Location: Fort Tilden, The Rockaways – NY
Dress (old): Self-Portrait (similar here, I also love this one) | Shirt: Thomas Pink | Dinner Jacket (old): J.Crew (I also like this one from J.Crew) | Grosgrain Bowtie: Saks Fifth Avenue Collection | Smoke Bombs: Enola Gaye (Red Color)
A while back I had the flu and decided I was going to binge watch the entire first season of Scream Queens (I know late to the game on this one). That is where I first laid eyes on the Self-Portrait ‘Frilled Column Dress’ and decided to make her mine. Since I am not an early adopter when it comes to television, the dress was no longer available in US stores AND I missed it going on sale on ShopBop. Luckily, like Jason Mraz, I wouldn’t give up on “us” and became hell bent on tracking down this dress in my size. Something to know about me is that I will go to great lengths to track something down; I once learned how to say “can you put these earrings on hold” and memorized a style number in Italian, via google translate, in an attempt to purchase a pair of earrings only located in a Chanel boutique by my brother’s study abroad housing (they wouldn’t ship to New York so this was my only option). I realize a lot of people would consider this behavior to be manic, or superficial at best, but I am a collector akin to a comic book or art aficionado, and one does not pass up the perfect collection rounding piece.
Anyways, back to THE dress, I was able to track it down on the Self-Portrait website, given the long winded build up I’m sure you were expecting this to be a harder process but let the record show it did NOT come up on page one of the Google results (bet you feel stupid now). A couple of anecdotes about this dress, the fabric has zero give, which I consider a positive attribute when the fit is on-point because it can create a very structured, polished look. Secondly, the hem of this dress is sort of the selling point so having to alter the length would be somewhat disastrous. I do get 90% of my clothing tailored (since I am the size of a large child) so I can easily identify what is and isn’t feasible from an alteration standpoint (and which alterations are going to cost more than the dress itself). Keeping in mind the potential alteration pitfalls and the international shipping, I wanted to try the brand on for reference before pulling the trigger. Bergdorf’s was listed as a nearby stockist so I stopped in to try on similar styles. In a weird twist of fate Mr. Self-Portrait himself, Han Chong, was there that day debuting his new bridal line (we didn’t talk or anything – I looked like I just had the flu, was wearing sweats, and basically felt like the exact opposite person I assume he’d want wearing his clothes). Since I’ve already done the legwork, this is my assessment of Self-Portrait sizing: the US 0/UK 4 from his first collection runs very small, more like a 00 (that’s where this dress falls in), the same size in the new collection seemed to be more true to “standard” US sizing. Although the dress came from London, and it was noted that it might get held up in customs, I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived Amazon Prime fast and in the cutest gift box. The dress couldn’t have fit more perfectly, the belt hit right at the small of my waist and it was body skimming without being too tight anywhere. Based on their model I think the dress is technically supposed to be midi-length but it hits just above the ankle on both Chanel Oberlin and myself (in these photos I am not wearing shoes so it may look a bit longer). I actually prefer the longer length which was fortunate because I didn’t need to touch that gorgeous hem. Despite the eyelet fabric (and a nude tulle liner in the center) the dress is very thick and durable while still maintaining a delicate air. I shoved it in a carry-on bag for a friend’s wedding across the country and it didn’t wrinkle even a tiny bit. The dress did sit in my closet for months before I wore it for said wedding, because I do this weird thing with “special” apparel, that I call “debuting.” Here’s my reasoning, you only get that “new” feeling once so I like to wear it somewhere it will get the attention it deserves (e.g. places I’ll probably take a lot of pictures or a lot of people will see it; similar to how people say “that was a waste of a good makeup day” – I’m weird). I once debuted my suede Stuart Weitzman 5050 boots at Disneyland during what ended up being a torrential downpour and spent the entire time protecting them with plastic bags from the gift shop; side note, the weather protection spray really does work. In these earlier posts I’ll go into a little bit more detail about my made-up vocabulary so you’ll know what bizarre thing I’m referencing. Originally I wasn’t planning to wear this dress for our two-year anniversary shoot, but I loved it so much it deserved a second debut. That brings us to the Rockaways and this amazing house by artist Katharina Grosse at Fort Tilden. Stephen and I made a pact that every year on our anniversary we’d either go on a trip (even if it was somewhere close) or dress up and do a “photoshoot” to sort of bring us back to taking wedding photos. I’d seen smoke bombs used in some editorials and thought they would be a cool visual addition to the pictures. Stephen was obviously on board the second he heard he got to play with some type of firework. I had this vision of using them on the Brooklyn Bridge but my more practical other half pointed out that this was probably a good way to get arrested. I was looking for somewhere outside the city when he suggested Rockaway Beach, where we had taken surf lessons a few years back, since we were heading into colder months when the beaches are typically pretty deserted. Once I saw this house I didn’t need any more convincing. Turns out the Park Rangers at Rockaway don’t F around and guard this house with their life (they were literally parked next to it). I got a hard “NO” before I even got the words smoke bombs out. Not easily discouraged, we decided to stick it to the MAN and found a little side inlet that had the house in the background (literally 50 ft. away). The smoke bombs we used were from Enola Gaye and their intended use is for paint ball I believe. We chose this brand because they are cold burning, simply meaning they don’t get hot, allowing us to hold them without a glove; and bonus feature you don’t have to light them (considering the abundance of dry brush around us this was a smart choice). I’ve previously seen a lot of people use smoke bombs in their wedding photos and after this experience I really don’t recommend it. They completely stained our hands and Stephen’s shirt was dyed red on the sleeve, the rest of his shirt was an even shade of light pink (and no this did not come out after dry cleaning) so I’d imagine a wedding dress would be no different. I think it’s also important to note that the smoke bombs can explode on rare occasions (particularly in moist environments *cough* like the beach *cough*) so if the smoke doesn’t immediately emit after pulling the wire, ditch it….quickly. We still had 5 left when this happened but decided to not press our luck and go home with all limbs in tact. This photoshoot proved to be a little bit difficult because we took all of the photos ourselves using a tripod and a remote switch. Poor Stephen had to focus the camera, run in, trigger the grenades, and then pose (so he might look a little out of breath). He also cut his foot open on a piece of metal during all of this commotion (so hopefully he’s up to date on his tetanus shots). Silver lining to the foot injury was the after-care, for whatever reason the only band-aids we have in our apartment are Cynthia Rowley which come in a range of options from sequins to black lace, so he was sporting those with pride until his sister gave his foot the side-eye. The next day he said he was going to CVS to pick up “regular band-aids” ONLY because they were “bigger” (mmhmmm). I’m not particularly crafty, but I did make the flower crown pictured using dried greenery and preserved flowers. The preserved flowers look just like fresh flowers but last up to two years (the crown is still holding strong a few months later) so I have to say I am quite impressed by them. Preserved flowers would be a good option for weddings or a bridal shower if you wanted to DIY flower crowns in advance. One thing to note is that they are stemless so you’ll have to affix the wire through the center or base of the buds. Everything I used for the crown I purchased in the Flower District and the preserved flowers I believe you can also order online.Since I’ve gone into way too much detail about the unavailability of this dress it should go without saying it is no longer available, however I linked out to some similar styles. Stephen is wearing a placket evening shirt from Thomas Pink (the only brand he trusts for white dress shirts) and an amazing dinner Jacket from J.Crew.