When The Dress Code Is Outside Of Your Style Comfort Zone

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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  1. Nancy
    March 30, 2017 / 3:17 am

    Would you consider using “Rent the Runway”? I know several women who use it and they have been very pleased.

    • DebraK
      March 30, 2017 / 4:13 am

      I second the Rent the Runway idea. This is exactly the situation it was designed for. My friend’s daughter used it for her prom dress. Friends use it for special one-time events when they want a great dress but not the retail price.

    • Susan B
      March 30, 2017 / 6:32 am

      Hi Nancy, I’m a big fan of renting special occasion clothing when possible. I rented my wedding dress 22 years ago! 🙂 I did look on their site a few weeks ago and among the few pieces I might have considered, realized I’d probably have a problem with length. Since you can’t alter a rental, I nixed that idea pretty quickly.

    • Debra
      April 1, 2017 / 6:07 am

      I was thinking the same thing as I read your post.

  2. Julie
    March 30, 2017 / 3:24 am

    I have attended a few ‘black tie ‘ formal dinners over the years and have worn what I can only describe as really uncomfortable and ‘ not me’ outfits. These days I wear simple and elegant pieces ( even evening pants) and just ramp up the sparkles and heels, make up etc ! It feels much more ‘ me’ and therefore am happy !!

  3. Jill
    March 30, 2017 / 3:32 am

    I have a summer Afternoon Formal Garden Wedding to attend in Nags Head, NC….so, being a casual gal I opted for a beautiful silk long dress I found in the Sundance Catalogue…..It’s a lovely print/paisley, and the colors go well with my coloring. I’ll add a silk scarf, gift from a friend from Cambodia, that matches and some sparkly earrings and my diamond tennis bracelet…..cute golden sandals and I’m set….But I’m not the formal kind of person….ever…..I like comfort over stiffness…..This dress I bought will be able to be a great dress up or down addition to my wardrobe….living in Florida, I can pretty much wear it year round. Have fun on your hunt, and I think what ever you choose you will be stunning.

  4. Deede
    March 30, 2017 / 3:34 am

    The value and fun of your blog is that you are true to yourself and to your style…I can’t imagine you in a “cocktail” dress as a representative of that style…EA would do the jeans, heels and smoking jacket…Well, why not?…Certainly brushing off her style as EA is not enough…What is your definition of casual glamour?…..That is your formal attire…Don’t let me down…

    • March 30, 2017 / 4:26 am

      Nicely stated, Deede… I’m with you on nixing the cocktail dress and considering the smoking jacket.

    • Helene Harris
      April 1, 2017 / 5:56 am

      i also vote for the smoking jacket. it sounds elegant and very you! killer heels a must if you can do it. (I can’t alas any longer)

  5. March 30, 2017 / 3:43 am

    Back in the day I did have a bunch of black tie events, and had a killer purple ankle-length backless sheath with a thigh-high slit and the legs to pull it off. But that was then. Job, lifestyle and body have changed. If something were to come up, I would either rent or go to a consignment store. It would be nice to have something Diane Keaton would wear–a tuxedo type outfit–but would I have occasion to wear even that? Doubtful. Being comfortable isn’t just physical but psychological, which means being appropriately dressed. If everybody is in gowns and tuxes, it would feel weird to be in a cocktail dress. Renting means you can go for something really fancy.

  6. March 30, 2017 / 4:01 am

    The last time I went to a formal evening event about 9 yrs ago I wore a simple silk chiffon black strappy dress from Emporio Armani with a navy/black Emporio Armani jacket (which I still have). If I were to go to one now I think I would hire a dress. Love the word “faffing” never heard of “faffage” but like it.

  7. March 30, 2017 / 4:18 am

    I go to a lot of different types of functions these days including blogger conferences. I find that if I’m comfortable in my clothes, I can make everything work well. I do have a very fancy event in May. My daughter is getting married, and the occasion is formal! So, I did buy a lovely dress for that. However, the rest of my clothes are nice, but not fussy. Garden conferences call for a whole different type of dress, but I’ve worked that out too. Thank you for all your help these years. You’ve taught me the best way to travel effortlessly. I appreciate that very much Susan.~~Dee

  8. March 30, 2017 / 4:23 am

    Susan, I’m with Deede: I cannot imagine you in a a cocktail dress, either. I love to see your style shining through in the way you combine swanky separates with a upscale accessories. For the event you’ve described, I’d go for your inimitable, casual glamour: perhaps a long/calf-length black/navy/gunmetal dress (or skirt/pants), comfortable shoes, (with a little sparkle on them?), chandelier earrings, a jeweled minaudière… What I’ve learned from reading your excellent blog for the past several years is that there’s no point to going overboard with cluttery clothing, and absolutely no reward when you feel as if you’ve dressed in someone else’s costume. I look forward to learning what you finally decide to do!

  9. Susan Kools
    March 30, 2017 / 4:37 am

    Go with the le smoking and heels– that would look awesome on you with your blonde pixie, red lips and nails. Go for it, girl!

  10. Gemma
    March 30, 2017 / 4:45 am

    Hi, what does EA mean, please?

    • Susan B
      March 30, 2017 / 6:27 am

      Emmanuelle Alt

  11. March 30, 2017 / 4:57 am

    I like the le smoking and heels idea too. I think you would look awesome.
    I attend an annual gala dinner (jokingly referred to as the prom) for the industry I work in, and I wear the same dress every year. I couldn’t care less if anyone knows it, and I doubt anyone even notices.

    • Susan D.
      March 30, 2017 / 5:43 am

      hmm…one of the upcoming black tie events I have to attend–is also called “the prom”. It’s the party my husband’s law firm has–not every year–but every few years.

  12. Linda
    March 30, 2017 / 5:00 am

    Susan, along with the others, I can see you in a more menswear / tuxedo look. Be yourself and you will rock it.

  13. Eclair
    March 30, 2017 / 5:03 am

    I could see you in your Eileen Fisher silk slacks, your Tuxedo jacket, w/ a black satin tank. Add a fabulous clutch, and shoe. Perhaps a major earring up top.

  14. Christina
    March 30, 2017 / 5:12 am

    Instead of asking what EA would wear, I think you should be asking what EF (Eileen Fisher) would wear. Perhaps some silk separates of different fabrications with your Ted Baker wrap scarf and some sparkle? I have a rule that if I’m only wearing it once, I spend the least I can on it.

    • Ellen
      March 30, 2017 / 6:06 am

      This has been my solution to all such occasions. Almost four years ago, I had to attend a “formal wedding on the beach” and I made the decision to stop shopping for the occasion and hating my choice, and to solve this thing once and for all. I bought an Eileen Fisher black dress. It has an asymmetrical hem (solving the short/long question), and the bottom 10 inches of the dress is sheer. It is sleeveless. I wear it with some sort of top which suits the occasion: a sparkley gray EF cardigan in winter, a hand dyed silk shawl in spring and fall, a light weight silk scarf worn as a shawl in summer, an open-knit linen EF sweater for a cruise, a little jacket for the opera. The number of outfits I can make with this is endless and has adapted to every occasion I have needed it for, and the big plus is that it packs into nothing, it is easily packable.

      I am not a formal wear person, and when i went looking at so called “special occasion” dresses, I was thoroughly appalled by all the lace and sequins and dreadful colors that were shown to me by sales people (including your favorite:Nordstroms). I have never felt less that totally comfortable in what has to be the most versatile dress i have ever owned, and I never have to think about what I will wear when that invitation comes.

  15. Hilary
    March 30, 2017 / 5:28 am

    I would wear my classic black silk trousers and a fabulous kimono style jacket that I’ve had for 30 years. I think something vintage can also work for that kind of event with otherwise simple staples so you just need one fabulous jacket in your closet and black silk pants and you are set for life!!

  16. Beverly
    March 30, 2017 / 5:36 am

    Definitely stay true to your own style. I would not do a frou frou gown or cocktail dress. I would probably go with either palazzo pants or dress pants in a more formal fabric, maybe silk shantung. Cigarette pants? I’d go for a jacket or tunic on top and some sparkle trim, not overstated. Or jewelry that would add a little bling. I like all black,but that’s me….I’d go for simple, uncomplicated lines in separates, add interest with accessories, and be sure you feel comfortable in whatever you choose.

  17. Beverly
    March 30, 2017 / 5:37 am

    I have a pair of perfect black velvet pants that make me feel both beautiful and like “me” in any situation. And although I am mostly “lagenlook,” I enjoy getting ideas from your casual elegance/chic because you always seem so comfortable in your skin, whatever you are wearing. Simple and elegant, appropriate for the occasion—-that seems to be you…..so, black tie optional is right up your style alley!

  18. Margaret
    March 30, 2017 / 5:38 am

    I have one “black tie” item, a black taffeta ball skirt. Dressed “down” it gets a white shirt. Dressed “interesting”, it gets a short sleeved black cashmere sweater with crystal buttons. Dressed “OMG the queen invited me for dinner” it gets a sequined black top. And I can wear it repeatedly because, as a classic, it never goes out of style. I love that darned thing!

    • March 30, 2017 / 7:38 am

      Love your solution and description!

      • Thea
        April 2, 2017 / 6:26 am

        Ditto! I am going to hunt one down for one myself!

  19. Susan D.
    March 30, 2017 / 5:38 am

    I am going to have to go to about four black tie events in the coming months! And, like you, I hate the idea of spending a lot of money on something I will seldom wear. I do have one black tie dress (if I can fit into it) that I purchased last year (on sale). I like it–it’s from Lafayette 148 and is a sleepless white dress with silvery design down the front. My description does not do it justice. I can’t wear it to all four events—even if I can fit into it–as the events have heavily overlapping guest lists. I am going to go shopping and probably hope for something black, timeless and simple.

    I can see you in black wide leg EF pants (silk) with maybe a black sequined top. EF had one in the fall.

  20. March 30, 2017 / 5:39 am

    I’ve found some beautiful formalwear at thrift shops and consignment stores. Two of my favorites: A Christian Dior tuxedo jacket and a black/silver evening cardigan with rhinestone beads and sequins. I’ve worn each with wide/silk Eileen Fisher pants (always black) and embellished sandals — and I carry a vintage/beaded evening bag.

    I don’t often wear or purchase lots of vintage, unless it’s really special, but I do find that a lot of women donate once-worn evening items to thrift shops — and the selection there is usually very good. I always have my vintage purchases cleaned (or I launder them) before I wear them, and that makes them my own.

    • Andrea
      March 30, 2017 / 5:30 pm

      I second this in a big way. I love consignment shops for formal wear, as I have to attend one or two a year—often with overlapping guest lists—so I prefer not to wear the same thing. But it’s very easy to pick up an elegant dress or a statement bag for minimal investment. Sometimes I’ll even turn around and re-consign it afterwards, which is kind of like renting, except there’s no time pressure for returning it and I can alter the piece as needed. Win-win!

  21. patval
    March 30, 2017 / 5:50 am

    The EF bone outfit you had on in Paris photo shoot is stunning. Do you have the silk pants and top ? Beautiful shoes,the right jewelry, possibly an elegant scarf, and an evening bag might work for you.

  22. March 30, 2017 / 5:55 am

    You know I am dealing with the same thing! You thought Emanuelle Alt, I thought Diane von Furstenberg. What would she wear? Nothing too fussy, something that would make her FEEL fancy. My rep said it’s essentially a cocktail party and people will be in everything from sundresses to ball gowns. I’ll be in a long dress, but I wear maxis to go to Target. My accessories will likely be what takes it to the next level if I wear what I think I will (though I keep waffling around with it…)

    • March 30, 2017 / 5:58 am

      And I must say my dream was an off-white Le Smoking for this event, but I couldn’t find one I liked and that was in my size. If that’s your comfort level I think it would be so chic!

  23. Kay
    March 30, 2017 / 6:17 am

    You recently featured Asian style jackets in a post. As I recall the one you purchased was lovely. Dressy black plants, silk top under the jacket, sparkly shoes and some kick-ass jewelry. I bet you own all of this already.

  24. L.
    March 30, 2017 / 6:31 am

    In going with your style, what about an casually elegant white charmuse blouse (well fitting but loose and worn untucked) with black evening pants (palazzos?) or black jeans (or black anklet pants) and black satin or sequined pumps (kitten heel for comfort) with some terrific “jewels” or even a narrow black satin or sequin tie? I quarantine there would be women there who would secretly be envying you for being brave enough to choose your own taste and comfort.

    • Weezie Fitzhugh
      March 30, 2017 / 12:19 pm

      This sounds perfect to me, and just what I was going to suggest. White loose-fitting silk blouse and black silk pants (full if you them, fine if you don’t) and add a few more necklaces that usual – pearls if you have them. I think you could wear your Seymour Weitzman sandals with this if you don’t have dressier. I would add a sparkly clutch and a black wrap. I’m not crazy about Le Smoking or similar unless you have the height for it. You will be chic, comfortable, and totally appropriate.

  25. March 30, 2017 / 6:58 am

    I haven’t given one thought to what I’ll wear at this conference…I guess I better get on the ball. I seldom wear black tie so a cocktail dress will not be what I wear. I prefer separates to gowns for dressier occasions because there’s more opportunity to wear the items again in less formal ways.

  26. Lucinda
    March 30, 2017 / 7:31 am

    I would suggest going with the Emmanuelle Alt outfit you are imagining but with a dressier bottom (skirt or pants) then the black jeans (I know they are one of your favorites but it’s also the piece you most likely think only she has enough clout to pull off). The outfit would be mostly you just altered slightly to be more venue appropriate and all the individual pieces (le smoking, heels, accessories, whatever pants or skirt you decide on) could be worn in combination with less dressy pieces for less formal occasions.

  27. March 30, 2017 / 7:46 am

    I’d definitely go with the Emmanuelle Alt alternative. Then when people ask about your outfit you can wave your hand blithely and say, “Oh… it’s EAA.” People are going to recognize you immediately and be so happy to meet you they won’t even notice what you’re wearing. I’m excited to hear about this conference. I’d love to attend one some day.
    Do you have to be invited?

  28. March 30, 2017 / 7:48 am

    Thanks for sharing your thought process. This is a cliffhanger. I look forward to finding out the result! It is challenging to do very dressy within a classic casual framework. I am a Bohemian kind of girl so relish such sartorial adventures and have some special, mostly vintage, options in my closet for such rare occasions. Next week there is a Summer of Love exhibit and opening party at the De Young museum. The invitation calls for Bohemian so I am excited to wear my patchwork taffeta coat which has been patiently waiting in my closet, over lace embellished jeans. I do agree about the scratchy tight sequined numbers which fill the stores being so uncomfortable and cliche.

  29. March 30, 2017 / 7:54 am

    I definitely give the dress code a slight bend…. and my own spin!
    Comfort (emotional not so much physical) is key.
    With comfort comes confidence and confidence make a great outfit!
    For your black tie why not go androgynous in a jacket/trousers and fabulous shoes?
    You could even wear the black tie open as a skinny scarf?
    Bend those rules a little!

  30. Abby Killebrew
    March 30, 2017 / 8:53 am

    I love Rent the Runway. I use it for those black tie events that you don’t want to wear the same dress year after year. But! Be true to your style there as well because I’ve rented things I thought would work but simply did not because they really weren’t my style. Have a great time at the convention!


  31. Mollie
    March 30, 2017 / 9:00 am

    A long silk ball skirt a la Sharon Stone with her famous white button-down–you can find these on etsy in lots of colors and price points and then have lots of freedom to do something simple and easy on top.

  32. March 30, 2017 / 9:02 am

    I’m so excited to experience the conference through the eyes of my fellow buddy bloggers! And I can’t wait to see what everyone is wearing! No pressure. Hee. I know you’ll look classy and chic as always. I’ve got the conference on my calendar for 2019! I believe in positive thinking! (2018 would require a miracle though I think!)

    Dawn Lucy
    Fashion Should Be Fun

  33. Melissa
    March 30, 2017 / 10:35 am

    Hi Susan,

    The dress up option is the one I often struggle with. And as I get older, it becomes more of a problem. I remember going to a wedding in NYC a couple of years ago, thinking I had a perfectly good dress to go with, and then feeling very out of place and (the dreaded word) frumpy when I got there. I agree that I hate spending too much money on something I’ll wear once, but it is so hard to feel comfortable and attractive in clothes that don’t suit you. Also, I wear glasses and for some reason, don’t think that a lot of cocktail dresses suit a woman in prominent tortoise shell glasses – there is a disconnect. If you have any further thoughts or suggestions . . .

    • April 2, 2017 / 7:34 am

      Le Smoking would suit the strong glasses look but have you considered a lighter, maybe silvery pair, for an alternative?

  34. kaybee
    March 30, 2017 / 10:38 am

    Out of the box? I’m surprised that no one has mentioned a long black silk jumpsuit….I just purchased one for opening night at the opera. With a wrap/jacket/kimono and sparkling heels/jewelry/bag, it will be fancy for its first wearing, then hemmed to mid-ankle or midi and worn with sandals this summer and fall.

  35. Brit
    March 30, 2017 / 10:47 am

    Agree with others, if pants and a dressy jacket are what is comfortable, go for it! One of my favorite dressy outfits was a Laundry by Shelly Segal sleeveless shell and pant outfit purchased years ago for a wedding. It made me feel great because it was different, flattering and most important, comfortable. These days I look better in skirts, so one of my go-to dressy outfits is a dramatic full skirt with a simple black top and sparkly accessories.

  36. elizaduckie
    March 30, 2017 / 10:55 am

    Since you have jackets, I’d add a lovely and interesting long black (or other color) skirt with a coordinating tank or camisole, with some bang up jewelry (which you probabaky already own). Work with as much as you already have to keep the budget sane. If the long length isn’t usable later, due to your lifestyle, have it shortened to wear in less formal settings. Pretty evening bags can be found at outlet stores or on sale from department stores…I use them like jewelry to add interest. If black is your base color, I know you Ave a lot of it you could use whose you have in black leather or add something in. jazzy color. It’s always the attitude, the je ne sais quoi that carries it off.

    I wish I’d followed my own advice for one of the two weddings I have upcoming. I bought a dress that I intend to shorten later for less formal wear, but I still need it shortened a bit to wear it for the wedding. That has added unnecessary stress to a very stressful time…I’m in the middle of a double move, sale and clear out. Not a smart thing to do. Even though I did all the shopping, early, for both weddings getting it shortened got lost somehow. Now I’m exhausted, sacre bleu! And I still have to take care of it.

    • elizaduckie
      March 30, 2017 / 11:00 am

      Correction to this garbled sentence:”If black is your base color, I know you Ave a lot of it you could use whose you have in black leather or add something in. jazzy color”
      It was supposed to read: If black is your base color, I know you have a lot of it, you could use shoes you have in black, or did some in a jazzy color.

      Apologies, the moves are obviously getting to me!

  37. Renee
    March 30, 2017 / 11:25 am

    I generally grab one of my “LBD”s and go big on jewelry, shoes, makeup, etc. I still feel like me…but, “fancier”..LOL

  38. March 30, 2017 / 11:37 am

    Susan — for your black tie – I suggest black leggings, and tank, for body con, with your long black cardigan, for some sweep and ALL your French Kandy jewelry, for sparkle! AND the highest heels you can stand OR some chic mules. It’s probably all in your closet right now? You could add a tiny evening bag for small $$$ from a discount place. (I bought my fave at a teen store on sale – $10.) Add shiny hair and your great smile. And you’ll feel like YOU. Warmest congratulations on both of your milestones! Karen in Santa Fe.

  39. March 30, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    I don’t go to these kinds of things often, but when I do, I like a spectacular non-sparkly dress and a pair of spectacular shoes. Great earrings. The dresses are spectacular either due to cut and amazing print on fabric, or being a perfect color and silhouette for me, but simple.

    I could see you in a silk satin cocoon dress, knee length, for example, and embroidered booties. But none of those sequin occasion dresses, heavens forbid.

    That said, le smoking is good. I’d just make sure the fabrics are impeccable. And maybe go crazy on the shoes, like, metallic booties or even the Gucci prints or something. To be you, but you writ large.

  40. March 30, 2017 / 12:38 pm

    I have a black silk jersey and chiffon Eileen Fisher dress on “standby” for the rare formal occasion.

    I second Karen’s suggestion, but would substitutie a shawl or wrap for the cardigan. And I absolutely think that you could pull off “Le Smoking.”

  41. March 30, 2017 / 12:47 pm

    I feel your pain on selecting something “BTO” … I’m actually surprised the event is calling it this way. Gosh, I used to attend BTO’s for business or weddings– over a decade ago, but that was then, now is now. I’d probably opt for something in VELVET, black velvet, especially since it’s April, and still a tad bit cool. Then, you can wear it over jeans and a tee–here in California. A black velvet blazer, nipped at the waist. Oh La La.

  42. March 30, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    Much like others above, I would go with what you love. I would be inclined toward a modified, modernize, you-ified tuxedo. Slim trousers, tux jacket/le smoking, silk blouse or tank, some killer shoes and red lips. I have plenty of gowns and dresses at my disposal (I’m at the age where everyone is getting married!), but if I want to be comfortable, I wear my black slim trousers and a cool vintage blouse that looks like a tuxedo jacket. I wear my hair up to look fancier, and so I don’t fidget with it. I wear absurdly huge earrings or necklace, and red lips. It really does work for everything.

  43. Lynn Nielson
    March 30, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    I just went through this dilemma for a 50th anniversary event. I wore black crepe pants, a almost identical white tuxedo jacket to the one you’ve posted with a EF silk tank and killer shoes with rhinestones and a rhinestone necklace. I felt comfortable all evening and received complements.

  44. Jean
    March 30, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    You’ll never go wrong with the LBD

  45. March 30, 2017 / 2:46 pm

    I vote for le smoking, too. But second choice would be your version of Sharon Stone’s white shirt and evening skirt (of any length and fabric YOU prefer).

    Break a leg!

  46. ldsincollegeSusan
    March 30, 2017 / 2:49 pm

    You do you! Be yourself; everyone else is taken, anyway. (Oscar Wilde) What about a tailored jumpsuit? Very modern and chic, covered and modest–Midlife Chic has several posted today, Rent the Runway has some, and Nordstrom has some too. I bet you will need a petite–but they exist! Fun look, in black, and wearable year round dressed up or down. xoxo

  47. Jennifer
    March 30, 2017 / 5:09 pm

    I am going to go against some of the other commenters and suggest that you seriously consider a dress – true to your own style of course. At least don’t dismiss it altogether right now. I went to a black tie optional wedding last year and did the sophisticated black pants/smoking jacket look. Yes, I looked good, was comfortable and was true to myself. But once there I had a tinge of regret that I hadn’t looked harder for a dress. The other women looked like they had had so much fun dressing up – and I felt like it was a missed opportunity to feel like a teenager going to prom again. There are so many occasions to wear nice, dressy trousers. Just my own thoughts on the matter.

    • Jackie Ruffoni
      March 31, 2017 / 1:21 am

      Yes, I also am agreeing with Jennifer. Time to go all out and dressy. As frilly or simple as you like. Just add oversized jewellery, scarf, kimono, layers, hat, facinator, shoes, boots etc.
      My choice for me to wear, would be any colour other than black. (I find I wear a lot of black when sad or depressed). Generally, I find it easier to dress formally, just one outfit with randomly inspired, over board accessories. So really anything, except, I one thing though I would never wear to a formal event is denim in any form out of respect to the host or event I am attending. Save the denim for all the other events, outings and gatherings you go to. Enjoy faffing it can be fun. xx

  48. Cindy Dodd
    March 30, 2017 / 6:55 pm

    Your posts which always ring “authentic” with me are the ones with no faffing included, so I feel that the Emmanuelle Alt option of “Le Smoking” would be a perfect fit for you and would ring true to everyone you meet at the event. In your suggestions on this post there was an all white version of the tuxedo. It seemed so “you” to me. I believe you won’t go wrong it you stick with strictly Susan.

  49. Lori
    March 30, 2017 / 10:40 pm

    Sorry to go completely off topic here, but I’m interested in those EF jeans you’re wearing in this post. It looks like the pantlegs hit you lower than they hit the model on the Neiman Marcus site. Did you purchase petite or regular? I’m 5’2″ and am trying to decide which way to go. P.S. I think an understated LBD or smoking jacket with black, crepe silk pants and elegant jewelry would be appropriate and more “you” than a cocktail dress. Look forward to seeing what you ultimately choose.

    • Susan B
      March 31, 2017 / 7:04 am

      Hi Lori, I’m 5’1″ and have long-ish legs for my height. I wear the 6 Petite. When unrolled, the hems hit just below my ankle bone. Here I’ve rolled twice, to about 2″ above the ankle bone. I like being able to adjust the length with how they’re rolled (or not).

  50. March 31, 2017 / 7:36 am

    Oh these “formal” events can be difficult, especially since like you, I’m not a fan of cocktail dresses. And I’m loathe to run out and buy something for an event knowing I’ll rarely if ever wear it again. I recently attended a very nice wedding, and I found a lovely bright navy jumpsuit from Trina Turk. It is a faux wrap style, heavy-ish crepe material, and it fits like a glove and hangs beautifully. I accessorized with larger pearls and nice heels. Every other woman was in a dress. I was so comfortable, and received too many compliments that evening to count. You might consider something along these lines. I also would do a nice evening tuxedo in a heartbeat. It’s something you can wear as separates in many ways, and you’ll no doubt be able to wear it often when you and your husband do your nice dinners out or weekends away.

    What/where is the bloggers conference in April? I’m attending the BlogHer Conference in June.

  51. April 3, 2017 / 10:51 am

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

  52. 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.

  53. 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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