It was seven years ago this past Sunday when a then more Angelina Angelina Jolie snubbed Oscar's evening gown tradition and stole one of the night's top style slots with her unexpected white Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo and slicked back chignon.
Now, I don't much remember the acrylic French tips or Uncle Eddie slip-ons, but I choose to chalk those egads up to a combination of just having left the '90s and Miss Thing probably kicking off her heels in the limo during her and Billy Bob's "good luck" ritual only to accidentally grab his albino eelskin kicks by mistake on her way out.
But anyway, back to that unorthodox red carpet selection we were discussing...
I loved it then, I love it now, and I really love that at an Oscar after-party this year, Sharon Stone took a day off from torturing the people at PETA (rat paw brooches don't count, right?) to honor a look we see far too infrequently on the red carpet.
As I've professed too many times to link you to, whether it be January or June, Tuesday afternoon or Saturday night, with my parents in Michigan or out with my ladies in the District, I am a skirt and dress only kinda girl. Aside from the three pairs of jeans in red, black and blue hanging neatly in the back of my closet that are liberated really only when the dry-cleaning schedule and my wardrobe rotation hit an unforeseen snag, the only two-legged items in my non-workout wardrobe are the many, many pairs of opaque tights clogging the top three drawers of my poor, dickered dresser.
You'll share in my surprise, then, when I discovered that the singular trend, color, collection, piece or person that has most influenced me this past month was none other than the dramatic dress trouser (DDT).
To be honest, the reason why I spent the majority of my shopping time in New York two weekends ago fruitlessly trying on pair after pair of high-waisted black tuxedo trousers is more rooted in my being attracted to the drama a DDT entrance offers its wearer than anything else.
I know, I know, many of you are probably reading this and thinking, "Wow, dress pants. That's exciting," but believe me when I tell you how rare it is to find a woman, celebrity or otherwise, who is willing to go this route in a formal situation. Rarer still is to find one who does so and executes it well. Designers and boutique owners recognize this reticence among women and design and stock accordingly each season. I didn't draw up metrics on this, but I'm confident in asserting that after clicking through nearly every designer's most recent RTW collection and squinting through every "Look of the Day" thumbnail from InStyle from today back through last July, there is at most one pair of black-tie worthy dress trousers for every 15-20 similarly formal gowns.
These odds don't mean, however, any woman wearing any ol' pair of black pants at a formal event is destined to make it into the ranks of the best-dressed simply by virtue of her having taken a risk. In fact, in my opinion, it is much more difficult to assemble a great outfit of this sort than it is to choose a great dress. With the former, one has to worry about the blouse and/or jacket, the super tall heel (don't even think about wearing flats here) and choosing an equally dramatic hair and makeup palette around which the final product will be tied. With a dress, really what it comes down to for most women is (1) is it pretty? (2) is it comfortable? and (3) will it make me look thinner?
After summoning the courage to set the skirt aside at the next social function on your calendar, the first challenge is to find the right pair of DDTs, a task I now know is a whole lot easier in theory than it is in practice. If you're an online shopper like I almost exclusively am, the process becomes frustrating fast. Typical mid-priced dress trouser haunts like J. Crew, Banana Republic and Club Monaco are much more often misses than hits because nothing in their inventories qualifies as anything dressier than office-wear. Your best bet to find the cuts and fabrics meant for fancy evenings out are in boutiques, department stores and high-end vintage stores. If money were no object, I'd shoo you over to Relish in Cady's Alley or Nordstrom in Tysons Galleria.
In my current recuperative state, I don't foresee any opportunity in the near future to debut the dress trousers of my (adjusted for financial situation) dreams, which is probably a good thing, considering I haven't cut enough budget corners in the past two months to appropriate them.
In the meantime, if I might tempt some of you into ditching the cocktail dress you planned to wear to your next best friend's wedding for something a bit more unconventional...