ISO the perfect dress

remix 20.10.08 by et sans, on Flickr

remix 20.10.08 by et sans, on Flickr

I usually find shopping exhausting, but there’s a special kind of tiredness associated with searching the stores for a dress to wear to a wedding.

My criteria:
It has to be slightly nicer than what I would wear to a non-casual office, but also not too businessy or bridesmaidy looking. I don’t want black or white or a really bright color. But it should be a color that will match a pair of shoes I already own, so I don’t have to buy new shoes. It needs to fit me well and flatter me, but it can’t be too revealing (trampy) or unrevealing (dowdy). It should look classy and modern, but still have somewhat traditional lines because I just don’t get all the crazy fashion forward stuff Carrie wears on ‘Sex and the City.’

Really, is all this too much to ask?

Also — and I’m going to date myself here — I’m having a hard time switching to bare legs under a dress after decades of wearing pantyhose. I know that pantyhose has been “out” for a long time now, and I’ve sort of sidestepped the whole issue for the last few years by simply not wearing skirts. I generally prefer pants to skirts, anyway, but I haven’t quite made the leap to wearing some kind of elegant pantsuit to a wedding. Some women do it, and they look great, but I just don’t feel like I’m an elegant pantsuit kind of person. Plus, the wedding is in Vermont in October, so it seems like bare legs under a dress would just be downright cold.

So now I’m thinking maybe boots would be a good solution to avoid the bare legs issue, but then not all dresses are going to look good with knee-high boots. Aaaaaand now I have to back to the second paragraph to add more items to my perfect dress criteria.

I think I’m going to blame ‘Project Runway’ for this exhausting search for the perfect outfit. I keep imagining what Tim Gunn would say as I try on dress after dress. So far, he hasn’t said much that’s nice.

I probably tried on about 20 dresses tonight. I bought the two best ones to bring them home and think them over, but I’m not convinced that I’m keeping either of them.

My inner Tim is not yet happy, but I’ve still got three weeks to figure it out. Three. exhausting. weeks.

Any advice?

4 thoughts on “ISO the perfect dress

  1. Oh Girl, I face these issues everyday. I hate the bare leg look. I think a nice sheer(est) pantyhose with a hint of color in the winter is a killer finish for a chic look. And tights are always in style.
    nothing warms up a place in winter like color – deep jewel tones or grey (not gray)
    Try a personal shopper at one of the high end stores. You might not like anything they show you — but you will likely try on something that you might never have picked up on your own.
    Avoid Ann Taylor at all cost — the cookie cutter look just won’t do.
    Try a store that you never go to because “it’s not me.” And never say Never.
    good luck. let us see what you pick.

  2. I love this post Laura! It’s so true. I like Joanne’s advice about going out of your comfort zone too. A friend in college forced me to try on tons of dresses I was convinced would never suit me, and I found so many different styles that worked. I agree about tights too! They are so cute and warm. Many of the style’s this year are more transparent too and look a little more like traditional pantyhose. Good luck!

  3. The wedding isn’t outside, so don’t worry about wearing a dress. You’ll be in the car most of the time you are outside. I think a dress with a hemline below the knee works best in winter and gives you a few extra inches of warmth.

    You mentioned Project Runway – Michael Kors does exactly what you are looking for: classy and modern, but still have somewhat traditional lines. I also recommend looking at DKNY, Theory and Anthropologie.

    If you have a pair of thick pumps, this is a nice alternative to boots and they look great with tights.

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