In Chinese culture, you're supposed to change gowns for every wedding banquet course. That could be seven to ten dresses.
While I typically love license for costume changes, that's even too much for me. And given what I did for my wedding dress...that times ten equals psychotic levels of shopping.
But I do like the idea of some Chinese element at our wedding. Typically brides will go to their nearest Chinatown and get a custom cheongsam made, a dress that can cost $700 or more. That's not bad for a custom gown with high-quality silk and hand embroidery...but it's a lot for a look you'll likely never wear again. Why not spend that money on a dress that's Chinese-y enough and is also wearable?
And so begins my search.
The Reefy MINI
This Mary Katrantzou has the look of Chinese embroidery, but takes it in a more abstract, aquatic direction. Mary Katrantzou Embellished Tulle Minidress
Note: Though it's not uncommon to see Chinese-American brides wear a white cheongsam, white is the color of death in Chinese culture, reserved for funerals and not weddings.
Here are all the hallmarks of a traditional cheongsam: the dainty collar, the keyhole at the neckline, the slim fit and the high slit. And yet, it's also pretty versatile and could be worn anywhere without feeling costume-y or I-tried-too-hard. Michael Kors Cap Sleeve Twist Front Gown
The Velvet Aboveground
Red: good fortune and joy. Blue: calmness, trust, immortality. Dial those to jewel tones with some bead embellishments and you have this. Emilio Pucci Appliquéd Lace Minidress.
The RED LACE Lady
If I were to sketch a gown for a custom dressmaker, I'd probably do something like this. A Chinese-y pattern in a simple shape (with a dose of sexiness because, c'mon). Alice + Olivia Roxie Lace Diamond-back Dress
The ME Dress
If I weren't concerned about getting an extra-ordinary dress, I'd get this. It's rather subversive as a wedding cheongsam. The colors and patterns are in the right realm, but the silhouette is all wrong. A cheongsam is supposed to hug your curves, while this one distorts them, squishing your boobs and puffing your hips. This doll-like silhouette is a very common shape in my closet, but probably isn't **special** enough. Erdem Black & Red Embroidered Katja Dress
What do you think of adding cultural elements to your wedding wardrobe? How did you find your dress?
Photo above: Maggie Cheung in In the Mood for Love