This article was originally published on Better After 50.
Entering my closet to look for evening wear is not a joyful experience, which is too bad because I love to dress up.
It's not that I don't own dress up clothes. It's just that my "collection" was curated over the last few decades. It's not the quantity or even the quality of offerings; it's the timeliness factor. My stuff looks dated.
I am not a hoarder -- I'm sure of it -- I'm an optimist. (My husband laughs when I say this but it's true.) After five decades I've learned a thing or two about style; my favorite old stuff will eventually come back into fashion. For instance, I have plenty of great stuff from the 80s but I'm not sure we've seen that decade's fashion re-emerge (or did that already happen)? What decade is being recycled right now anyway? I believe it's the 60s. In 10 more years my dress up clothes from the 70s will be fetchingly vintage but I will be too.
I'm bummed because I may be at a recycling impasse. And, I need some outfits ASAP. My wardrobe library for this season's special events is not looking promising.
Nevertheless, I'm relieved that unlike food in my pantry, clothing doesn't have a toxic expiration date. I'm holding onto the decades old dresses that are not stained or spotted because Nana's voice screams inside my head "Wait a few years, it will be back in style." My Nana believed in buying a few quality outfits and wearing them forever. I'm down with that! But -- after decades in the closet, my stuff isn't back in style YET so I'm facing a wardrobe gap.
By the way, everyday wear is conversely quite easy for me -- it's the special events that challenge. I actually wear my daily outfits down to the thread each season so recycling is not an option. Whether I'm putting on my face, footwear or body wear -- I've opted for simple but not necessary discount. Since I live my life with a suitcase half packed in the hallway ready for weekly trips between Boston and NY -- I've reduced my daywear to "carry in, carry out, and carry on."
My daywear uniform consists of an overpriced belt, which I have no regrets about as I always wear it. I love the Theory white blouses; I have three, and rotate them throughout the week. And because I look dreary in black, my sweaters are mostly navy. Sweaters from J. Crew, and a few Soho finds are the go-to choices that have carried me through this insanely cold winter.
Black Frye ankle boots cover my feet and the face is covered by Laura Mercier tinted skin cream. No stress dressing for daytime.
But evening wear, well there's the challenge. This week, I've been looking for two outfits to wear to spring weddings -- not formal but evening nonetheless -- 5 p.m. cocktail to dance, non-black tie wedding guest dresses.
In my 50s, I know what I want to look like -- I've got the image fixed in my head but finding the outfit to match the visual is tough.
After perusing fashion sites I've learned a few things about what's out there this spring. Dresses are short, fitted and tight and hard to imagine how they'll fit without trying them on. Internet dress models are 20-somethings so envisioning these outfits with a little more hip and a bit of tummy makes it hard to visualize how they'll look -- (definitely not like they do on a 20-something). I decided to cut off the heads of the models in these dresses so the 20-something faces didn't interfere with my visualization.
Nevertheless, there's only one way to find a dress these days and that is to get out there and try them on or order in (and return).
I decided to contain my Internet search to one color -- blue -- and see what I could come up with.
Looking at major department store sites, Rent the Runway and my tried-and-true favorite affordable designers produced a few options.
Would these work for the evening festivities from 5 p.m. to the dance floor? What do you think? Got another suggestion?
1. Nicole Miller: love the blue color, may need serious Spanx!
Ruched Taffeta Dress
2. Nicole Miller
Stretch Linen Tuck Dress
This only comes in white. A Robin Wright (House of Cards) looking number which would take wild confidence to wear but you only live once. Red wine drips could be deadly.
3. Anne Klein Tie-Dye Print Dress $139.
Great shade of blue and soft print, could be easy to wear -- feels a little hippyish. Is it dressy enough for evening?
4. Kay Unger Kay Unger New York
Mesh Embroidered-Top Cocktail Dress, Navy
Blue and navy blue -- love the boat line neck and mesh sleeves. Length could be good as it apparently comes right above the knee. Problem, a bit more pricey than the other three.
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