Avoiding Dress Stress

It’s that time of year where around the country, down every school hall, girls nervously await being asked to homecoming.

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Rumors fly, expectations are set and then the waiting begins… and goes on… and on… and on….

For most teenage boys, asking out their crush is a daunting task. It takes a lot of courage to ask a girl you consider amazing and beautiful to spend time with you – especially a whole evening when expectations are unavoidably high.

I was never a teenage boy, so I can’t fully attest to their struggle, but I do remember asking out my crush to my school’s dance. Nate was home schooled, sweet and incredibly good looking. We knew each other casually from church, but as I picked up the phone to call to ask him to the dance, I felt my stomach drop out and my heart beat like a jackhammer. Nate fortunately said yes, but ladies, let me tell you – the experience was traumatic nonetheless!

As you’re waiting to be asked, just remember how hard it is for all of us to put ourselves out on the line and risk rejection. Be patient. And in the meantime, set yourself up for success by avoiding what I’ve lovingly termed “dress stress.”

Dress Stress/ [dres] [stres]/noun

Definition:

  1. Waiting until the last moment for your crush to ask you to the dance, only to discover finding an appropriate dress is nearly impossible due to shortness of time.

Around this time of year, I get quite a few clients experiencing “dress stress.” They’ve just been asked to the dance (hooray!) but the lack of time to find a dress in addition to the struggle of finding modest formals in general leads to severe “dress stress.”

How does one avoid this? Get your dress early of course! I know traditionally most girls want to go with a date, but most of my high school dance experiences were with a group of my girlfriends and we had a blast! In fact, I think in some ways we had more fun – we could fully be ourselves, didn’t have to stress about the question of a good night kiss and we just had a good time.

6 - Crystal, Joli, Knox, Le Fleur

Going with a date, especially your crush can be amazing. But going with a group of friends can be just as fun. So get your dress early and if Mr. Perfect plucks up his courage, hooray! You’re already ready. If not, you have a gorgeous dress hanging in your closet and a great night already planned with your besties, which, in my book beats staying at home dejected the night of the dance any day of the week!

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Model Behavior

It seems almost impossible, but this time two years ago, I was looking for a modest dress to wear while performing as a harpist. No matter how many times or how I googled it, modest dresses really weren’t available online. There were a few websites scattered across the internet, but either they were so user-unfriendly or they were so out of my price range.

I’m all for paying good money for a great dress, but $300-500 for a formal dress? If that was outside of my price point, what were teenage girls doing?

And so began the idea of Virtuous Prom. The first months of 2013 were filled with hours and hours of research and reflection. Then came the decision to start the business and since then time has flown by. Our first model was blessed with a baby boy this past December (Congrats, K!), just on the heels of that our darling Paige announced her engagement to the eternally lucky Wade.

I’ll freely admit, I have more than a little nostaliga about our “little Paige” getting married. When we had our first photo shoot with her she had *JUST* turned eighteen. Looking back at her film, it’s easy to see how she effortlessly transitioned from a beautiful young lady to a gorgeous woman.

Alice

Jen

Yup, that’s our little Paigling. It seems impossible that tomorrow we’re meeting up for a dress consultation for HER WEDDING DRESS!

Time flies by, seasons change, and in this I am reminded to be thankful for the time we are given, the wonderful friends we meet and to treasure each moment in that very moment.

Things are happening fast for our little company and one of our upcoming changes we’re thrilled to announce is that we have a new model! We are so excited to work with the gorgeous Cynthia in our upcoming collection “Be Mine!”

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Cynthia, we can’t wait to work with you! You are so beautiful and have such a sweet personality! A lot of changes are going to happen for Virtuous Prom in 2015 so stay tuned! These updates are just the first of many.

Happy 2015! May it be a wonderful and blessed year for you all!

Lisa’s Wedding Dress – A Tale of the Perfect Wedding Gown

I first met Lisa the morning of the Arizona Bridal Expo. Things had not gone to plan at all that morning. My business partner overslept, the other one was running late, my roommate suddenly had no idea how to tie up my corseted dress (I tried, it’s virtually impossible to do on your own!).

Things were a mess and my stress level was through the roof and somewhere in the stratosphere.

That day we were running late and just about everything that could have gone wrong had. I was setting up our booth and had the brilliant idea to put up our banner by myself. As I stepped onto my wobbly chair I thought to myself, “This is stupid.”

Yes, yes it was stupid, as I had time to reflect on during the next few seconds whilst falling off my perch directly onto my left kneecap. Thankfully, reinforcements showed up just in time and they were able to help complete the set up of our booth as I clutched my knee in pain, praying it wasn’t fractured.

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photo 5 (3)

I was still sitting on the floor trying to look graceful (I couldn’t put any weight on my left leg and was therefore was confined to the floor), when a voice appeared over my head. I looked, and there was a bride to be who looked as worried as worried could be.

There was Lisa, who had been drawn over to our booth by the sample dress of Fiona we had on display.

Fiona & Kim

Call it kismet, but Lisa and I instantly clicked. She later told me that we were the first dress booth she had stopped by and that she immediately knew Virtuous Prom was the company for her. She didn’t look at any other retailers. Like her soul mate that she married this past weekend, we were it for her.

I vividly remember how worried Lisa was about her dress. She said it was the only thing she was worried about when it came to wedding planning, but boy was she worried. I’m not an overly physically affectionate person, but she was so worried after a minute or two I just reached out and held her hand and told her, “Everything is going to be OK. Let’s get together and talk about what you want in a dress, no pressure. You don’t have to buy your dress from us, but I know I can help you. You don’t need to worry.”

I meant every word of it and was ecstatic when Lisa gave me a call about a week later.

In the coming months we worked on the design for her wedding dress. Initially, Lisa was so overwhelmed we literally went through each decision step by step. What kind of neckline do you like? Square? Rounded? Sweetheart? We went through every facet of the dress baby step by baby step until Lisa had the confidence to say, “This is the design. Let’s make it.”

When Lisa’s dress was finished, it was overwhelmingly beautiful. She had asked for “bling” and we delivered on that in spades. The pictures I took really don’t begin to do it justice.

I drove over to Lisa’s place for the “reveal.” As I unzipped the garment bag and Lisa looked at her dress for the first time she audibly gasped. It was perfect. It was exactly what she had dreamed of.

There was an electricity in the air as I lovingly took the dress out and she ran her fingers over the hand beading and lace. There was a sort of magic in the air. This was her dress. The dress.

When she went to try it on, there was a twinge of nervousness – would it fit? Would the zipper make that awful sound everyone woman has heard at least once in her life when her zipper doesn’t want to zip?

The dress fit perfectly. It didn’t need to be hemmed, altered, taken in or let out. It was exactly Lisa’s size.

When I saw Lisa walk down the aisle this past weekend, I’ll freely admit I teared up, not only to see my friend marry the love of her life, but because, in my own small way, I had helped her along in her fairy tale romance.

Throughout the night I was complimented on Lisa’s dress. It was all Lisa, I told them. All I did was help. “Oh, no…” her friends and family said kindly, “you really did a great job.” I smiled and thanked them, not wanting to argue over the compliment.

But it was true. It really was all Lisa. All I did was help.
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To Customize or Not to Customize – The Pros and Cons of Having a Dress Bespoke

Back before the Industrial Revolution made it possible to manufacture things like clothing on a mass scale everything was bespoke, as in “it was bespoken” and then made exactly to the client’s wishes.

Very quickly people realized that buying something mass produced was a lot cheaper and the tradition of bespoke largely died out.

Well, we’re bringing bespoken back! Yah!

You ladies don’t know where fab is at! Yah!

(Sorry, Justin Timberlake… I just couldn’t resist!).

But in all seriousness, having a dress customized can be a truly wonderful and amazing experience!

Here’s why:

1) You get to control the design. Whether it’s showing us a picture or giving us a jump off point for inspiration, this dress is your design and NOBODY else’s. It’s exclusively yours! One of a kind couture, some might even say!

2) It will fit you without needing to be tailored extensively.

One of the reasons we got started at Virtuous Prom is a good friend had recently helped his niece “hem” her dress by using double sided sticky tape. The niece and her family had made a special journey, traveling hundreds of miles to the nearest big city to purchase a prom dress, only to be greatly disappointment. They didn’t find anything there that was modest enough or that began to fit properly. Crushed, they selected the least of all evils for her to wear to the prom, went home and “hemmed” it with an office supply.

Hearing about this debacle made me want to help out women everywhere. Very quickly I realized that tall girls have problems finding longer dresses, shorter girls need them hemmed (which can be quite costly) and 99% of girls don’t have their bust, waist and hips all sharing the same size. One of our models has a 10/12 size bust, a size 6 waist and size 8 hips. When a pre-made dress fits her bust, it hangs down the rest of her like a potato sack!

Retailers do their best, but they just can’t account for the unique and beautiful diversity we all possess. Having your dress custom made, however, makes all those issues a breeze.

3) We will help you with every step of your design!

Most of the gals I work with have a really clear idea of what they’d like, but not everybody does. One bride, Lila, that I worked with was so nervous and overwhelmed that we literally went through every aspect of the dress step by step: Do you like lace? Ivory or white? A scoop neck? No sleeves? Long sleeves? And so on. She very quickly gained confidence and her dress turned out AMAZING. When I saw the finished product in all its glory all I could say was, “Wow, wow, wow…. about twenty times in a row”

Next on “To Customize or Not to Customize,” we’ll talk more about Lila’s dress, the in depth side of collaboration, the electricity in the air when she first saw her wedding dress and of course pictures of her on her big day!

In the meantime, here’s a selection of some of the custom work we’ve done recently:

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We were commissioned to make a dress based on a a $1300 gown from Latter-day Bride in Salt Lake City. We ended up saving the bride over $1,000 and we matched the pattern, cut and even the lace to perfection!

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Your Perfect Prom Dress – Part 4

Not quite sure what looks good on you? Still trying to figure out what compliments your figure and your coloring? Here’s your very own guide to finding your perfect prom dress.

The finishing touches…

We just had a few extra notes we wanted to add to finish off this series; tidbits of this and that.

Corsets

Corsets (lace up backs) create BEAUTIFUL waistlines, even if you already have a rockin’ waist. They just create a gorgeous look. They require a friend to help with, but they are so lovely and have a wonderful fairy tale quality to them.

Embellishments

Don’t be afraid to play around with embellishments or go a little (or a lot!) outside of your comfort zone. There are so many different ways to accent a dress, the possibilities are nearly endless!

Some of our favorites are the asymmetrical skirt (see Le Fleur, Violet and Avril, below).

Le FleurVioletAvril

Another very popular option is a gathered skirt, such as Destry, Savannah and Amy, pictured below:

DestrySavannahAmy

There are also a myriad of other skirt style options, including tulle over sequins (Paige), multi-layered, multi-colored skirts (Giovanna, one  of  our all time favorites!), or ruffled skirts like Joli. Sky’s the limit, ladies!

PaigeGiovannaJoli

Bling. Could we ever say enough about bling? Probably not! You can add bling virtually anywhere, whether it’s all over (as with a sequin dress like Valerie), on the shoulders (like Twilight and Crystal), on the bodice (as with Jeanette), on the waist as with Avril and Joli (pictured above) or on the neckline (as with Amy, also pictured above).

ValerieTwilightCrystalJeanette

Beading is also another lovely, very sophisticated option, whether it be on the bodice, skirt or both (our favorite examples are Starlight, Sidney and Ella)

StarlightSidneyElla

Waist accenting can be a fun way to add in some sparkle and at the same time help create an hourglass figure, such as on Rose, Emmeline, Bella and Gabriella.

Rose EmmelineBellaGabriella

And the options don’t stop there… there’s always ruching at the waist (ruching is great at camouflaging “trouble” areas, as can be seen on Giovanna, pictured above), floral motifs (like Claire, pictured below), lace (like on Sidney, pictured above and Calista, pictured below), gathered bodices (like Hydrangea), ruffles (Camellia), pleating (as on Elisabeth, also pictured below), modest knee-high slits (Bailey)… the list could go on and on! But go on ladies, shake it up, try something new and you may just find a style that is exactly “you!”

ClaireCalista in Vivacious PinkHydrangeaCamelliaElisabethBailey

Your Perfect Prom Dress – Part 3

Not quite sure what looks good on you? Still trying to figure out what compliments your figure and your coloring? Here’s your very own guide to finding your perfect prom dress.

Picking the perfect silhouette…

No matter what your body type, there is is a flattering dress out there for you!

The Neckline…

It may be a bit surprising, but the neckline of a dress can make a HUGE difference on everything from how your face appears, to your shoulders and of course to your bust line. The right neckline can help you accentuate your figure’s graces and help conceal your “trouble” areas. It can even make you appear taller and slimmer – who knew!

Selecting the right neckline for you is a crucial part of finding your perfect prom dress. Here’s a quick guide to the different styles out there and what will work best for you.

The Sweetheart Neckline

Our dress, Emmeline, is a perfect example of a traditional sweetheart neckline (sweetheart necklines are so called because they look like the top of a heart). Wearing a sweetheart neckline shows off the collarbone and decollete without revealing too much. Sweetheart necklines flatter most body types, are also great at creating the illusion of curves. They additionally draw attention up to your face and make you look longer and leaner, especially in your upper body! Sweetheart, indeed!

A great example of a sweetheart neckline!

Scoop Necks, V-Necks and Square Necks

Like the sweetheart neckline, these other three necklines show off the collarbone and decollete (Elisabeth, with a square neckline is featured below), help make you appear longer and leaner, draw attention to your face, and elongate your torso.They also work well on almost all body types. Scoop necklines are especially good at creating the illusion of curves, but watch out if you don’t want to look curvier there than you already are!

A great example of a square neckline!

Crew Necks and Boatnecks

Both these necklines are great for drawing the eye to the shoulder, helping to detract from a smaller chest or sloped shoulders. By drawing the eye out to your shoulders, crew necks and boatnecks help balance out your figure, making your shoulders seem squarer and your bust line more ample. These two necklines are especially great for pear-shaped women (women whose hips are proportionally larger than their bust). Conversely, if you’re already bustier than you’d like to be, these two necklines (especially the crew neck) can definitely accentuate that “problem” and can also make your shoulders appear wider that perhaps you’d like  (our dress, Evie, is pictured below).

Evie

Cowl-Necks

A cowl-neck is a neckline that has a slight drape to it at the chest – like our dress Valerie. It is a great choice for anyone wishing to add a little volume at the bust and at the same time create vertical lines that elongate the silhouette.

Valerie

Higher Necklines

Higher necklines, like mandarin collars are GREAT for creating the illusion of a bigger bustline. The downside is that if you already have a shorter neck, this neckline can make your neck pull a disappearing act! Like most things in fashion, it’s worth a try and ultimately what works for you comes down to what you like! When in doubt, a trustworthy friend is the best shopping companion (Jeanette pictured below)!

Jeanette