In the world of casual and appropriate elegance, dressing up presents a few challenges. If you take direction from popular media, you may find yourself in 4-inch heels, a too tight and too bare dress, and far too much sparkle. If you head to the “Special Occasion” section of your local department store, you may flee in terror from the yards of celadon taffeta complete with matching sequin-studded guipure lace.
But I was possessed with the idea of dressing up, for my 55th birthday, and determined to do so in relative comfort and ease.
I must add, no surprise to the Californians, that it’s a little tough to dress up and go out in San Francisco, unless you’re attending a society function. Fortunately we can fall back on Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys restaurant, tented inside with floral fabrics and lit with an elaborate glass chandelier. I decided it would do. Twist my arm.
This is the Tory Burch “Audra” dress I posted on Corporette. While patterned, pink-laden, and silk, it’s really nothing but a great big t-shirt. Sturdy Gals love t-shirts. Dresses that feel like jammies are all to the good.
So what to wear for jewelry? Given the long sleeves and pattern-ringed high neckline, earrings seemed the natural choice. I tried on my plain diamond studs, but they disappeared. I thought about the gold Swedish antique chandeliers, but that reddish gold did the dress hues no favor. These Hawaiian opal and diamond thingies proved just the thing. I wouldn’t have guessed that the blue/green would set off the pink/purple, but one never knows until one experiments a bit.
That concept applies to more than opals and silk jersey.
I knew when I bought the dress that I’d want navy shoes, and surprise, I already owned some. These, by the British designer Joseph Azagury, had lain fallow in my closet for at least a decade, ever since the last time pointy toes were in. Said toes are back, by the way.
Just one more bit of evidence in the long brief I’m writing entitled, Low Heels Can Be Racy Too.
Now, and in hushed tones, one more key piece to this outfit. Let me preface by saying that High WASPs don’t often talk about undergarments. But I owe you all the truth. I’m wearing shapewear. It looked sort of like a long tank top with an indecent neckline, and ended a little below my hipbones. Let’s pretend I didn’t say that, here on the open waters of the Internet, but I have now conveyed the critical details which made this outfit possible.
Comfort can also mean not having to work at holding in one’s stomach.
And, in the interest of full disclosure, even though I’m 55, and have eaten well around the world, the excitement of sitting down to an extraordinary meal with someone dearly loved, quite gussied up, pales not. Extraordinary could have been a piece of pizza in Manhattan, I could have been wearing my best jeans. As it turned out, this time was fancy.
One more note on the clothing. We could escalate a notch, if needed. I’d wear my hair up with more volume, maybe trade shoes for these Caovillas, and hmm, finally collect my random small diamond and semi-precious bits to reuse what I don’t wear to create a pair of extravagant dangles, as Duchesse always suggests. Something to look forward to, next year.
By the way, today is Visible Monday. In reaction to the invisibility of women over 50, in popular media, Patti at Not Dead Yet has a project. Please take a look. Even if you’re under 50, worth a cheer.