Kaitlan is married. The bride was beautiful; the ceremony, heartfelt. Her groom was not highly intoxicated, as was the groom from the 2:00 ceremony, whom we all witnessed make a fool of himself and his bride as they proceeded through the Arch of Sabers while we waited patiently (albeit awkwardly) to enter the Naval Academy Chapel.
They exchanged vows. They kissed. They walked elegantly through the aforementioned arch. And as the afternoon and evening proceeded, the clouds held their rain, and the wine flowed.
I wore the navy last-minute-purchase dress, which seems anti-climactic to write about now. It had, as my friend Sheila described it, a Judy Jetson neckline. It was fitted and sleeveless with this fantastic zipper up the front. And most importantly, I felt amazing in it.
But what fueled me the most (aside from the cosmos and the wine and the champagne and the wine and the beer and the champagne) was being approached by the mother of one of the bridesmaids and being asked when I’m going to write a book. There’s nothing like hearing that someone you don’t know enjoys your writing to make you want to write more. I need those two weeks of solitude to get a jump-start on said book, and I came back from Annapolis determined to find that time.
As Kaitlan and Adam begin this next chapter of their lives together, I will be inspired by new beginnings. I’ll review my 2012 goal board and keep the promises I made to myself and others.
I do believe I promised that yesterday was decision Saturday and that I would be forthcoming with my dress selection. Did Team Poppy win out over Team Black Lace with their heaps of praise over the color, their insistence that the Sarita Tulle Lace is more wedding appropriate and their argument that black is too somber for a May wedding? Or did Team Black Lace prevail with their promise that the Zarita Lace is timeless, more elegant and can be a closet staple for years to come? Maybe a dark horse emerged, something that missed my eye when I was shopping the other day.
I know I made a promise, but sometimes promises are cruelly broken.
I did buy a dress yesterday, but I’m not going to reveal which one. I will tell you that I’m going to wear nude pumps. I will tell you that I’m in need of a clutch. I will tell you that I haven’t decided on jewelry yet. But if you want to see pictorial evidence of the happy ending to the guest of a wedding style dilemma, tune in next Saturday, May 5th. My morning starts early at Michael Anthony Salon where Mickey either will or won’t cut my hair short again, then continues on to Annapolis, where I hope to check in early so I can change into the mystery dress before heading to the Naval Academy chapel for Kaitlan and Adam’s special event.
The suspense is maybe not quite as high as it was one-year ago today when the world caught first glimpse of what dress Kate Middleton chose to wear to wed Prince William. But one element will be the same at Saturday’s nuptials.
One would think that the buyers for Saks, Neiman and Bloomingdales would have heard that 40 is the new 30 (ten years after 30 was the new 20).
But their dress selection does not suggest such.
During a brick and mortar excursion for the guest of a wedding style dilemma, I was struck at how the high end department stores offered two types of cocktail dresses: frumpy or slutty. (Honestly, the same could be said for their bathing suit collections.) One would think grandmothers and their teen granddaughters are their only demographic. It leads me to ask: who’s looking out for the urban professional woman in her late 30s/early 40s who works out, has a good (but not absurd) budget for clothes and an excellent sense of style?
Apparently those buyers shop for boutiques.
My goal is certainly to look amazing at this wedding, not ridiculous. The so-called flirty styles are garments I would look askance at a 20-something for wearing. (Just to clarify, I’m not a prude. I believe in flaunting assets. I just don’t believe in flaunting all the assets at one time, except in the privacy of your own space.) On the other end of the spectrum, heavy lace, too much adornment and not enough skin exposure are the dominant features of most available dresses. I struck out at Saks. I tried on one subpar dress at Bloomingdales. I had luck only at Neiman Marcus and even then, the only designer who had remotely appropriate dresses was DVF, which I’m thankful for, but I was hoping for better variety.
I made the best of it. I broke my rules to try different styles. As you have seen the pictorial evidence of, I tried strapless. I tried a maxi dress. I tried this horrible flowy dress pictured here that is best described as the female version of something Hugh Hefner would wear (in other words, it felt like boudoir attire). I could only envision myself wearing it with feathered slides, surrounded by heavy velvet couches and drapes, maybe a whip in hand. It’s a dress for “entertaining” at home, not a dress to wear to a wedding. But I’m determined to leave my comfort zone with increasing frequency moving forward, and you don’t know how you are going to react until you try something new.
As you have now read, I’m struggling between two dresses, the poppy flower shift and the black lace shift. The black lace is more forgiving of those pesky trouble zones and has an elegance that is timeless and could be worn in three seasons. Plus it has this totally edgy zipper all the way down the v-shaped back to give it a departure from funeral garb. The poppy is happy and colorful and exudes a retro vibe. But would I only wear it once so as not to hear “here comes Chelsea in her poppy dress again.”
Needing to sleep on the decision before making a purchase, I return this morning for another round of trying on these two options. I’ll be equipped with the correct underpinnings, the right shoes, and most importantly, the invaluable input of my trusted social media advisers.
Rules were made to be broken, so I tried on a strapless dress in this great pursuit for a guest of a wedding dress. It isn’t the dress I’m going to buy, but I thought I’d at least share that I was open-minded enough to try it.
Sigh. I didn’t expect it to happen this way. But then again, my predicting the future track record hasn’t been super accurate lately so I should have known better.
The navy lace Zarita dress by DVF was a big bust.
Initially, when I pulled it out of the box, my first reaction was pretty. But my second reaction (and the one that stuck with me) was matronly. I know dresses can look different on the hanger than they do on the body, thus I was willing to give it a shot. But in person the combination of the long sleeves, below-the-knee length (I want to show some skin) and the safe color lend it an older woman aura.
Not to mention, the lace on the bodice near the neckline was snagged from where the garment tag rested during shipping. Bad packing, Neiman Marcus!
So, if you aren’t yet sick of my self-centered posts about dresses, stay tuned for the fashion show I hope to share with you all this weekend.
On Monday, I ordered a David Meister black fitted dress with interesting ruffled detail down the front and a jeweled neckline that looked so pretty on-line. This wildcard dress, not pinned on my Pinterest board, was going to serve as a backup to the navy lace sheath.
Well, it arrived today and it has been declined. The jeweled neckline is, as our intern Marlene described it, prom-y. Frankly, the jeweled neckline looked cheap and the whole thing was just bad. I didn’t even show the bride before sealing it back into the box to go back to its home at Saks Fifth Avenue.
I promised a twitter fashion show, but I don’t want to dignify the dress by trying it on. However, I am happy share this photo of the offending neckline.
Fingers are crossed that the navy lace works out better (and that it isn’t 85 degrees on the day of the wedding).
After much deliberation and internal questioning over my guest of a wedding style dilemma, I went with my gut and ordered the top contender: the dark teal (navy in my book) DVF Zarita Lace Dress. I had also intended to order the dress that was runner-up in my head all day, the red Alice + Olivia Esme Ruched Dress, but then some late night activity had me second guessing this as my sure second choice. By way of backup, the Nicole Miller Open Back Jersey Sheath Dress had been running a steady third place (safety school position) if neither of these options work, but now it has easily slipped to fourth place. (See, Alison, I can depart from my comfort zone.)
What dress has jumped ranks to grab my attention? The Black Halo Alexandra Sheath Dress, pinned by two contributors, Elizabeth, a childhood friend I haven’t seen in probably 20 years (but she gets my style nonetheless) and KC, my DC fashion crush for her gorgeous yet effortless chic.
How did I narrow down 79 pins (with a few repeats) to a handful of dresses?
First I eliminated silhouettes that I didn’t think would be totally flattering on me (though I appreciate the aesthetic of the pinners who thought they would work on my frame). And while a number of orange dresses were presented as options, the shade didn’t feel right for the occasion. (And remember, green is my new orange.) I considered for about 45 seconds a totally budget-busting option suggested by Allie of Wardrobe Oxygen, but the financial planning gods mercifully ensured it’s no longer available in my size. (Although their rivals, the fashion gods, did in the process lead me to my future second wedding dress, if I ever go down that road again.)
I thought for a long time about the Xscape Ruffle Collar Stretch Satin Sheath Dress but I was afraid the taffeta combined with the style was too bridesmaid-y. I’d have considered it if I could have also bought these ridiculously out of the question shoes to go with it. Of these Prada pumps the financial planning gods would most certainly not approve.