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“You’ll definitely wear it again...”

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Amy Kalmin

Amy Kalmin was sure her bridesmaids would wear their purple skirts after her wedding, but then reality set in.

As a bride, Amy Kalmin thought she was pretty savvy. Fourteen years ago, Amy, who’s in business development, married her commodities-broker husband Murray surrounded by 10 or 12 bridesmaids (14 years and three kids later, who remembers?). For their dresses, she chose long purple skirts and asked all the bridesmaids to add their own black velvet top. The idea was that the friends would undoubtedly wear their own tops again, and the skirts, Amy thought, would be perfect for subsequent parties.

“I was convinced my skirt was the most brilliant thing,” Amy says. “They’d wear these long, beautiful, iridescent, eggplant skirts again with a white Gap shirt, á la Sharon Stone. It was going to be the new thing.” But it didn’t quite work out.

“I’ve never seen any of my friends in one of those skirts again.”

Amy Kalmin was sure her bridesmaids would wear their purple skirts after her wedding, but then reality set in. Amy Kalmin was sure her bridesmaids would wear their purple skirts after her wedding, but then reality set in.

Just about every bride who’s ever had bridesmaids thinks the same thing: Theirs is going to be the dress that everyone loves wearing again and again. I was guilty of it. Looking back, I still hold that my dresses (all 12 of them) were classic and pretty and intrinsically wearable, but ultimately they were what they were: bridesmaids’ dresses.

What is it with brides? What are those rosy glasses (or is temporary narcissism a better descriptor?) that tell us our dress is the best one ever, the one that people will wear again and again?

Bobbi Asarch has been a bridal consultant since 1984, and she says in all those years, nothing’s changed. “I don’t think there’s ever been a bride who hasn’t said, ‘I have this really cute dress….’ Maybe it’s really cute, but 10 other girls are going to be wearing it. And if you’ve got several bridesmaids who are friends and are all going to the same party, nobody would show up in the dress they wore in ‘Julie’s’ wedding, along with all of their friends.”

Ironically, Bobbi says her daughter Tracy is the only bridesmaid she’s ever known to actually wear a bridesmaid’s dress again. “It was a wedding about 17 or 18 years ago,” Bobbi says. “And those wide, flowy pants were in. I remember Tracy bought another top to go with the flowy bridesmaids pants, and she wore those pants. That’s the only time I can remember someone actually wearing the dress again.”

So what to do with the bridesmaids dresses?  Having a closet full of gowns that cost several hundred dollars each – that you’ll never don again – isn’t too practical.

Bobbi suggests looking at retail shops. “Call bridal shops and ask where people could take their gowns,” she says. “Or maybe if it’s long, cut it off, or take it to a dressmaker who knows what she’s doing and add a lace collar, or put a belt on it.”

I saved mine for my girls to play dress-up in, which has been kind of fun, because with each wearing, even as the dresses got dragged outside into the yard, I’d remember different friends’ weddings.

Or, take a cue from Amy. Though her iridescent, eggplant skirts never saw another all-night party, it turned out she was a pretty savvy bride. Even before she was a bride.

Prior to getting engaged herself, Amy and her friend Ceron, the hairstylist, hosted a wedding shower for a friend, instructing everyone to wear a favorite bridesmaid’s dress. “The party was at the height of the time you were in wedding after wedding, spending a fortune, just out of college, with closets full of dresses,” Amy says. “My friend and I were talking about how funny it was that we had all these gowns, when we’d really rather have spent the money on something we’d wear again. So we thought we’d give everyone a chance to wear the dresses again.

“I vividly remember sitting in my apartment with Ceron, piled up on the sofa with junk food and bad TV, coming up with what we thought was such a clever invitation and theme. We cracked ourselves up.”

The party was at Ceron’s house. “It was quintessential wedding. We had a Mexican-bakery version of a tiered wedding cake and a champagne fountain. If memory serves, we utilized the fountain for the whole weekend. There were no children to wake up for then.”

Still, a few years later, as a bride Amy just knew her skirts would live to see another party. Bobbi could have set her straight. Her advice for something a bridesmaid might actually wear again?  “Pick good shoes.”

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