That Was Then, This Is Now

Then & Now

Dress (remixed): Hera Couture

Shoes: Mel (similar here)

I’m not one of those people who thinks that your wedding day is the Most Important Day Of Your Life ™, but even I have to admit that your wedding gown probably is the Most Important Dress Of Your Life.




I still remember how I felt the first time I saw the dress I would be married in (Obviously. It wasn’t that long ago). I remember the excitement of being fussed over and fitted, the deliberations over colour (bone), train (yes), and whether to wear a red sash or not (not). I remember stepping into the dress on my wedding day, my best friend and sister zipping me up, and how beautiful it made me feel.

Since that day The Dress has been sitting in a garment bag in my wardrobe. It doesn’t take up much space; there’s no petticoats, no tulle, no boning. Without a body to fill it out it’s the limp promise of a gown, the matte sheen of silk and a hint of gossamer chiffon.

I un-zipped the bag once or twice this past year to run my hand over the beautiful fabric, and try and recapture how magical that day in January felt. There’s still the hint of my “something borrowed” perfume in the cloth.

With all that’s happened in the last few months it makes no sense for me to still be nostalgic about my dress. Looking at it makes me sad and wistful about broken promises and a future that is no longer on the cards. But I still couldn’t bring myself to part with it.

I moved into my new apartment (my new HOME) last weekend, and when I excavated my wedding gown from the bottom of one of my suitcases I couldn’t help but have a little bit of a cry. Afterwards I tried to think about what I should do with the dress. Keeping it was ridiculous. I wasn’t exactly going to save it for a potential future daughter, and it couldn’t stay in my wardrobe like an emotional landmine. But selling it seemed unthinkable; too many happy memories were bound up in its seams.

It’s a deceptively simple dress, my wedding gown. Unfussy in its construction, the only adornment comes from the elegant drapery of chiffon that is tacked to the bodice. It was short work to strip this layer off and reveal the bare bones of the dress itself: A simple bodice with a wide v-neckline, an a-line skirt that becomes full circle at the back, a matching waistband in the same, sumptuous matte silk.

It was easy too, to take inches off the bottom and convert the floor length hem to tea length. Dry-cleaning removed the creases from long storage, the last whisper of perfume and the inevitable smudges leftover from a long and joyous day as a bride.

Also gone are the less tangible ghosts: the memory of the dress swirling around my legs while The Sophisticate and I danced, the heat of his hand on the small of my back, the way the strap fell down my shoulder when we leant over, laughing, to cut the cake.

This new dress is a clean slate. Custom-made to fit me, from the most beautiful fabric – it’s either the cheapest, or most expensive item in my wardrobe.

I toyed with the idea of dyeing it, but I think I like the colour. It’s fresh, and full of promise.

I wanted to thank every single one of you who has left me comments and sent me emails of support and love. Thank you for sharing your stories, your prayers, your best wishes, and your condolences. I’m doing OK, all things considered, and that’s mostly because I know I have so many people who are standing behind me.

I’m stronger because of you.


92 thoughts on “That Was Then, This Is Now

  1. This post made me cry.
    You are an amazing human being. Thanks for sharing this, I am sure it took a lot of guts to write it.

  2. I do wish you well on this new stage of your life. I have been reading you for a while now and I have always been inspired by your retro looking clothes.
    I don’t know much about the whys and the hows of what has happened.. and I don’t need to know at all. Just know that there are many on here that are wishing you happiness <3

  3. It’s a beautiful dress and you look beautiful in it. Wish I could reach through the screen and give you a big hug.

  4. Long, LONG time reader, first time commenter. This is the bravest thing I think I have ever seen. Your honesty and bravery is both refreshing in the blog world and absolutely inspirational. I’ve always thought you are a person that looks graceful and elegant. Now I see it absolutely comes from within.

  5. Your old/new dress is lovely,and so are you. stay strong,but not too strong as to rely on loved ones,and allow yourself time to heal.

  6. I’ve been a longtime reader and big fan of your blog. I felt for you when I read what youhave been going through. Sending good thoughts and positive vibes your way xx

  7. I would be able to send you the biggest hug… You’re strong, and brave. And beautiful, too! Things are only things, but they can hurt, sometimes: let’s fight!
    With love, from the other side of the world: you have a big fan, here!

  8. I think this is a great idea, transforming your wedding dress into something you can enjoy and make new great memories in!

  9. Girl, you are AMAZING in every possible way 🙂
    and I’m sending you my best wishes and please, don’t give up.
    I know, I know… but if it’s something worth fighting for is your happiness, your dreams and your future. And who knows? Maybe life will bring you what you wish for sooner than you expect?
    huge HUG!

  10. Oh Lilli dear you have been in my thoughts and heart. You look lovely in your dress and you know what? I know you are going to be ok xxx

  11. Oh Lilli, so beautiful. Have been thinking of you so much, I don’t know you but I feel as though I do! I admire your multi-faceted bravery and think you are doing absolutely amazingly. You just never know what life is planning for you and I am positive it will bring you everything you can’t even think of yet but so deserve. I say this with a baby kicking in my tummy after losing 3 precious ones before him – never give up hope. Much love to you from Scotland, your dress looks simply amazing xxx

  12. This post is so brave and poignant.
    The reimagined dress is a good metaphor for life- making the best of what is. Not trying to forget things, but integrate them into yourself going forward, into your future. It may not look how you imagined, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be wonderful.

    May those big, dark, sad looking eyes of yours twinkle again with joy, and soon, my dear xx

  13. Just a big mwah to you and your new fresh beginnings- making a life afresh from the old, like your dress which looks stunning on you xxx

  14. I wish the Internet would let me give you a big hug in person. Your courage and honesty are simply inspiring. Thinking of you xxx

  15. My English is by far not good enough to say what I would like to say. I’m following your blog for quite a long time. The last two posts made me cry, because although I don’t know you in person, I feel like a friend and I think you do deserve only the best things in life. I hope and I wish that the year has many good surprises to you.

  16. Lilli,
    The Sophisicate was a fool to let you go. You are beautiful inside and out. I know I don’t know the nuances of your marriage, but I can’t help but think he made a huge mistake. Stay strong my love.

  17. So brave and honest. You have the thoughts and good wishes of manymany people behind you as you continue your search for happiness! The reasons behind these dark spots in our lives always seem to come clear when we step into the next, even better chapters ahead of us

    I know that all you’re hoping for will come to you. I just know it! <3

  18. You’re a beautiful person and blogger. I always look forward to your new posts. I am sorry you are going through a difficult time. Just remember you bring hope and encouragement to curvy, plus size, and thin women all over the world with your fashion style and bravery.

  19. This is just so beautifully written, it broke my heart a little. What an incredible and brave step, to make something new and beautiful from something that could have been a reminder of your pain.

  20. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said, but this post was beautiful, you are beautiful, and how you decided to change this dress is beautiful. <3

  21. I’ve been enjoying your blog for quite some time, and have been rooting for you. I’m so very sorry that this is what’s happened. What your reworking of the dress shows me is that you are resilient and solution based, that you’re ready to move forward and that you’re lovely in a gown. You have so much ahead of you. Give yourself the gift of happiness, you sure are ready for it! 🙂

  22. What a fantastic (& amazingly inspirational) idea! You should be proud at how you are coping with all of this. Wear that dress & only remember happy memories.

  23. Yo look fabulous in your new dress. Fit u eve better. Enjoy your new home and memories are going to come…smile lillie please. ????. Million xxxx

  24. You are a tough lady. I admire your willingness to keep walking toward happiness. I know you will find your place. And this is an awesome dress and it is an awesome backstory, and you are awesome. Fist pump!

  25. Dream new dreams, Lilli. Bigger ones, fabulous ones, dream of things you never could have even imagined a few years ago for yourself.

    You are beautiful — inside and out.

  26. Stay strong. We’re all behind you, willing you forward and waiting for the sun to shine on you soon. x

  27. You are a very strong, resilient and motivated young lady. It took me nearly 2 years to bring out of the cupboard the dress I wore to my (now defunct) engagement party. The way you have modified the dress is stunning and it signals a new and fresh part of your life. Keep strong as you are loved and adored.

    Thousands of positive thoughts are being sent out into the universe for you.

  28. I imagine it would be cathartic to create something new and fresh and full of promise from your old dress. All my love and best wishes for new beginnings.

  29. As for others, I too have read your blog for a long time but this is my first time commenting.
    Those eyes of yours tell a story in themselves however accompanied by those beautifully written words, you have transported us all to a time and place where we too felt deep pain. You’ve reminded me that memories are stored not only in our minds but in things, smells, sounds, touch. In changing your dress you’re empowering a new narrative but also allowing yourself to feel…this is a courageous and beautiful thing you are doing and it’s what let’s me know that yes, you will be okay.

    Sending you all my love.

  30. You did a great job on the dress and you should be able to get a lot of use out of it. Best wishes on making the new home all your own!

  31. I have been reading for a long time and I really just wanted to comment and echo what everyone else has been saying. I think you are so brave, gorgeous, honest and I know you will move forward from this.

  32. You are an amazing woman who inspires me both in fashion and in life. I love how the remaking of your dress shows your capacity to hold love alongside loss and make it a symbol of a hopeful and beautiful future. Thank you for sharing, it’s a story that will resonate with many of us. Good luck!

  33. That IS a beautiful dress! I love the drape of the back skirt. May you wear it in good health with friends who help you laugh. Take good care of yourself-

  34. I love the dress tea length. Such a clever girl you are to see the potential for the future in the past. Accept that the past happened, recover and move forward. And we the peeps will cheer you on. xxx

  35. What a darling dress Lilli – and how wonderful you to focus on beauty and the opportunity to transform, despite how very hard it all must be. Take care, your blog really is such a lovely place to visit 🙂

  36. The more I look at your remix work on that dress, I’m thinking that it would look FAB with a red cardigan, and your stretchy belt with the heart shaped belt-buckle! (or a red sash) Plus that red, heart-shaped, leather bag! Fabbity Fab fab FAB!!!

  37. Oh, Bravo, you! A terrific transformation of a dress and a brave transformation of your life at the same time.

  38. Lily, your new/old dress looks stunning. I love the skirt with its a-line front and beautifully draped full skirt back. The frock make-over is a lovely metaphor for how dramatic life events don’t have to mean tossing out the old and starting from scratch. Choosing what worked, reshaping it here and there, means you get to bring the best bits with you into the future. Cheers to you.

  39. I’ve been reading your blog for well over 18 months and have never had the courage to post a comment. I’ve been where you are.. a marriage crumbling under your fingers.. and I too had many wonderful friends walking by my side helping me through the emotional roller coaster that would be my life for a while. It does get better. In a longer time frame that you would imagine. It took me 5 years to really rediscover my strength, my easy laugh, my courage and my willingness to give happiness another chance. You’ll have dark days, but know that darkness can’t last forever.. ~Kathy from Canada

  40. Lili you rock! If you are ever in Perth for business (or hols) I would love to take you out for a drink to celebrate your most excellentness.

  41. I have been thinking about you so much since your last post, my heart was breaking for you. I don’t think I would have the courage to be so open and honest and to tackle this head on, making something beautiful to move forward in whilst remembering the past. Sending you lots of virtual hugs and love from England.

  42. Sending you lots of love, and nothing but the best of wishes for your future. You are an amazingly brave woman.

  43. Your resilience is remarkable and inspirational. Enjoy your new home, your haven. And remember, just because you have a crazy cat, that doesn’t automatically mean crazy cat lady, ok? 😉
    You’re amazing!
    On a footwear related front, I bought 2 pairs of Miz Mooz shoes today and thought of you!

  44. Total respect for making over this beautiful dress. A brave and significant step, an homage to the past as you move forward to a future that WILL be glorious. Onwards…….

  45. I think this was a great choice, onwards and upwards. We cannot erase the past but we can choose what to take forward. So I totally understand why those happy memories still move you, I never felt as loved by everyone as I did on my wedding day. Wear your dress and think of all the love and support you still have x

  46. <3
    Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade!! Beautiful!! You, the dress and the sentiment. Funny, I live half a world a way, but I am proud of you. You are brave and inspirational–not just your fashion, although I follow that too–but I hope you keep us all posted. We are listening and pulling for you!!!!! (and your sweet sister) <3

  47. I love how you turned your wedding dress into such a powerful metaphor for your situation, taking a symbol for the future you where planning and changing it into something new – not better or worse, only different. Not trying to throw away that other plan, but building on it and creating something of your own. I hope this doesn’t sound to melodramatic, what I want to say is that I believe that you can do whatever you want to with your life and even if things don’t turn out the way you thought they were it can still be fabulous in the end. Like you and your dress. Many hugs from a Swede in Norway

  48. Anyone who puts their job or personal gain ahead of their wife/husband should not be married. I am really sad for you Lilly, and i don’t know the whole story, but it all just seems so unfair. How is a job anymore important that someone you claim to love with all your heart? If that all fades away, then who do you run too? All these things can be taken away from someone in an instant, nothing is guaranteed. However, a marriage should be protected and nurtured at number 1 priority in my opinion. Is there anything greater or worth more than love? To me, no.

    I hope to see you one day fulfil your dreams with a big smile on your face, so bright and large that it makes a statement to all the one’s who have let you down and hurt you. Nothing is impossible when we have the right attitude and fight for what is ours.

    Stay strong Lilly, you may not know most of us in person but we care for you and only want to see you more than happy, a conquerer in the making.

    You will grace that mountain and reach the top where your flag will be deeply struck in. We have all the faith in you.

    All the best.

  49. A brave & beautiful transformation, Lilli. You look stunning in your ‘new’ dress. And welcome to your new home. I look forward to many more photos in front of your new wall & to many more stories from your new journey in life. x

  50. Beautiful Lilli. I agree with what everyone else says above, I wish you well, I’m so happy you have a new home and I can’t wait to read and see your new adventures with your new wall 🙂

  51. Powerful post Lilli. I dare say your words struck a common chord of heartache and loss in many of us. Also, of courage and hope. I join the group hug from around the world with the conviction that we will hug again in joy. María, hailing from Uruguay

  52. Thanks everyone for your support for my darling daughter. She will overcome her travails as she has inner toughness, stamina and resilience, just like my youngest daughter, Mae.

  53. Go Lilli, we are all behind you. Wishing you strength. Thank you for sharing your journey with us all xx

  54. This brought a tear to my eye Lilli. What a very positive step towards your bright future! You are very brave and honest to share this time with us – we all feel like we are your friends! Hang in there, beautiful x

  55. I truly believe that by daring to be vulnerable and by being vocal about what you are going through (being in a blogpost or by talking to a friend), you become stronger. And look at you in that lovely remixed dress…

  56. Oh Lili I hope this year is a better one for you. Your bravery and honesty are an inspiration, the dress is a lovely idea. It would be understandable if you gave into bitterness and anger, but you are doing something positive instead. As someone who waited too long to have children, I can’t help but think you made the right choice. I hope that’s not too personal. I wish all good things for you in the future xxx.

  57. Love & hugs & courage to you, my dear! You are smart, kind, courageous, beautiful, and a truly shining soul. You are picking up and moving forward, and you have so many of us cheering for you & giving you the strength to go on. I would give anything to feed you, hug you, & give you proper comfort. Take good care, sweet lady.

  58. Lilli, I’ve been following your blog for years, although I’ve mostly been a lurker, and I’m so sorry you’ve had such a rough time of it lately. My heart breaks for you, but it’s also so obvious from this post and your last post how incredibly resilient and wonderful you are. I hope you get all of your dreams fulfilled; your reaching for them through some very difficult times is very inspiring (and reminds me to not settle for something not-quite-enough). Wishing you all the best and sending you the biggest mental hugs ever if you want them.

  59. I just wanted to let you know that you are in my thoughts these days. Like many above, I’ve been a long time reader and feel like I know you through your pictures and stories. My heart breaks for you, my friend but please know you are surrounded in love. Both in person and through all of us on here. So much love and kindness are being sent your way. Take as long as you need to get back on your feet – in the meantime – much love to you.

  60. Hi dear, I’ve not looked at your blog for a while but looked today to find out your Instagram name so I could follow you over there. So its with sadness to find out your current situation after following your blog avidly during and after the time of your marriage. I wish I could say or do something to make the pain away but only time can do that I guess. I’m so sorry and I wish you warmth and love. x

  61. Even those of us who are longtime readers of your blog cannot possibly know all that has been involved in your situation…although as one who has gone through numerous trials in my marriage I can somewhat imagine. If it isn’t the right thing for you to stay then kudos for breaking away early, before children are involved, and you can move on and fine real happiness with someone who will put your needs first. You do deserve love and joy, and I pray that you find that. You are a beautiful girl inside and out.

  62. I’m so happy to see you posting again! 🙂 I had thought for sure it would be a few months before I got to see your gorgeous self!

    I applaud your honesty and ability to take a good, hard look at things and make something of the dress. It couldn’t have been an easy decision to make, yet it was a great choice! You look lovely in the color and shape, and I know you’re going to be able to do wonderful things in it.

    Love, hugs, and tea to you, honey… I hope each day gets a little better. *squeeze*

  63. I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said, but all the good wishes and hugs and tears, all of that from me to you too and a firm hope that greater and better is just around the next corner.

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