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Getting depressed already. 'Outfits' for 'Events'

(31 Posts)
WhiteHairReally Fri 22-May-15 01:03:26

I have discovered today that I am expected to present the prizes at a prestigious Prep School Prizegiving in just over a month's time. I am also going to a Royal Garden Party. Yes, I am living the dream.

A problem is that I am losing weight, but still have some more to go. This means that none of my 'smart' clothes fit properly and I am loathe to spend scary money buying clothes in a size that I hope I will 'shrink' out of.

I have also lost my way fashionwise (if fashion as such comes into this sort of dressing) I hate shopping for myself and friends will tell you that I am the mistress of diversionary tactics, meaning that they tend to find themselves trying on clothes, when we have set out to shop for me. I often retreat from clothes shops crying. Sad but true.

I am 5'8", currently a size 14 and definitely an hourglass shape. I have very sturdy calves. Colourwise I'm a cool,soft Summer. My wardrobe is full of blue/pink/navy/grey/some teal. I love colour but fear that it isn't very 'refined'. Hobbs is too short in the body and length for me. My 'style', such as it is tends to longer, gored full skirts - think 50s vibe but without the net petticoats, a nipped-in-at-the-waist 3/4 sleeve jacket and a pair of kitten heel slingbacks.

Can I 'do' the same outfit for both these events?

Should I just throw myself on the mercies of the John Lewis Personal Shopper, flex the credit card and sigh or should I get what I have taken in or can MN S and B fashionistas help me?

Ooh, and I'm just over fifty,for what it's worth, although many kind people suggest I look younger. This maybe down to the podge that helps to smooth out the wrinkles, the Children's TV Presenter style enthusiasm and brightly coloured clothes or the elderly circles in which I move!

BritabroadinAsia Fri 22-May-15 02:11:03

I was going to go for the tailoring your existing clothes option, as personally I would be loathe to spend money on something fancy-schmancy which would then be too big after the weight loss. However, I see that this is already something you are considering, so I wouldn't be adding much value...

I get the impression your aren't too enthused about the prospect of hunting for these kind of event outfits (which I completely understand). How about a dress hire agency, if such a thing exists within your area? You could more than offset the cost of new outfit/alterations and then have plenty of justification for frivolous clothes purchasing when you are at desired weight?

It might be worth pursuing the personal shopper route just to see if they can uncover some gem that fits the bill. No obligation, and all that. I was very pleasantly surprised by the jeans personal shopper at John Lewis - she was very impressive and found exactly the right pairs of jeans for me which are now too tight as I've put on weight despite my fears I'd end up looking even more middle aged and frumpy.

Anyway, I am sure that someone with actual creativity will be along soon to suggest specific outfits. Good luck.

BritabroadinAsia Fri 22-May-15 02:14:40

Oh, and yes, absolutely have the same outfit (if you do buy) for both events -unless the Queen is popping in for prize giving? Although you probably won't need a hat for school. smile

yakari Fri 22-May-15 07:30:31

Absolutely same outfit for both. I suspect the Garden Party is the trickiest so start there. Are you wearing a hat and if so do you have one already? What about shoes, both events sound like you need shoes you know fit and are comfortable, also Garden Party think grass - does that help narrow down the shoes. With those two things sorted, that will at least narrow down on colours and then you can spend any money on clothes.
Do you really not have anything that can be reworn, a wrap style dress pulled tighter, a dress which could be belted?
If not yes I would do John Lewis, it will save you time and I suspect can be a one stop shop. I had a look at their web site loads of dresses - esp if you search under "Wedding Guest" which is a similar type of event.
bit different to your normal style but may work and sleeves so wouldnt need a jacket
in sales if you have a jacket that would work
lots here between 50 and 100 maybe worth a scroll though

Redhead11 Fri 22-May-15 07:36:04

Try Simply Be. they have some great dresses that are dressy enough for the garden party, but not so dressy that they can't be worn for work etc. The clothes are properly tailored for us curvy women, too.

WhiteHairReally Fri 22-May-15 15:45:13

Thank you for the supportive ideas. Anymore gratefully received.

I've had a rummage around in the wardrobe and found a skirt that might be the basis of an outfit, and sadly doesn't look too big yet. I have also taken three skirts into the alterations place, by way of a dry run, to see if that could be the way to go. One of them is another potential 'basis for an outfit' - well cut, well, when I was a solid size 18 anyway.

I suppose the sadness here is that I should be revelling in the Shopping Experience, now that I'm over three stone lighter than I was, but I should be sensible. There's another stone to go before I reach a healthy BMI and another one after that I suspect.

Talking of sensible - I will investigate the hiring option too. Thanks for that thought, BritabroadinAsia. Although I just have a suspicion that there'll be lots of 'Mother of the Bride' style outfits, although I won't know until I look will I? I've had good experiences with the JL Personal Shopper before too. At another branch to where I live now, I actually took chunks of my wardrobe - the contents, not the doors etc, in with me for one session, and she was so practical, confirming that I did seem to know what suited me whilst helping to fill in some gaps.

I'm actually more concerned about the Prize Giving gig than the Garden Party, as more Fashionable Mummies will be looking at me and judging than at the Palace, where there'll be hundreds of other people. I have been before (get me!) and I can hire a hat/stick a flower in my hair, once I've nailed the rest of the outfit. Thanks Yakari for your sensible suggestions, especially about the shoes. Kitten heels + still quite weighty WhiteHairReally + Grass is not a great combination.

gonegrey56 Fri 22-May-15 16:00:48

Look under the occasion dressing section at Jaeger. They have some great coat dresses this season, which would work now and would look good over a more fitted plain shift dress when you have reached your perfect weight . There is a particularly beautiful coral shade in the range now which would suit your colouring. Perhaps a more sleek and fitted look than you are used to, but very elegant I think .
Hire a dramatic hat ? That will impress the mums....
I hope you enjoy both events and I am sure you will look stunning. ( Ihave used Jaeger's personal styling service and found it fantastic btw, approach with an open mind to suggestions)

reallifegetsintheway Fri 22-May-15 16:20:50

Phase eight do nice dresses and they have 25% off at moment.
Any of these?
www.phase-eight.com/fcp/product/phase-eight/dresses/rose-jacquard-dress/203121814
www.phase-eight.com/fcp/product/phase-eight/dresses/kirsten-floral-dress/202960814
www.phase-eight.com/fcp/product/phase-eight/dresses/norma-floral-burnout-dress/202858520

With a simple cream jacket:
www.phase-eight.com/fcp/product/phase-eight/jackets/valentine-jacket/900727102
or this one
www.phase-eight.com/fcp/product/phase-eight/jackets/valarie-jacket/900745951

Have a look and see what you think

WhiteHairReally Sat 06-Jun-15 23:18:43

I have been looking for 'dressing up clothes' a bit since the last flurry of good advice.

The two hour session with the JL Personal Stylist consisted of her spending 50 minutes telling me why she was so good and how crap the choice of clothes were in JL. This was the get out clause for her not to find an appropriate outfit, I suspect. She really only succeeded in making me feel cross and even less confident about myself than when I went in. At one point she got me to try on www.fennwrightmanson.com/dresses/jacinta_dress.htm which was frankly hilarious on a still sturdy woman with a bust and hips. When I said that I didn't think it suited me, she said, 'But it's modern.' I was going to engage her in a discussion about the difference between fashion and style, but decided against it. It was not a good experience.

I have since bought (with 20% off, she adds quickly)

www.bombshellbykatyawildman.com/productDetails.php?ProductID=1086. I like it, it has sleeves, has a vintagey thing going on, which is 'me' and it fits. it can also be altered easily, once the lard removal is complete.

I think I need nude heeled shoes to go with it. I have wide feet (think webbed) and will be standing on grass. Are these www.clarks.co.uk/p/26111029 just awful or OK? I don't know anymore. Do you have any other suggestions as far as shoes go?

Hats... there don't seem to be any hat hire places in the new city in which I live. or rather, only one that seems to specialise in 'older lady hats'. There are some very lovely 'designer' ones around, but £300 for a titfer for one occasion is silly. There is no way I'll be able to match the sea green of the dress. Would the off white of the flowers work? I have shoulder length thick layered blonde hair. Large hat on a curved lady, small hat at rakish angle or some currently illusive off white silk lilac flowers on some sort of Alice band contraption? Oh, I don't know!

monkeysmama Sun 07-Jun-15 10:57:43

What a beautiful dress!

mysteryfairy Sun 07-Jun-15 11:25:51

Your dress is gorgeous and loads nicer than the JL personal shopper suggestion

StaceyAndTracey Sun 07-Jun-15 11:45:00

I had a similar experience with my local JL PS as well ( wonder if it's the same one ) . I m the same age and colouring as you although different shape

The green / blue dress she showed you is lovely for a tall thin woman with no curves . The dress you chose is for a curvy woman and is much nicer . I woudl feel much more comfortable in it because it's a reasonable length and covers shoulders . I'd get a BIG HAT To go with it . You have the height and build to carry it off

Do you like vivien of holloway, if you like 50s shapes ?

TapStepBallChange Sun 07-Jun-15 11:47:55

You sound just like me, I've lost weight, with more to go and have weddings etc coming up. I've found some really nice things in L K Bennet which are versatile, but not cheap. Also, have you any good friends you could ask to borrow something, especially the hat?

Interesting about the JL experience, I was thinking about booking one as I'm wondering what to wear now the main criteria isn't "I can get into it"

TapStepBallChange Sun 07-Jun-15 11:49:03

And love that dress and the website, thinking of getting something myself!

TheWordFactory Sun 07-Jun-15 11:57:47

white that dress is very pretty.

I am very tempted by this www.bombshellbykatyawildman.com/productDetails.php?ProductID=1096

blodynmawr Sun 07-Jun-15 15:47:26

White the bombshell dress is stunning and you will look great.
I don't have any events this summer but will definitely remember that website for future reference!
Bearing in mind the 'heels-sinking-grass' issue at the garden party, I would consider a simple strappy wedge sandal like these from Next or these Boden ones maybe?

custarddreamer Sun 07-Jun-15 17:17:01

That dress is gorgeous (and that site is a great find, I can see myself getting something for a special occasion from there)

Loafline Sun 07-Jun-15 20:47:20

I am a similar shape to you but a size 12, I would be going for a simlar style...so i think you are dressing for your shape which is half the battle. I really hate occasion wear, dread being invited to anything that requires a posh frock...looking grown up is so not me. Went to a wedding yesterday - wore a full midi skirt, with a silk t shirt and a pair of heeled shoe boots - courts kill my feet. I toned it down with a slim line bomber jacket. I felt like me but dressed up.
The dress from bomb shell is lovely, if you feel good in it then go for it!

dementedma Sun 07-Jun-15 20:52:02

Oooh, I could have written the ops post. Invited to Garden Party at Holyrood. Am 5' 7", size 14, over 50. Dont do posh, low budget, struggling for outfit. Will check out all the links. Do I NEED a hat or will I get away without one?

dementedma Sun 07-Jun-15 20:57:51

Checked the links....out of my budget! Anyone got any ideas for budget buys?

margaritasbythesea Sun 07-Jun-15 21:04:58

I just organised a group for a royal garden party and dress code said hats optional.

Lovely dress btw

WhiteHairReally Sun 07-Jun-15 21:53:27

dementedma Have you looked at www.lindybop.co.uk/search/vivi ? or Artigiano www.artigiano.co.uk/ which have good sales but can be depressing when you click on something that looks nice, and it isn't there anymore. My mother put me onto www.justlastseason.co.uk/ as well.

What am I doing, giving advice about these things?!

Having traipsed around the shops today, I can report that there are a good number of 'dressing up shoes' to be had for reasonable money. M and S have 20% off all shoes, for example. Clarks have a sale starting tomorrow. I know, I know, hardly going to set the fashion world alight but this is not Jimmy Choo/Louboutin territory, it's about looking neat and tidy!

WhiteHairReally Sun 07-Jun-15 22:29:05

Thank you everyone for saying nice things about the frock. You have restored some of the delicate confidence that had been rocked by the JL woman. As I said previously, TapStepBallChange, I have had good experiences from the JL PS service before, so please don't let my experience put you off. It is, in reality, the end of the season, so she was not working with a full stock and, as she herself said, JL, despite their image, or maybe because of their image, are actually trying to attract a younger shopper, and have dumped a number of brands that did do dresses with sleeves, skirts that covered your knees etc. I'm not so sure. Muttering to my mother on the 'phone this evening, and as Mary Portas has pointed out, there is a market for women's clothes with sleeves, longer lengths and natural fabrics. that isn't being met. StaceyAndTracey, that FennWright Manson dress had at least one of these attributes - it was made of silk and very lovely for that, just not on me!

TapStepBallChange thanks too for the LK Bennet tip. I'm not certain that I'm confident enough to darken their doors as yet, but I really related to your previous criteria of 'I can get into it!' How much more 'Weight loss Journey' do you have to go? For anyone interested in a Bombshell purchase 'WW15' is a 20% discount code, and from that you can guess who is taking my money to help me in my own WLJ!

Loafline I just love the sound of yesterday's wedding outfit - it sounded so... 'confident' and 'true to yourself'. Something that the likes of JL PS women perhaps don't entirely 'get'.

blodynmawr Thank you so much for the sandal links. They are really pretty, but without going into gruesome detail about my legs and feet, let's just say, tights (5 denier) and heavy duty camouflage underneath is going to have to be employed, so it'll have to be shoes for me.

StaceyAndTracey Mon 08-Jun-15 11:09:34

White hair - please don't blame your dress size for your struggles . I'm a standard size 10 , 5'5" and still find it hard .

Most dresses in simple shapes and bright colours ( which I like ) barely cover my knickers and have cut away ( not just sleeveless ) arms , so you can't wear a bra .

Or they are high on the neck, which doesn't suit a curvy bust

Everything else seems to be pastel coloured , floral chiffon, for the over 70s.

Not a lot in between . So it's not your body that's wrong, it's that retailers are totally out of touch with what the stylish 40 something women wants to wear to a function

I've been to a lot of weddings recently and there were very few guest outfits that I liked ( maybe one or two per wedding ). Most women of my age were in dresses that were too short , too tight or revealing and they looked most uncomfortable - constantly pulling down skirts and readjusting arms and necklines . Others wore jackets even when they were hot because the dresses showed their underwear .

That's not fun :-(

WhiteHairReally Mon 08-Jun-15 11:46:50

I completely agree with you Stacey, as does my mother and the JL PS. There is a 'gap in the market' and what you describe, 'Too short, too tight or revealing, have to wear a jacket' is exactly what's in the shops, dolled up as 'Occasionwear'.

Is it economic considerations driving so called 'fashion' I wonder? ie it costs less in terms of materials and labour to make a dress with no sleeves, a high neckline and not enough fabric to the skirt?

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