Help me accessorize a navy dress!
May 11, 2015 12:14 AM   Subscribe

Situation: I'm going to a major environmental nonprofit's fundraising gala/ball. More details inside.

It's in SF in the evening/night so it will be chilly. I'm a consultant, so while we're in super casual SF and we've paid for a table, I can't get away with whatever I want (unlike the major donors).

I already have a lovely, work-appropriate navy silk Tahari dress (a little above knee length). It has a black band around the waist (built in, not removable).

I have brown skin, dark hair, dark eyes, and I am carrying more weight than I'd like. Ample chest and belly/pooch/spare tire. Muffin tops are a concern.

I'll be coming from work, so I'll have my normal lovely slouchy caramel-y leather crossbody bag (can be worn on one shoulder, and will be coat-checked) and probably a knee-length coat in a brown tweedy herringbone pattern.

Simple makeup. Concealer, eyeliner, maybe a subtle touch of shimmery eyeshadow. No lipstick. I'd love to do a bright red lip, but I can't risk making a mess of it. This is still a work event.

My question: I need to wear tights, or I will freeze. What color? I'd love to go with mustard or burgundy, but should I pick black or grey instead? That seems like too many neutrals together, but maybe it works? I do NOT want to wear heels, so I'll likely be in black ballet flats.

Is there a tights/hosiery brand that's good for my body type? Not looking to go full out Spanx, but if that's what it takes...

Also, accessories? Simple pearls? Something a tiny bit more glitzy? The dress is boatneck so earrings are better than a necklace, and I might do single bangle as well.

posted by Ragini to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total)
Best answer: Sock Dreams has a good selection of plus sized tights. Specifically the Erika microfiber tights are wonderful (and though I cannot vouch for this, good for people with ample behinds. Sadly I'm not one such person but my pair of Erika tights are my favorite anyway.) I think with a navy and black dress with black shoes, you could wear practically any color of tights, though I'd personally avoid brown. Black would be leg-lengthening with black shoes, but grey would provide some interest but remain pretty conservative. A nice plum color would be interesting without being clashy. Mustard would be fun and I'd say go for it! but if you're not comfortable with being "fun" for this event then don't push it. Any green would also look nice, though a dark forest green might read a bit 90s. I'd maybe stay away from reds because that's a touch patriotic.

I think you're on the right track with earrings. They're also easy to switch out after work. Personally I'd go with some dangly linear earrings in silver with some additional color (could really be almost any color, though blue would play well with the navy dress.) But as long as they're visible through/among your hair, really anything that's a bit sparkly special looking would work. Something that pleases you. It's a good place to express some personal style. Generally speaking it's good to do one more statement-y accessory and one or two subtle/simple accessories, so more remarkable earrings and a subdued bangle sounds just right.

For comfort and figure control, get a slip. Not only will it help skim out any bulgy shapes you don't want and help your dress drape well, it will also keep you warmer. If you can find a place to try slips on, do it, because they're similar to bras in that they're especially difficult to get a properly fitting one sight-unseen. Don't forget to sit down in it when trying on, either.

Stop by a Sephora or somewhere that will let you try things on and check out lip stains. A good lip stain will add color to your lips that won't wipe off. I have something called Benetint that I can build up in layers and once it's dry it doesn't rub off on anything. Lip stains will never have that opaque paint look of a red lipstick but they definitely help define a face, add color, and don't end up somehow on one's nose in the middle of a dinner party.
posted by Mizu at 1:07 AM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Buy something new and VERY appropriate that makes you feel great while you are wearing it!

Alternative : Just buy new shoes.

I'm weird and don't understand your color choice options of hosiery. Sheer black, or nude. The rest sound busy, clashing, or awful. I might be old.

In general, classic looks and combo's work best, so don't try to reinvent the wheel here.

Only wear pearls to this event if they are real, or really good fakes. Like, proper knotting in between the individual pearls type fake.
posted by jbenben at 1:10 AM on May 11, 2015

Black shoes = black tights. Or a dark grey, like a charcoal. No-one is going to be looking at your legs, as you will spend most of the evening sitting down or clustered together in groups, holding drinks and chatting.

Concentrate on things from the waist up. Mizu's advice on jewelry is good; boatneck limits the necklace options, but long large pendants that hang well below the neckline can work as well as shorter pieces.

If you might be cold, wear a wrap, a light sweater or a jacket, all of which are warm, work appropriate and help hide unwanted bulges. Kimono or cocoon wraps in light silks or lacework might be too light with the dress, but that's the kind of thing I'm thinking of. It also avoids the too much skin issue, and you can ditch it if you don't need it.
posted by jrochest at 1:29 AM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm voting nude or black as well. Save the burgundy or mustard for a scarf; don't make your tights a focal point.
posted by slidell at 1:53 AM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Opaque tights read 'daywear' to me. I'd go for sheer black or grey - emphasis on SHEER.

Also, Spanx are your best friend! They can create a lovely, flattering line under your dress for a special occasion. Trust me, SPANX!

What are you doing with your hair? Simple updo + dangly earrings + dainty necklace sounds super pretty with a boatneck.
posted by nerdfish at 3:35 AM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's no need to be scared of a bright red lip! If you apply your lipstick properly, it can last for hours without smudging. Rimmel Lasting Finish lipsticks and lipliners are really quite affordable, so you could buy one for a practice run to see how you feel. If you decide that it is too stressful, you haven't lost out much. The trick is to use lip liner over your entire lips (not just on the lip line) and to do about three layers of lipstick, blotting in between. This is my favourite lipstick tutorial. After following those instructions my lipstick was so smudge-proof that I could actually drink from a glass without leaving any lipstick evidence behind.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 3:51 AM on May 11, 2015

I'd do a neutral on the tights, but a bright, big statement necklace that will really pop against the navy of the dress.
posted by MsMolly at 5:28 AM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If it's a Gala, and you're not aiming to be known as "the quirky consultant," you'll want to be wearing black tights if you're not up for nude or bare legs. No colors. Spanx actually makes tights; check your local Nordstrom and wander up to the hosiery department. Someone there will help you. Assuming you're able to drop the cash, if you're dead-set on flats, I'd swap out the ballet flats and pick up a pair with a slightly pointy toe. Ballet flats have a tendency to look like the shoes you swapped your heels out for when at Galas and events. Skip a necklace if it's a boat neck dress, but yes, nice earrings, bracelets, and maybe a brooch would look nice. I've seen some classy ones with boat neck dresses lately, they're coming back. (For the record: I work in the nonprofit sector in fundraising, but in a slightly more formal city.)
posted by juniperesque at 5:56 AM on May 11, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Everyone else has already covered the tights issue. I think that if you were going to wear formal shoes, then you could maybe get away with wearing more colorful/fun jewelry, but in flats you should really do your best to otherwise formalize your look. A 'statement necklace' could work as long as we are talking about a necklace more like this or this (formal) and less like this (something people wear during the daytime). Pearls are kind of a cross-over daytime/nighttime look, so it's hard to say whether it would work without seeing the specific necklace. I generally prefer to go with statement earrings like these or these instead of necklaces since I wear big necklaces all the time but never wear anything other than plain studs - big fancy earrings IMO feel a lot dressier than necklaces.
posted by gatorae at 7:14 AM on May 11, 2015

Response by poster: Some additional details: I'm 26 and 5'1.

By "pearls" I meant simple pearl studs, not a pearl necklace (which I do not own).

Hair will be down probably.

The dress is 3/4-sleeve, so I'm not worried about showing skin. The slip idea is a great one, and I can go with a dress-type one (making sure that the straps work with the neckline).

The event is this week, so I am sadly limited to what I can buy in-store (though I have quite a large selection).
posted by Ragini at 8:18 AM on May 11, 2015

Sheer black control top tights. Pointy black patent flats. No colored tights.

If ever you were looking for an excuse to buy a pearl necklace, this would be it. Round freshwater pearls are inexpensive and classy.

Consider sheer light black pashmina shawl.

Also consider a subtle black rhinestone headband in lieu of pearls, or a simple black rough silk headband with the pearl earrings.

If you have a black coat, wear that and not the brown.

Consider investing in a small black clutch to carry the things you do not want to check.

If your lips are not naturally pale, a touch of Chapstick will do you.

Don't forget that polished nails/waxed eyebrows go a long way to making anyone look 25% better than natural.
posted by slateyness at 7:50 PM on May 11, 2015

Response by poster: Resolution: I had my outfit all picked out -- I bought a slip, sparkly pointy flats, and turquoise-and-gold studs...which I then returned when I got really sick and missed the event altogether. :(
posted by Ragini at 4:45 PM on September 10, 2015

« Older things to consider before moving in early in a...   |   What was the name of that GT bike for petites? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.