Ask the Audience: Fashion Help Please

Heather says:
I admit it, I’m hopeless. There is a fundraiser tomorrow evening that I would love to attend. However, I’m having a fashion dilemma and I need your help. The event is to raise money for Dress for Success.  I’m a fan of the idea. So what’s the problem? The theme of the event is a Little Black Dress Party. I, in typical Heather fashion, do not have a plain little black dress.

I have a black dress with a white print that reminds me of olives. Since it IS a martini party, I think I might be able to get away with it. Or I have a black dress that isn’t little, I wore it in a wedding.

Is it gauche to push the guidelines?

Which would you choose?

Oh, and if you are in Charleston, SC, you should show up with or without a black dress, just so I don’t feel ridiculous.


  1. Stacy on June 18, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    I agree, wear the black and white dress this time. But that longer dress would be very cute shortened for more frequent wear. Have fun!

  2. Keter on June 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    BTW, I support Dress for Success wholeheartedly because I’ve been there. As a young adult, my resume, cover letter, and phone calls were getting me interviews, but my thrift-store clothes were costing me offers. (This was back in the early 1980s, when standards for professional dress were much higher.) I spent years struggling at minimum wage as a result….until one lucky sale and $5 borrowed from a friend got me two sharp suits that landed me a clerical job at a bank a couple of weeks later. The barrier to success can really be that low…and that impossible to get over.

  3. Keter on June 18, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I love the black and white dress, and I think it would be perfect. And yes, the formal probably could be hemmed up to make a nice cocktail dress – what a great way to reuse a dress that otherwise might never be worn again!

    But, having been in this position myself with truly no black dress (for a funeral, so a print wouldn’t do), I went shopping at my favorite deep discounter, who always has the basics for $40 or less. I came out of there with a $12 dress and a $9 pair of pumps, both of which I wear often and in combination with other things. Sometimes it’s OK to buy, particularly when it’s something this basic.

  4. Rebecca on June 18, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I would go with the black and white one, simply because its in the closet. I wasn’t aware that little black dress meant no color. And while, a print is less common, I would totally pull off a polka dot or other black and white print dress if it were me. Who am I to talk though, my little black dress is a dark red and black chintz.

  5. ThatBobbieGirl on June 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Push them guidelines, sister.

    Wear RED.

  6. Becca on June 18, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Well we all know you will knock them out tonight in the black and white dress and NEXT TIME you will knock them out in the shortened LBD. One thing I always remember when I am wearing something I am not 100% sure is the right thing to wear….most women are very preoccupied with the way they look and are much more critical of themselves than they would be of others. No one will think anything of your black and white dress and I am even willing to offer up the idea that you get lots of compliments tonight on the dress you are wearing.

    Either way, have a great time!

  7. CJ on June 18, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I’d chose the black with white print. It’s sophisticated, cool, summery and sharp.

    If still wavering, you could select choice two, but it should be hemmed to knee or just abore the knee….

    See? Chose the first one. And have fun!!!

  8. Joyce on June 18, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Wear the black and white. I doubt very much if you’re the only woman who doesn’t have a little black dress — I don’t. If I were attending that event I’d be wearing a black and gold print, because that’s the closest I could come.

  9. mom23guys1girl on June 18, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I vote for wearing the black and white one, but shortening the long one, so that you have it ready next time you need a LBD. Will you show us pictures of what you decided to wear? I also really like the idea of a gauzy wrap, that would be stunning. Mo

    • Heather on June 18, 2009 at 10:04 am

      Today is turning out to be very busy, so shortening the dress will have to wait, but I think it’s brilliant as I do need a LBD. I may turn the shortening project into a tutorial here on Home Ec.

      General pics will be at my personal blog, as I feel a little strange posting that kind of stuff here, too often.

  10. Janice on June 18, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Go with the black and white – it is darling. Make no apologies – you have nothing to apologize for – it is a great dress. I am betting you will see more than one dress that isn’t totally black.

  11. Sara on June 18, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Olives. It’s perfectly okay for an LBD to have a pattern as long as it’s a well-fitting classic dress that you can wear just about anywhere.

  12. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on June 18, 2009 at 8:19 am

    I vote for the shortening the long dress idea 🙂

  13. Small Means on June 17, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Wear the printed one! I don’t know you personally, of course, but I know that you prove to be a bit spunky on the website. If anyone asks why you didn’t go with all-black, you could just say something like, “Fashion rules are made to be broken, aren’t they?” with a little wink and a smile. Then get them another martini.

    If you act like whatever you wear, you meant to wear it, you will be fab! Good luck!

  14. blossomteacher on June 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Another way to say “Little Black Dress” is “LBD” which can also mean “Long Black Dress,” so I’d say go with the one you wore to the wedding!

    Gotta love my logic 🙂

  15. Lisa on June 17, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Olives – fo sho.

  16. Soire on June 17, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Go with the black dress with white – even with the pattern on it, it still qualifies as “little black dress”. The long is too formal.

  17. Meredith on June 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Heather, I didn’t know you were so beautiful!

    I would go with the print. It is summer, after all. If you really wanted to emphasize the black and/or dress it up for evening, you could add a gauzy black wrap around your shoulders.

    • Heather on June 18, 2009 at 10:02 am

      Now I’m seriously blushing. Thank you, I do have a black wrap here somewhere, if it hasn’t been swiped for dress up.

  18. Becki on June 17, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Definitely the first one. Have fun!

  19. Karen on June 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    I was just about to suggest shortening the black dress to cocktail or just-below-the-knee length; it will definitely be more versatile. You could even wear it under a jacket for other occasions.

    If you don’t have time for that, go with the print.

  20. Jennifer on June 17, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    I think that no woman should be without a wonderful little black dress and this is the perfect excuse to go out a find one!

  21. Ron on June 17, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    I’d go with the black and white print dress.

  22. KellyH on June 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I really like the black & white one! It’s fun, and if you are the only one wearing some white, who cares! 🙂

    (well, if it were me, I wouldn’t care, anyway…lol)

    • Heather on June 17, 2009 at 7:11 pm

      I’m neurotic, but I’m working on it. 😉

  23. Sandy Hutchinson on June 17, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    For this, I think the black and white one would be great. You can’t go wrong.

    I wouldn’t think a crowd that gathers to be supportive of helping women get clothes together for jobs would be too unforgiving about what you show up in — just show up.

  24. Heather @ Not a DIY LIfe on June 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    The fashion rule I live by is that to overdress is better. That way, you’re not embarrassed for not meeting the dress code. And people might look up to you more. Nah, not with pics floating around the internet w/ you putting food in your mouth like that! 😉

    • Heather on June 17, 2009 at 5:07 pm

      Trust me, no one looks to me for fashion advice. I had a nice picture of that dress somewhere, but the entire month of photos is missing from my archive. Weirdness.

  25. Revanche on June 17, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I know it wasn’t a listed option, but can you raid someone’s closet? Is there anyone who lives nearby and is near your size?

    • Heather on June 17, 2009 at 4:41 pm

      That’s also a very good suggestion.

  26. Heather on June 17, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I received a great suggestion via Twitter. Someone suggested shortening the long black dress. If I find time, I may look into that. Even if I don’t find time for tomorrow’s event it’d make the dress more versatile for future events.

  27. Krstin on June 17, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I say go with the cocktail dress with white on it! The long one is nice, but probably wrong for the occasion. I don’t think you have to wear all black, mostly black should suffice. Sounds like fun, wish I could attend!

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