So I'm the maid of honor in my big sister's wedding, which is coming up in about a year. And I'm happy for her, but one thing I'm not quite so happy about is the bridesmaids dresses she picked out.
Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful dress — it's just that I literally feel like I'm unable to respire in it! It's strapless — yes, STRAPLESS — and I guess it's the structure of it (boning, or something...?) that makes it feel so impossible to breathe, but is that feeling...normal? I've never worn a strapless dress like that before, so I guess maybe I'm just not used to it, but even when the lady went up a dress size I still felt suffocated. Is this just something where I need to have it on for a few hours before I feel okay in it, or do I need to buy a strapless dress or two and wear them before the wedding day so I get used to the, erhm....confinement of strapless dresses? (It was definitely not the strapless bra I had on that made me feel restricted, because the lady embarrassingly had me try the dress on with no bra at all on so I could see if it was really the dress causing the problem.)
And if I really feel like I can't breathe in the dress on the wedding day, is it okay to change into some other dress with straps that won't feel so restrictive? Like maybe some sort of nice sun dress or something? I don't know if that'd be "impolite" to do, but I really foresee myself becoming extremely frustrated with the dress on the wedding day (feeling like you can't breathe isn't exactly something you want to feel for 3-6 hours straight!) and I reeeeally don't want to wear it for longer than I have to.
Confession, y'all: my first reaction upon seeing this question was something like "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" — followed by a dramatic fall to the floor and some ambient shirt-rending. Because foolishly, I thought that being a teen advice columnist meant I'd be safe forever from answering horrible sticky questions about wedding party-related drama.
Anyway here's the deal: personally, I would never have put my maid of honor into an uncomfortable dress to begin with—let alone be upset if she wanted to change after the ceremony in order to, y'know, perform involuntary bodily functions without pain.
But that's me. And the fact is, there are some brides for whom this would be a very big deal, and a serious problem—because they have a particular vision in mind for their wedding day, because they want their bridesmaids to be easily identifiable throughout the ceremony and reception as members of their posse, because they want their wedding photos to look just so, or whatever. And these brides, unfortunately, are usually the same ones who select and fit their bridesmaids in constrictive strapless gowns, without any input from the 'maids themselves, a full year before the wedding.
Which is to say, it's probably extremely important to your sister that you wear the stupid awful dress. (More on this in a second.)
The thing is, if you're never worn a structured strapless dress before, then it does take a little time to adjust to the way it constricts you—particularly if you're a sloucher or a deep breather, and considering your level of discomfort, I suspect you're probably both. To be comfy in a boned bodice, you have to practice good posture: spine straight, shoulders back, chin up, core engaged. This puts your body in the proper position, and solves any respiratory issues by giving your breath a nice, open pathway by which to travel.
So, as a show of good faith and sisterly selflessness—and also because learning to stand up straight never hurt anyone—here's what I'd like you to do first and foremost: wear the dress around your bedroom for an hour or two at a time, with your body in the proper position, over the course of a couple weeks, and see if you can't get used to it.
And then, only if there's no improvement and you feel with absolute certainty that you can't just tough it out, you can talk to your sister about the problem and see how she'd like to deal with it. (If your sis tends to hulk out over wedding-related stress, try being diplomatic: "It's a gorgeous dress, but I'm so uncomfortable in it that I'm afraid I'm going to ruin all your pictures by looking constipated. How would you like to handle this?") Maybe you can wear a dress made from the same material, but in a style that's better suited to your body. Maybe the boning can be taken out. Maybe she'll give you the go-ahead to change out of your gown after pictures are taken. Or hey, maybe she won't care at all and you can walk down the aisle in a burlap sack and a pair of tube socks!
...Yeah, okay, that won't happen. But as long as you approach this in the proper spirit, and considering that you have a year to work something out, you should be able to strike a balance with even the most hardcore Bridezilla such that you both get (more or less) what you want.
Just try to remember that, silly as it is, what you wear at this wedding matters to your sister—and that even if it's for silly reasons, being less-than-perfectly-comfortable for a few hours out of your life isn't ultimately the worst thing in the world. Especially when there's free cake.
Have you ever worn an uncomfy dress for the sake of one of your loved ones? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
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