Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pulling it All Together for a Formal Ball

So...my husband and I know this couple. The wife is from Mobile, Alabama. And she is a member of the Order of Polka Dots (yes, there is such a thing). And Mobile apparently hosts one heck of a Mardi Gras. Though New Orleans' Mardi Gras is better known, the Mobile celebration began in 1703, fifteen years before New Orleans was even founded!

That's the history lesson part. :)  Our friends, being members of an Order, go home to Mobile to ride on floats and throw Mardi Gras beads, and also attend a formal ball. They've kindly been inviting us for years...and we've never gone. Time constraints, money constraints, whatever- we've just never done it. But this is the last year they'll attend the whole shebang; apparently there are younger members of the Order who (and I'm sure, deservedly so) want their time at the festivities.

So we committed. And that's where all the trouble started...

You may have guessed from reading this blog that I do not lead, in any way, a formal life. I certainly like to glam up, but most of my days are in clothes that decidedly not glam, as I work on my jewelry designs. I do have a formal dress, and one I LOVE, but I haven't worn it in....oh, about fifteen years. That's right, fifteen years!! I think the last time I wore it was in 2000, for our honeymoon (we took a cruise and they had formal nights where everyone dressed for dinner). And then later that year to my little brother's 30th party. But that's it. It hasn't seen the light of day since. And. you know, a lot of things can change in fifteen years. Stuff kind of shifts. 

I dragged my dress out of the closet and tried it on. Surprise! It fit! Well...mostly. It fit me everywhere except in the chest. I could get it on, but it was BURSTING in the bust area. Over the last fifteen years, I've managed to gain (and then fortunately lose) about fifteen pounds. That, plus gravity (I'm no youthful lass of twenty-five), meant that the "girls" have sort of...expanded. Short of surgery, there's no good way to shrink 'em back.

When we first decided to attend the ball, in January, I debated shopping for a new dress, but I decided instead to take my dress to my tailor (who is a wonder). I hated the idea of spending money on a new dress that I was unlikely to wear often. And the thing is, I LOVE this dress. My husband bought it for me when we were dating. We were on a trip to Chicago, at a Marshall Fields, and I needed something for an evening wedding. He splurged for me. Other than my wedding dress, I think it's the most expensive dress I own. And it's freakin' GORGEOUS.

I have no photos of it to share; back in 1999 when it was purchased, I didn't even think to try and get any from a web site. Could you even do that then...? And our cameras weren't digital; whatever personal photos I might have are tucked away in a large, chaotic box. So I'll show you this, instead:

It's sort of  like the dress above: it has spaghetti straps and a fitted bodice like this one, and then from the bottom of the bodice, which ends high on the thigh, it's all chiffon and floaty (no feathers like the one shown). The skirt is ankle-length and doesn't drape on the floor. It has tiny black beads sewn all over it in random patterns, and a thick band of beads which transitions the fitted bodice and the floaty skirt. My description makes it sound terrible, but I promise, it is a thing of beauty.

So. It's beautiful. And it has sentimental meaning to me. And it does. not. fit. in the bust. Off to the  tailor, who thinks she can make it work, and even for a reasonable price. I picked it up a week later, and voila! It fits wonderfully. Except...that now there's room for the "girls", but they need a bit of support. Fortunately I still have my strapless, low-back bra from my wedding dress, and that does the trick. 

The back straps are plain black, not jeweled like these, but that's the back of the dress (though mine doesn't come down quite so low). No way to wear a regular bra. Thank goodness I kept the one from the wedding! I thought several times about getting rid of it, but for some reason, never did. 

So I'm gowned, undergarmented, and of course I have accessories to wear. However, I do *not* have shoes. Really? Moi? No shoes?? Well, yes. I have lots of fun, funky shoes. Wedges. Classic pointy-toe pumps. Platforms. Metallics. Richly colored suedes. I've shown you most of them.  :)  But what I don't have, and haven't had in years, is a pair of evening shoes. I simply haven't needed any. The shoes I originally wore with the dress, way back at the start of the Millennium, are long gone.

That's right, now I'm required to shop for fancy / satin / sexy / rhinestone / glorious evening heels! Now the fun starts! Or so I thought. I first headed to DSW, which is typically a go-to for evening shoes.Not this time...too high, too sexpot, too dowdy. Normally I wouldn't worry about the heel height, or the overt sexiness...but this is a formal event (my husband will be in a tuxedo), there is likely to be quite a bit of standing and/or dancing, and I figured it was best to err on the conservative side. So I checked out Dillard's and Macys, hoping for a sale - not that I wouldn't mind spending, but again - this is probably not a pair of shoes that I will wear often, so why go all out? I'm looking for a deal. :)

And at the very last place I visited - the second Macy's (I went to two DSWs, two Dillard's, and two Macy's, plus a Belk - I am nothing if not persistent) - had, of all things, these:

for half off. I posted about these here, last August. And I loved them then, but there was no reason to purchase...but now there was a GREAT reason. :)

Except I wasn't really sure that silver shoes would work with the dress...it's black, and it's quiet, but it also has a lot going on - low back, spaghetti straps, beading, chiffon skirt - so I didn't want anything that would compete with it. I took them home and tried them together, and actually, they're just right. I have some faux-but-sparkly chandelier earrings, a bling-y ring, and a tiny black clutch, and that's really all I need.

So for $162.50, I managed to get Cinderella ready for the ball. It's actually less than what my husband is paying for his tux rental! I think I should get points for being a very frugal wife. :) 

We leave tomorrow morning, and the ball is Thursday night...I can't wait. February has been a crazy month for me and I am ready for this trip. The weather should be in the mid-seventies most of the time, and I'm going to enjoy every single minute of it.  :) 

Monday, January 27, 2014

So Glad I Didn't Get Rid Of:

these. They look good from the front, right? But they have a bit of an...

...elongated toe. And I'm a size ten shoe...I just feel like they make my feet look big. Somehow that didn't used to bother me, but I haven't worn these in quite some time because I felt weird in them.

Same thing for these:

LOVE them, 

but holy crap. That's a very long foot!

but I just found this blog and saw her wearing this:

and now I feel better. Those pumps look long too, especially in white, but if she can do it, I certainly can. I'm going to dig those shoes out of the "possible consignment" bag and put them back where they belong. If big feet are the worst thing I have to worry about (eh, if only!) then pfft. I can handle that.  :)