“Fashion fades, only style remains the same” – Coco Chanel
The White Room aims to be more than just a ‘shop’ and the whole passion behind the hard work and drive to open was for us was much more than just a retail dream. This post is all about how and why we put so much emphasis on the difference between simply buying a dress and creating a dreamed of bridal style and why I turned a crumbling Grade II listed building in to a bridal haven!
If I go back to 2008 when I was in the throes of my ‘dress hunt’, I believed I was doing just that – looking for a dress. I knew it had to be special as so many of my friends and family would expect a ‘Chloe dress’ and I felt under pressure to deliver…. Something like this!
So off I went on the search for the perfect dress, trying on HUNDREDS of badly made, thoughtlessly designed, scratchy frocks, covering hundreds of miles and hundreds of hours becoming more disillusioned at each dress I tried on. Still I continued to search for the dress that brought out the best of “me” whilst being shoehorned in to dresses that reflected what the assistant believed to be the look of a ‘bride’. “Oh it looks great with your shape” – fab, its not me though, “Oh the length is perfect” – nope, still not me….. “JUST BUY THE DRESS”, you could almost hear them scream.
Whilst at university, I studied my bridal dissatisfaction for my final project, doing my dissertation on the search for the perfect dress and women’s expectations on marriage. What came across very strongly was confirmation that of my experience that brides were not consciously aware that what they actually wanted was not “a dress” but “a look” or more succinctly “their style” and that high levels of customer service were closely linked to the delivery of the outfit to their expectations. Dissatisfaction was caused when brides were trying to create what they had in their minds eye but being directed to focus only on the dress rather than being supported to expand the realisation of their dream through styling “a look”. The dress was treated as a commodity to be sold, not the realisation of a look to be unfolded. A look is created through understanding the dream and marrying a fabulous gown to beautiful accessories that can give the dress character, bring out elements that may go un-noticed by its self, shoes that give the right height, lift the dress, change the impression, create a personality.
And that was the problem, if you set out to create a style you are reflecting the person you are or want to be. When you simply buy a dress, you are picking a pretty frock that reflects something you like. At home, you select your clothes based on a combination of shoes, handbag, jewellery etc… but you would never choose the dress and think of the rest as “clutter” to be picked up at random later.
When you are searching for your wedding dress however you are stepping into the unknown. The simple shape of a dress, you know all about. What flatters, what hides, the statement it makes, the “you” on that day. However when it comes to your wedding dress there is so much more to take on board, the feel of the material, the pattern of the lace, the quality of the finish, the feel of support vs no support, what accessories bring out the best in the dress and match your personality? It is elements like this that are the 40% of the final product and without a knowledgeable guide it is easy to get wrong, feel unfulfilled or believe that you will never find what you want. Brides were dissatisfied because they only had 60% of what they really wanted without knowing why.
So then I thought, I can do this better/differently/creatively/uniquely/locally/well
This is why The White Room is different, we don’t sell dresses, we revel in creating styles that makes a bride go “ohh, I feel like me!”. We match personalities, challenge with you to find the best look, the best feeling, deliver your personality through the dress and out into the group of people that you have chosen to spend your special day with. We make you push your own personal boundaries so you wear what you CAN wear to make you feel fabulous, not what you think you SHOULD wear because it happens to be in the shop…
To do this we have styled OUR look. Our designers – Jenny Packham, Stephanie Allin, Claire Pettibone, and Cymbeline are the best in the business and regularly dress the stars. Without the right look for the shop, without making the service a part of the experience and complimenting top designers with accessories that bring out all the facets of the dresses, we would not have a personality of our own. We don’t want to be the same as anyone else, we want to shine brightly. We want the same for our brides…..
Now working day to day with brides, I hear so much about dissatisfaction from brides who have been through this process before they walk through the door. There is a confusion about why brides see so many dresses that are indeed fabulous, but the dresses are not “the one”. During my search, I came to realise that for me, this was due to lack of understanding by the assistant of the girl that was in front of them. I needed support to help me to realise my day to day dress style, what I wanted to emulate and how I wanted to feel. Then someone who had the skill to build on that understanding, working honestly together to create the full image that was in my mind and my heart. Shopping for a “dress” did not make me feel the way I had expected, a dress alone did not capture what I had in my minds eye and a dress alone did not bond with my ideals or perceptions of myself for my wedding day. Therefore presenting a bride with an overwhelming number of dresses and expecting her to pick one just does not help!
Besides creating a style is sooo much more fun, so rewarding and so special. Yes, it takes more time to know the real “you”, but for us, that understanding leading to happy, confident brides is why we rock…… xx