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In Fashion: Style Q&A with The White Dress and Marios

Two local wedding-attire experts share practical tips for acing your aisle style.

AMANDA SCHMALZ
Owner, The White Dress

It all began with the Dr. Phil show. After graduating from L.A.’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising with a product development degree, Schmalz styled the famed psychologist’s guests before pursuing her passion for bridal fashion as the regional store manager for Winnie Couture in Beverly Hills. Six years later she moved back to Portland (she grew up in nearby Vancouver), and, in January 2015, the White Dress made its stylish and welcoming debut.

Q | How can a bride best prepare for gown shopping?
A | It’s smart to begin with researching styles online, but try to keep an open mind when shopping—your bridal stylist will be an expert in how dresses actually look and feel on. Calling ahead for an appointment is the best way to ensure that a room and stylist are available and that you have plenty of time to explore. Bring everyone you need to help make your decision or people you simply want there during such a special experience. As for details, most of our designers offer custom length, so bring shoes with the heel height you plan to wear on your wedding day. In addition, a strapless bra will give you a more realistic picture of what various styles look like on your body and will help with accurate measurements if you do indeed find “the one.” It can be helpful to try on various veils, too, so you can see how a whole look comes together.

Q | What looks are Portland brides loving right now?
A | Layered ball gowns like those by Badgley Mischka are really hot, as well as flattering mermaid dresses and sexy low-back details—Kitty Chen’s are gorgeous. The majority of Oregon weddings are outdoors, so many of our brides lean toward lightweight and delicate fabrics—the romantic Soft by Rosa Clará line does a great job, using silk chiffon, silk tulle, lace, and beading.

Q |Many brides have visions of “getting in shape.” What’s your advice on getting the size right?
A | You really do want to order a dress in the size you’re measuring today rather than a goal size—it’s far easier to take a gown in than to add fabric to it. Ideally you want to start shopping at least six months before your wedding day, as it will allow plenty of time for a custom order to arrive and to get any alterations you might need. We also carry a beautiful variety of plus-size dresses.

Q | Tips for gals on a tight budget?
A | Definitely shop early to avoid any rush fees, plus you might stumble upon a sale. At our shop we carry some budget-friendly designers like Stella York and Venus who have stunning dresses in the $700 to $1,500 range. You could  also consider a nonbridal special-occasion gown in ivory, blush, or a metallic fabric, or check out the off-the-rack options in our back stock.

Q | What’s trending for ’maids?
A | Right now we’re loving the wedding party in metallic sequins for fall or winter events, and pastel pinks and blues for spring or summer celebrations. It’s quite common to mix and match styles (one bridesmaid goes strapless, another halter, another one-shoulder, etc.) as well as different shades of a single color. Sorella Vita’s chic, modern dresses are really popular—they look like they just walked off the red carpet.

Style Guide
Find the most flattering silhouette for your figure.

  • Pear
    A-line or ball gown. These silhouettes will emphasize the waistline while gracefully camouflaging wider hips.
  • Apple
    Mermaid with straps or sleeves. The silhouette gives shape to waists and hips, and the strap or sleeve provides support for the bust.
  • Hourglass
    Fit and flare. These gowns give great curves their due with a body-hugging waist and dramatic flare right below the hips.
  • Tall & Thin
    Drop-waist A-line. It will highlight favorite body parts (bust, waist, high hip) while also showing off your height.
  • Small Chested
    A ruched bodice or padded halter style. Extra fabric up top fills out your chest area and hints at curves. The right bra also provides a nice boost.
  • Petite
    Sheath. Fitted and lightweight, it has an elongating effect and ensures the bride is wearing her dress rather than the dress wearing her.

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SIMON CHAN
Senior Men’s Buyer, Marios

You could call Simon Chan’s entree into menswear a happy accident. Looking for a post-college summer job while studying for the MCAT, he happened upon a customer service position with local luxury clothing store Marios. An avid fan of fashion and well-made clothes, he found the prospect of an employee discount mighty motivating. He applied, and now, almost 18 years later, he works alongside founder Mario Bisio to bring global top-tier brands to Portland and help our city’s gents look and feel their best.

In my experience, when it comes to
great groom fashion, less is more.

Q | How can a groom best prepare for formal wear shopping?
A | The most important thing is to check in with your other half and agree on your celebration’s vibe: very formal and traditional, classy but modern, more lighthearted, etc. You also want to consider your wedding’s location and the season. All of these decisions set the tone for the type of formal wear that’s the best fit (see Chan’s Style Guide, at right). Don’t think you have to pin down the whole look in a day, especially the accessories like shoes and ties.

Q | What was the inspiration for the
new made-to-measure Marios house collection, Rosso Sartoriale?
A | Our made-to-measure business with popular brands like Ermenegildo Zegna and Isaia (see Fashion, p. 83) have always done well; however, for some clients the cost made it out of reach. So Mario used his lifetime of clothing expertise and sourcing connections to create his own collection that allows you to design your suit, tuxedo, or shirt with essential and personal details but at a price point nearly equivalent to off-the-rack. After a fitting with our styling experts, you get to choose from a wide array of fabrics, fancy linings, colorful threads, trims, buttons, and monogramming options. The turnaround is four to six weeks, tops.

Q | What are a few of the trends you’re seeing with groomsmen?
A | The wedding party will usually wear neckwear in a different color or style (necktie versus bow tie) than the groom. The groom might also sport a vest while his groomsmen go without, or he’ll wear a different color suit than the rest of his crew. The overall goal is that the man of the hour really stands out.

Q | Your two cents on accessories?
A | When in doubt, go classy: white shirts always look clean and chic, and black details are timeless. If you’re wanting to add your own spin, then have some fun with your tie or bow tie, pocket square, or socks. Colored or patterned shirts (typically floral or checks) have become more popular, but my advice there is to be very careful—you’d rather have eyes on your better half than on a busy shirt gone wrong. Small pieces like cuff links, tie bars, watches, even a chained pocket watch are other nice but subtle ways to show your personality.

Q | How about some tips for dapper grooms on a tight budget?
A | Rentals are often an affordable path—look for the updated modern and slim cuts and top-tier brands like Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, and Black by Vera Wang. You’d also be amazed at what a great-fitting shirt and higher-end neckwear and pocket square can add to a rental tuxedo or suit. If buying off the rack (ours include Paul Smith, Ermenegildo Zegna, Prada, and Brunello Cucinelli), it’s important to have the garment fitted properly. Well-tailored formal wear will look great, yes, but also help you relax and be comfortable so you can just enjoy the moment.

Style Guide
Find the best look for your event’s vibe.

  • Black Tie/Formal
    Black or navy three-piece peak-lapel wool tuxedo with vest, white shirt with French cuffs, bow tie or on-trend skinny tie, white pocket square, and black patent tuxedo shoes.
  • Semiformal, Winter/Spring
    Black or dark navy wool suit, white shirt, neckwear and pocket square in rich jewel tones, and black or dark brown shoes.
  • Semiformal, Summer/Fall
    Gray or bright blue wool or wool-blend suit, white or subtle-hue shirt, accessories with warm tones, and black, navy, or brown shoes.
  • Casual/Beach
    Classic summer tan, khaki, or pearl gray cotton-linen-blend suit, white or subtle-hue shirt, colorful accessories, and brown shoes, sleek sneakers, or loafers without socks.

*All suits are notch-lapel and two-button with side vents and flat-front trousers.

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