Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’
This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Brides Against Breast Cancer event in Pasadena at the Brookside Golf Club.
Brides Against Breast Cancer sells all brands of new designer and “gently worn” wedding gowns in all shapes and styles. Their “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” will contribute over $2 million dollars this year and provides free support programs and services for those impacted by cancer. Education, nutrition, exercise, support and therapy are just some of the many programs and services they support, all designed to help cancer patients, their families and caregivers. Brides Against Breast Cancer will distribute over 10,000 breast “self-exam” cards this year. 2 MILLION DOLLARS. Wow.
It was my first time volunteering for this event, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I arrived at 8am, ready for anything!
a giant truck full of wedding gowns!
It’s kind of an understatement to say that 2013 was a great year. I want to call 2013 monumental, but even that doesn’t sound quite right. The truth is, 2013 was a life-changing year.
Inspired by my good friend Mindy at Budget Fairy Tale, I decided to list it all out. The year felt so full, but the list seems lean.
Photo by Redfield Photography
Hey y’all: While I’m waiting for our amazing photogs to finish up our pro wedding pics, I’m gonna be catching up on all the things I didn’t have time to write about before the wedding. Actual wedding recaps are forthcoming. Promise.
On an unseasonably cool weekend in August, I was lucky enough to have all my best girls in one place for three whole days! This was not an accident. This was a weekend masterfully orchestrated by Team Bridal, and most especially, CraftyPants McGee, my Matron of Honor.
personal photo, me on the left, CraftyPants on the right
See that pin wheel? She made that. This pic is from our engagement party, which she also expertly crafted and planned. So, she does not come by her nickname ironically.
In our little family of friends, we don’t do bridal showers. Back in 2006, when SmartyPants was planning her wedding, she asked for a Girls Weekend in lieu of a shower. So, we took Las Vegas by storm and had a ball. In 2008, we did the same for CraftyPants – although the destination was Palm Springs, and the vibe was decidedly more chill. As soon as Bob the Builder and I became engaged, the natural question from Team Bridal was, “Ok, so where are we going?”
I know this sounds very melodramatic. I know. But this is how I feel today. I feel victorious. Like I just climbed a mountain or something.
You see, my wedding gown fit.
Which isn’t a small thing.
Actually, it’s 2,815 miles…but who’s counting?
At my bridal shower last month, four different people asked me a version of the same question: “How’s it going, planning from so far away?”
I think I’ve mentioned before that I really have no tolerance for shopping these days. Mostly, I order clothes online and just hope they look good when they get to me. It usually works out ok, but I tend to pick the same stuff over and over. Jeans, tee shirts, tank tops, jeans, yoga pants, jeans…do you see where I am going with this? I am definitely stuck in a rut. I basically live my life in yoga pants. It’s not so cute. I need fashion help.
A few months ago, I was reading my good friend Mindy’s blog (Budget Fairy Tale, go check it out), and Mindy posted about this new at home personal styling service called StitchFix. I was immediately intrigued.
Y’all StitchFix is awesome. Whenever you want to schedule a fix, they send you a box of 5 handpicked items for $20. You try on all the items, keep what you love, and send back the rest in a prepaid envelope they send in your Fix. It’s super easy, and super fun. It’s not a monthly service, so you’re not obligated to anything every month – you decide the schedule. You can schedule 4 Fixes in one month, or 4 Fixes a year…whatever floats your boat.
I went to the site to sign up, and was wait listed for a little bit. (Don’t be discouraged, it wasn’t too long of a wait!) When it was time to join, I filled out my Style Profile, which took about 10 minutes and was fun. They ask you a ton of style questions, which made it easier for me to pinpoint what I like and what I think is missing from my wardrobe. Also, questions like this are helpful, as I am a visual gal:
screen capture of the style profile from StitchFix
They ask you all about your sizes, and body type, which is great, because my Jessica Rabbit sized hips are definitely out of proportion to the rest of my body. Questions like “Are you curvy on your bottom half?” made me feel much more relaxed.
So, my first Stitch Fix came a few weeks later. It was like Christmas when it arrived! So many possibilities!
The items in my box ranged from $50-$100 each, which is the price range I requested in my Style Profile. Other price ranges are: the cheaper the better, $100-$150, $150-$200, and $200+. Right away, I was smitten with the black lacy thing at the top of the box. It was love as first sight, really. I had requested some help with choosing prints, as most of my wardrobe is solids. And I wanted something “fun” for spring. Every time you schedule a fix, you have the opportunity to ask your stylists to focus something specific. I went with “prints” and “fun”. Here’s what I got:
Shirt #1: personal photo
Shirt #1: I am a bad blogger and didn’t write down the designer name. I didn’t take a pic with this shirt on, because it didn’t flatter me at all. I don’t like (or look good in) button-up shirts. The print and the color looked good on me, but the cut was all wrong. I NEVER would have picked this out in a store, so yay for StitchFix for stretching my boundaries. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Shirt #2: personal photos
Shirt #2: Gorgeous, but unfortunately it did not fit. Like, at all. Here’s where I’m super honest and tell you that I sized my shirts a size down from my normal size, as I was feeling pretty victorious about my recent 20 lb. weight loss. Ridiculously, this did not mean that I went down a size. Ugh. Anyway, I LOVED this shirt, and would have totally kept it if it fit. Insert sad face here.
Shirt #3: personal photos
Side note: Please excuse my messy bedroom. Bob the Builder and I don’t have enough clothes storage, and well, it’s a mess in there. We need to buy a grown-up bedroom set. But that’s a whole other Oprah entirely.
Shirt #3: A super cute Chevron tunic. That wouldn’t fit over my butt. Total bummer, because had it fit, I would be wearing it right now. Do you see a trend here? Not much fit me in this box. Totally my fault, but it still bummed me out.
Shirt #4: personal photos
Shirt #4: This one I kept. I loved it in the box, I loved it on me. Not the best photo in the world, but I’ve worn this top three times since I got it and each time received compliments. So yay! And, if I remember correctly, I think this was $66. The $20 you spent to receive the box gets credited back to you if you buy something, so it feels like I only spent $46, but that’s just faulty math. If you buy all five items in your box, you get 20% off everything, which is an awesome deal!
I also received a nice pair of gold earrings that I didn’t keep (or even try on) because I already own a nearly identical pair. Major points for StitchFix for “getting” my style. Major points.
After you try everything on, you send back what you don’t want to keep in a pre-paid envelope. Just drop it in a mailbox within three days – easy peasy!
bye 1st StitchFix!
Lessons learned from my first StitchFix:
- Order your correct size. (Duh.) They don’t let you return something for a different size, so if you love something though it might be too small or too big, you’re kind of stuck. I don’t think they offer this for several reasons – shipping would get very expensive, and their inventory changes very quickly. It’s one of the few drawbacks I have with the service.
- If you want to use your StitchFix to experiment with new styles, your Style Profile has to reflect that. For instance, I marked my jewelry preference as “classic”, but then they sent me earrings I already owned. I have now since changed my preference to “statement”. Curious to see what they send me next!
- Feedback is key! After you try on your Fix, you log on to the website to “check out” and provide feedback. This is really the only way your stylist gets to know you. After this fix, I commented on my dislike of button-down shirts, and my love of all things Red. And what do you know? My next Fix was FULL OF RED. Awesome.
So, that was my first StitchFix. Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on my second StitchFix, and my experience with their customer service.
What do you think, kids? Is this a service you think you’d like? Despite my few hiccups, I am really loving it. If you are interested in trying it out, and you use this link, I get a nice little referral credit.
Full disclosure: No one at StitchFix has sponsored this post in any way. I was not compensated to write about them (I’ll always tell you if that’s the case).
I just think it’s cool and wanted to share it, and if I can get a little extra shopping credit at the same time, well then, yay!
Retta is just the best. For reals.
Yes, you heard me. Treat Yo Self! If you have no idea what this reference is, you need to click right here and make it right. We will wait. Come back when you are done with the hilariousness.
Right? Ridic hilarious.
When is the last time you have done something awesome for you? Hmmm? Are you, like me, totally tunnel-visioned into wedding planning? Stressed out? Watching too much My Fair Wedding?
Yeah, I thought so.
My good friend, Patty Jean, is a kick ass massage therapist, and she hooked me up with a gratis treatment at her place of employ, the Massage Therapy Center in West Los Angeles.
Here is where I tell you that my massage was free in exchange for writing about it. So, that’s out of the way.
I chose the Jamu Jasmine Massage mostly because I had never heard of it, but also because of its bridal origins. The Jamu massage is from Indonesia. It is an ancient massage treatment that was designed for brides-to-be. It was originally a right of passage massage for the young woman about to enter her new life. The massage was performed on the future bride for 40 days in a row prior to her wedding. It was a nurturing, relaxing, beautifying treatment that prepared the new bride for her wedding night. The body is massaged with warmed, wonderfully scented balms and oils in figure eight motions. Then pure jasmine powder is mixed with the warmed balms and worked into the body. This sensorial escape is a very special experience. The balms are highly nourishing for the skin and work on many levels of the body, penetrating deeply into the muscles and lymphatic and nervous systems.
I normally get a combo thai-swedish massage, so I wasn’t quite prepared for the “figure eight motions” of the Jamu Jasmine massage. It was very relaxing, very soothing, almost transformative. My brain has a hard time shutting down, so usually as I try to relax, my brain starts making lists. To do lists, grocery lists, phone calls I have to return…whatever garbage is swirling around my brain at the moment. But not this time. I was totally relaxed. So relaxed, I think I was meditating. Seriously. This is huge, you guys. Did you read Eat Pray, Love? Remember the part where Liz is trying to meditate? Yeah, that’s me too.
This treatment was pure bliss. So blissful and relaxing that I actually started to drool. I know, it’s not cute. But I share these things with you.
At the end of the treatment, I was covered in oils and jasmine powder and directed to the women’s room, where there was a strong hot shower waiting for me. And a steam room! I ADORE steam rooms! In fact, it’s the thing I miss most about my fancy gym membership. The women’s room had everything you could possibly need, which was great for me, because I brought nothing. The best part of the post-massage experience is that there was no rush at all. I could have stayed in a steam room/hot shower/lounge around the locker room triangle for hours. I almost did, actually.
I really can’t recommend this treatment or the Massage Therapy Center highly enough. Everyone was wonderful, the atmosphere is peaceful and quiet, and the amenities are top-notch. Here’s some photo love:
The peaceful lobby
I totally forgot to bring deodorant. They saved me!
secure place for your stuff
And, because Mark, the lovely owner of the Massage Therapy Center, also wants you to TREAT YO SELF, he is offering $10 off any service of $90 or more to anyone who mentions MoxieBride or That Brides Got Moxie! Thanks Mark!!
You really should stop reading this right now and go and book yourself a treatment. It’s amazing!
And then come back here and tell us how much you loved it.
And if you drooled too.
It’s all happening. I’ve been at Camp Mighty for 4 hours, and it’s already changing my life. Check back later for the full scoop. But for now, I’ll ask – What’s on your Life List?
After my morning at Panache Beverly Hills, and lunchtime with MOH Crafty Pants and Bridesmaid LuLuB, I bid them farewell and headed over to West Hollywood to go to Lovely Bridal. Bridesmaid Red was meeting me there for backup.
(Pro tip: Don’t make all your bridesmaids go with you to all your dress appointments. Share the love, and don’t burn out their good will. :-))
Lovely Bridal is really hard to see from the street, but the fine folks over at Yelp tipped me off, so I was prepared. You head down a narrow walkway, and there it is. Even before you enter the shop, it’s lovely and peaceful back there. They chose their name well.
Photo courtesy of Yelp
Immediately, this boutique is more my style. It’s so pretty inside, but it’s small…almost cozy. Dresses line each side of the center aisle, and along the far wall. First thing I noticed? Not a lot of huge poufy princess dresses.
Photo courtesy of Yelp
I was home. Well, wedding gown speaking, anyway.
Red and I were greeted by my consultant, who was (you guessed it) lovely. We shopped the racks together, and then headed to a very spacious dressing room.
At this point I should mention that Lovely doesn’t really carry any dresses over $4,000. So, falling in love with a dress out of my budget wouldn’t happen here, which was a relief after my Jenny Packham heartache.
I tried on a bunch of dresses, but nothing blew me away. This one came close:
Carol Hannah’s Mulberry Gown
But once I saw the iPhone photos Red took of me in the dress, it was a no go. In the photos, I looked pregnant. Empire waist style? Not so much for me.
I was very excited that Lovely carried a fair amount of Watters dresses, even though The Napa was not one of them. However, Merrill, the owner, told me that the New York City store did. NYC had The Napa!!
It was then that I decided to go to Lovely in NYC the morning before my Kleinfleds appointment. I needed to give The Napa a fair try before potentially committing to another dress.
Cut to: the very next weekend!
The morning of my New York City shopping day, myself and StepMomMoxie took the train from Connecticut into the city. As we waited for the train to arrive, I realize I left my iPhone on the kitchen table. Well, I was immediately in a panic. All my appointment info was in the phone! All the emails, addresses, confirmations, everything! StepMomMoxie called MoxieDad, and he sped over to the train station with the phone. In the meantime, the train came. We are standing in the doorway, trying to hold the train. The conductor yells at us, “Get in! You’re holding up the train!”. So, we get in.
The doors close just as we see MoxieDad running up the stairs.
Defeated, we sat down. I start formulating a plan to contact MoxieMom, Bridesmaid S and SIL L to let them know not to call me. Trouble is, I can’t remember anyone’s phone number. Modern Day Problem, for sure.
Just then, StepMom Moxie’s phone rings. It’s MoxieDad, and he’s arrived at the station just ahead of us! He drove like a bat out of hell to beat the train and get me my phone. Sure enough, at the next station, there he is (cool as a cucumber), holding my phone.
Thanks, Moxie Dad! MoxieDad is lovely, obviously.
We arrived in Grand Central, which is take-your-breath-away beautiful.
I’ve been gone so many years, I think I forgot. It was a nice day, so we walked across town to Port Authority to meet up with Sister-in-Law L. We met her bus, and then headed down to Greenwich Village to find Lovely Bridal and meet MoxieMom.
Again, I almost walked by it.
Tiny sign, near the ground.
We walked in, and it was packed. PACKED. The tiny sitting area was packed with brides and their people. When I made my appointment, I was told I could only bring two people with me (but I stretched it and brought three!), because of lack of space. They weren’t kidding!
In short order, we were greeted by my consultant, Taylor, and guided upstairs to our dressing room.
Photo courtesy of yelp
Lovely takes up three floors of a townhouse, and space is at a premium, but they make the most of it. It is a truly lovely boutique. And despite the amount of brides in the waiting area, once I was in my room, it was like I was the only one there.
And they had The Napa! But. Not the bolero. Which, in my opinion, makes the dress. In person, The Napa was lovely (I know, I know, but it was!) But it wasn’t knock-my-socks-off amazing. Which is what I was expecting. Maybe it was the lack of bolero? The embroidery on the bodice was beautiful, though.
They also had a Watters gown I had never considered, The Norma. This dress makes me feel like Grace Kelly. The model pic doesn’t do it justice. The skirt is very light and has many more ruffles than what is pictured here.
Watters’ Norma Gown
I didn’t want to take it off, it was just dreamy.
I also tried on the Carol Hannah again, to make sure I didn’t like it. Yep, still made me look preggers.
Also, it should be noted that the customer service at Lovely was excellent. Merrill in Los Angeles made a note to the New York City store about what I tried on in LA, what I liked and what I didn’t like. So, when Taylor greeted me, she said, “You’re MoxieBride from LA, and we have The Napa for you!” I almost hugged her, no joke.
When our time was up, Taylor gave me this takeaway card, which I thought was a great touch. It’s difficult to remember all the information you’re getting during dress shopping.
Front of card
Back of card, which had been in my purse for a while
Oh, and Lovely (both coasts) lets you take photos! But, I can’t show you any of mine. I don’t want Bob the Builder to see me in a wedding gown until our First Look. I know he will read these posts, even if I tell him not too. Nosy bugger.
After our time at Lovely, we decided we needed a little refreshment. Lucky for us, we were walking distance from My Precious.
There was banana chocolate cake in that box. For about 3 minutes.
And then, bellies full, we were off to meet The Professor (Bridesmaid S) at Kleinfelds.
I was already a little overwhelmed. And, ya know, full of sugar.
Stay tuned, peeps. Kleinfelds is up next!
When we last left off on the Great Moxie Dress Search, I was loving the fact that my beloved Reem Acra was available at a slightly more reasonable price point. I did go to see it in person, but we’ll get to that later.
Once I planned my venue scouting trip to Philadelphia, I figured I should do a little NYC dress shopping. I mean, yes…it’s early in the process to buy a dress. Sort of. But, I was going to be at MoxieDad’s in CT, and that’s only a short train ride to my beloved New York City. Plus, then MoxieMom and The Professor (Bridesmaid S) could come along. So, I made an appointment at Kleinfelds. But we’ll get to that later.
I started to worry that I would fall in love with a Kleinfeld dress just because it was a Kleinfelds dress. I was afraid that I would be swept up in the moment. I clearly watch too much Say Yes to the Dress.
So, I made some appointments in Los Angeles. I figured the more information I had about what I liked and what looked good, the more prepared I’d be for the epicness that is Kleinfeld.
I had my eye on a specific Watters dress, the Napa, that I could not find in any real life salon in Los Angeles. I called all of them. No one had this dress.
Watters Napa with bolero
But, Panache Beverly Hills assured me they had many other Watters styles, and that I should come in and take a look.
On a sweaty Saturday afternoon, MOH CraftyPants and Bridesmaid LuLuB and I went into Beverly Hills. I came armed with my list of preferred Watters dresses, complete with style numbers, style names and dress descriptions. I handed the list to my consultant, and to my surprise, she had none of them. That’s right. NONE.
But since we were already there, I browsed around and picked out a few dresses. In a sea of poufy princess gowns, one gown spoke to me from the racks. As I looked at it more closely, my consultant said, “That’s a little over your budget.” Echos of past episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” swirled around my brain. I knew what to do. I’ve seen this scenario a million times! I was ready. I was prepared. “I’ll try it on anyway.”, I said. Bridal FAIL, you guys. FAIL.
DON’T EVER DO THIS.
But, it was the only dress I actually liked. In the whole store.
This is not a small store.
I’m not going to show you photos of me in any of the dresses, because Bob the Builder reads this lil ole blog, and I don’t think he will be able to not look.
But I will post the model pic.
Because I do not look like a model. Especially this model, who needs someone to tell her a joke and bring her a sandwich.
She is Jenny Packham‘s May Blossom, and she is $1,560 over budget. Yeah, so…yeah.
Dear Model, Please look happier. You’re getting married!! In a very expensive gown!!
Isn’t this dress dreamy? You can’t tell from this awful photo, but the skirt is made of the softest ivory silk chiffon, and the bodice is a matte satin with a chiffon overlay. It’s ruched and folded in an upside down triangle, so your eye goes right to the beaded detail at the waist. It’s very Art Deco, it’s very gorgeous, and I totally know why it costs what it does. The pickups in the chiffon are so delicate, and as far as I can tell, they are tied (?) and then handstitched. The whole thing is just so delicate and feminine and romantic. Le sigh…
My consultant offered me an appointment during the Jenny Packham trunk show, which would only make the dress $1085 over budget. But that’s before alterations, shoes, veil, accessories. It’s a slippery slope.
Better to just walk away…
What are today’s lessons?
1. Don’t try on dresses that are over your budget.
2. Don’t believe a salon when they tell you they have a specific dress. They are probably just trying to get you into said salon.
Licking my wounds, we went to get salads for lunch. I still had another dress appointment later in the day. Check back in for my experience at Lovely – both in Los Angeles and New York!
(MoxieBrides are bi-coastal!)
So, tell me…what would you have done? Suck it up and gone over budget? Start a kickstarter campaign for the gorgeous dress? Or would your practical side take over, like it did to me?