Friday, October 25, 2019

Wedding Guest Dress(es)

Now that I'm back from vacation, it's time to hit the ground running again at the office. Among other things, it may soon be my turn to take an urgent international business trip. For some litigators, business travel - both domestic and international, and sometimes on very short notice - can be quite common, but it hasn't been a big part of my practice so far. Based on my current caseload, this should, in all likelihood, be a fairly isolated instance for me. I should get some airline miles out of it too, though probably not enough to get special status from any airline, given that this is likely to be my only trip this year! 

As part of my recent trip, K and I attended a wedding - and the attendant rehearsal dinner - at two swanky venues in the Los Angeles area. The wedding was definitely the fanciest one K and I have attended to date. The dress code was still standard cocktail attire for both events, definitely not black tie, but I still felt a little under-dressed. I wore the J.Crew dress with bows to the rehearsal dinner, and the Ann Taylor lace dress to the main event. Both are dresses I also wear to the office, and in the case of the J.Crew one, that happens almost as often as once every two weeks.

I've actually worn this same style of Ann Taylor dress - I own two, in slightly different shades of blue and with slightly different lace patterns - to the last five or six weddings K and I attended, over the past three years or so. There was nearly no overlap between the guest lists at most of those weddings. Though in any case, I don't think significant guest list overlap would have caused me to change my mind about wearing the same dress each time.

We attended the last few weddings before this most recent one in fairly quick succession, and then there was a long gap between events, of well over a year. By the end of that string of weddings ending by early 2018, I was starting to get extremely bored of those Ann Taylor dresses. I started wanting to look for a more interesting or colorful formal dress, though that search never panned out. For a time, I searched halfheartedly, but my interest in the project quickly petered out when it proved to be difficult, and not that much fun. Given that we had no other wedding invitations on the horizon, there was also no urgency associated with the search.

This time around, I felt bored of this Ann Taylor lace dress after attending just this one wedding.  And we do have at least three weddings we're invited to in 2020...

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Spoiler alert: I don't think I'll ultimately end up buying a new "wedding guest dress" this time either. That's mostly because the same factors that made the search so tedious and annoying last time are still in play: I'm extremely fussy about which designs I think will work for my body type. There's a pretty long list of design elements that will cause me to reject a dress out of hand, and I also need, at a minimum, for a non-strapless bra to be completely covered. I'm also generally very picky - maybe unreasonably so - about what colors or prints I think might look good on me. And for this purpose, I also prefer to avoid any print on a white or cream backing, as well as any light color that could look close to white in certain lighting, cutting down the universe of potential dresses even further. Then, there's also the question of whether a possibly workable dress design actually fits and looks good on me, which is no easy feat because I'm quite short - generally too short for most "regular sizing" midi and maxi-length dresses to look right -  and am also on the curvier side.

Altogether, given my restrictive preferences and some of the popular trends in party dress design in recent years - for instance, those Self-Portrait lace dresses that were popular for a time definitely don't work for me, nor does basically anything that looks like it could come from Reformation's "wedding guest" dress selection - I think it's no surprise that I find this search rather painful. In fact, I find the wedding guest dress search nearly as painful as the search for a pair of jeans that I actually like and that fit (a process I endure only when absolutely necessary, complaining all the while).

All of this is to say that I might have unreasonable and unrealistic preferences for this specific genre of dress. On top of that long list of restrictions, there's the limits of my budget to think about as well!

Ultimately, it's also consistent with my "minimalist-ish" values to stick with the perfectly adequate wedding guest dresses I already have. It isn't even like I didn't have other options in my closet all this time, including that Anthropologie dress featured in my first ever monthly shopping post, or that Diane von Furstenberg ("DVF") wrap dress from my second ever monthly shopping post, among many others. (Both those alternatives are out of my closet now: I resold the DVF dress back to TheRealReal not long ago. And with the changes to my chest measurement during the intervening years, I no longer fit in the Anthropologie dress, so I'll need to find it a new home.) Nonetheless, I still reached for the Ann Taylor dresses to attend all those weddings in a row, over various other options, because I ultimately felt more comfortable in those dresses than in any of my other possible choices.

So that's probably that for this potential purchase, I'm pretty sure. I really do like looking at various colorful and pretty dresses (the more intricate and opulent the better, really, given most of what catches my eye when it comes to larger-than-life or high fashion runway inspiration). But when it comes to what makes sense for me in real life, it's pretty clear that I favor dresses with a simpler, more staid look for this purpose, and that I prefer having a wedding guest "uniform" I keep reaching for - the same dress over and over - with some variety and novelty coming from my choice of accessories, and sometimes shoes. 

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