Apparel, Wedding

Something Borrowed


Have you guys seen TLC’s “Something Borrowed, Something New?” Please say yes. It’s amazing, and by amazing, I mean terrible, like everything else on TLC, but extremely enjoyable. For the uninitiated, the basic premise is that a woman has to decide between wearing her mother’s wedding dress (the “something borrowed”) or a new dress, chosen for her by the guy from Extreme Makeover, Person Edition.

The twist- because there’s always a twist- is that her mom’s dress will be remade for her by a lady (with clip-in pink highlights and a Bump-It) to make it “modern,” a.k.a. ruin it forever. Basically she just cuts up the dress and adds all sorts of other stuff to it and then charges them somewhere between $500 and $2000. Tbe brides always act like it’s such a hard decision to choose between the Frankenstein dress and the “Something New,” but they are lying. A couple do choose the mom’s dress, but you can tell it’s simply to prevent a heart attack on mom’s end. I love this show deeply. On the wedding TV spectrum, it’s just barely edged out by “My Fair Wedding” and “Rich Bride, Poor Bride” for its dumb factor, and therefore, the amount I love it.

A couple weeks ago, I had my own version of “Something Borrowed, Something New.” See, my mother actually wore my grandmother’s dress from the early ’50s, and as a kid, I figured that in case wearing Princess Diana’s wedding dress fell through, I, too, would wear my mom and grandma’s gown.

Lorie_and_LouLou and Lori. My grandma wearing the dress at her wedding- one of my favorite wedding pictures of all time. Obsessing over the bridesmaid’s dress colors.

The dress’s history begins about 60 years ago- a young seminarian becomes smitten with a farmer’s daughter, drives up while she’s working in a field in Northern Wisconsin to ask her on a date; when the war’s on, he asks her to marry him. No priesthood for him. Their engagement is short, only a couple weeks long- he’ll soon be stationed far away. Their friends and family pull together to make the wedding happen- a work connection of Lou’s, an owner of a bridal store, tells him to send his fiancé in, where she picks a dress. The swagged apron, bazillion-foot long train, accordion-pleated detail, and tailored bodice are pure 1950s, as is the hoop skirt she wore with it. It’s on the cover of a bridal magazine the month they marry.

Lori & Lou

They have 6 children. Their 3rd daughter, Nancy, saves the dress from the depths of storage. When she wears it in 1983, she leaves out the hoop skirt, replaces the Peter Pan collar with a more Victorian lace neckline, and remakes the sleeves to give them a little extra length (my grandma was not a tall lady). She is tricked by her contemporaries into accessorizing with a white cowboy hat. We tease her about it, but Mom, I get it. It was the style.

Or so you tell us.

nancyblaine2My mom wearing the dress in the ’80s. Look at that train. And my dad’s bangs.

When we were kids, we would frequently play with my mom’s bouquet, and occasionally with the hat when she let us. But it’s only been fairly recently that I’ve also gotten to play with the dress. It actually fits like a glove. And besides a couple wine stains, it’s in really great condition, despite the fact that it’s spent 30 years in a garbage bag. The hat is hiding. It, as I mentioned in a previous post, is attached to a veil that has lace from my great-grandmother’s veil.


Spoiler alert- this is not my wedding dress. Well, not all of it, anyway. My mom extremely generously and trustingly allowed me to take a bit of it to incorporate into my dress. And in the course of removing the little piece I’m using (the accordion pleating at the edge of the apron), I accidentally took out the waist seam, too. Whoops. My mom didn’t bat an eye. The moms on “Something Borrowed” are always wincing and close to tears when their dresses get cut into. So, Mom, I’m sorry to say, it wouldn’t make for great TV (except for the upcoming HGTV show, “Wall Rippers: Nancy’s House Rules”).


Now, if we can only find the hat…. There’s my borrowed.