01 May 2007

A dress to get you through 'Wedding Season 2007'

"As I'm sure you're well aware, wedding season is rapidly approaching. So far I already have 4 to attend in the next four months, and I'm expecting at least 2 more. Obviously, I don't want to nor can I afford to get a new dress for each one, so...can you recommend one really great dress that can carry me through 'til the end of summer? I'm brunette, 25, 5'6", a size 6 and like you, I like to show off my legs more than any other part of my body. I'd like to stay within the $300 range, but for the perfect dress, I'd consider spending more. Thanks!"

Ah, wedding season.

Aside from the day after Oscar Night when I'm reminded of the inferior state of my dress collection and the entire month of August when I'm looking out my office window thinking wistfully of laying out lakeside in northern Michigan with a Diet Vernors in one hand and a freshly-picked-from-Stone's-Orchard nectarine in the other, the four month period between May and September - known more commonly to those of us in our mid-20s to early-30s as "wedding season" - is the time of year to which I look forward the least.

Call me a downer, call me jaded, call me a worthless old-maid who doesn't like weddings because she can't nab herself a husband, call me anything, but please, for the love of god, just don't call me and ask me why I'm not more flippin' excited about having to reallocate upwards of $1,500 (last year's figure) of my hard-earned shoe, clothing and cosmetics slush fund to facilitate purchasing gifts and making travel arrangements for all of your engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and of course, the very intimate 300 headcount hap-hap-happiest day of your lives.

I can't, I just can't. And it's odd, too, because weddings have several elements to them that when taken individually, are elements I typically seek out and relish in my daily life. Dressing up, eating frosting, drinking beer someone else paid for, and bearing witness to sloppy middle-aged could-turn-belligerent-very-soon drunken behavior, for instance.

In the spirit of focusing on the positive, let's switch gears and talk about dresses. Not the awful, character-free strapless number with renaissance fair criss-cross backside and full princess skirt the bride is likely wearing, but rather your dress.

As I've stated before, in my opinion, a wedding, no matter how casual, demands a certain standard of class and respect for the occasion. In short, I believe in abiding by a strict "no cleavage" policy. I also believe in a hemline that falls no higher than two inches above the knee. Any higher and you're dangerously close to entering mini - or near-mini - territory. Other than those two basic guidelines, the rest is up to you. Apparently there's some rule about not wearing white, but I think this is a ridiculous restriction. It's summer, it's eyelet season, it's linen season, it's damask cotton season. As long as you don't wear a frock that looks overtly wedding-dress-competitive, you're fine to explore the ivory/white/eggshell color palette.

As for this particular woman, it's probably no surprise that I'm going to recommend this 'Justin' wrapdress in a vintage green print by Diane von Furstenberg ($325 at saks.com). Though I could go on and on about why I think every woman should own at least one of these dresses, in this circumstance I will focus on its versatility and sophistication.

First and foremost, this is a dress that goes well beyond 'Wedding Season 2007.' This is a dress that can make the rounds not only at future matrimonial circuits, but at countless other occasions as well like work, church, dates, cocktail hours, baby showers, graduations and dinner parties.

Second, this is a fun, bright, not-often-seen-but-highly-flattering-on-brunettes shade of kelly green that screams in a sophisticated voice, "Spring has arrived!"

Third, silk jersey is an extrordinarily breathable fabric that will keep you from getting goosebumps in overbearingly air-conditioned convention centers and protect you better than cotton or silk from developing unsightly pit-stains on a typical 90-degree, 90%-humidity DC summer Saturday.

Now I realize this dress is slightly above the price-point you gave me, but because I know for a fact you'll add it to your work wardrobe rotation AND fall in love with the way it enhances your curves, allows you to indulge in a with-or-without-cleavage deep-V neckline and highlights your great gams (especially on windy days when you "accidentally" tie the cinch a wee bit too loosely), I don't feel too guilty recommending you spend the extra $25.

And even though you didn't ask, it goes against my nature not to discuss footwear in a situation such as this. Were I you, assuming you don't mind a little added height, I'd go with a strappy gold/neutral stiletto sandal or a caramel brown peeptoe, depending on how formal the event.

I can't promise, however, that if you follow my suggestions and wear this dress accompanied by either pair of these shoes you won't be pulled aside by the mother of a crying bride and find yourself accused of breaking the golden rule of wedding guest etiquette better known as "Don't look better than the bride."

The story of my life, that confrontation...


Noelle said...

Although the dress is expensive, it's so versatile that it's worth it. Great pick Johanna!

brown bear '02 said...

I agree with Noelle. For a dress that you can wear to pretty much anything, it's worth plunking down this much money. Plus, this is a style that will never be considered dated. My mom has 4 from the '70s that she still wears, and people are always asking her where she got them. They're timeless and the fabric wears really well. Even after decades of use.

hoogrrl said...

I am a huge fan of the wrap dress and own several. I don't know what the physics are about it, but they make most women look hot! I bought a couple from BCBG last year (less expensive than the DVFs) that I have worn to many different kinds of events during different seasons. Strappy shoes, boots, a cute sweater with a fur collar. It all works!

nyc admirer said...

You would look better than any bride in that green dress. I can't believe you didn't file that one away for yourself! So beautiful, so smart, so funny, and apparently, so generous too.

Are you coming up here soon? Ring me if you are. Or if you aren't :)