CLAIRE PETTIBONE + PERSONAL POST | “I was a grown woman when my mom shared the scandal that my grandpa was not grandma’s first love.”

Gooo-deeevuhningah.  It’s totally nighttime right now, because these personal posts always take me forever.  Oh and we’re totally gonna get to these dresses in a second, promise.  (Maybe not a second.)  But first, this.     

I’m a big Claire Pettibone fan… I mean honestly who isn’t, I’m not reinventing the wheel here.  Whether or not they’re your specific style, her gowns are the stuff of dreamscapes, and it’s hard not to ogle and admire their delicate details and playfulness with color.  They are nothing if they are not deeply inspired… which they are, and in a big way.

The images of these gowns were some of my personal faves to arrive in TKB’s inbox.  And the plan was that I was gonna write what I was feeling today like usual, whether or not it was related to the gowns, and then share the dresses.  Done and done.  And then all hell broke loose, because I read Claire’s brief story about the inspiration for her latest collection which I’ve included below and invite you to read right about now:

“My grandmother was quite the 1920’s bohemian… her first husband was a rum-runner during prohibition, and was mysteriously killed in a “motorcycle” accident. She never talked about him, and I was a grown woman when my mom shared the scandal that my grandpa (her father) was not grandma’s first love. I’ve been thinking about Anna Mae, and looking at the photos of her second wedding that we all thought was her first. She wore a beautiful mauve scalloped silk dress with a velvet sash at the hip, round spectacles and stylish Mary Jane’s. Grandma has long passed, but I have her wedding dress, the intricate embroidered linens she made by hand, her gold rimmed china with delicate painted roses… and a good dose of her free spirit.  The sweet and simple details of our heirlooms: lace linens, golden lockets, fine china, don’t they make lovely inspiration for a wedding dress?” — Claire Pettibone.

Uhhhhh.  I don’t know about you, but this is incredible.  A designer who feels free enough to share her life’s truths with us, with such ease and wonderment, is a designer after my own heart.  When I read passages like that one above, a breeze of crisp, fresh air fills my lungs with life, lingers a bit to make its mark, and then breathes new life into my surroundings when I finally exhale.  Designers like Claire inspire me, mind, body and soul.  Bambino also feels this way.  Breathes new life into him, too.  I think it even has this special effect of making him think his old toys are all brand new.  It’s either the life-air or the ‘being a dog.’

Now, if you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I tweeted an inspirational quote I heard while watching Bethenny With A Baby And Marriage Difficulties or whatever the title is of her latest spin-off of her other, previous spin-off.  In the episode I watched, Lucy Danziger, Editor-In-Chief of SELF chatted with Bethenny before her cover shoot for the magazine.  Bethenny was frazzled, more than normal.  Like all of us, she was having an emotional reaction to the trouble of balancing it all and keeping up appearances.  And in their conversation about life and keeping it together and the difficulties we all face as human beings, Lucy told her this:

“If people aren’t willing to be vulnerable and say, ‘I have these weaknesses and here is how I overcame them,’ then we can never teach each other.”

What Lucy said to Bethenny was on another level.  It’s like, *the key* to living a life with purpose.  You just really have to make yours count.  And that doesn’t mean you have to join the Peace Corps, though of course I encourage you to if that’s your jam.  Here’s what it means to me– it means not putting up a front.  So, for example, I’m the editor of TKB, right?  It means that when someone asks me how I do it, I tell them “very difficulty.”  I don’t tell them running TKB is cake walk, because helllllls no it isn’t.  It’s WORK.  And I’m still learning.  I have questions every. single. day. about how I can improve this or that.  Blog speed.  Key words.  SEO.  I have no interest in saying to people that I know exactly how to do everything in my field, because what’s the point of that?  No one knows everything, and we’re all learning how to do things and get by in this life.  And to feel that appearing like you’re always totally happy and always totally in the know, is to rob yourself of useful learning and bonding experiences that can arise from being able to speak without restraint about any little thing that’s bothering you or you’re facing.

I wish people would stop trying to keep it together in a presentable enough way, just for the sake of appearing like they are good at keeping it together.  What is the point of that, like, ultimately?  A lot of us spend so much time wanting to come off happy all the time.  Wanting to appear that we feel bright and cheery every single day.  Wanting to seem completely in control all of the time.  When we’re not.  No one is.  No really, like NO ONE is, every day!  It’s simply not human to have zero challenges in life, or zero flaws in your character.  It took me a long-ass time to realize that, by the way.  And I certainly still don’t have all the answers, obvs.  I just have the fortune of counsel of some very good women and men in my life, from whom I’ve learned a few of the essential truths of how to live life in a way that won’t make it so challenging, emotionally, every day.  At base, it’s really all about letting go of the need to look like you have all of your s**t together, and embracing the realness of one simple thing: that we’re all struggling in this world, and that all of us want to be happy.  (Not look or appear happy, be happy.  So why are we spending so much time trying to get the ‘appear happy’ part down?  Looking or appearing happy is not a legitimate goal a person should have, yet I find it’s the goal of a crapload of people in this world.)  So you wanna get there?  Well it forreals starts with having your s**t together and figuring out how to appear happy!  hahaa, nah, I’m just kidding.  Just tryin to lighten the mood, it’s pretty heavy, my bad :)  So but yeah, achieving happiness forreallyreal starts with keeping it real.  You know, keeping it really real.  Like, sharing what’s *really* going on in our personal lives with people we feel we can trust.  Omigod I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how critical some conversations with friends have been to my life, when I’ve told them the truth about an issue Honey and I were having, or an emotional reaction I was having that I wasn’t sure was the right reaction to have.  Friends will open up LIKE CRAZY if you open up to them.  And ohhhhh the things you’ll learn from each other!  Magical.  Truly magical.

I happen to bare my soul here on the blog a bunch, it’s one of the ways I keep it real, but obvs. you don’t have to do it on a blog.  It’s about the conversations you have with friends, or with loved ones (or even with yourself– being honest with yourself is often a challenge but it can be incredibly eye-opening).  You’d be amazed how connected you can feel with a person in a single moment, when the two of you realize that, for example, you’ve both had moments in life where you’ve completely fallen apart emotionally over your own appearance.  Or how you both might feel that you don’t know how to communicate with your significant other, or that you feel that you and your fiance argue differently, and so you never feel like you get anywhere when you have a disagreement, and how infuriating that is to you.  Trust me, there are a lot of people who are just. like. you.  In almost every way.  If you’re feeling something, a gazillion people before you and after you have and will feel that same way in their own lives.  Just decide to say it out loud and see what happens.

I HAVE GONE ON LONG ENOUGH, HAVEN’T I?  WOWZERS.  But I do want to know, if you’re willing to tell me– have you had moments like this?  Where you’ve bared your soul to someone you know and felt relief over the shared experience?  Whether with a friend, or with a family member.  Have you had a parent or parent figure in your life who has kept it real with you, and helped you become comfortable with your own truths, because they were comfortable enough in their own selves to keep it real with you and tell you they’ve been there, done that, and learned from it?  DEEP, deep stuff, I know.  I know.  I’m a little heavy today, forgive me.  Blame Claire?  No, don’t blame Claire, blame me for getting all thoughtful about a simple little story she told us about her super cool grandma.

Ok forreals, you’ve suffered enough at the hand of my verbal diarrhea; here we go with the dresses that started it all…





(seriously, dying over this one.  DYING.)


So, here’s what I’m wondering…

1) Do you have any fave dresses, or fave details?

2) Have you ever sat down with a parent, a parent figure, a grandmother or grandfather, or really anyone who’s important to you and has contributed to shaping your life… and had one of those *eye-opening* conversations with them?  Do you feel like you’ve learned important life lessons from your relatives/loved ones, that you wouldn’t really know, at least right now, had you not had that opportunity to speak about real life, or maybe insecurities, or difficult pasts, or any other not often discussed types of issues in life?

The conversations I’ve had specifically with my own mother, about her past and the things she has gone through, good and bad, have been essential to molding the person I have become, and continue to grow into.  There are truths about life that, if she hadn’t revealed to me in willfully vulnerable moments that what I’m feeling or doing is normal BECAUSE SHE FELT IT OR DID IT, TOO – honestly, you just can’t believe sometimes how much goodness can come out of telling someone your truth.  You just, it’s unbelievable.

I wonder if you feel me on this.

I’m super interested to hear what your thoughts are.  Or anecdotes, or experiences.  You know, if you care to share with me.

xoxo  - Alison

images provided by Claire Pettibone

Label(s): {Bridal Market}, {Fashion}

Love all of this...


  1. Anni on April 30, 2012

    Oh, what a lovely story! Everything has so much more meaning to it when you hear the story behind it… so wonderful that Claire felt she could share that. The third from the bottom is my favorite. I wish I could wear it at my own wedding!

  2. Jessica on April 30, 2012

    Amen. Seriously…. amen. Never stop spillin the beans!!! The beans are so good! Love you for it. This is what the people want to hear, preach it sister.

    Oh and I <3 me some Claire :)

  3. Jaclyn on April 30, 2012

    Whoa! High five to you girl!
    I had a total moment with my sister a few months ago and you described it perfectly. We are best friends and have been our whole lives yet we’ve never been closer than we are now. My mind has never been so free. A lot of truths that night.

  4. Alex on April 30, 2012

    Love the somewhat hippiness of that last one! And i totally agree with on keeping it real and being honest. Can anything bad ever come from being honest and open? yeah, thats what i thought, pretty much never… Just had a moment like this with my best friend the other day when I found out she was preggers and I was not one of the first to know. told her how i felt, and it lead to us having an amazing conversation and it was amazing. made us that much closer. Deep conversations can do the most wonderful things to relationships!

  5. Meg on May 1, 2012

    Mmmmmkay I’m going back to read the whole post again…. I got distracted by the dresses, and then also by the model… who, it took me a few takes, I realize it’s the same girl.

  6. Kate N. on May 1, 2012

    Those dresses are absolutely amazing! How could you possibly choose??

    I played dress-up at my grandma’s my entire life, until she moved into a nursing home, and one time I put on a skirt and jacket I found in a closet and when I went downstairs to show her how well they fit, she told me that it was the suit she’d worn when she got married. She and my grandpa got married as soon as they got home after meeting in Italy in WWII and didn’t wait to save up for a dress or a big wedding. The look on her face when she saw me in those clothes is one of my most precious memories.

    I’ve been working more and more on letting out the things I need to let out. It’s hard at first, but it feels so, so good. Sometimes it’s nice to let someone else help you along.

  7. isabelle on May 1, 2012

    ohhh i want that “grace” dress. those lace sleeves are all i want to see this season!

  8. Mollie on May 1, 2012

    Holy crapola, it is the same model!

    I screwed up in my life recently, big time. And I had no choice but to be open and honest about it with the people I love most, and it sucked. And it hurt real bad. But I have had some of the most deep, real, and meaningful conversations because of it. Admitting mistakes, revealing all of your weaknesses to someone, it allows them to do the same to you, and feel okay about it. My sister, my best friend in the world, has struggled with an eating disorder for 12 years. We’ve never REALLY talked about it, until now. She didn’t think anyone could understand her weaknesses and limitations. Oh so wrong we all are! When you realize that everyone is imperfect, everyone struggles, and you can bond over that, and talk about it and support each other… holy crap, you realize you’ll be okay. You realize that life is beautiful, even with mistakes and heartache and all the crap that we put ourselves through.

    I Love TKB. And beautiful wedding dresses.

  9. Lena on May 1, 2012

    First things first, these gowns–absolutely, transcendently beautiful. But Claire’s story is even more beautiful, and it reminds me of my great grandmother’s; her marriage to my great grandfather was arranged, and it took him years to get her from Greece to Connecticut. Once they were finally living in the same place, they didn’t conceive a child for several years, and went to go see a fertility doctor (read, herbalist in a turban)–and suddenly found themselves with nine children!

    But beyond the amazing stories of our elders (and how incredible it is to think of your grandmother having more than one love affair!), I LOVED this post. The other day I found myself wondering how I was going to blog this wonderful activity come Monday and I thought, “Holy shit, what the hell is wrong with me?” And just like that, I realized that I cared more about the way it looked than the way it was. There’s only so much energy you can pour into the way it looks, the way it instagrams, the way it reads. These things aren’t bad, necessarily, but life goes on without them, and when you can’t enjoy the moment without capturing it, displaying it, showing it off for others, well then you’re missing the best part, don’t you think?

  10. Cassie | Meet Mrs. B on May 1, 2012

    Are you and I on some creepy wave length? I totally felt all this way for awhile, and then wrote an (albeit brief) extremely similar feeling post today.

    P.S. Claire is love.

  11. Elizabeth Alfree on May 2, 2012

    I share your passion for the elegant wedding gowns designed by Claire Pettibone. I’ll never forget sitting at a Border’s in 2001 looking through the pile of wedding magazines with my mother and then turning the page to find, “Kristene”. It was a beautiful moment, I just knew it was THE ONE! Finding this dress led me to take a few trips to LA, meeting this wonderful, thoughtful, beautiful designer then to walking down the isle in the most elegant gown.

    Oh, the stories I could tell about life, love and relationships among our family! Just too much to write but definitely bittersweet and inspiring!

    Regards to you and everyone!

  12. 4utea on July 5, 2012

    i really love this dress!


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