14 June 2007

The first paycheck purchase: an investment dress

"I started my very first job 2 weeks ago this Friday, and I want to mark this special milestone with a memorable first paycheck purchase. After considering all the obvious practical items, I've settled on a little black dress. If you can believe it, I've never really had one! I've had casual black dresses but never something I could wear out to a nice dinner or a formal event. I'm willing to spend up to $400, but that's the very edge of my limit. I'm five foot seven (like you!) and a size 4 (also like you!) with a smallish chest (*unlike* you!) and disproportionately broad shoulders. I was a swimmer through high school and college, and I've definitely got the swimmer 'look,' so...no strapless please!"

This is a special post for me, because just like you, I too spent a sizable chunk of my very first paycheck - my first real paycheck, not the one with "Petite Sophisticate" printed at the top - on an investment dress. Unlike you, regrettably, I chose to go a bit more unconventional with a multi-hued silk Nicole Miller scarf-print dress with plunge-front and plunge-back. While I still love the dress that served as my inauguration into the world of designer clothes as much as I did the early July evening I slipped it on and pranced around in front of all three of Betsy Fisher's floor-to-ceiling mirrors, I do recognize it is not a practical, can-wear-it-to-this-and-that-and-most-anything kind of dress. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times I've worn in it in two years.

I don't know what you do for a living, but that you're already showing an aptitude for common-sense budgeting by going for an LBD and not a resort gown is a very good sign. Knowing when to say when and how to say how across your monthly savings/spending spreadsheet is a critically important skill for those of us who don't just love clothes but really love clothes.

Like, really really love clothes.

And per your request - a good one, if you have as you say you have, broad shoulders - I did not include in this collection any strapless, halter-style nor any other dresses with necklines that draw attention to that part of your body. The most frustrating part about putting together this group was how many dresses I couldn't include because they were mini dresses. While I'm a big proponent of the mini, I believe your first-paycheck-dress should be a dress you can picture yourself wearing 10 years from now -- a classic, if you will.

Without further ado...

Kendall dress by Diane von Furstenburg ($269.50 at dvf.com)
Glamorous satin dress by Betsey Johnson ($265 at betseyjohnson.com)
Phoebe dress by Plenty by Tracy Reese ($265 at nordstrom.com)
Cap sleeve jersey dress by David Meister ($278 at nordstrom.com)
Meryl dress by Tory Burch ($198 at activeendeavors.com)
Silk dress with belt by Betsey Johnson ($202.50 at macys.com)*
Jackie O dress by Black Halo ($328 at saks.com)
Low back satin dress by ABS ($255 at saks.com)*
Bubble dress by Nanushka ($278 at azaleaonline.com)
Flutter sleeve tulle and satin dress by Vera Wang ($315 at bluefly.com)

*your editrix's top picks

**don't forget to check out your local vintage boutiques, too!


knew you as hannie said...

Your comment on PB was TOO funny. When I read the "heavy legs" comment, I thought "oh snap, Jo is not gonna like that!" but you handled it in true "you" form.

That's what she gets. It was a dirty, unwarranted thing to say.

Not a fashion queen said...

I like most of your choices that you picked out but I think I would stay away from the satin numbers, simply because they aren't nearly as versatile and then tend to show wrinkles. Ny two picks from your collection of choices are the first DVF (uber classic) and the Meryl dress by Tory Burch.

Johanna said...

not a fashion queen-

very good point -- satin dresses require sooo much prep, because they're always wrinkled from the last time you wore them out. perhaps I should do a post on good hand steamers :)


sarahsouth said...

i like the jackie o dress... i'm always partial to belts

what is PB?

K said...

This round goes to the DVF and the ABS, hands down. Nice picks, though, there were several others that caught my eye as well.

Enjoy your first big purchase, young one!! I buy a DVF wrap dress every year when I get my bonus check. I justify it by saying I'll have it forever, I can wear it to work, and, most importantly, I *earned* it.

Johanna said...


PB is Project Beltway, it's another DC fashion blog but with a very different slant on the scene here and with a much nicer young lady doing the writing.

I agree 100% on the ABS. The more I look at it, the more I want it. So I've decided to stop looking at it. But it's not working, because I'm still *thinking* about it.

I buy DvFs only when they're mnarked down at Saks. If you catch the sale in the first couple of hours, the selection is stellar. And you're right, we will have them forever, because we will *always* be the size we are now.

Right. At. This. Moment.

knew you as hannie, too said...

Han, you handled those comments so gracefully. I'm oroud of ya.

knew you as hannie, too said...

proud! I mean "proud"!

brown rowergirl said...

first things first - love the ABS dress.

second - this "Libby" clearly knows you (or reads your blog religiously) and knows your pride and joy are your marathon legs. this was a low personal attack that had nothing to do with your outfit. your response was quick and curt and as someone said here, very "you," but I suggest leaving these fools to themselves in the future. just don't respond. they're not worth your precious time. sorta like half the assholes who try to tear you down in this forum.

but thanks for the reminders to check out those 2 previous posts...girl, those legs are all that and then some. I'm that much more motivated to hit up the gym after work now!

mm said...

1st dress and and the Dave Meister dress are hot hot hot

dcpleats said...

Love the first Betsy Johnson and the ABS - both totally classic and timeless. To me, some of the ones - like the Jackie O and the bubble - were too trendy and wont be fashionable for years to come. Great choices Johanna!

recovering overachiever said...

That DVF is beautiful! Very simple and elegant.
Can I buy that dress even though I don't have the money (or the excuse of a first paycheck)? Pretty please?

T said...


Thanks for answering my question so thoroughly! After looking at the selection and reading the comments, I'm either going for the DvF or the ABS...but I love them all!

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Black Halo, or DVF, or ABS get my vote. They are all classic, but yet unusual in their own way---and each just simply stunning! I'm personally doing the same thing you are---and heck, I'm 34! I decided on the Jackie-O dress. It should be here any day :) I plan on wearing it with Steve Madden's version of the Mui Mui double strap mary janes (they are called "playful".) By the way, here is one more that you might like: I think the top area would be flattering if you're concerned about broad shoulders. http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/main/ProductDetail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524446152150&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=282574492145815&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395222441&bmUID=1183736237175