07 July 2007

An annual tradition

The second Friday in July will forever be a very special day for my wardrobe and me.

Two years ago, on July 8, 2005, I received the first real paycheck of my professional life, a milestone that marked a final financial separation from my extraordinarily patient, extraordinarily generous, as-long-as-you're-in-school-we'll-help-out parents.

What does a clothes-loving girl do when she sees that first all-hers direct-deposit sitting in her first non-joint bank account? She follows her father's advice, of course, and invests in a meaningful first-paycheck-purchase.

I bandied with apartment furnishings, a donation to charity, a bigger cable package, but ultimately I had to be true to myself and admit what I wanted - what I really wanted - was a designer dress. Up to that point, I'd never owned one, not even a vintage, hand-me-down or gifted one. I'd spent my entire life admiring, which was fine, but now that I had the means and an excuse to indulge, I wanted my first swath of rich fabric, my first stunningly fitted, my first of-interest necklined, bought-with-my-own-money evening dress.

So I did. I bought one. And much to my surprise, it wasn't black, it wasn't monochromatic, it wasn't fitted through the hips and it certainly wasn't demure down front. In short, it was everything I'd never had and never thought I'd like.

But under the soft lighting and honest, informed tutelage I found in the Betsy Fisher boutique, I selected the one wardrobe component - a matte-silk, tea-length Nicole Miller scarf-print dress - that would always remind me of the moment when I finally burst free from familial dependence.

Financial dependence, that is.

Below, getting ready to go out last night for the annual celebration of my first me-purchased dress:

Dressed up drinks at the Round Robin and late-night dinner at Old Ebbitt can only be trumped by one thing...


nyc admirer said...

wah-wah-wee-wah! love that dress! and the tan! you're looking gorgeous girl!

not a fan said...

I think you look like the slut you are. Yeah, nice "designer dress." I bet you've been planning this post for a while..."hmmm, how can I put *another* gratuitous picture of my body up on the 'Net?"

Well, I guess you figured out another way alright!

Anonymous said...

your face is looking rough. someone needed to tell you.

the dress is nice though. and your little dog too.

a fan said...

not a fan/anonymous-

are you looking at the same pictures I am? I'm confused, because I don't see a slut nor a rough face...

the pics may be a bit gratuitious, but that's part of Johanna's persona - just like the last picture of her and Monte.

You've heard it a million times before, but if you don't like her, go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...


erin said...

I think the contrast of the hot body, hot dress and the open dryer is hysterical. It's the kind of heavy-handed irony you'd see in an edgy magazine photoshoot.

brown bear '02 said...

Your face is not "looking rough" at all. You look beautiful.

The dress isn't my favorite (sorry), but you rock it like a superstar. This post made me wish I'd bought a dress instead of a an armchair with my first paycheck. Oh well.

AnĂ³nimo No Mas said...

Jo, you look fabulous as usual and Monte is a ham for the camera.

Not a Fan, you sound jealous and angry. Poor thing.

sarahsouth said...

i think you need to accessorize more... say, dick cheney's arm around your waist?
otherwise, all i can say is VA-VOOM!

virgle kent said...

Let me give you some advise about the blog.....

You're nobody till somebody hates on you. And it looks like my little girl is alls growns up.

Now on to the meat of the post.....

GOD DAMN MAH!!! Go on with your tanned self. Looking all good, I just want to slop you up like butter on a biscuit.

Virgle Ken.... duh

Monica said...

you're my hero. you answered my question, and are an inspiration for my 450-550 calorie lunches and afterwork bikerides, imagining a cute puppy in the basket until i have a place of my own keep him in.

pvd admirer said...

might I ask with whom you shared this special evening? other than your perfect puppy, I mean.

Johanna said...

Well, well, lookie at all the comments this post elicited!

nyc admirer-

aw, too sweet.

not a fan-

but you keep coming back, so what am I supposed to think?


If I look rough after an 11-hours-of-sleep-a-night vacation, there's not much hope for me, is there? Shucks.

a fan-

they are gratuitous, aren't they? well, I was trying to avoid all the "where are the pictures??" complaints I got in my June 29th post on K's fabulous rack. Plus, with a tan this fabulous, it'd be a shame to keep it all to Monte and myself.




I didn't even notice that the dryer was open! good call!

brown bear '02-

thank you for honesty. it's not your style, and frankly, it's not really mine, either, but sometimes an unexpected print just works.

AnĂ³nimo No Mas-

Thanks, baby girl! Monte *is* a ham, isn't he? The outtakes were so funny, because he had this really cross look on his face -- he hates it when Mommy has alcohol on her breath.


You're SO right. But how can I get that without incurring the wrath of his cankled-up wife? We'll redteam and figure it out...

Should I dress that way to your ice cream party in August? Oh yes, I'm coming in party heels!

virgle kent-

Slop away, my brotha!


I'm so glad I could inspire you to build a fabulous versatile wardrobe and a slammin' figure through exercise and restricted caloric intake.

And for the idea of putting my muffinspot in a basket! TOO CUTE!

pvd admirer-

yes, you might ask...oh wait, what was the question again?

'frisco guy said...

As a leg/ass man, I'm slightly disappointed your special dress highlights neither.

You look like a model in that first one. Stunning.

Alison L. said...

love, love the dress. hope you had fun in it!

Joanna said...

I think with your part asian heritage you will look great in a red/pink dress. The blue and the complicated patterned dress isn't doing enought to bring out the striking features that you have.

dc girl said...

Red yes...but pink? Oh goodness, Johanna, don't do it!

My friend has a Nicole Miller scarf print dress, but it doesn't look half as nice on her as this one looks on you.

What I see in this post has inspired me to try on dresses I wouldn't normally be drawn to -- though I'm afraid my results won't be *quite* this spectacular :)

I want a dog so badly!

west coast devotee said...

You wore a dress like that in the District???

You scandalous little thang!

The rack looks fabulous, by the way. TRES fabulous.

dara said...


I don't quite understand why the print of this dress doesn't flatter her Asian-ness. Could you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

rack-TACULAR. wow.

manhattan_darling said...

This dress flatters your figure really nicely. You have perfect shoulders and decolletage for the deep front plunge. On a lot of women, this dress might've looked trashy (um, "not a fan," if you think she looks like a slut, you've got issues), but on you it actually looks elegant. Very Monte Carlo. And the tan, my dear, it's just the right shade of brown.

My confidence in your style advice just rose a few points with these pictures.

bff in chicago said...

I can't decide which I want more - your dress, your body or your dog!

It was great seeing you last week. I love the hair cut!

Joanna said...

Sure I can elaborate.

This dress is fine, and it's a respectable first purchase. But it doesn't shock and awe, and it doesn't make the wearer stand out in a room of exceptionally beautifully clad ladies. For a couture purchase of a designer dress, I'd expect much more from it, especially if the wearer is hoping to attract the attention of a sugar daddy who is looking for that special someone in a roomful of beautiful ladies. Will this dress stand out in a room? Probably not. (Or, maybe the dress doesn't photograph well?)
Alas, I've given up my hope to steer Johanna away from trying to land a rich, older republican. Now I just accept the truth for what it is, accepting Johanna for what she wants, and going along for the ride of this kinky fantasy in the blogsphere. If this is in fact what our heroine wants (seduction of an older, richer man, followed by holy matrimony and an iron clad pre-nup), then it's then our job to help her get there! Though, it's still my sincerest hope that our heroine will land a rich, young, handsome man of less than 38 years of age, a la Becky's Luke style in Shopaholic--rather than the curious cases of Ellen Barkin and her sugar Ugly Ron Perlman, or Katie Holmes and her Little Brother Tom Cruise. About the latter couple, by the way, whenever I see them coming out of Cut, the height and age discrepency makes me wonder: how exactly does that work in the bedroom?

OK. Onto the dress. There are two problems here: color and pattern. I don't think the colors are sexy enough. The pattern is distracting. In fact, the complicated and masculine colors of navy blue/green/brown pattern remind me of mosaic tiles. This is a dress that is inspired--not by love--but by a mosaic back splash.

Did Ann Taylor team up with Home Depot's Design center to come up with that dress?

If I was a designer or a stylist, I would love to dress someone like Johanna. Complex and enticing. Innocent yet knowing. Exotic but mainstream. Short hair, womanly boobs. Fashion magazines and a pen that's mightier than a sword. The juxtaposition/irony/oxymoron can go on. For someone like her, I would take some bold risks, and forget about making her look like a Britney/Hilary/Lindsay/Hayden/Jessica wanna bes, or all the ladies on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown.

Here's the game plan. For the day time, I would accessorize the purple dress that she's wearing in the My Profile Pic with the Red Bag that she's pining for, under the section "If I had a Sugar Daddy." I would also recommend a pair of red suede pumps, to go with the ensemble, a la Juliett Binoche's character in Chocolate.

For the evening, I'd dress her in a silken, satan, red dress. A hue of pink would look good on her too, as it would enhance her youth and natural blush. When she is delighted by that older, rich republican, the blushing would look absolutely intoxicating against the hues of deep red, lavender pink of her dress. I do believe that colors of orchids, not patterns of tiles would work better on this woman. In fact, all the colors of orchids would work terrifically on our Bachlorette.

ataraxia said...

obviously you're braless, what are you using to keep 'em up? or do you not need anything... if you did, what would you use for this type of situation?

Johanna said...


While I love your presence on my blog, I feel I must finally address a point you keep bringing up: the issue of the sugar daddy.

Put simply and succintly, I am NOT in search of a sugar daddy. The "If I had a sugar daddy..." feature is just that - a feature, a literary device, another way of saying, "if I had more money, I'd buy _______." Yes, my politics have a conservative bent; yes, my taste for men runs a bit older than usual; but I am NOT a gold digger, and I am not someone who wants her wardrobe paid for with someone else's money.

I thought that point was obvious, but since this is the fourth time you've mentioned it, I felt the need to finally speak up and set the record straight.

I'm a bit nonplussed you mentioned Home Depot in conjunction with one of my favorite dresess, but c'est la vie, we all have different tastes. Plus, you haven't seen the dress in person. It's actually quite stunning, and the ivory/chocolate/burgundy/teal mosiac pattern complements my tan like no other palette could.

That being said, I truly do love your comments and insights -- keep 'em coming!



Nope, I'm not wearing a bra. With a dress like this, one really can't wear anything other than little petals to avoid the inevitable nipple peeks when the AC runs a bit high. If the deep plunge stopped a bit higher, you might manage detachable cups, but even then, if you're a C or above, I wouldn't recommend it.

jessica said...


even if I understood why you thought this pattern was "masculine," wouldn't the contrast of the beautiful, feminine cleavage be an interesting twist?

Gal, I think you and the dress are incredibly stylish and not at all in a Lindsay/Jessica wannabe kind of way. The day I see Lindsay wearing a dress this elegantly is the day I stop buying In Touch Weekly.

Joanna said...


Aw, stupid me! I thought you were serious and literal this whole time about the sugar daddy business. Can you believe that? I missed one of the greatest literary devices of all time...

Shame on me.

I also want to stop commenting on your beautiful blog space unless I have something terrific to say. It's hard to write about fashion without intruding that line of personal space and decency of a stranger who has taken the courage to write to the world. For me, fashion is about intelligence, personality, and choice, and you can't comment on fashion without inferring the personality of the wearer. So, how does one comment on another person's choice of fashion statement without having seen the dress or even known the person? It's an unfair and flawed exercise.

So. I believe you when you say that the dress is stunning when it's worn in person.

Here's to hoping that you will be able to enjoy the beautiful dress against that fabulous tan for many years to come! I also wish you many millions and millions of dollars to fall in your lap very soon. That red bag is really, really cute.

Best wishes.

Your blog reader,

west coast devotee said...

Wow, Joanna, you've got a lot of sarcasm to get out of your system, don't you?

I still don't see much credence in any of your points, and to be honest, when you recommended my beloved wear a pink dress, you sorta lost all credibility right then and there.

Or was the pink rec sarcasm as well? I honestly couldn't tell.

we'll miss you!


Asian Mistress said...

I am a huge fan of your dress. And this blog of course. LOVESSS IT - I only wish I had time to keep track of every update and sugar daddy posting!