hollywood’s Golden Age continue to inspire and educate.

Current Inspirations

Les Garcons de Glasgow
A friend of mine moved to Glasgow in January and had been raving about this site. A classic street-style blog, it celebrates the civic pride of Glaswegians and their irreverent fashion flair.

Green Wedding Shoes
Weddings are fun. So why not revel in other peoples’ hope and enthusiasm? Especially when those people have impeccable taste. Green Wedding Shoes covers everything from invitations to engagement pictures to the big day. Everything is “aww” inducing and most of the ideas can be parlayed to any old dinner party or birthday celebration. It’s totally worth checking out.

I Am Donald
I am a comedy nerd. I love me some Thursday Night TV and Community is one my current 22-minute obsessions. One of the show’s stars, Donald Glover, happens to have a kick-ass Tumblr. He’s a jack of all trades; film-maker, writer, actor, stand-up, rapper etc, and his site is a fantastic testament to that. Full of mix-tapes, fashion and music videos — it’s a very entertaining collection to say the least.

Mad Men Unbuttoned
This site combines two of my favourite things: Mad Men and intertextuality. When the show is in session, this site not only engages in criticism but plumbs the show for its inspirations; compiling real ads and LIFE photo essays and providing even more context for the show. More then a fan-site, it’s a self-described “cultural catalogue.”

Hark A Vagrant
I can’t draw to save my life, but I admire people who can conjure something on a piece of paper that actually resembles a human form. Kate Beaton’s web-comic is a combination of scathing humour injected into historical and literary moments through time. It’s so funny and so smart that it makes you wonder why there haven’t been more comics made about Diefenbaker.