Friday, February 13, 2009

Dressing for Comfort, with Bling! No Neutrals Here


Duchesse just posted some practical-yet-chic neutral dresses, and there's no doubt a versatile background accomodates variety through accessories. The dress above clearly fails to exemplify such neutrality. Way too purple, for one thing, and then it amplifies the colour drama by blinging up its pleated satin neckline. That's surely why I hadn't worn it 'til this week, despite having bought it on sale just after New Year's -- I felt as if it required an occasion that justified its extravagance. But it combines flattery with the soothing comfort of your favourite down duvet, cashmere throw, or cotton flannelette pjs'. At first touch, I thought the satisfyingly-weighty-yet-drapey jersey was a wool blend, but it turns out to be nothing loftier than a cotton-poly-spandex mix.

Now I can be as snobby about polyester as Stacey-and-Clinton, but I couldn't resist the combined temptations of this dress: the comforts of sweats with the polish of an accessorized outfit requiring no other decision from me than which pair of black shoes or boots to wear over the black tights.

The poor thing, however, has been languishing in my closet, for fear its sparkle might be a bit de trop for work. This week, it finally got an outing. I've been sad and tired at what feels like a cellular level, and was tempted to call in sick, something I find tough to do. All those cancelled classes mean material that has to be fit in sometime else and then there are re-scheduled assignment deadlines, etc., I only ever cancel if I'm absolutely incapable, and although I worried a bit about tears erupting, I decided I could tough it out. Getting dressed, my mood and fatigue resistant to wardrobe decisions, I lit on the satisfying richness of this purple cuddle and embraced the bling. And it seemed to work. I won't say this week's were the best classes I've taught, but we got through them -- maybe the glare of the bling distracted students from noticing the lack of lustre in my eyes and face, but also, maybe, in a case of "fake it 'til you make it," the sparkles I wore wakened a bit of sparkle within.

Whatever the case -- and my sunny walk to work, with the double endorphin hit of sunlight and physical activity, surely played a role as well -- if I never wear the dress again, its already repaid its cost-per-wearing repaid simply in its single mood-enhancing contribution. That said, I will wear it again, and often (although not regularly, if I can help it) despite its potential for eliciting those "Oh, she's wearing that dress again" responses. Far from neutral, it nonetheless made me feel good. Have you got any wardrobe items like this, clothes that you're willing to make a tradeoff for, just because they make you feel powerful or upbeat or confident? Do tell.

16 comments:

  1. When I want to feel powerful I put on my black patent boots. But for upbeat, I'm not so sure, maybe I need to go out and buy something new tomorrow.

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  2. Lovely dress! My current favorite "take no prisoners" item(s) are my leopard print Cole Haan calf hair ankle boots.

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  3. I don't have an answer for your question, but just wanted to pop by to tell you about the ballet last night! I went with 4 expat ladies who have lived here for quite a while and been to the Opera House many times, plus one fiercely intelligent Hungarian lady doctor. It was such a thrill even just to go in the building at night; it and the surrounding boulevard were lit up beautifully. Of course, the interior was simply splendid. We sat in the second row and I must admit, at first I thought the stage looked very small. However, when the curtain opened and the dancers appeared, they seemed tiny, so obviously there's a great depth to the stage. The ballet was Anna Karenina; lovely costumes, nice sets. The choreography was a mix of traditional and modern and we were surprised by quite a torrid love scene - it was very well done though! I did wear my simple grey outfit and didn't feel out of place - there was a mix of dress, but nothing too glamourous for a Thursday evening. My friend said that when she first went almost 20 years ago, it was so magical because outside everything was so drab but the interior was never allowed to become rundown - it was very cheap to go and basically very accessible to everyone. I would certainly love to go again. By the way, our seats cost just under CAD$50, is that a good price? Patricia

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  4. When I'm feel blue, especially in the depths of winter, I put on a red sweater. At one point I almost bought a third red, v-necked sweater before remembering I'd two at home already.

    Also, polyester can be great! I have a couple of dresses that are total workhorses. Wash them in the machine, hang them to dry and they're ready to go the next morning. It's the perfect solution to laundry day troubles. Not that I'm ever guilty of leaving my laundry 'til it's dire straits....

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  6. Funny--I just replied to you on my blog that my LR cut-out booties make me a better professor . . .

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  7. Lovely dress. I have often had something like that in my wardrobe and actually feel the absence of such a dress fairly acutely this winter. This is a situation that must be remedied.

    At the moment all I have are my lovely teal suede boots, which make me smile every time I wear them and make them very happy. I was reluctant to buy them due to some pre-conceived notion, I am sure emphasized by my background, that teal suede boots were somehow "cheap". They may be but they sure do make me happy.

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  8. I am so glad the purple dress was there waiting for you when you were feeling so down. Oh the restorative powers of a lovely dress.
    Currently my wardrobe and I are not on speaking terms so I have no wonderful outfits to share.

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  9. Lesley, Pseu, Miss C, and Mardel: I bow to the power of the boot in all its marvelous variety!
    Miss C, I justify many of my wardrobe purchases with the knowledge that they make me teach better -- gratifying to find a kindred spirit.
    Mardel, I love that you overcame your apprehension over the teal boots' appropriateness and that they make you as happy as you thought they might -- just like me and my dress!
    Lesley: When you head out shopping for that "something to make you upbeat" (and why are you waiting 'til tomorrow?), you need to take poor Cybill with you. I enable enabling here.
    Miss R: Yes, the power colour, red, it has the power to warm us right up, mood and all. And I hear what you're saying about the laundry-friendly dress -- some days, it's all about the ease.
    Patricia: Thanks for the report -- the ballet experience sounds wonderful. How rich a life you're making over there, with many new friends, all of whom sound very interesting! That opera house sounds (and looks, online at least) magnificent and if you got all that for 50 CAD, you should go as often as you can, 'cause once you get back home, you'll find prices much higher, in my experience at least (our seats for the opera would be $150 each, altho' we pay somewhat less because we're season ticket holders).
    Cybill: I see a wardrobe-shopping trip in your future -- really, there should be at least one happy-making find hanging at the ready, no?

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  10. That is the beauty of a lively dress!

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  11. Duchesse: Yes, that's what it is -- lively! I knew you'd get it!

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  12. What a great dress. This makes me realize that there's a huge hole in my closet when it comes to a "zingy" dress. That will have to be straightened out -- pronto!

    Sadly, there's not much in my wardrobe at present that speaks to me such that I'd make any sort of trade off for it. Bring on a whole new closet, I say!

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  13. Gina: sounds as if you and Cybill need to get together and go shopping!

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  14. This is a great dress, you are so funny! It's not too purple at all! I love it, as comfortable as a nightie, but stylish and pulled together just the same. Perfecto.

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  15. Great dress and no need for extra accessories, if you want to tone it down, wear it with a grey cardigan and lovely flat knee high boots.

    When I wake up each day I ask myself what colour I feel that day, then dress according to my feeling, so in the depths of winter when all is grey I love vivid reds, in the middle of summer when it's stinking hot I opt for icy blues. The colour I wear affects my mood each day.

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  16. Karen: You have to remember that just as you field comments from people who find you overdressed because you wear zebra-print flats instead of flip-flops and polish off your city-shorts and crisp T with gold hoops, I stand in front of a class of university students in a resource-based city of 80,000. Way to get self-conscious about "dressing up"! More and more, though, thanks to blog readers and writers like yourself, I'm "just doing it" and gaining more confidence all the time!
    Imogen: Exactly! I have so much grey and black in my closet, but there's nothing like colour for a mood boost (well, great music, food, and fabulous sex get it done as well, but you know what I mean!)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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