White Elegance Temple Dresses…Worth Every Penny!

Lace Ireland White Temple SetSince White Elegance began making LDS Temple Dresses and accessories over 25 years ago, our customers have been our number one priority.  Occasionally we like to take time to address questions you may have about our business.  Recently, we had a patron express concern about the price point of our temple dresses, so our co-founders, Tamera and Anna, took the time to sit down and share some particulars about White Elegance and our day to day operations.

Our Staff

Our stores are successful because of our outstanding sales associates.  They believe every White Elegance customer should have a memorable experience picking out and trying on Temple clothing, Blessing outfits and Baptism dresses. They often invite moms to take pictures of their daughter trying on Baptism dresses, turning it from “just a shopping trip” into a special event. We are happy to pay our employees good wages and treat them with the greatest respect while providing a family friendly environment.   Most of our associates have been with White Elegance for over 10 years.

Our Designs

We don’t collect Temple dress designs from other sources.  All White Elegance Temple dresses are designed in house.  Our first designer, Elizabeth Grand, had 45 years of  experience creating designs for some of the most famous names and brands. Our current design team has a combined experience of 80 years in bridal, prom and Temple clothing design, pattern making, fabrication, sizing and production.  We’re honored to pay our team well to create unique apparel to fit differing shapes in sizes XXS to 5XL.  At great expense, we carry most of our Temple dresses, skirts and tops in varying lengths to cater to all heights, from our most petite to our most statuesque clientele. We keep all sizes and lengths in stock and ready to ship, and have often, at our own expense, created items for those with special needs.

Our Fabrics

We currently are using over 28 different fabrics to create our Temple dresses, skirts, tops and jackets.  Nearly all of our textiles are made specifically for White Elegance and must be ordered in lots of 3000 yards.  We only accept truly white and high quality fabrics and notions so when you buy from White Elegance you know your clothing will last a long time and is going to wear and wash wonderfully.

Our Manufacturing and Production

80% of our Temple apparel is produced domestically, paying fair wages and supporting American workers.

Our Overhead

White Elegance currently has three brick and mortar stores, an office and an 8000 square foot warehouse.  We regularly employ local businesses for services including information technology, accounting, window/carpet cleaning, advertising, utilities, signage, and repairs. For over 25 years we have supported the communities of which we are a part and, whenever possible, utilize our fellow small businesses.  We also pay all local, state and federal taxes and stand by our ethical business and advertising standards.

LDS Temple Dresses Petite Through PlusOur Young Women Classes

White Elegance regularly opens our Utah stores after hours to provide engaging and inspiring classes for Young Women organizations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  To date, White Elegance has taught over 5000 of these classes, which are offered completely free of charge.  These programs are led by outstanding, talented women that we pay for their valuable time.

Our Charitable Works

We believe in mourning with those that mourn and have put this into practice by occasionally providing, free of charge, burial clothing to families with loved ones who have died in horrific or tragic circumstances. We financially support the good works of The Salvation Army, Days For Girls International, and Operation Underground Railroad, among others.  This year we also donated 3000 kits to Days for Girls International.

Our Personal Values

We hold callings in our church, city and community.  We don’t live lavish lives and are proud to provide excellent products and services at a fair price.  At the end of the day it’s hard to believe White Elegance can accomplish all of this and keep our average dress price point at a mere $85…worth every penny!


Meet Our Designer

The beauty of blogging, as opposed to journalistic writing, is that rather than suppressing emotion you can actually pour it directly into your posts.  I’m grateful for that, because today I am writing about an extraordinarily talented woman that I’ve had the pleasure of calling my friend for over thirty years. Let me introduce you to the Head Designer for White Elegance, Lisa Raty.

I wanted to share a bit about the woman I know before telling the story of her career and what brought her to White Elegance.  First and foremost, Lisa is a remarkably dedicated mother and friend who remains loyal through thick and thin.  She is passionate about creativity in all of its forms, whether it is sketching a new silhouette on whatever scratch paper she has handy or listening to her children play Rachmaninoff.  She infuses everything she does with a sense of purpose and carries it out with deliberateness…characteristics that definitely show in all of her designs.

She is also a faithful, intelligent, spiritually minded deep thinker.  She relentlessly pursues understanding in her gospel study, as well as in all other aspects of her life.  I often receive texts from her including references to some new and interesting topic she is exploring, and I love having her share her insights with me.

Lisa is one of the most down to earth people I know; firmly grounded and always ready to share her honest opinion.  Like all of us, she has had her share of difficult days, but has remained hopeful, determined and resilient.  In fact, of all the admirable qualities she possesses, it is her underlying strength that I appreciate most. A mutual friend described her as “an extraordinary fusion of ferocity and grace,” a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

As for her career as a designer at White Elegance, that began during a shopping trip around 2009.  Her local temple had announced that they would not have rental clothing available when they opened, so Lisa headed out to find a new temple dress.  While she was at White Elegance, purchasing a few items, the salesperson handed her a comment card on which she wrote, “I’d be happy to help with some new designs if you’re ever interested.”  Co-owner, Tamera Perkins, got in touch with her right away and, knowing a good thing when she saw it, hired Lisa within the month.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Lisa’s experience with and love of design and fashion has spanned a lifetime. I recently sat down with her for a brief interview.


Q:  When did you first know that you wanted to pursue a career in design?

A:  My earliest memory of being in church is drawing clothes and shoes on the back of the program. That’s what I remember.  I eventually went to BYU and my mother told me I should be in communications. I went to Communications 101, and it was completely uninspiring to me.  I was talking to my mom on the phone and I’m drawing a dress, and I’m having that moment where I am remembering, “You’ve been doing this …as long as you can remember…sitting around drawing dresses.”  And it just hit me, that’s all I want to do.


Q:  How do you define fashion?

A:  I don’t know if I can define it, and I think that’s because every person has a different reason for their clothing choices. Sometimes it’s to project an image, but what I find for most people is that it is more complicated than that.  It’s “how do I feel comfortable?” I have to feel equal parts attractive and comfortable…and it has to be easy to put on.


Q:  What is your favorite piece in your personal wardrobe?

A:  I do have a jacket that I absolutely adore.  I love it inside and out.  I love the way it makes me look and feel.  It’s a black jacket with a high collar and it has these cool buttons on it.  The inside is lined in pink, so every seam is covered in hot pink.  I think it is really beautiful.


Q: What is your favorite aspect of design?

A:  I think one of the most fun things I do is picking out fabric.  I love every different kind of fabric.  I love how it smells and how it feels when you run it through your fingers, how it feels against your body, how it floats.  I went to the Jordan River temple recently and I was walking up the stairs and I saw a woman in the original Boho dress coming down the staircase and the back of the dress was floating down the stairs behind her and I teared up because it was so beautiful.

If you are asking about the process, it’s drawing fifteen different dresses and finally saying, “That’s it! That ticks all the boxes.”  The fun part is thinking, “This is the customer and I think they are going to be happy with this dress.”  I read all of the customer cards…every one…and look for all the things they wish we had.


Q:  If you could collaborate with any one designer, living or dead, who would it be and why?

A:  Alexander McQueen.  He was a pattern making genius, and that’s what I wish I was.  That man could make fabric lay against a body like butter.  That’s what I wish I could do.  I want to collaborate with someone who can teach me something like that.


Q: Which is your favorite White Elegance temple dress and why?

A: We are decommissioning the Starburst, but that was my favorite dress.  I think it was because I was given free rein.  They didn’t ask what I was designing, they just let me do it.  I thought it was something my mom would have worn.  I thought, “My mom would be proud of this dress.”  I feel like these dresses are kind of like my children and I worry about them like the toys on the island of misfit toys…are they all going to find a home and be loved and be worn by someone who loves them.


Q: How do you want women to feel when they are wearing your designs?

A:  I want them to feel like they don’t have to think about their clothes; they are so comfortable that it’s no longer an issue in the temple.  They feel like themselves.  Nothing is binding or bothering them, they can just focus…their clothes are taken care of.


Q:  What is the difference between designing the temple wear line and the new Ava Raquel everyday wear?

A: Color!  There is so much more involved with the new line…things that I haven’t had to think about [with the temple dresses] like hem length and sleeve length.  Again, decisions are always driven by the customer, just like in our temple line.  But picking out colored buttons was really fun!


Q: What was your inspiration for the new line?

A:  My inspiration is always the customer.  It’s getting to know them, their needs.  It’s almost always how to help them hide what they want to hide and show what they want to show and make them look and feel beautiful.


So, there you have it.  As a White Elegance customer, you are a part of the process from inception to completion.  You are at the forefront of every design.  And behind that design you will find the immensely talented, Lisa Raty.