What do you wear to a black wedding at the Pierre when your date is a five-time Jeopardy champion?
A $40 frock from a second-hand store, naturally!
I was delighted last year when I received a "save the date" last year for the wedding of my friend Robin from freshman dorm. Little did I know I'd be a resident of NYC by April! As the big event and my move date began to coincide, I realized the wedding would provide a splashy entrance into the New York social scene. Then I spent an inordinate amount of time researching what people wear to black tie weddings "up north."
"You know you need to wear a long dress, right?" my sister insisted. She once learned the hard way at a wedding in Chicago that a short little black dress does not, in fact, suit every occasion. I wanted to fit in, but I also have several smashing short dresses (including a beaded royal blue one I am dying to wear). The only long dresses I have are from bridesmaid stints. I wasn't about to get back into one of those, but seemed silly to buy something new.
I polled everyone I knew, including Robin, who said the bridesmaids would be in short dresses by Vera Wang. "Most people will probably wear long, but for what it's worth, I think short dresses are cute," she emailed.
My college roommate in Dallas is still my favorite source for style questions, so I asked her too. Her response: "Black tie? New York? Long. The Pierre? 7 o'clock? Definitely long. Now, given that, I will say you do have some great gams, so if you want to show 'em off, go for it, Lyns!"
Mom's take: "I say go for the short blue one! Who's going to say, 'Did you see the girl in the black dress?'"
The consensus seemed to be a long dress was a safer bet, but I still didn't want to splurge on something suitably fabulous for the occasion. Flipping through the social pages of a Charlotte magazine, I saw a picture of local news anchor Maureen O'Boyle all glammed up for some charity event. The caption said she'd bought her chocolate brown gown at the Jr. League Wearhouse, a second-hand shop run by the charity.
Bingo! I was cleaning out my closet for the move and had bags of clothes I needed to donated anyway. I browsed the racks (full of old bridesmaids dresses, incidentally) and found a great Laundry dress. Basic black with a plunging neckline, it would go perfectly with a jazzy belt and the rhinestone accessories I usually wear with a similar, shorter Laundry dress.
Five minutes after walking into the Pierre, I checked out the crowd and realized: I totally could have gone with the short dress. Oh, well. Mama really did know best!