I've had this thought rattling around since Funny about Money commented (on my post about Mother of the Bride dresses, February 19, 2009):
"Where on EARTH do people get that kind of money to spend on clothes????? If I had that much laying around, I'd get some French doors installed in my house...or maybe stop worrying about whether & when I'm going to be laid off."
My first thought was, Same place they got the money for the invitations, reception, and wedding dress, I guess.
My second was, I love French doors too, but this is your child's wedding, one of the most special occasions you'll ever attend. The point is to look as joyous on the outside as you feel inside.*
Few of us have "that much laying around". So shop sales, buy resale, rent, find a reasonably-priced dressmaker, or make your dress the wedding's "something borrowed".
My thoughts about wedding attire led me to another matter.
I have observed that some women I've known will not spend on themselves even when they have money.
I was once browsing in a posh neighborhood of a large city, and chatted with a boutique owner. "Women here will spend on clothes," she told me, and women in (neighboring upscale suburb) will spend it on their houses."
A woman who spends on the house but not on herself may believe that:
1. More people will enjoy the house purchase; buying for yourself is "selfish",
2. The home-oriented purchase endures (you might even leave the item to your children), or could enhance the value of your asset; the dress is gone in a few years, or
3. Buying for yourself is vanity (a vice), but buying for the house is "making a lovely home" (a virtue).
Or maybe there are other reasons.
I once spent a weekend in New York with a woman of this bent. We visited a flea market where she fell in love with a small antique turquoise and gold locket, for $100. She would not buy it, though the cash was in her handbag.
We later went to Barney's, where she spent well over four times that for table linens that I thought were seriously overpriced. And I could tell she really, really wanted that locket. I asked if her partner would disapprove; she said no.
She practiced the same economy when we ate in restaurants (no wine, the cheapest items), but would commission, for example, a hand-crafted custom door. The house was where she fulfilled her desire for beauty.
Was she making a wise choice? I can't say. But they sold that place, and the door stayed behind. When she came to my house for dinner in a faded sweater with a conspicuous hole in the front, I wondered once again about women who will not spend for themselves- and I'm not talking about luxury, just averagely nice things.
She was an extreme example, but not the only one I've seen.
So I say, look splendid for the wedding, the anniversary, the graduation- life's bright moments. Roll up that rug, the one with the wax that never quite came out on the fringe, and dance in a dress that lifts your heart.
Which wedding photo photo would you like your daughter to show her children: you in a smashing coat of beautiful fabric, or you in a just-okay jacket? Would you like your child to say, "There's your grandmother, her napkins always matched her table setting?" or "Look at your grandmother, wasn't she something?"
(The embroidered coat shown, by Toronto designer Alexia von Beck, about $400.)
* Exception: my mother, at my first wedding. She wore black and wept nonstop. At least her attire matched her mood.