with Lynne and Leslie

Bridal expert Nancy Aucone: Think "sophisticated," not "older"

by SweetMidlife

Nancy Aucone is happy to talk about the gorgeous over-35 brides that have come through The Wedding Salon of Manhasset in New York. She’d just prefer not to call them that.

“We never use that word – ‘older.’ The brides we see are very sophisticated brides,” says Aucone, the upscale salon’s co-founder and co-owner. “We carry all the top designers, so we have a little jump on having something for the older bride right there. All the high fashion designers at this point are a little more couture, so (their work) fits an older bride…We don’t segregate what we show.”

Well, then! We like that! We’re sophisticated!

Nancy says that because of the quality of the dresses that the Wedding Salon – Monique Lhullier, Vera Wang, Marchessa – and their cost, many of her brides tend to be a little older. But the important thing here, again, is her taste level, as “Project Runway”‘s Nina Garcia might say, and not her birthday. We asked Nancy about trends, confidence and what the bridal aisle and the red carpet have in common.

— The fashion show: “Our bride is not looking for the traditional type of dress. They’re more looking for what a celebrity would wear on the red carpet, done in white or ivory. (Sometimes) the older brides might wear a latte or an ivory. She’s really shopping for a fashion dress. Our designers design for celebrities, and I think that’s a natural for the older bride. And the younger bride picks up on it. These are really ready-to-wear looks.”

— Frumpy, schmumpy: Unlike the wedding sites we’ve seen and hated that seem to think that brides over a certain age should basically wear raincoats and a veil, Nancy says that her sophisticated ladies “are not covering up. We don’t attract that type of bride, because of who we carry. A bride with a figure problem would probably not come to us. Our samples are mostly 8s. If (the brides are) it’s not a problem, But covering up is not an issue. (Editor’s note: Some salons do carry larger samples. Leslie’s dress was a sample size 16 that she got for less than half price at a sample sale at an upscale salon in Washington, D.C. But most samples are, yes, much smaller). Strapless is still number one, but if people are covering up, it’s more for religious reasons than age. Most of our older brides are not, and that’s good. We don’t think she should have to.”

— Knowing your own mind: “The confidence level is there for sure (with older brides). They know what they want, and what they don’t want. They’re a bride, so it’s up for us to take over, We don’t create the dresses, but we give them a good mix of possibilities. We start with the silhouette, maybe a more sophisticated lace. The variety is really out there, Of the last few brides, we had one who bought an Ulla-Maija that was one shoulder. This woman had a beautiful body. She wore a brooch with a feather with her hair in a chignon. She might wear a cover-up because of the weather, but it’s going to be amazing.”

— Unveiled: “(Older brides) chose more creative headpieces (rather than veils), but, again, they tend to be a more sophisticated bride who won’t really be interested in a veil. Well, they might do a cocktail veil, or fishnet. But a lot of them wear something almost like hair jewelry. Certainly not a tiara. They’re very out of style, and on an older bride, they look even more out of style (NOTE: Leslie briefly considered a tiara, until the notion pretty much got beaten out of her by people with more sense than her.)

— Second time around? Only the bride knows for sure: “In today’s world, a lot of very young brides are second or even third-time brides. We never ask. Unless it comes up, we’d never know. We actually had, a couple of years ago, an older bride come with her first husband to help her pick her dress for her second wedding.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           — Short cuts: “We’ve sold a lot of short important dresses that could be used as second dresses (for later in the evening) or as a short dress for a second wedding, like Marchessa. (They are) short versions of a very exciting celebrity dress, that can go to less (formal) of a venue. Or they could be changing for the party that happens after the big wedding. The short dresses fills a lot of categories.”

— The right connection: “Working with brides on the floor, until you kind of see that connection, that’s the smile, (you know) she hasn’t found the right one yet. I’ve done this for 30 years. It’s a connection that gets through between herself and the dress that no one can really pinpoint…And it’s very important that the consultant and the bride connect. Sometimes I make a switch (between consultants). Nine times out of ten that works. The people coming in with (the bride) are not going into the room with her. They’re all staged on couches, while the bride is dressed with the consultant, as if it is the wedding and this is how people are going to see her. I say to them ‘You’re seeing her for the first time, just like the guests are.’ That reaction is very important. And it should be ‘Wow!'”

— Shopping without limits (your own or anyone else’s): “They might come in thinking (about one specific type of dress), but what we see when they get here is that they start to have fun with it. We have even had the venues (of the weddings) change because (the bride) decides to buy a more exciting dress. They get more of a wedding dress, and have more of a wedding. We’ve seen that happen. The dress sets the tone.”

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