A and I actually visited some b studios a year ago. It was mostly out of fun, although A calls it “the time I trolled everyone”. We happened to be at Tanjong Pagar, so we entered two or three b studios and actually sat through their hard selling antics. The problem with us is that we always knew we wanted a no-frills package:
- one gown
- one suit
- hand bouquet and car decorations
- make up
And that was all! We were not interested in multiple outfits or photoshoots, so needless to say the sales people attending to us got bored pretty quickly.
I should explain how this gown thing work. For every gown offered by a b studio, there are usually these options for you to choose from:
- On the rack (OTR), meaning an existing gown. Minimal alterations allowed, mostly on rental basis (you return after your event)
- Made to measure (MTM), meaning making a gown from scratch. Mostly on rental basis; if you want to keep the dress, you have to do a top up.
The problem with the first option is that many of the gowns look worn, dirty and outdated. Also to maximise the rentability (is there such a word?), gowns usually come in the standard size for a woman of average size and build. Even if alterations are allowed, they are at most minimal. If you are not of average size, the gown will look weird on you no matter how expertly the alteration is done.
Therefore the second option is preferred, but it also means it is more expensive. To lower the price point, b studios introduced the rental concept, which means even though the dress was made specially for you, you have to return it to the b studio after your event and the dress goes back to the rental pile (see first option). It actually makes sense, because what will you do with a gown after your w anyway?
Once again, the problem lies with the rental pile: as the dress is meant to be returned, b studios are reluctant to tailor the dress to your exact measurements. In my case for example, as I am way below the national average height, the b studio would try to convince me to wear a 5″ heel so that they could fabricate a longer skirt, or use a lace up enclosure instead of a zip enclosure at the back. It didn’t seem fair, since I was paying additional to have a dress made from scratch! Shouldn’t it fit me 100%?
When we decided that such packages did not meet our needs (and budget), I turned to look at boutiques that rent/sell individual pieces instead, with a budget of $1,000. The high end boutiques were out of the question of course, and during my search for affordable ones I came across two that were run by very nice ladies.
The first was L* M***** by T, a lovely lady who turned out to be my brother’s secondary school teacher. The second was V***** G*** by V, whom I went with eventually. Their gowns were reasonably priced from about $400 onward, T offered a few types of packages while V solely sold dresses. The best thing I liked about them was that there was absolutely no hardselling involved, even after I had tried on so many dresses!
The dress I settled with eventually was a strapless A line gown with a very slight sweetheart neckline, beadings on the bodice and tulle for the skirt. It was an existing design, but I requested for a new one as the rack piece was way too big for me. Had to top up another $100, so in total the dress came up to be $1,079.
So that’s my gown hunting story. I’m very glad that part is over.