Sunday, January 06, 2008


Hi Everyone-

TallGuy and I had an opportunity to watch a marathon of episodes called "Say Yes to the Dress", a program on The Learning Channel (TLC).

Anyone seen this show? The series gives a "behind-the-scenes" view of Klenfeld's, the "superstore" of stores in Manhattan which carry upscale wedding gowns and related accessories. I think it came out a few months ago, but since I had an opportunity to watch so many of them, I thought it was time to make a comment.

Not only does TLC interview brides about what type of gown they are looking for, but it chronicles their experiences in the store -- AND provides the point-of-view and perspective of the salespeople at Klenfeld's who are working with that particular client.

What's interesting is that the show does more to make the STORE look bad than it does the BRIDES shopping in it.

Sure -- there were plenty of "entourages" and annoying wedding planners featured. I still don't understand how having 8 family/friends with a bride helps her make a decision. The wedding planner on the show basically took over the bride's appointment -- by the end of a marathon trying-on session, I don't think even the bride knew what she was looking for.

But "Say Yes to the Dress" is really a commentary on how big the bridal market really is -- and how important it is, particularly for this store, to "make the sale".

I certainly can understand that point of view. Stores like Klenfeld's, Saks, Bergdorf's, Mark Ingram, and others in Manhattan need to make sales in order to thrive.

What I picked up from the show, however, was the undertone of aggressiveness in terms of making sure a bride walked out buying something.

I went to Klenfeld's several months ago - and what was funny is that they were taping this show while I was in the store. I wasn't asked to be featured (thank goodness), but I still had a concern I'd be seen in the periphery looking at dresses on racks! (I wasn't - at least not that I saw!)

When I was at the store, I was shown several dresses, and the salesperson tried to convince me that one that I liked a lot (but not LOVED) was "the one" -- my mother and I were not at all sure, but we were encouraged to "go to lunch" and then come back and try it on again. We left and never went back.

I can't really explain it, but I really did feel that undertone of "buy buy buy" at the store which was sort of underlined on the show. People may think it's like that at every bridal salon, but I felt completely comfortable (and NOT pressured) at Bergdorf's -- which I had originally thought would give a lot of attitude if we didn't buy right off the bat. Instead, I went back twice to try on and think about the dress I loved -- and we ended up buying it -- without feeling an ounce of pressure -- or guilt about having to come back and think about it a few times.

I guess the bottom line of my "review" is that while it's important to focus on the behavior of brides, it's also important to see that there are intense pressures facing them--because this is such a huge market, with big $$$ attached.

Brides spend an upwards of thousands of dollars for this dream dress - to feel pressured outwardly or implicitly (if I were a bride watching the show, and THEN going to Kleinfeld's, I think I'd feel this way) - is unacceptable.

In the end, I'm sure "Say Yes to the Dress" will drum up big business for Kleinfeld's - but it raises a lot of interesting questions and issues for brides in search of "the dress" - at this store - and others.

Stay tuned!


Moni said...

I'm glad you posted on this issue. I do not live in Manhatten, but the majority of bridal salons in Madison, WI (and surrounding areas) made me feel similarly. Looking for my dress, I felt confused and pressured by consultants who insisted the dresses they were bringing me were just fabulous on me - and never what I wanted. On a different note, I would like to sincerely thank Premiere Couture of Madison for giving me an extremely different experience. The ladies were as charming & as the shop, with all the exquisite dresses in open view (why do places with much cheaper dresses always lock theirs up where you cannot see them?). Although I did not purchase my dress from Premier (beyond my budget unfortunately) they made me feel like a bride - happy and blushing!

Anneliese Kelly said...

I had a dreadful experience shopping at Kleinfeld and I think it stems from that very "make the sale" mentality you're discussing. I went with a few of my bridesmaids to look and get some ideas, not planning to buy that day but definitely willing to come back with my mother if I fell in love with a dress. The saleswoman was outright rude to me, and I think it was because I looked on the younger side and was there without my mother and therefore not a "serious" client.

She told me there were no dresses in the store that were not strapless (!!). She mocked my friends' opinions over one of the dresses by derisively referring to them as "designers." And she never told me there was a robe hanging in the corner of the room, even when I was standing there in my underwear and said "I feel kind of uncomfortable right now." She was just rude and snippy throughout the session. I got better service at sample sales!

A friend of mine said her experience shopping there (with her mother) was very different...they waited on her hand and foot. However, when the time came for alterations, their true colors showed, and she took her dress elsewhere to have it fitted.

Dataceptionist said...

We did the dodgy with my dress in that I went and tried a heap on, and decided what style I wanted, and then brought the dressmaker (pretending to be my aunt, but still a close family friend) back once I had chosen one.

We went to a big outlet style place and thankfully had been pre-warned they could be pushy.
A lot of their dresses were hideous, but they had some nice ones. After trying on a few, the sales lady asked if she could "pick one that would make me look gorgeous". I had also read that since they see so many brides, if the salesperson suggests something, to give it a try.
Well we gave it a try, and the woman gushed, all the while my sisters and mother were gaping in horror. Sometimes they've just got a different idea.....LOL
We were then pushed to decide, even though it was our first day. We could have a big discount "tpday only".
Yeah right.

Anneliese Kelly I knew a girl who used to go to bridal stores with her friends and try on dresses just for kicks.
No wonder she hasn't found a groom yet.

longvowels said...

Thank you for this post. I felt this same way when watching this show and I was so happy I never bothered going into Kleinfeld's.

Planning a wedding is stressful enough.

Anonymous said...

I had am amazing experience at Kleinfeld and never felt pressured. Clearly you either had a bad salesperson (this can happen anywhere) or pre-conceived notions about how they were going to treat you and turned those thoughts into a reality.