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You Asked For It: The Formal Fall Wedding Guest | Manolo for the Big Girl

You Asked For It: The Formal Fall Wedding Guest

Internet friend Allison writes:

I’m invited to a black tie wedding in New York in mid-November. Is there a dress you can recommend that comes in a 24, has a sleeve of some kind (I really hate dealing with shrugs and/or wraps if I’m dancing) and is still formal enough for black tie? Also, I’d love if it didn’t cost more than $250. Thank you in advance for any help!

Plumcake replies:
Ah the formal wedding. Those magical evenings when you get to trade your personal sanity, comfort and an expensive share in a 6 quart Kitchenaid Artisan Pro mixer for four hours of clumsy small talk, a feeble breast grope by an inappropriate member of the groom’s family (bonus points if he was born before the New Deal or has to carry an oxygen tank) and all the hangover-inducing champagne you can drink.

Still, there is something appealing about the idea of getting all dandied up for a fancy event and the good news is, now that black is completely acceptable for fall and evening weddings, your outfit doesn’t have to cost as much as that damn mixer.

Case in point, this simple black velvet dress from Macy’s for $109.
Velvet Dress
It looks semi-casual here but it’s all about the accessories. Trade the hobo bag for a small clutch and accessorize with your very best jewelry and most intimidating heels. Do you have a fur wrap? Now’s the time to wear it. Make the maquillage a bit more dramatic and sophisticated –although I’d shy away from a true red lip unless you’re positive you won’t look like a vamp– wear your hair in the most chic way you know how and at least try to limit yourself to one groomsman.

What to do with the extra money? Well, obviously there’s the Divorce Pool, but if you don’t have a fur stole, why not hit eBay and pick up a vintage one? They can come in handy…just ask Joan Collins.

15 Responses to “You Asked For It: The Formal Fall Wedding Guest”

  1. Cat November 1, 2007 at 3:43 pm #

    You had me until “Do you have a fur wrap?” Please tell me this blog does not condone fur-wearing! How about a nice faux fur instead?

  2. La BellaDonna November 1, 2007 at 5:16 pm #

    Not to mention: “I’d shy away from a true red lip unless you’re positive you won’t look like a vamp.” Um, excuse me, but I resemble that remark. I have dark (Okay, BLACK) hair and very pale skin – Erin Go Bragh! – and a pale lipstick won’t work on me. I’m not going to bleach my hair or darken my skin, either. But it would be nice on a blog which is all, Yay, Big Girls! Don’t think you’re not attractive just because you don’t meet Hollywood’s stupid standards! – if you didn’t ridicule another group of people based solely on their looks.

    Just as not everyone’s into the Thin, not everyone’s into the Tanned, either. I may get annoyed, but I can deal with it. However, it would suck for some fair-skinned, dark-haired fourteen-year-old reading that. Because I can promise you this, she’s already getting grief over her colouring. Loudly and regularly.

  3. teteatete November 1, 2007 at 5:42 pm #

    Bella–I seriously doubt that Plumcake was denigrating any specific group of people–fair-skinned, tanned, etc. But there is such a thing as looking like Elvira with the wrong shade of red. By all means, wear dark lipstick, but there are shades that some skin tones should not wear. Does that mean you have to wear pale lipstick just because “true red” is out? Of course not. Wines and plums and reds that aren’t too stark all look fabulous on dark-haired, fair-skinned ladies.

  4. Plumcake November 1, 2007 at 5:54 pm #

    I wrote “I’d shy away from a true red lip unless you’re positive you won’t look like a vamp.”

    please not the “unless you’re positive” part.

    We have very similar coloring –I am Welsh and look exactly like you’d expect, nearly black hair, blue grey eyes and white white skin– so we are among the lucky few who can really carry off a true red lip without it looking too sexy, but even then I’d be hesitant. I’m not saying don’t wear a brown or a berry red, just not the firetruck stuff.

    Going out of your way to look sexy at a wedding is inappropriate. Not only is it unfitting to the solemnity of the occasion, particularly if it is a religious ceremony, but it also can give the impression that you want the attention to be focused someplace other than the bride and groom. Something I can’t imagine any of our readers even dreaming they’d do.

  5. La BellaDonna November 1, 2007 at 6:20 pm #

    This will undoubtedly cross with my email; I see that you’ve posted your response, so I will post mine:

    *********************
    Ah! And here we have the Error-In-Communication/Interpretation. I wasn’t thinking of “sexy” for vamp at all; I read “vamp” as being an abbreviation for “vampire” – it isn’t what you said, but I think you can understand that’s what I read, especially at this time of year! As it happens, I do wear a lot of different types of red lipsticks. It never seemed to matter what shade I was wearing, though, for somebody to make that other association. Yes, I have had strangers yell “Get a tan!” at me from across the street. Strangers who would have called the NAACP and Al Sharpton if I had made a comment on their colouring. I’ve had people hum the Addams Family theme song when I’ve walked by – one time was at my grandmother’s funeral.

    So -it’s obviously something I’m very sensitive to, as opposed to thinking about “dressing in a sexy manner for somebody else’s wedding” which would never have occurred to me.

    If you like, feel free to print my email; I think it might be a good idea to clear that up. It’s not right that you should be accused of something that you didn’t do; but I would actually prefer to leave my post up, with the explanation, rather than take it down, so that maybe the next time someone will think twice about commenting on the hyper-fair. People who would never dream of commenting on the darkness of someone’s skin seem to think it’s OK to comment on the lightness of someone’s skin!
    *********************

    And teteatete, you are correct in that I should have known that Plumcake was not likely to be denigrating a specific group of fair-skinned people. But it’s hearing things like “But there is such a thing as looking like Elvira with the wrong shade of red” that made me leap to the conclusion that that was what she was implying – not that she was talking about looking inappropriately sexy at someone’s wedding. As it happens, I do look like Elvira. I come by the colouring naturally, unlike Cassandra Peterson, who plays her; she’s a freckled redhead. It gets painful to read that message in fashion magazines over and over and over – as though the worst thing one could do – worse, even, than looking sexy at someone else’s wedding – would be to look like Elvira. Or Morticia Addams.

    Worse, even, than being fat.

  6. teteatete November 1, 2007 at 7:12 pm #

    I admit I didn’t think about the angle that Plumcake has suggested–looking too sexy at a wedding. It makes perfect sense now. I don’t have black hair (I wish!) but I have very pale skin, and I know that some reds look absolutely atrocious on me and it has taken me many trips back to Nordstroms to get one that I think flatters my skin and doesn’t wash me out.

    When my Mom moved here when she married my Dad (she’s English), my grandmother apparently looked at her, astonished, and said, “My dear you are the absolute whitest person I have ever seen.” She didn’t mean it in an insensitive way, she was just truly amazed at the whiteness. Being cruel and yelling “get a tan” is just plain rude. It’s understandable to be sensitive when people say mean things, but I think a better response than getting up-in-arms is to take it more stride…after all, it’s just a lip-stick shade! Over the years I’ve been asked if I was going to be served up at Thanksgiving like a Butterball turkey. Be superfantastic despite what ignorant vitriol the nay-sayers spew.

  7. scsee November 1, 2007 at 9:37 pm #

    Please, please….no black at weddings. Fall, evening, formal, any of the above. I think it’s just kind of lazy and inappropriate. People will say no, rules have changed, it doesn’t matter, but yeah. It kind of does. If you’re shopping for a new dress, make the effort, find something in a lovely color other than black to celebrate your friend’s new phase of life.

  8. Cat November 1, 2007 at 10:49 pm #

    I have green eyes, dark hair, and very, very fair skin. I’ve always gotten comments like, “You need to get some sun,” “You’re whiter than a ghost,” “Your skin is blinding me,” etc. I’ve also been called a vampire, Wednesday Addams, Casper, etc. It doesn’t really bother me, but La BellaDonna has a good point about the double standard in making disparaging comments about the paleness of the fair-skinned when it is certainly not socially acceptable to make disparaging comments about the darkness of the dark-skinned. But, like teteatete, I just chalk it up to ignorance and shrug it off. There have been plenty of beautiful, super fantastic, fair-skinned women throughout history, and I’m not going to let some ignorant comments damage my self-esteem.

  9. Allison November 2, 2007 at 9:10 am #

    scsee, I think black at weddings is fine, but being very fair and blonde (which I didn’t tell Plumcake), I may go with another color just to avoid looking washed out. But I loved the advice to get a simple dress with great accessories; that’s going to work out well for my wardrobe and my budget.

  10. Toby Wollin November 2, 2007 at 9:15 am #

    scsee – I’m with you on the whole issue of wearing black. My eldest was married early last month on a very nice Sunday afternoon. I would venture to guess that at least 1/3 of the female guests wore black. My SISTER even wore black. I think it is not only laziness, but also “fashion wimpiness” akin to the remarks made by a former co-worker who always wore black, “I go out drinking every night and don’t want to have to make clothing choices when I’m hung over.” I see that in the whole “New York Women All Wear Black” thing – it’s easy; it’s fast; it takes absolutely no talent for coordination or color matching or anything else. Just reach into the closet and pull something out. I know a lot of women in New York think that wearing black is very “Frenchified” and chic and all of that, but to me, when I am in New York and see this ocean of black everywhere, it makes me think of their wearing this uniform that actually does not flatter many. But, it IS easy and for a lot of women who don’t have much fashion confidence, I guess it works.

  11. Plumcake November 2, 2007 at 9:56 am #

    AND apropos of absolutely nothing, let me plug my internet friend Jen’s hilarious book Bitter is the New Black.

  12. succubus November 2, 2007 at 7:28 pm #

    I was always taught that one does NOT wear unbroken black or white to a wedding.

  13. ratita November 5, 2007 at 11:54 am #

    I will never understand the obsession with tanning. I wish I had really fair skin, I just think is beautiful, especially the dark-haired fair-skin combo. I guess is cultural, where I come from all of us would like that. Again, it probably is another case of wanting what you can’t have…not saying I don’t appreciate darker skin tones though! It’s just like having curly or straight hair. Both are pretty! But I think people should not obsess with trying to change what was given to them instead of making an effort (and putting all that energy) to make it the best they can.

  14. MAQUILLAGE July 24, 2008 at 7:30 pm #

    J’ai trouv