Clothing Dramas


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I'm fashionably clueless about fashion, so I'm calling on all of you sophisticated and experienced people to help me out...

My company's annual dinner is coming up. It's an evening event, at a decent hotel. The invitation says "dress smart"

So, uh, what do I wear?

A couple of my coworkers just said that they go out afterwards, so they just wear loose-ish clubbing clothes. A male coworker said that my BF would be fine wearing jeans and a nice shirt.
I'm assuming cocktail sort of dresses...but a lot of cocktail dresses look too formal for what everyone else seems to be wearing.

I'm going for above the knee, but only just, and also loose fitting. Otherwise, I have no idea.

Maybe something like this:

http :// /dresses/viewitem-PD842977

It's going to be the middle of winter, too. Likely raining. Definitely cold.

Thanks :)


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I'm a big fan of little black cocktail dresses, because you can dress them up or down with accessories. But then, I'm old enough to be your mom AND a very conservative (aka stuffy) dresser, AND I have no idea what "dress smart" even means. :oops: :lol:

ETA: I'll look for pix.


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Hmm. Semi-casual and just above the knee I can do. Loose fitting is hard to find in a cocktail dress. As the character, Cher, said tin the movie Clueless, "Dress clothes are so binding!"

Anyway. I'm thinking something along these lines. I wouldn't worry about the cold or the rain. Take care of that with your coat or a wrap (which we can also talk about.) First, find your dress.

Oy! Frustration! I tried to post just the image, but can't get the front view. because of the way their site is set up. grr. Here's the link.

http://shop.nordstrom dot com/S/marc-by-marc-jacobs-coco-twist-drop-waist-dress/3273216?origin=category&fashionColor=&resultback=2709



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That's cute...though I'm not sure I like just plain black dresses...if I went with just solid black, I'd have to find something with some lace on it, I think.


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I'm not big on lace for a variety of reasons -- two being that it's easy to damage and hard to clean. But lace works, too. :cool:

The advantage of plain black dresses is that you can fancy them up or dress them down with accessories. With chunky retro jewelery, a pair of Doc Martin boots, spiky hair and black nail polish, this dress would look completely different than with stiletto red patent leather pumps, a string of pearls, and leopard print drape, a French manicure and an updo. Same dress. Two completely different personae. And you could channel both personae on the same night, if you needed to.

This is the beauty of little black dresses.


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Good point...I'll definitely look in to getting an LBD (I think fasc told me too a couple of years ago, and I just didn't get around to it)

Can't wait until the government gives me an extra "clean energy bonus" with my next payment so I can buy something pretty.


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My general prejudice after a billion years of buying clothes is to buy a few REALLY adaptable items (that are compatible with each other) in the best quality I can afford, then accessorize. It's a model that works for me.


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I think the black and pink is cute too. I love that color combination. And ... a similar effect could be had with a plain black sheath, topped with a pink cardigan or shrug. Then, when the next business casual event rolled around, L wouldn't have to go looking for a new dress. She could just wear the black dress by itself or pair it with something else. There's a lot to be said for versatility. :cool:


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If you're looking for tasteful and 'smart' and suitable for young but not girlish (which the pink strikes me as-between the shape and the color it's a bit sorority-girl), see for reference "Anything HRH Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge wears for daytime/semi-formal events." She's very good at doing tasteful, on trend without being "trendy" and not getting stuck in blah neutrals. Simple lines, especially with more busy fabrics like lace, tiny bit of sparkle accent with jewelry, and colors that flatter. I've dumped the "little black dress" for pretty much anything but dance parties as I get much more positive attention when wearing something in a bit more color.


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I think that's a great approach, if you have a closet full of "smart" outfits. I was coming to the table with the assumption that L is buildng a business casual wardrobe. Maybe I was wrong in that assumption. *shrug*

If it is wardrobe building you're after, I really do think a half dozen good quality neutral pieces is the way to go. Color can come from the accessories. Right now, I am wearing a black t-shirt and black pants, with a brught fuchsia cardigan on top. Buying basic black doesn't prevent you from wearing color. In fact, I think that, sometimes, the contrast can be more eye-catching than a garment in an all-over color.

Just my view. :cool:


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I like the pink and black dress Lioness. A few great accent pieces, bracelet(s), earrings, and a "lacey throw" or "shaw" met for evening on the shoulders, maybe in black to pick up the skirt part...since you said it's the dead of winter cold for the event - will keep you from a draft if your moving around or sitting?


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I found this...I quite like it too

I can't wait to go on a shopping trip next week and find something awesome.

Thanks everyone for your's really helpful, and I'll definitely keep it in mind next week :)


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Rhetorical question for you. What is YOUR style, L? You picked two dresses, both cute, that are two completely different styles. So what is your style? What fits your body type? Do you know?

I will tell you a secret. The best-dressed people I know don't buy what looks good in a picture or on the rack at a department store. They buy what looks good on them while fitting their own personal sense of style. The fact that I can buy something that's "in style" in a size that fits doesn't make it a good fit for me.

Have you ever watched a show or read any books by the What Not to Wear folks, either in the UK or the US? I think that some of their advice is malarkey, but that much of it is very good stuff. They go through and tell you what lengths and shapes work or don't work by body type. That's a good place to start, I think. Knowing what works for you will put you way ahead of the game.

Failing that, go try on dresses until you find one that looks like you, to you. I'll be honest and tell you that neither of the dresses you pictured looks anything like your DF persona. Yes. I know that your DF persona is not you. I just want to raise a flag and tell you that the dresses you posted, from what little I know, aren't you either. You may not have time to figure it out before this work dealie, but it really is worth it to figure out your own style.

And, while we're at it, one more piece of advice. When you're building a wardrobe, I think there are at least two approaches that work. My preferred approach is the one I mentioned twice above -- buy quality, classic neutral pieces first, then build a wardrobe around them. There really are some things that never go out of style. Another approach that works is to buy up to the minute clothes as cheaply as you can, knowing that they're going to be dated next year. What I wouldn't do, unless I had unlimited cash, would be buy expensive, up to the minute clothes. They're going to be trash next year, no matter how little or how much you pay for them. What I do is actually a mix of the two approaches. Classic stuff? I buy the best I can afford. Stuff that's "in" this season, I buy cheap. No way in the world I'm going to spend big bucks, this year, on a gauzy top or a maxi dress, no matter how cute. Both are fads for this summer. Both will be trash next year.

Really. Seriously. What dress you buy for this one event is not a big deal, BUT, especially if clothing budget is an issue, think about what you're buying and whether you'll be able to wear it again. A $200 classic blazer that you wear every other week for twenty years costs less than fifty cents a wear. With the right accessories, nobody will even know it's the same blazer. A $50 cute, distinctive dress that's in style this season you may get three or four wearings out of. Maybe. $13 - $17 per wearing, AND the catty girls will be talking about you behind your back. "Oh. She's wearing the black and pink dress AGAIN."

These are just my views and I do admit that I'm an opinionated old witch, so take everything with a box of salt. I'm offering you what I've learned. HTH. Really.


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I hear you, P.

I've chosen two completely different types of dresses, because, well, I don't really know what suits me yet. I wouldn't buy either one without trying something similar on first. Most of the dress types I know look good on me are too tight/short for a work do, or too formal for a dinner. Or too ballroom for anything but a comp, lol.

I never manage to keep up with fashion...I never try. I pretty much buy a cheap, $30 dress, and wear it until it breaks or it doesn't fit me anymore. I balk at spending more than $50 on anything. I'm sure that will change when I start earning real money...and I'll be able to buy good quality, classic clothes.

I haven't watched What Not to Wear...I don't know if we get it in Aus, and I don't really watch a lot of TV.

I definitely hear you :) I'm going to go out shopping next Thursday, and try on as many dresses as I can. I might even buy one. But until then I'm looking online for ideas, cheap things, etc.


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A trick I learned from one of my older sisters, years ago, was to find a high end resale shop and check their racks often. That's how I got my first set of good (No. Great ) clothes without breaking the bank. The clothes still weren't cheap, but they were a heck of a lot cheaper than they would have been if I'd tried to buy them new. And what's really cool about high end resale shops is that a lot of the clothes are barely worn. (I guess rich people don't have to wear clothes until they fall apart at the seams. :lol: ) I've even found quite a few things that still had the tags on and had presumably never been worn at all.

Just a thought. Not everybody likes resale and high end shops can be hard to find. But, if you find a good shop, it can be a very good thing.

ETA: There are also What Not to Wear books. I actually prefer the books, because they give an overview of all the body types rather than focusing on one test case per week.

Good luck!


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Staff member
one thing I would reccomend is a wraparound dress,,,they look good on literally everyone, they are cheap and easy to find at places like kohls ...don't know what you have there...and, you can dance in them ...they are also easy to dress up or down

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