Thinking About: Sticking With What Works

metallic mules from L'Amour des Pieds

When I was working on last week’s “10 Things” post, I went back and did a lot of reviewing of old style and outfit posts. And in thinking about #10 (wear what pleases you), I’ve realized that I most often go astray with my style when I try to create “interesting” outfits. Simplicity and casual glamour are my groove.

Above: bracelet |nails (color is Rouge Puissant) | jeans | shoes 

My British friends have some of the best words. I love one that Alyson at  That’s Not My Age uses, “faffing”. It means “fussing” or “dithering” and it’s anathema to me. When I find myself faffing, I know I’ve gone astray. I often rely on accessories to add impact without faffage. Simple and bold suit my style these days.

This has been on my mind lately as I’m planning to attend my first blogger conference in April. It’s outside of my comfort zone, and easy to get caught up in feeling as though every outfit has to be Unique and Special. I’ve put off thinking about it for as long as I could, but I need to get on it.

Sticking With What Works will cover me for the daytime and two of the evening events, but it’s the third, a party with a Black Tie Optional dress code, that has me a bit flummoxed. It’s not like I have a handy What Works formula in this instance, as I haven’t attended anything that formal in over two decades (and the last time I did, I just borrowed a dress from a friend). I keep wondering “what would Emmanuelle Alt do?” and think she’d probably just throw on a le smoking over her black jeans, add some killer heels and go. But she’s EA, so she can get away with it. My friend Karen says go with a cocktail dress.

What I do know:

  • I’m not going to run out and spend oodles on a gown or dress I’ll never wear again. (The likelihood of another Equally Fancy Dress event on my calendar within the next decade is slim to none.)
  • I tend to run cold, so I’ll need either sleeves or a jacket
  • I need to stay in the realm of “fancy, not fussy.”
  • After having recently shopped with a friend for her Special Event, I know that something has to click right away. As with travel, if you’re going to be a bit out of your element, you want to feel like your best true self in what you’re wearing.

I have one thing on hold that I’m going to go try on in the next couple of days, and a couple of other ideas.

Do you often have formal or fancy dress occasions to attend? If so, do you follow the dress code to the letter, or give it your own spin?

“Le smoking” options…

Stay in touch.

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70 Comments

  1. April 3, 2017 / 10:51 am

    A navy tux would be immensely cool. Just off tangent from black, and more flattering…

  2. sandy
    April 3, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    Since you have a lot of black and white shirts and sweater jackets in different proportions, you could create your own take on a tuxedo look. You can never go wrong with using gold and white for your accents. Wear gold stunning accents with pearls( create a mix with jewelry ) I think the challenge would be not to buy anything new. If you have a formal pair of shoes and they aren’t gold, then add some embellishment of goal to your shoes. ( ribbon) In this case the shoes would be the accent along with your white and gold jewelry.

  3. Anonymous
    April 5, 2017 / 5:13 pm

    One of my old university friends had a real YSL smoking back in the day. She had long blonde hair and fair skin which was perfect with the black and always wore a fresh red rose in her lapel – and red lipstick. It stopped people in their tracks -and I never even noticed what the shoes were because the rest looked so fabulous. Always envied her this outfit! I’m sure the smoking would work for you Susan.

    I used to attend international conferences twice a year. Almost every evening there was a dressy reception – in Paris, for example, locations included: the Elysee Palace where we were welcomed by President Mitterrand himself; the palatial reception rooms in the Hotel de Ville; the Louvre (when it was closed to the public in the evening), initially in the Pyramid and then in a couple of galleries where we wandered with glasses of champagne and canapes; dinner at Le Pre Catelan etc. In Copenhagen the first welcome reception was in one of the royal palaces where we were welcomed by the Queen. So you can imagine these receptions called for some kind of effort. But I was working all day, totally occupied with the conference, so had no time to change into a glamorous gown. I’d scurry back to my hotel room, slip out of the walking shoes into heels, change to an evening handbag and scarf, change earrings, refresh make-up, spritz on a good perfume. There was no time to faff around or worry. I normally had only about ten minutes every evening to make the changes. Some of the wives of delegates looked supremely elegant/beautiful in designer gowns and heels, after all they were in amazing places like Paris, Copenhagen, Madrid etc. I knew this wasn’t an option available to me and just accepted it. Was always confident and OK with my simpler options. Nowadays I sometimes throw an old silk shawl around my shoulders – have a fabulous black one, hand embroidered in red and yellow roses with green leaves and deep black silk fringes around it. It’s very retro and completely changes and uplifts a simple black trouser suit. It’s great for travel. I love it, but it’s probably not you. (It cost only 30 euros in the Nice antique market.) But we all have to go with whatever we feel comfortable and happy with. When travelling I don’t ever want to take up space in the suitcase with an outfit that might only be worn once during the entire trip. Have fun, Pamela

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