23 May 2007

When he's worth the price of a new dress

"I finally landed a first official date with a guy I REALLY like. It's not until next Friday (after the long weekend), so I have a bit of time to plan my outfit. I'd like to wear some kind of a sundress, because I'm hoping to get a tan this weekend, and I'd like to show it off as much as I can. We're having dinner at Zengo, so whatever you recommend probably shouldn't be too casual. I'm 5'9" and a size 6/8. I'm a brunette with medium-long length, small shoulders and waist and long legs. I have a pretty big chest as well, so none of those backless beauties you posted yesterday would be an option, unfortunately. He's six inches taller than I am (phew!), so heels are allowed. Price isn't an issue - this one's definitely worth dipping into my savings for!"

A new-dress-worthy date -- congratulations.

My first instinct is to gravitate toward something white, cotton or cotton/knit, knee-length, fitted at the waist that has either a showpiece sleeve, neckline or back.

I like white for the color, because when the weather is warm and you're skin is sunkissed, nothing looks more subtly sexy than white in the evening. Few women indulge in the white dress, not only because it's a relatively limited-to-two-seasons dress color but also because it has the words "I will need to be dry-cleaned after each use" stamped across the bustline. Go for the white, and you'll be show-stopping.

I like cotton or cotton/knit as the fabric, because knowing DC's unpredictability this time of year, you could be looking at 80+ degrees and 80% humidity, conditions which, if you're in any heavier or less breathable a material than cotton might lead to a decidedly unsexy America Ferrera moment.

I like knee-length as the hem, because any shorter - significantly shorter, like three inches or more - on a first date might make you feel uncomfortable. If this guy is special, you're already going to be a somewhat nervous about how he perceives that which comes out of your mouth; you don't want to compound that nervousness by worrying about the mixed impression your clothes might give him. I know you like your legs, but a short hemline is a bold statement, especially on a first date. Even though I tend to consider cleavage an even bolder statement in most situations, on a first date, I believe cleavage is less of a hey-I'm-trying-to-get-your-attention cardplay than baring upper thigh.

I like fitted at the waist, because if you have a large chest like you say you do, a cinched-waist creates a nice hourglass silhouette. Blousy dresses or ones that have a trapeze cut, while super cute and flattering on B-cupped-and-below frames, don't do large chested girls any favors. Because the fabric will cling to that part of your body and then flow outward away from your figure, you run a high risk of looking either stocky or worse, pregnant.

I like either a showpiece sleeve, neckline or back - or any permutation of two - for a lot of reasons, primary among which is my preference to forgo accessories in place of a unique and dramatic cut. A dress with a textured flutter sleeve, a plunge square-neck or a floating rosette back may not be the one you wear most often but it will be your most prized, because no one else has it. It's special. Just like this date.

For shoes, I'd go for something simple in a matte-gold or neutral tone. These, perhaps.

M2, your dresses:

Caribbean dress by Trovata ($262 at activeendeavors.com)
Blake ruffle dress by Sunner ($265 at activeendeavors.com)*
Billie eyelet dress by Lily Pulitzer ($298 at saks.com)
Pleated dress by Walter ($275 at daszign.com)
Grecian tunic dress by BCBG Max Azria ($148 at bluefly.com)

*your editrix's top pick


mary j. said...

THANK YOU! Wow, so quick! I love the one you chose, but I'm just such not a ruffle girl. I think I'm going to go with the Walter one. The sleeves have a little ruffle, which is doable, and I love the front and back.

You're the best!

Johanna said...

You're welcome! I'm sorry about that last dress -- I wasn't thinking. Big chest = needs bra. That dress = bra-free.

Oh, and though the Walter dress looks like a mini in the picture, it's not. The model is 5'11" (they list it on their site), so unless you have a really long torso, you can add a couple inches to the hem.

Have fun!