“I don't think you should try to transform who you are on your wedding day,” the iconic designer tells PEOPLE. "You are your own best advocate"
Vera Wang is one of the most iconic bridal designers in the world. As the creative mastermind behind beautiful wedding gowns for Gwen Stefani, Ariana Grande, Jessica Simpson, Victoria Beckham, and Kim Kardashian — she is renowned for her one-of-a-kind bridal creations. Wang is also a pioneer at making her brand accessible with collections such as Vera Wang LOVE fine jewelry exclusively available at Zales.
The fashion designer, 74 talks exclusively to PEOPLE about what to look for when shopping for a wedding dress and how to avoid buying the wrong gown.
"The biggest mistake is not feeling comfortable in the dress," Wang tells PEOPLE. "And by that, I don't mean just fit,” she says, adding, “feeling is very important to me in clothing, probably because I'm a woman designing for other women, and I experience clothing. Men bring an abstract freedom. But I think women designers bring a certain sense of reality and I think being comfortable is really important. Not only physically, but psychologically.”
Wang continues: “I don't think you should try to transform who you are on your wedding day. I've always said that you are who you are, you're an individual, you have your own sense of style. And I always encourage people to really follow that, listen to their own voice, and sometimes they don't. Their mother's involved, their sister’s involved. I've had that. I can't name names — but really famous, sometimes even the groom, believe it or not—and sometimes a bunch of best friends.”
The designer notes, "you are your own best advocate," adding that brides should take into account the full bridal look.
“You're probably going to have a bouquet of some sort,” she adds. “I held on to a Bible with a sprig of flowers for my own. But you're going to usually carry something that's meaningful in your hand, and I think that weighs into the veil, whether to veil or not to veil, and where to wear the veil."
“When I started, the veil was only worn in one place,” she recalls. “It was sort of the era of Cher and that kind of thing when I started in bridal and having come from Vogue, I mean, I just threw away all that stuff and started from scratch and there were always headpieces."
She continues: “And then I started putting veils just on combs because it could stick into the hair and it would look way more modern, and it would focus on the bride's face and dress.”
In 2020, the designer shared memories from her nearly two-decade-long career at the fashion magazine where she started at age 23 and became one the publication’s youngest ever fashion editors. She left in 1987 to join Ralph Lauren as design director.
During her time as an editor, Wang worked with fashion legends including Grace Mirabella, Richard Avedon and current Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour (whom she is still friends with today). Speaking with the magazine last year about her experience, she said, "I worked for great women [at Vogue]."
"The Devil Wears Prada is kind of a sanitized version of what life was like at Vogue; I mean, there were no hours," she reflected. "And I traveled a great deal; I think one year I was only home maybe between September and Easter two weekends—and one of them was Christmas. I traveled all over the world."
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For Wang, putting together a bridal look includes many different elements—including some that brides may not even think of.
“To see the whole wedding picture in total is what I sort of wish every bride could think of,” she says, “because frequently you have a wedding where you have a party planner and a florist, they don't ever really connect with you normally at fittings or when you're bridal shopping.”
“If you don't know what they have in mind for you, and sometimes you can't even control them because you're so busy, you don't even think of it,” she adds. “So a bouquet can make or break a dress. I've seen it.”
She continues: “I've seen some girls buy a really beautiful ornate dress, and then she looks like she's carrying a centerpiece, which is way too much,” Wang adds. “I think when the dress is more ornate, probably what you hold should be more minimal. I think if the dress is more minimal, you can afford something more complex than the flowers. But these are the things that I think escape brides when they're shopping.”
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