black tie optional

MeghaneFebruary 25, 2004

Ok, I have 1 dress, it was my moms 1950s black wool minidress with 3/4 length sleeves. I wore it to a holiday party to great effect. But now there's this wedding, black tie optional, in April (North Carolina, so probably pretty warm), and I don't even know what to look for. Can anyone suggest a store that would have something appropriate? I've never had to look for anything like this before. What am I looking for? I like the "Hollywood glamour" look, and I have the retro haircut, so maybe something like that? What colors are good for a wedding (obviously not white, but turquoise? red?). I'm not in the mood for a black dress. Please help. I'm clueless!

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Meghane, I attended a similar event (anniversary party) in FLA last December. I hate shopping so I shopped online. I actually found a great Dian Von Furstenburg dress at for 1/3 of what the same dress cost a year before at Saks Fifth Ave. (I had looked at the exact same dress but didn't want to shell out the $$). It was a print silk chiffon over a solid slip, just below the knee with slanted hemline. They have many designer dresses that would be appropriate - (no I don't work there!)

You want to find a dress you can keep for other occasions too - so go for something you really like and don't worry too much about particular styles.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2004 at 3:50PM
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You could pick something relatively simple, such as a slip dress and dress it up with fancier accessories, sexier shoes, jewellery, an interesting chiffon shawl or wrap of some kind.....

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 7:52AM
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ok, give us a bit more of an idea what we're looking at...

what shape are you?

when you say you only have one dress, do you mean you don't do fancy clothes... or that all your fancy things are pants-suits?

and... who's wedding, how well do you know them, are they color-coordinating everything, or is it more laid back/neutral? are you going with someone? if so, who are they, and how do they dress...

I tend to wear earth tones to formal occasions-simple lines, beaded accents (more hanging drop trim than appliques) and I tend to coordinate better with the rooms... think it's fun to see the friends of the bridal party wearing turquoise, but I'm not husband shopping, I'm usually there as part of the support team- making sure the sequin-clotted 'great aunt of the groom' can find the ladie's room, that sort of thing...

Mitchdesj's got the right idea- simple, good shoes, a nice wrap...and since you're into the hollywood look...a sheath and jacket is a bit more 'formal' without being stuffy, and there are some nice ones being made even now.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 11:41AM
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Thanks everyone for responding so fast. I really appreciate it.

I only have 1 dress because I never go anywhere that one would want or need a dress. I'm a vet tech, so I wear scrubs to work. When I go out, it's usually on a dinner/movie date with my husband (who will most likely be wearing a black tux and black tie to the wedding) or to a bar with friends. So I didn't have any needs for dresses, or even pantsuits, until now. My wardrobe is basically jeans and fitted (not tight) shirts in bright solid colors. Sometimes an oversized sweater or a leather or suede jacket (when I'm "dressing up").

The wedding is for our new neighbors, and we just hit it off when they moved in a few months ago. I have no idea what type of decorations they are going to have, but I do know they have a 5-piece band at the reception. It may be an outdoor wedding- I'm not sure because I just looked at the website of the place and just found out that it could be outdoors. It's a pretty Georgian style mansion, 65 seated indoors, 90 seated outdoors, so not a huge wedding.

I guess I was thinking the dress would be more "gowny." I have no idea what a lady is supposed to wear to a black tie optional event, if her escort options for the black tie.

I'm 5'6", 140 pounds now, but am working my butt off to be 130-135 for the wedding. My trouble area is my stomach- I'm OK with everything else. Oh, and I love the idea of a nice wrap because I'm always cold!

I know nothing about designers (sorry Gina, but I'm sure your dress is beautiful from the description). My knowledge of designers is limited to Mossimo at Target. And I have some Levi's jeans. That's it. What kind of store would I look for a dress like this? There are some upper-end department stores like Nordstrom and Lord and Taylor nearby, and other stores like Cache and Chicos, plus some interesting boutiques. One good thing about living in Durham is Raleigh and Chapel Hill are nearby for shopping. Anyway, I'm sure if I knew where to look and what to look for, I could find the right dress.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 4:09PM
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Meghane, I think Nordstroms would be a good bet. I would ask a salesperson to help you find a "special occasion" or cocktail dress. I would prefer to buy a cocktail dress because they can be worn to more other occasions than a long gown. Chicos is definitely too casual and matronly (no offense to anyone.) Most dresses in this genre are black, but you can find any color that suits you. The uneven hems are popular right now, as are slip dresses, strapless with full skirts, and wrap dresses. Does this help?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 6:15PM
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I agree with Gina that getting a good salesperson to help you would be key since you don't often shop for dresses; bring good undergarments and a heeled shoe with you to try on the dresses;
start shopping early so you can get a feel for what you like and don't like. The wedding seems wonderful and you should put on the ritz since dh is going to be wearing a tuxedo...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2004 at 6:36AM
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: ) Definately Nordstroms...

it's one of the things that I miss about the left coast...bought my first real suit there. they're as elegant as Saks...but more friendly, like Bloomie's used to be.

they have some neat 'sweater and ball-gown skirt' combos in their last catalog that have a lot of potential...but a good long sheath would work as well, with dressy shoes- warm enough for heeled sandals, hopefully, and a coordinating wrap :)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2004 at 12:56PM
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I took my friend Eva shopping for a similar dress for a wedding she was going to in Boston, and we found the biggest selection at Loehmann's, but Eva liked the dresses at Betsey Johnson better. Try to hit an outlet mall if you have one close.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2004 at 4:50PM
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Hey, I just went shopping (again) and finally found a great dress. It's orange with sequins, has a halter neckline and straight skirt. I even already have shoes to go with it. I'll post a pic of us next week. Oh, got it at Dillards. I wasn't even originally going there, but my friend was going after work today and said they had a pretty good selection of formal dresses, and she was right. Thanks to everyone for the advice!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 5:19PM
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Sounds like a fun dress - good for you. Can't wait for the pix.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 1:28PM
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