Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wedding Fashion: Not a Dress?

Earlier Drafts:
This skirt has helped me ease into neon.

yellow spotted top (Billabong via Swell)
pink skirt (Target)
gold heels (Guess)
yellow clutch (SR Squared by Sondra Roberts)

I enjoy wedding season, even the thick, dead-heat-of-summer of it.  The romance, the food, the music, and the reunions with old friends combine to make June and July weekends positively delightful.  Last Saturday, I road-tripped with friends to just such a festive occasion in Connecticut.  I easily planned my casual outfits for the mini-vacation, but I was stumped as to my (semi-)formal attire.  I'm disenchanted with dresses, see.

I'm over frocks because I've cycled through most of my own.  My interior monologue goes like so: "I wore that dress to a bridal shower last week, this one to my brother's graduation, and I'm reserving that one for an outdoor affair in the middle of August."  Not that I own merely three dresses.  But what's with this No Overlap rule?  The one which cautions against outfit repeats, especially at weddings which occur in the same calendar year and with similar guest lists?  Don't the gods of wedding fashion empathize with our plight?  It's nearly impossible to wear a dress differently enough to disguise it as an entirely new ensemble.  (Props to Liz for accomplishing just such a feat earlier this week.)  Sure, a unique clutch, heels in a different shade, and perhaps a belt can infuse a frock with new vitality, but changing the accessories won't prevent your former college apartmentmate from greeting you with, "I haven't seen you since So-and-So's wedding last month!  Weren't you wearing the same dress then?"  Hmph.  Detected.

I'm also disillusioned with dresses because I'm bored with their silhouettes, especially the two to which I most often revert.  First, I'm tempted to purge my closet of all empire-waisted, spaghetti-strapped, knee-length, mono-articles of clothing.  I'm tired of seeing myself in them, and wedding attendees everywhere likely sense my halfheartedness toward donning them, too.  On my curve-less body this look is the quintessence of "Blah."  Second, although I'm grateful for my trusty strapless get-ups, I supremely dislike joining the requisite mob of fellow tube-topped women simultaneously hiking up their uppermost hems in preparation for the bouquet toss.  At the most, I feel cloned and mechanical; at the very least, I feel well-choreographed.  Are we all bored with these silhouettes, or do I need to join the rest of you in branching out?  More variety please, screams my closet!

In my pursuit of more interesting semi-formal options for the Connecticut fete, the color palette of Katie's Catherine Malandrino dress inspired me.  I liked her refreshing combination of pinks and yellows.  Even better, I liked that my limited frock selection prompted me to translate Katie's pastels into a neon-hued skirt + top pairing of my own.  I wanted rose-plus-lemon, but my closet offered the more saturated bubblegum-plus-trafficlight.  I wanted a new silhouette, and I got frills and layers, without venturing down the dress route.  This look feels energized to me.  What do you think?

Next up on my silhouette pursuit: pants to a wedding.  I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try it.  Have any of you ladies attempted it?

  • What silhouettes do you normally wear to weddings and other semi-formal / formal affairs?
  • How do you dress creatively for events which require more or less standard attire?
  • Have you ever worn pants to a wedding, ladies?  If so, how did you wear them?  I'd like to try it, but I need some advice from braver souls first.
  • After I wore this top, Liz expressed surprise that I had effectively repurposed a surf brand garment for an explicitly uncasual event.  We're both loyal to beach wear, but we tend to keep it in context, this outfit being an exception.  Would you wear pieces cross-context like this?  To what extent to you heed the marketing of clothing brands? 


La Historiadora de Moda said...

I have to admit that I'm not a super big fan of this ensemble for a wedding. Of course, I don't know the context of the wedding and the venue, but the skirt and sandals read at much different register than the top does in my opinion.

That clutch is so fun!

You make it sound like everyone who goes to weddings buys into the consumerist mentality. I understand that many people don't want to repeat outfits in the same season in the same social group, but I would never dream of judging someone for wearing the same dress to two weddings. In fact, I would admire her frugality -- if I even noticed she was wearing the same thing.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks for your feedback! Let me clarify: I'm not accusing wedding attendees of buying into the consumerist mentality, at least I do not mean to. Since I was taught not to repeat special occasion ensembles, and since my budget is tight, I'm wondering if the Rule of No Repeats still applies, and, if it does, how I can navigate it in a budget-conscious way. Three cheers for frugality!

- Anne-Marie

Katie from Interrobangs Anonymous said...

I understand the feeling of being bored with silhouettes - as a short-waisted, busty girl, it's all wide shoulder straps and an empire neckline for me.

I do try to snazzy things up with accessories - a simple dress paired with two different big ole' honking necklaces, or a scarf tied in an interesting way, does well enough for me. Another trick is to go to weddings of people who don't know each other, so the chances of the same guests being at both are slim ;)

I agree with LHdM that the skirt and heels are much more on the side of fancy than the top, but I admire the experiment. Was it a daytime wedding outdoors? If so, I think you could pull it off.

I went to a wedding last weekend where a guest in front of me was wearing a muddy baseball cap, so it takes all kinds (although that kind should have known much, much better).

Scholar Style Guide said...

I've been thinking about my shoe choice, and I wonder if these yellow wedges would have made the look coherent:

The wedges were in my suitcase, ironically. In fact, my husband advised me to wear them instead of the gold strappy heels. He'll be thrilled to read your comments. ;)

- Anne-Marie

Diana said...

Hi! I found your blog through Fashionable Academics, and I love it!

I love this outfit for a semi-formal summer wedding - I think it's festive and cheerful and fun, which are all good things for weddings. If I were to change one thing, it would actually be the shoes - I think they are a little *too* glitzy and evening for this ensemble. I think I would have gone with the wedges as well.

I'm not sure about pants for a wedding, although I do know people who have done it well (I know someone who almost always wears pants to formal occasions, as she is not comfortable with the way her legs look, and she pulls off the pants very well). Personally, I think pants have a tendency to look too "business," which is OK, I guess, but I prefer a younger, more fun look for a wedding.

Incidentally, I recently went to a wedding where one guest (who admittedly is known for dressing inappropriately at such things) was wearing leggings-as-pants and another guest was wearing a perfectly fine black dress with Reef flip flops. Yeah... there is pushing the envelope in fun, creative ways, and then there is just plain inappropriate.

La Historiadora de Moda said...

Oh, and I forgot to say that I have worn pants to a wedding. I used to have a pair of velvety wide-legged black trousers. I wore them to two fall/winter weddings a couple of years back.

Scholar Style Guide said...

And how much does personality play in? When you're known as a "good dresser," as I am sure all of your undergrad friends consider you, there seems to be an added pressure to pull together a stylish, cutting edge ensemble. Especially now that people know you contribute to a style blog.

I totally think it works with your personality, in no small part because I think people who pay attention to your clothes recognize you as an experimental dresser, though I do like the shoe swap suggestion.


Scholar Style Guide said...

I am awed over the adorableness of this outfit. I'm not sure that I could pull that off at a wedding, but I'm with Liz - it suits you and your personality.

For me, the accessories are the dissonant factor here - not in a major way, but I think the clutch and heels don't quite work together. I think I like the wedges better.

What's great about this outfit, though, is that you could wear it to a much less formal event and to a wedding.

I know what you mean about a go-to style of dress - my weakness is neutral or neutral-with-a-pop-of-color floral prints. My closet is overflowing with them. Maybe time for a purge?


Scholar Style Guide said...

Guys, thanks! I'm attending two weddings next month, and I think next time I'll ask you to approve my outfit - especially my shoe selection - BEFORE the occasions. You're all right about the heels, you're so right! :)