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Party Frocks

9520301.jpgThis past weekend I did a little shopping. Well, to be honest, with the “b” word in full-effect, I did a little closet-shopping. You know, when you dig deep into the recesses of your closet in order to find something old and exciting. I’ve done this before and it usually yields more trash than treasure, but you never know what can happen. So, this past weekend I dug for party frocks.

Women spend a disproportionate amount of money on formal wear; we don’t wear these dresses very often, yet we’ll plunk down quite a pretty penny for that one perfect dress that makes the perfect statement on the perfect occasion. The good thing is, these are investment pieces that will last a very long time if kept dry cleaned and in good-order. The other thing is, they can be shared among friends. (Okay, so I’ve never actually borrowed a friend’s dress – that’s one of my things – but it’s purely a personal choice. It follows the same lines as my never borrowing lip gloss or shoes…but I have had people borrow dresses from me from time-to-time. When you really think about it, this pooling of our shared resources in formal wear is just like being a group of venture capitalists, seeking the ideal opportunity for exposure and growth. Think of the possibilities!)

But why do we spend so much on these fleeting moments in our wardrobe? The simple answer is that occasions are memorable, and being girls, we always want to be unforgettable on these important nights. That perfect dress is the chance to be the prettiest girl in the room, the one who turns all the heads – it’s a lot of pressure on a poor little dress! But girls are like this – we expect a lot. We always remember what we wore to proms, formals, galas, weddings, fundraisers, what-nots…even if they aren’t the best nights, we definitely remember what we wore.

Luckily, in the past, my closet did not have any budget-restrictions in place, and I was able to buy well for my formal collection. This prior investment allows me to choose from among some fabulous options for the upcoming party season which, for me, begins on Friday night. There are more than a few black-tie affairs in the coming weeks, as well as company holiday parties, Christmas cocktails, birthdays, bon voyages…my calendar seems to be worthy of the “Fanfair” pages in Vanity Fair. Oh excuse me, Dominick Dunne is on the other line, can you hold?

And so, to the closet. I must admit, BCBG is a girl’s dream come true for affordable, lasting, cocktail dresses, so too is Betsey Johnson, but her styles are far more fleeting. Hence the hasty departure of two BJ dresses from my closet this weekend. Um, wow, I still have that? I think I wore that last on a date in 2001…gross. So, a classic black satin BCBG definitelywill serve for a black-tie option or two, but what to wear this weekend?

On Friday, I have a very stately party for the 80th Anniversary of the San Francisco Garden Club at the Family Club…My mother promises that it will be so fancy we have to call it fawncy. I asked her if there would be eligible men there, and while she admitted that it wasn’t likely, Stanlee Gatti will be there sharing his tips n’tricks… For this I need to bring out the big guns, and luckily I have a Nicole Miller on standby from a fabulous wedding a few years ago. (This will indeed make an impression late-night on Friday when I’m expected at the Final Final for a friend’s birthday. Bud Light, free popcorn, and pailettes...) On Saturday, I have yet another wedding to go to…so what to wear to that? I know: the gorgeous, but fun, Phoebe Couture dress I wore to my friend’s rehearsal dinner a few weeks ago – and whose shoulder strap is still in need of repair…ahem.

Thus begins the dress rotation for the next two months. I am reserving the right to get something new for my momentous birthday in a month – personally, I think the big 3-0 is meritorious of a new party frock…who would begrudge me that after all of my economical dress recycling? Such a purchase would surely make my future closet-shopping all the more enjoyable.

"Mannequin" by George Hughes - Saturday Evening Post 3/1/1952  

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