What to wear?
January 28, 2009 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Unexpected invitations to a Broadway show and dinner at a fancy NYC restaurant. Our houseguest didn't bring appropriate clothes, but we can order from most catalogs via Fed Ex to receive in time for next week. She's a 12 or 14, prefers pants to skirts and has no clue what to order that would be stylish yet usable back home in real. less dressy life. Willing to splurge as long as it's not a one shot outfit. What would be a good place to look? Specific outfit recommendations more than welcome.
posted by mmf to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total)
Why would she not shop IRL in the city if she is here? Macy's Woman on 7, Bloomingdales, even J. Crew has some nice dressy stuff. Wouldn't it make more sense/be more fun to shop and see how it looks and how it fits rather than ordering it via mail? I am sure I am missing something.
posted by micawber at 7:32 PM on January 28, 2009

Something like this should work. Classic black pants that she can wear again and again - not on a "casual" day to day basis, but if she wants to dress herself up without going too formal. A nice blouse, maybe a simple cardigan (black, gray, or in the same color scheme as the top). She could wear such a blouse with (nice-ish) jeans and a cardigan at home in her "less dressy life" I think. Jcrew carries up to size 16, but you can find similar outfits at ann taylor, banana republic, gap, etc.
posted by raztaj at 7:33 PM on January 28, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry, should have clarified, we are not in the city, will be driving in the afternoon of the show, and have family and business obligations every day she will be here, keeping us from shopping in person.
posted by mmf at 7:43 PM on January 28, 2009

I agree with the above. Keep it very simple -- black slacks and a nice blouse or sweater in a solid, relatively neutral color. Perhaps a scarf to dress it up and add some color and personality, if she wishes. I would think that a shopping trip to Macy's or Bloomingdales or Ann Taylor will yield her something lovely.

Bonus: there is no substitute for being able to try on pants and get them hemmed if needed. Nice-fitting slacks look a whole lot dressier than "just okay" fitting ones.
posted by desuetude at 7:47 PM on January 28, 2009

Alas, people don't dress up as much for Broadway any more -- I've seen people show up in jeans -- so some basic black slacks and a nice blouse or sweater would be fine.

Yes, I realize my lament about people not dressing up for Broadway makes me sound like a damn snob, but...okay, I'm a damn snob. (Or I just look for excuses to fluff up.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 PM on January 28, 2009

I just saw a Broadway show last week and more than half the people there were wearing jeans. We also dined at the four-star Jean-Georges and I was surprised at how casually people were dressed--not jeans, to be sure, but black pants and any kind of nice top would be fine.
posted by HotToddy at 8:22 PM on January 28, 2009

Folks, they're not just going to a show, they're going out to dinner, too. Answer the question, please, which is how to find a specific kind of outfit, rather than saying "don't wear that kind of outfit."
posted by ocherdraco at 9:10 PM on January 28, 2009

my teenage cousin really likes shopping at alloy.com/delias.com, ae.com has some ok dressy items as well.
posted by alcopop at 9:29 PM on January 28, 2009

What about this dress?

I would be nervous about ordering pants without trying them on first, and I'm not sure what your friend's real, less dressy life is like, but i think this would be pretty dress-up and dress-down-able. Plus, it's made by an outdoorsy company so it should be easy to take care of, and good for varying temperatures. Their website also shows their (many) stockists in the US.

I bought this the other day, and I recommend choosing a large size. I don't really know how American sizing works, but I would normally be a medium, and ended up going for the XL. Anything from medium upward looked fine, but I prefer floaty over clingy, and a bit oversized still looked good.
posted by Emilyisnow at 9:50 PM on January 28, 2009

Folks, they're not just going to a show, they're going out to dinner, too. Answer the question, please, which is how to find a specific kind of outfit, rather than saying "don't wear that kind of outfit."

(reads upthread at all the outfit suggestions, looks at ocherdraco oddly, and shrugs)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 PM on January 28, 2009

I wore a long-sleeve knit top, cords and Mephisto walking shoes to Taillevent in Paris two months ago and was fine. The food and service were part of the best I've ever had. Coat-and-tie for men places don't want people showing up in jeans, t-shirts and sneakers.
posted by brujita at 10:35 PM on January 28, 2009

Got a Talbots nearby? They generally have well-made, super-comfortable pants that can be dressed up or down. Ann Taylor and higher-end department stores like Nordstrom have good stuff too. I'd go the black pants and nicer top route as mentioned above.

I know you don't have time to go shopping in person, but if she wants to be sure she can wear the outfit repeatedly, I'd recommend you find time to go and try things on so you can be sure of the fit/quality. However, all of the stores above have online shopping. Plus they've all got some fantastic sales going on right now.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:29 AM on January 29, 2009

I would second alloy.com. They have lots of cute stuff that's very age appropriate.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:35 AM on January 29, 2009

If I read the question correctly, guys, we don't know how old she is - just that she's a size 12/14. Also, I think it's totally appropriate in light of the full question (which asks about dressy and appropriate for Broadway and dinner) to mention the current sad state of sartorialism in the audience.
posted by thejoshu at 6:47 AM on January 29, 2009

No need to dress up for Broadway, and if the restaurant requires something dressier, then a pair of black pants and non-sneaker shoes will be fine with any sweater or cardigan or blouse, if she doesn't want to buy a whole new outfit. I would say don't order online though, especially if she's size 12-14 (my size), as I really really have to try pants on - anything I've ever ordered online didn't fit right, even if it was the right size. Stop by any mall - look for Talbots, or the Limited, they all have black pants.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 7:44 AM on January 29, 2009

She should just buy something she likes. Even the fanciest restaurants in New York only go so far as requiring no sneakers or jeans. I have eaten in some very fancy places in very casual clothes. The worst I've gotten is slight hostess snottiness, but that was over quickly and only at the trendiest places (not the same as the nicest ones).

Of course, dress up for fun, though! But there isn't really an objective version of "stylish." It's New York, everyone just wears what they themselves like, there's no consensus. If I were her, I'd use it as an excuse to buy something I've had my eye on but didn't have a place to wear. Anything above jeans/sneakers level should be fine.

Oh and if she's going to buy slacks online, buy from somewhere that offers different inseam lengths. If you don't have time to hit the mall, you don't have time to hit the tailor.
posted by lampoil at 8:37 AM on January 29, 2009

If it's possible - I'd go with skirt. Skirts are much more forgiving than trousers in terms of tailoring. With mail order, you'll only have one shot at getting the tailoring correct. Given that she wants to use this in her more casual daily life, the lack of time for tailoring and the event I'd pick these two:

Lands' End Dark Heather Gray Wide Leg Pants - These aren't a super wide leg, but a bit fuller. Also, these aren't 100% wool; they have a bit of stretch. Lands End will tailor the inseam for free. Between the hidden waist expansion, the wider leg, the heather fabric and the stretch you may be able to hide any issues that would normally go to the tailor. Don't look at the picture on the model, look at the picture of the pants. These are a classic ladies trouser.

Lands' End Scoop Neck Cashmere Sweater - The scoop neck will show a bit of skin and allow plenty of room for a pretty, dressy necklace. The sweater set would also work, but you're doubling the price and a few layers can start to look "thick". (I love sweater sets, but both pieces really need to fit well and we don't have time for a return.) A single sweater will be a bit more elegant. Pick a COLOR - don't go all boring here.

Add an evening bag and a light wrap in case it's chilly in the theater.

Also, what everyone said about how casual the theater has become is true. I was at opening night of the opera last week - I saw a few tuxedos and gowns, but mostly casual/cocktail clothes.
posted by 26.2 at 9:23 AM on January 29, 2009

Coldwater Creek have some classy outfits that can be dressed up or down at need. They have extended sizes - and affordable costume jewelry if that is also an issue. Your friend might consider their travel collection. These are non-crease clothes that can be worn straight out of a suitcase.
Alternatively, I would also second Lands End. Comfy clothes with extended sizes that make classy outfits when combined. N-thing go for black and black-color pattern coordination.
posted by Susurration at 7:09 PM on January 29, 2009

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