Black tie whyyyy
January 8, 2019 6:42 AM   Subscribe

I need to find a dress that is: a. under $100; b. Suitable to wear to a black tie January wedding; c. fits my new-to-me postpartum bod - 4’11”, 115 lbs with all my weight in my upper arms, chest and stomach; d. Available online.

All I care is that it fits me, is formal enough, and is not revealing. I think I’m like a size 2 petite.

(FWIW I’m really annoyed that I have to do this. I love my cousin but we are from Bumfuck and have no business being black tie anything. So I don’t care if I look good I just want to follow the rules.)
posted by pintapicasso to Shopping (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
E-Shakti seems to be the go-to for situations like this, since they are very adaptable sizewise. All of the dresses here are for "special occasions" and I see several under $100 (I even see one that's only $59.99).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:50 AM on January 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

Looking through some of the dresses EC linked - you’ll see several that are labelled shirt dresses that are basically fancy white shirt top with fancy, colourful skirt. There are also several with smart black tops and fancy, colourful skirts. And indeed some fancy skirts sold as separates. So you may already own or be able to find a suitably smart black top/white shirt and pair that with a fancy skirt. That provides many more options for future use for those of us not in the habit of attending several black tie events a year.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:16 AM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

It looks like it's possible to rent something classed "black tie" on Rent the Runway for <$100.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:18 AM on January 8, 2019 [10 favorites]

And these are "gala" dresses there. Your size is going to be a huge asset in finding something you like for what you want to pay. Think simple.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:19 AM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Honestly my friends have had really great success finding dresses on amazon. Get something in navy or black that’s floor length and an appropriate fabric and you’re set.
posted by raccoon409 at 7:23 AM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Jinx racoon! I just searched for size 2 petite long formal dresses on Amazon and found hundreds for under $60. Many of them in the search results are not actually petite--if you are 4'11" you might need to have them hemmed anyway--but I think that would still keep you under $100 with a tailor hemming one. If you looked for cocktail length ones on Amazon, you wouldn't have to worry about the length.
posted by pangolin party at 7:34 AM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like Asos for these needs because their prices are low, they have a range of styles, and you can order a whole bunch, try them on at home, and then return what doesn't work.
posted by xo at 7:35 AM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Macy' Great search engine (by sleeve length, color, formality, price etc); fast, free, reliable shipping over $99 which you'll hit easily because you'll order a bunch, pick one, send back the rest. There should be a ton of stuff on holiday clearance now.

I honestly would not go eshakti with this, they don't do black tie and it sometimes takes a few tries to get the fit right, and their customization fees aren't refundable.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:42 AM on January 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

Lulus has a great selection in that price range. A lot of their cocktail dresses are meant to be SHORT, which means for me (5'0") or you, they'd be perfect (I have a long-sleeve "skater" style dress from there that I didn't have to get altered--unheard of for me). It's worth reading the reviews for dresses (particularly under "Bestsellers"), as people usually include their height and report on whether something was too short or long or runs small/big.
posted by lovableiago at 7:42 AM on January 8, 2019

Lord and Taylor is also great for dresses and has a good search function and loads of things on sale right now.

This ruffly H Halston number is $60 and available in size 0 and 2.
posted by mskyle at 8:02 AM on January 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm not great at following directions, so I'd probably go with an easy fit & flare dress with glittery rights and a fabulous statement necklace. I went to a wedding last month, not "black tie" but was quite happy in a a velvet top and silk skirt that look like a dress. Also consider a long velvet skirt and gorgeous top, especially if you're nursing.
posted by theora55 at 9:12 AM on January 8, 2019

When I went to a wedding at 3wks pp I ended up wearing a skirt and top. I found the combination to be much more forgiving and easier to navigate in my pp body (plus I was obvs still nursing and I couldn't figure out how I would do that in an event-appropriate dress). You could get a ballgown style skirt with a sparkly twinset or other top and be comfortable and appropriate.
posted by vignettist at 9:21 AM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've had good luck with Modcloth, range of sizes/fits and reasonable returns/exchanges policy.
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting at 11:13 AM on January 8, 2019

Just as an FYI I went to a black tie wedding in Chicago and my friend and i from Boston were the only ones besides the bridesmaids wearing long dresses- which we had bought specifically for the occasion. So don't feel like you need to shell out the money if you dont want to- I guarantee many guests will be wearing standard wedding attire not black tie.
posted by emd3737 at 11:47 AM on January 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

oh definitely seconding emd3737. I went to a black tie wedding at a very upscale San Francisco venue and PLENTY of the guests were wearing cocktail dresses.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:54 AM on January 8, 2019

I have a Formal Winter Dress that has served me well over like four sizes and 15 years.

It is a long, simple black velvet dress with a square neck and short sleeves. It is pretty generic (aka "timeless") and the velvet is stretchy, which makes it both comfortable and easy to go up or down in size and still wear. I think I got it at a department store, maybe Macy's?

You could also do a long velvet skirt and some sort of sparkly top.

It's a family wedding, not the Oscars; don't stress too much about it, just find something that is comfy and reusable.
posted by oblique red at 7:56 AM on January 9, 2019

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