Posts Tagged ‘weddings’

Two Dresses

This is totally going to be me

For evening adults-only wedding at San Diego's famous Prado, July: Jewelled Party Dress, jersey viscose, $96.60

I have been pretty good about not spending money on clothes . . . two cute cardigans from Macy’s (“fever” brand, they run around $68 but go on sale in the $20’s if you keep your eye out).  Silver flats that I love.  And now, for upcoming Summer wedding/rehearsal etc., stuff, I finally pulled the trigger on Boden dresses! Today was “30% off free shipping day.” You probably already missed 30% day. But if anyone is interested in Boden they are pretty generous with coupon codes, so let me know. 

Also, Ann Taylor Loft is practically breaking into my house to leave me coupons.  Any other great deals out there?

Okay it will look better on a person

Drapey jersey dress, blueberry batik, finally in stock and today just $89

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It’s a Nice Day to Start Again

Nautical look (Subtitled: Suck it in, honey!)

Nautical look (Subtitled: Suck it in, honey!)

Yesterday was Labor Day.  As far as I’m concerned, summer has two full weeks left (I like to hold out for the equinox).   For those of you in schools, though, it’s back-to-school time, and summer is over.

The important question isn’t exactly when summer ends.  It’s whether we’re supposed to stop wearing white now.  Time magazine has a useful article on the “no white after Labor Day” rule.  Apparently, the rule had a pragmatic origin (white is cooler in summer). It evolved into a high-society fashion distinction between seasons (white for summers at the country/beach, dark colors for the city “season” of fall and winter). Then, like many things, it became entrenched when it was adopted, perhaps clumsily, by the middle class.  Traditional white for brides is the same way:  It started in the 19th century in imitation of Queen Victoria’s gown, and brides took it on not to represent virginity, but wealth and fashion.   

Bridal white, updated. Of course the association of white with purity isn’t arbitrary– white is an ancient color of renewal. But color is awesome. Bottom line: wear whatever you want, it’s your day!

A white wedding dress was the ultimate extravagance because it could not be sufficiently cleaned to wear twice;  only the wealthiest brides would have a dress they wore only once.   So, like many things (don’t get me started on diamond rings) the fashion caught hold in the 20th century through commercial marketing.  Everyone thought they had to have it (or prove they could afford it), it took on the imprimateur of cultural necessity, and stuck around until very recently.  Now that we’re coming to our senses, traditional bridal gowns can incorporate color and no one (hopefully) freaks that you are making an extreme statement against marriage or (yikes are you kidding me?) premarital abstinence.

So can we wear white in fall?  Since I just got my white jeans on an end-of-season sale in August , I’m going to keep wearing them as long as it’s sunny.  It’s supposed to be in the 80’s on Saturday, and I’m going to wear something fresh and bright that makes no concessions: “hell yes it’s still summer.”  Ask me again on September 23.

Jackie Kennedy in what might be white shoes, I cant tell.  She could probably pull them off, but not me.

Jackie Kennedy in what might be white shoes, I can't tell. She could probably pull them off, but not me.

White shoes
, I’m less sure about.  I have trouble imagining white shoes that don’t look cheap.  Is that because they easily get dirty and show wear?  Is it because I went to grade school among troubled little girls who sometimes ran around in dirty socks and oversized high heels (and I envied them?) Maybe they’re just not the current fashion, so they look wrong to me.  Really I don’t want white on my feet, it’s silly to draw the eye there.  It’s hard to match legs/hose, although if I were forced to wear white shoes I’d go for nude nylons (my fabulous friend Catherine recommends Donna Karan The Nudes, which were also endorsed recently by Oprah’s Adam Glassman .)

White doesn’t go with everything, so be careful with it.  I’d call it a “false neutral.” White might not have its own hue to clash with colors, but the tone is bright and creates high contrast.  This can be cool and classy (a white/navy nautical look), or it can make you look like you’re headed for the gym (a white camisole under a blouse or dress makes it way casual).  If you’re looking for light-colored neutral bottoms, khaki and lighter grays are easier and more versatile . Also, pure white is a bit severe on the skin, especially for Ladies Approaching Forty — think ivory, cream, or warmer pale shades near your face.

Men look killer sexy in white t-shirts, but that is because they look like underwear.  Don’t wear them out of the house, unless you are trying to sell me perfume in a magazine ad. Except you, Hugh, you’re fine.

Is this getting old yet? Wait, its my blog.  Nevermind.

Is this getting old yet? Wait, it's my blog. Nevermind.

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This is Us: August 24, 2002

 . . . Or, how much we’ve aged in seven years.

by Robin

I saw Julie & Julia tonight (loved it).  I spent most of the movie with some kind of angsty longing feeling.  I wish I had time to cook more; I wish I could go to Paris.  I thought of writing up a blog post about dressing like Julia Child with a string of pearls and an apron.

Bride and Groom

Groom in Armani; Bride in Lea Ann Belter

That’s the point of the film.  Aspiration, trying to find yourself, trying to become something more. I watched it and envied Julie Powell for living in New York, but she was stuck above a Pizza Parlor in Queens envying Julia Child (who was banished to Marseille). Julie Powell wished she could be “a writer,” and finally just started writing.  Julia Child loved to eat and just started cooking.   I’ve been to Paris (not enough).  I can’t cook much French food but I can make dinner reservations in French.  I may not write a book and most days I wonder whether I have enough to say for one more day on a blog, but I’ll stick with it (for now).

A happy life is a balance — or a tension — between being happy with where we’re at in our lives and aspiring to something more.  Clothes are the same way.  Genuine or affected? Comfortable or Challenging?  Fantasy vs. Reality? Who knows. We can find ourselves in our aspirations, though. We can give ourselves room to dream but permission to live in reality. 

Weddings are that: That day where we think about the future and make an almost absurdly optimistic commitment to another person’s happiness.  We suspend our daily lives and celebrate the best in ourselves and those who love us.  We feast a little on the fantasy — not naively, but symbolically.  So that over those years of better and worse, sickness and health, we can sometimes look back and remember what we really meant in the first place.  Not to look back and say “we sure dressed up for a day” but to remember: That was us.  And this is that same us. And here we are.

Even if looking back, we feel a little silly for spending that much on a dress.

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Us, Dressed Up

When you’re invited to watch your little girl cousin, grown up into lovely Princess of a woman and marrying her best friend in front of all their loved ones — it’s time to get dressed up.  My family had been looking forward to this wedding for months, and we were each a little worried (in our own way) about what to wear.  I know we’re not alone.  For people who don’t dress up for work or daily life, getting ready for a special event can feel like putting on a costume.  Even if you go shopping just for the occasion, it’s hard to feel like yourself if you haven’t worn a dress for a year.

From left: niece, sister, niece, sister, Dad, sister, Mom, Me, kids. My Dad is sometimes asked if he's unhappy that he had four daughters and no sons. Does he look unhappy?

From left: niece, sister, niece, sister, Dad, sister, Mom, Me, kids. My Dad is sometimes asked if he's disappointed that he had four daughters and no sons. Does he look disappointed?

Everyone in my family was pleasantly surprised, then, to see each other looking individually and authentically fabulous this past weekend.  Even in dresses.  Even in heels (some of us) and even in New Accessories — we didn’t look or feel fake.  We fit in with the other guests.  We admired but eventually forgot about our clothes because we were busy having fun.  When my mom commented on this today, I tried to think of why this worked out so well for us.  For anyone else stumped or intimidated by this summer’s Dress Up occasions, here are my observations on how we stayed true to ourselves:

Anne's Wedding 025

1. Wear clothes that fit.

If you haven’t dressed up for awhile, your old Nice Clothes might not fit you anymore.  If your clothes don’t fit you won’t look your best. You’ll be uncomfortable with your body and won’t look like you. 

2. Don’t expose too much.  Virtually all women look their best showing some knee, but take care pushing it to a shorter length.  Whether you bare shoulders or show cleavage depends on your comfort level.  If you find yourself tugging at your dress or reaching for a sweater to cover up, find something else to wear — you will feel more like yourself if you’re not overexposed.

3. Get the right foundations.  The time to worry about bra straps and pantylines is when you’re shopping in the Intimate Apparel department. Buy the right underwear, and you won’t be worrying once you’re dressed up.

Beautiful pattern and cut! (She was hiding behind everyone else in the other picture)

Beautiful pattern and cut! (She was hiding behind everyone else in the other picture)

4. Dress head-to-toe.  Some Convicted Casual Wearers will concede the skirt, but refuse to pay a little more attention to the rest of their look.  Then the dress doesn’t fit with the rest of you, like you’re playing dress-up.  Wear at least one piece of jewelry.  Whatever your look is, take a few extra minutes to smooth it out and polish it up. Stick to the general style and colors that you’re used to; avoid anything bright or glittery.  Unless it is your Prom, or you want to look as uncomfortable as you did at your Prom, don’t go crazy on Special Event Hair (updos, back-combs, or heavily sculpted curls).

5. Get new shoes. Budget as much for your shoes as you do for your dress.  Don’t try finding a pretty dress to match your 5-year-old black Dansko sandals.   Old clunky shoes will bring down your whole look. If you don’t know where to start, ask a salesperson for a cute shoe to go with your new knee-length wedding-guest dress.  They should steer you away from career pumps or trouser shoes.   Seriously consider heels; there are comfortable ones made for all sizes and shapes of feet (even orthopedically-challenged).  Don’t wear any heel too high to walk steadily — you won’t look like yourself if you wobble.  If you can’t do heels, wear the prettiest flats or sandals you can find and paint your toenails.  

6. Avoid trends.  Trends are for people who know how to wear them. If you don’t have a natural feel for it (and don’t care enough to study up), stay classic and conservative.  Be careful with affecting a culture or style that is not Of Your Demographic.  This is real life, not a music video.

7. Bring it.  Sway, smile, spin around once or twice to watch your skirt flutter.  Take pictures, kiss the bride on the cheek, hug your relatives.  Compliment all the other well-dressed women you see.  Raise a toast to the happy couple and enjoy the day: You are you, and you are fabulous.

Authentic Bride: Annie, Being Annie

Authentic Bride: Annie, Being Annie

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The Best Reason to Get Dressed


All Brides are the Most Beautiful Bride.  But my cousin Anne? Maybe Most Beautiful Bride, Ever.

Author, Four-Year-Old in Zip-close necktie, and Bride

Author, Four-Year-Old in Zip-close necktie, and Bride

Karen in Pewter-and Pearl palm tree (she insists NOT animal) print; Bride

Karen in Pewter-and Pearl palm tree (she insists NOT animal) print; Bride

Baby C in Oshkosh from Target with new NAS brown patent leather shoes; DJM in Armani I married him in; 4-year-old in Zipper Necktie

Baby C in Oshkosh from Target with new NAS brown patent leather shoes; DJM in Armani I married him in; 4-year-old in Zipper Necktie

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Knee Length


I’m posting this as a point of reference more than a Do-and-Don’t list.  All the references I can find on “Skirt Length” describe lengths like “formal” and “tea” but treat “knee length” as if it’s a single hemline. The knee is not a line, it’s a whole area that moves when you walk. 

This used to really piss me off but instead I decided to just start paying attention and trying a little harder.  Examples:

1. Just below knee; 2. Top of knee; 3. Above the knee; 4. Mini.

1. Just below knee; 2. Top of knee; 3. Above the knee; 4. Mini.

1. Just Below Knee.  Fully covers knee, but any longer and you are in the difficult “mid/long skirt” area.  I would wear this to federal court or a funeral.

2.  “At or above” knee.  Covers the top of the knee, you can see knee poke out when you walk or sit down. As a rule, I’d say this is the go-to skirt length for all women on all occassions.  I would wear this length skirt to work or a wedding.

3. Above the knee. This is starting to get a little sassy but doesn’t raise any questions of decency.  It might be a little shorter than you think, if you sit down or drop something and need to pick it up.  So I wouldn’t just walk around in this length skirt without a plan, but if I was 45 and trying to revitalize my self-image, this is where I’d go.  I would wear this to a party or if I worked at The Limited.

4. Mini skirt.  Closer to fingertips than to knee.  Shows thighs. Nowhere near obscene, but when you see someone’s thighs don’t you ever think “hey, why are you showing me your thighs? Is it 90 degrees out? Are you flirting? Did you just grow 3 inches last night?” I would not wear this out of the bathroom.

I think there are probably workable lengths between 3 and 4, and it depends on style and fullness of skirt, shoes, legs, etc.  Ideas?


These bathroom cabinets are really working as a length reference 


Above, from left: Purple print, good length, better with tights; Gray knit, wore this a lot with tights and boots; Difficult 1998 mid-calf length; Little black dress, not too short but I can see now definitely not for funerals or job interviews.

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Just ordered this from Boden.  It is silk “jersey” which is kind of a twill but still nice and flowy.  I love that it has just a little pink but still sophisticated, will work for dancing (afternoon wedding with a country club dinner reception).  I don’t have much luck finding fit from Boden, but this was PERFECT — I figured I just needed to fit the bust and I was right (the cut is forgiving with shoulders and waist). Length is perfect, which is just luck since I’m short.

I’m still trying to decide on shoes.  And looking for small drop earrings, maybe teardrop-shaped pearls or something.

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