Just because you’re having the reception at Dojo doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress up for the party. No matter how bohemian you are, you kind of have to wear a fresh outfit on the big day, even if it’s only a new pair of jeans and an undershirt straight from the package.
But surely you can do a little better? You may not want your friends to see you in an ankle-sweeping white gown, or a morning coat, but maybe you can manage something a little festive? With your modest budget and insouciant tastes in mind, we made a tour of downtown clothing stores in search of nuptial-worthy outfits.
We were lucky. In the spring, there are always plenty of frothy clothes around, so our task was a lot easier than it would be if we hit the stores in, say, November. At Anthropologie, a shop that specializes in airy-fairy garments, there are plenty of sheer, chiffony getups for a prospective bride, from the gal who refuses to go any further than a frill of ecru lace decorating her red-and-white-striped tank top ($48) to the quasi-traditionalist who can’t shake a desire for a long dress. A pinkish-gray number (you weren’t really going to wear white, were you?) has straps that cross and lace in front, an homage, perhaps, to the Met’s current Goddess exhibit ($148). If you prefer separates (the better to recycle into your wardrobe immediately after the ceremony), there is a gauzy blouse embroidered with flowers ($68) that could be paired with one of the store’s many peasant-y skirts, which include a sky blue (something blue?) skirt that is not only appliquéd with flowers lifted from vintage handkerchiefs (something old?) but employs the hankies themselves to create—you guessed it—a handkerchief hem ($118).
At Daffy’s on Fifth Avenue, the big draw is the lingerie—there are enough silk slips and transparent camisoles here to outfit any number of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof summer stock productions, and almost everything is in the under-$20 category. Upstairs, there’s a white caftan with a label reading Patrizia Pepe Firenze; if you believe the ticket, this garment started life at $175 and is now $39.99. In any case, it would make the bride (or groom) look a little like Talitha Getty, the doomed wife of a dissolute Getty heir who spent a lot of time swooning around terraces in caftans and died of a heroin overdose, none of which has prevented her from becoming a current style icon. Daffy’s also has a collection of puffy gowns that are surely intended for proms and, though most of them are in regrettable shades of turquoise and orange, there is at least one off-white gown, flecked here and there with rhinestones, for a happy $39.99.
At first it doesn’t seem that the flip-flop-laden, T-shirt-heavy Urban Outfitters will yield anything for the prospective bride, but a careful search turns up a pale green dress of crinkled cotton with a fluted hem, a high waist, and curious braid trim around the neck and armholes, giving the wearer the air of yet another latter-day goddess ($78). And even Old Navy—a ridiculous place to look, you might assume—has a lovely linen halter top, in traditional white or lilac (for the bridesmaids?) with a row of eyelet lace to subtly emphasize the poitrine, and all for $19.50. This could be worn with a skirt purchased at the outdoor market at Spring and Wooster, where, among other offerings, there is a triple-tiered version with an old fashioned lace overlay for $35.
As for the groom (or grooms, if that is the case) it might be fun to don a traditional tux or cutaway jacket, perhaps subverted by a pair of jeans if the entire ensemble is a bit too-too. For this, vintage seems the best bet, but our first stop, the Cheap Jack’s near Union Square, is a disappointment. The formal jackets downstairs are not exactly what you’d call pristine (the dove grays are in better shape than the whites) and their price, $125 each, isn’t spectacular, plus there are no equally fancy pants anywhere in sight. (Upstairs, a rack of dingy Miss Havisham-worthy wedding gowns hangs from the ceiling; as we crane our necks, a salesclerk, bored, mutters, “What size?”)
We have much better fortune at Alice Underground in Soho, where there are many, many tuxedo jackets (around $40) and equally formal $25 pants (sold separately) none of which seem to have cooties. If a shawl-collared jacket feels too serious, there is also a $35 white tuxedo shirt whose traditional pleats have been replaced by a dense swath of black sequins—an item that could be worn proudly by a groom with a sense of humor or his particularly saucy consort.