So... the other day, when it was still November, I was on my exercise bike pedaling my butt off (not to mention other body parts that have grown in girth lately.) And I was flipping through magazines and Pinterest, and dreaming of wearing something like this dress to the deluge of festive parties that I will be attending this year. Okay, maybe not a deluge, exactly, but more than two.
Sigh. If wishes were dresses this would be in my closet right now. A lovely full-skirted, red, satin dress with high heels and an edgy leather jacket to keep it from looking too ladylike. But... wishes are just wishes, and there is no lovely, full-skirted, red dress hiding in my closet.
I do however own a somewhat-full-skirted Lida Baday dress that I bought a few years ago, and still love. It has pockets, which I like, and a deep V in the back which is pretty swish. And it's supposed to be kind of crinkly like this. But, you know, I think I prefer it as a summer special occasion dress to wear with flats and bare legs. And besides, I'm not attending any parties where I'd need to be this dressed up.
|Still love my Lida Baday dress... just not for a Christmas party.|
I might be more partial to a little velvet number like this one from Gap. I actually prefer it with the tee shirt under it. But any dress, even a fabulous one like the red satin, has limited appeal for me. One or two fancy dresses sitting unworn in my closet are enough.
So maybe something in a suit. Like a snazzy top to dress up my navy Veronica Beard suit. Or a vest to wear with my purple Tory Burch tie blouse and my black pants. I love these two looks below from the Canadian publication Fashion Magazine.com. Actually, the navy suit on the left is a bit severe even for me, but with a sparkly blouse under the jacket it would be lovely. Wouldn't it?
So, off I went one morning this week. To see if I could find a little something sparkly, or velvet, to add some glitter and gleam to my navy and black minimalist pieces. I didn't want to spend much. Cheap and cheerful were the words in my head as I trawled the stores at a local mall. But.... mall trawling can be mind numbing. And futile. If I were twenty-two again, and planning to head off on a Saturday night to Disco Viva in Hull, I'd have been in heaven. But I'm not. And all I found were tops and jackets that were cheap... and looked it. I don't care how inexpensive something is, if it won't get worn, it's not a bargain. And besides, I think I swore off fast fashion last summer, didn't I? As it happened, I didn't come home totally empty handed. I caught the tail end of the Eddy Bauer Black Friday sale, and I picked up a new fleece and a turtleneck for skiing. But I was, however, back to square one when it came to festive party outfits.
So it was time to put on my thinking cap, and trawl my closet, in particular the space in the hall cupboard where, in behind the winter coats, I keep a garment bag of things I rarely wear but can't let go of just yet. Like this velvet bolero, which I had uncharacteristically forgotten all about. I bought this red jacket at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show for $10.00... oh... must be almost twenty years ago. I removed the shoulder pads, and I used to wear it with a little black lacy dress I'd had for years, for Christmas parties and the like. In fact the last time I wore it was to my niece's Christmas wedding in 2012.
I tried it with my black Rag and Bone gauzy layered tank, and my Vince knit leggings. And these Stuart Weitzman block-heeled pumps from 2009. The layered tank does what it does best, drapes nicely, and covers what it should. I turned up the hem of the leggings so they hit me just above the ankle; they look better with the pumps that length. You know, I like this outfit. I'm covered, comfortable, a bit edgy, not frumpy, and I feel fabulous. Ha. I have an outfit I've never worn before...and I didn't spend a cent.
|Breathing new life into an old jacket|
I've always loved how my velvet jacket dips in the back, as you can see in the shot on the right. And I have a pair of earrings and a bracelet which are the perfect colour. My Anne Marie Chagnon bracelet would be too heavy if I were wearing the jacket with my little black lacy dress... not that I can fit into that little black dress anymore... see comment in opening about recent girth growth... but with the pants and tank it works.
You can see the earrings and bracelet a bit better, below. And you can tell that I had fun playing around with the lay-out ap on my i-pad. Now what colour would you call that jacket? Carmine? Maroon? Ruby? Wine? Maybe even pinot noir? Totally depends on which website you consult, and your computer screen.
So that's me sorted. I'm up one new outfit and not out any money. Win, win. I'll still wear the outfit below, from last year, to the Christmas engagement party for our friend's son that Hubby and I will attend. My Rag and Bone tank (quelle surprise), my Helmut Lang jacket, and my old faithful leather trousers, with my Stuart Weitzman loafers. I still really like this look. But I am getting a bit tired of my leather pants. I might have to retire them for a rest.
Christmas party season is often problematic for me. I usually dream up an outfit that involves something I don't own, but wish I did. And I hate to spend money on something I will wear only occasionally. So I'll look, as I did this year, for something inexpensive to cheer up what is already in my closet. And I rarely find anything that suits me. I guess it's a good thing that when I do find something, like my red bolero, I stash it away and can haul it out for years to come. There is, of course, one tiny problem that can arise when one drags an item of apparel out of the closet so very rarely. And that is the girth issue.
I'm thinking specifically of the evening of a work Christmas party about fifteen years ago. I had cobbled together an outfit from an old pair of black tuxedo-style pants, a fluffy cream silk blouse, and a beautiful black brocade vest that was new. But at the last minute when we were all ready to go, and Hubby was on his way out to start the car, I decided the outfit needed a really great belt. And I had just the thing in mind. Somewhere, stashed in a drawer, I knew I had a gorgeous, black patent-leather, cummerbund-style belt that buckled in the back. It had dressed up a jersey dress that I wore to a party way back when I'd worked in pharmaceutical sales. The dress was long gone, but I knew just where the belt was. Ah ha! As I hauled it out, I could see out the window, that Hubby was in the car with the motor running, headlights shining across the driveway. I whipped off my vest and wrapped the belt around me, grabbing each end to buckle it. What the...? No matter how much I wrestled with it, there was no frigging way the ends of that belt would meet. There was a three inch gap. Three inches! What the hell?
Well. Let's just say the belt went back in the drawer. The vest back on. Then my coat. And when I finally climbed into the car and Hubby asked incredulously, "what the bleep, bleep" I had been doing, I thought longingly of that beautiful, patent-leather belt, that would never again be the line of demarcation between my creamy silk blouse and my black trousers, and I simply said I'd had a slight problem with my horizontal X axis. Math teacher joke, for girth increase problems. Ha. Never, never store a belt for twenty years and then haul it out to wear at the last minute. You might, like me, be in for a nasty surprise.
If wishes were able to be translated into wardrobe reality that evening, I'm not sure if I would have wished for the belt to be longer or the area to be covered a bit smaller. Three inches smaller. Sigh. I can say that I would not have chosen to turn back time, to the era when the belt fit me. Not for a moment. Despite the fact that I must have been some jeezley skinny when I was in my twenties. But as age and experience has taught me... being skinny ain't everything.
You know, "some jeezley" was perhaps the most commonly used expression of amazement when I was growing up in New Brunswick. Funny. I don't think I've used it for years. Must be because Hubby and I are planning to go home for Christmas this year. We have, as you know, been home at other times. But not for Christmas. Not for a few years.
And we're some jeezley excited... as us New Brunswickers say.
Now, what about you folks? What festive dressing decisions have you made so far? If wishes were dresses... or suits, or whatever.... what would you suddenly find in your closet? Or do you already have a closet full of party wear? Or are you adverse to party gear? I must say that after a couple of parties, I'm ready to go back to my jeans and turtlenecks.
Linking up this week with: Visible Monday, #IwillwearwhatIlike, What I Wore, Style Me Wednesday, Thursday Favourite Things, A Labour of Life, Top of the World Style Link-up, Thursday Favourite Things, Passion 4 Fashion, Fun Fashion Friday, and Saturday Share Link-Up.