Tag Archives: dresses

Bridesmaid Dress Horrors – Chinese Sizes and Service

Isn’t that grand. The worry I had all along of course had to become a reality. When I ordered the bridesmaid dresses from Taobao, I knew it was a risky business as a) online purchase of clothing items is generally problematic in terms of fitting, b) Chinese dresses and dress sizes are absolutely unrealistic, e.g. a woman wearing an S in Europe will have to buy an L in the Middle Kingdom, and finally c) Chinese dresses are cut in a very different way than Western ones.

chinese bridesmaid dresses

It looked so promising in theory.

We had already agreed to chose a dress that had a wide skirt to increase the chances of them actually fitting but what I did not consider is instead of ordering a dress with a zipper, I should have purchased one that is tied at the back, offering a lot more flexibility in terms of the wearer’s figure. My ambition was my downfall.

Here is the thing though, I am not that naive to just play it by ear. I got my friends’ exact measurements and provided them to the vendor and asked them for their “expert” opinion on which dresses to buy. They advised an L for my two slighter friends and I decided to purchase an XL for the third bridesmaid because she is rather tall. I also slipped into an L dress when it arrived to make sure I could fit; while it felt rather tight, and on my own I was unable to zip it up, I did feel it would be ok, since I am much boxier than my bridesmaids. An oversight on my part, I must admit, I should have chosen less attractive friends, such as blobfish. 

Now after my DHL shipping disaster, the dresses finally arrived in Austria only for us to discover that the XL just about fit the slightest of the three girls while the other two had trouble breathing in it. Now, fainting bridesmaids is not something I want to be the cause of, so we had to find another solution. As XL was the largest size available in the shop, there was no chance of getting a larger dress size in this case.

If you think this was the end of the bad news, you are far from correct. I contacted the vendor, who already knew the whole situation, and told them I wanted to return the dresses in August when the girls brought them back to China. Of course, and I guess to no one’s surprise, the greedy sod refused to take those dresses back pointing to their one week return policy and throwing the incredibly “valid” argument in my face that “our other customers never had problems”. Yeah sure, and I believe that. But then I was probably incredibly naive to expect actual good customer service from a Taobao store. That is like wondering why McDonalds doesn’t set the table with silk napkins and silver crockery.

Luckily, we were able to return the dresses for the Chinese bridesmaids, which, again to no one’s surprise, did not fit either. Oh, if I were a fortune teller, the money I’d make.

So, with 1000RMB down the drain, what were the other options? Mr Li suggested that the girls buy matching dresses in Europe and bring two dresses for the Chinese bridesmaids; however while 100 RMB can get you a very decent dress over in China, you will be hard-pressed finding anything except a paper bag for that price in Europe. Fairly certain that my bridesmaids would not enjoy the idea of wearing paper bags as dresses, I decided that I did not want to risk this either. After all, it would be an even bigger waste of money to pay 50 plus Euro per dress just to find that they do not fit the Chinese bridesmaids (in this case probably being too saggy). I never quite fully realised the extent to which European and Asian bodies differ, not until this day anyway. I just always thought that I am a fat little piggy.

In the end, I managed to come up with a solution to salvage at least part of the traveling Taobao dresses and not running the risk of another round of spectacular money wasting. Two of the bridesmaids who can fit in the current dresses will wear those, while two of my Austrian beauties will purchase their own dresses and finally, my second Chinese bridesmaid, who had trouble fitting into the terrible traitor of a Taobao dress will get a similar dress from me, which I know will fit her.

Well, if anything this has been a huge lesson to not underestimate the differences between Chinese and Western body shapes, the depravity of Taobao stores and the headache of online shopping. That said, my recent experience of a ghost store means I am still going back to Taobao to look at wedding shoes. I am such a glutton for punishment.


Wedding Logistics – Pictures, Dresses and Logos

Phew, so it has been a while, since I last managed to write something even slightly coherent. I have been traveling back and forth between Nanjing and whichever city Mr Li resides in that week, so far Shenzhen and Beijing have made it onto the list.

In terms of the wedding, things are moving incredibly slow and I am mainly starting to notice the major logistic challenge that this whole arrangement is going to cause in the nearest future. I now have a total of five dresses, four for the ceremony and one for decoration purposes, plus at least two pairs of shoes, all of which I will somehow have to squeeze in a suitcase, aside from your regular clothes for the one week trip to Inner Mongolia during the wedding.

As if that was not enough, Mr Li is going to get his suit tailor-made when he comes to visit next month.

Last, but certainly not least, I am about to pick up about seven super-sized pictures, including a roll-up banner from the wedding company, which will be difficult to even move on my own, no less so since I am not in possession of a car. I will then have to stash them in my studio flat and figure out a way to get most of them to Inner Mongolia, where I am certain the family will have much more use for them than I. After all, who wants to come home to a lonely flat with a life-sized picture of you and your husband – sounds like an occasion for vodka and Chaka Khan as Bridget might say.

The wedding planner is waiting for my pictures in order to make an e-vite and she has in the meantime been working on our wedding “logo”, a must-have at any Chinese wedding that takes itself seriously. It is in effect the given names of the couple surrounded by kitshy floral or Victorian patterns. My task to my Wedding planner was “create a logo that combines both East and West”, since she has chosen the motto “Across the World” for our wedding. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the motto. This is sometimes part of the logo and inspires the overall decoration. I like our motto, it is very succinct and not so cheesy as to make you want to poke your eyes out at the mention of it, as many others can be. Just a sample selection to give you an impression of the mottos I have come across in my wedding research: “You are the brightest star in my heart”, “Love of Swan Lake”.

I am now entering the stage of worrying about bridesmaid logistics. Since three of my bridesmaids live in Austria, one in Shanghai and one in Taiwan, and with two different sets of native languages and commonly used apps, it is not that simple to get everyone on the same page. Yet, I have to express my major thanks and gratitude to all of them at this point, since they are incredibly quick to answer all my strange queries (“send me your measurements, now!”) and even chose an identical bridesmaid dress of the selection I gave without my even intending them to do so. I had actually thought that they should all just wear a qipao (for the Shanghai theme) in a champagne-ish colour but with a motif of their choice. They immediately banded together and chose a uniform dress. Thanks, girls, you rock!

What I am concerned about is of course the fact that Chinese and Western sizes are entirely different and the dresses will now have to go on a little trip around the world to Austria/Taiwan, so my bridesmaids can make sure the dresses fit, before there is a grand disaster during the “wedding week” when they arrive in Hohhot.

Just thinking of the endless possibilities for utter cock-up in this scenario – low quality dresses, wrong sizes and unreliable postal services – I am quite certain that there will be at least one minor wardrobe malfunction. But then, I guess, that is to be expected even at a “normal” wedding with less hair-pullingly complex logistics.

After all, I never like to take the easy road, do I?