Make me a Robert Palmer girl!
January 10, 2008 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Help me dress like a Robert Palmer girl!

I need to dress in 80s attire for one of my clients' corporate galas next month. Since I'm the event planner, I need something low-key, simple and not totally ridiculous. So, the Robert Palmer girls came to mind -- the black dresses, dark eyes, red lips, pulled-back hair, etc.

Unfortunately, I waited too long to start dress shopping and now I can't seem to find an appropriate dress (maybe this is too wintry?). I prefer a mock-turtleneck or crewneck, long-sleeved, knit dress free of any embellishments. It can be as short as mid-thigh or as long as knee-length but no more. It needs to fit a relatively tall (5'9" barefoot, 6' with the shoes I'll most likely wear), very curvy (size 16, evenly proportioned shoulders/waist/hips but very large breasts) woman. Bonus if it's in a store I can visit in the Baltimore/Washington area, but online is OK too.

Websites I've checked: Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, JCPenney, Sears, JCrew, Gap, Old Navy, J. Jill, Coldwater Creek, Garnet Hill, Talbots, White House Black Market, Eddie Bauer, Land's End, L.L. Bean, Newport News, Victoria's Secret, Lane Bryant, The Avenue and Torrid. Perhaps I missed something, but I saw very little that fit my criteria.

Please help me find something that would work! Thanks!
posted by justonegirl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You should be able to find a generic black dress that should suit your needs at a thrift store. It doesn't need to be designer gear because it's a one-time event, right? Plan to hit three or four thrift stores this weekend and you should be good to go. If you're not an experienced thrift store shopper, let me know, and I can have my girlfriend hook you up with some tips (she's a master).
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:01 PM on January 10, 2008

Best answer: I think you could completely rock that look by matching a black mock-neck with a sort black knit skirt, which might be easier to find. Then belt it, like those ladies do...
posted by foxydot at 2:04 PM on January 10, 2008

Best answer: Worst case scenario, buy a skirt and a regular crewneck and cover the gap with a wide, loose slung black belt.
posted by Iteki at 2:04 PM on January 10, 2008

Thrift stores are chock full of clothes like this.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:11 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

how about this? or this?
posted by slowfasthazel at 2:12 PM on January 10, 2008

Seconding the thrift store idea. Looking at their outfits in the video suggests that they have shoulder pads and if you want to emulate that it would be harder to find in garments made today.
posted by PY at 2:14 PM on January 10, 2008

I hope you plan on walking around with a blank expression on your face, pretending you can play the guitar that you have slung over your shoulder.

I also think you'll find it much easier to get a short (tight) skirt and mock turtleneck top. No one will know the difference.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:19 PM on January 10, 2008

Check out how Dana of Mamlogues did the Robert Palmer girl thing - she and her friends pulled it off very successfully. She says that they ordered the dresses from American Apparel.
posted by Ostara at 2:28 PM on January 10, 2008

i think target and the gap both have some black jumpers--you could wear it over a black long-sleeved top. they might even be on clearance by now.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:42 PM on January 10, 2008

pretending you can play the guitar that you have slung over your shoulder.

Update the look with a Guitar Hero controller.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:02 PM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

As soon as you said "free of embellishments" I thought "American Apparel." (as did slowfasthazel, apparently.) This long-sleeve turtleneck dress is a little less form-fitting the ones she linked to..
posted by dersins at 3:05 PM on January 10, 2008

Do you have a price limit? I'm fairly certain I could locate a few dresses for you that meet your criteria (which I will link to shortly), but knowing your price range may help me from linking to dresses that fall beyond your price-cap.
posted by numinous at 5:37 PM on January 10, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, so far. numinous, I'd be willing to spend $125 or less on the right dress, possibly a little more if it wasn't too ridiculous and could be worn again. Thanks!
posted by justonegirl at 5:50 PM on January 10, 2008

Well, this one looks like it's exactly what you're asking after: American Apparel Solid Rib Turtleneck Dress. It looks like they only have it available in an XS online, so you might have better luck at one of AA's stores: Baltimore/DC locations. Call ahead to see if they have them in stock.

Does this satisfy your search? I've come across a Rachel Pally dress and a Helmut Lang dress that resemble this, but they will cost you, at minimum, $200. Yikes! I will post them when I find the links again.
posted by numinous at 6:06 PM on January 10, 2008

If you need shoulder pads, you could always cut a maxi-pad in half and stick the halves inside the shoulders. Classy! Also, it's eponysterical that you're going as a lone Robert Palmer girl.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:07 PM on January 10, 2008

Forever 21 should have something... check them out on the web if there is not one near you.
posted by KB.Boston_implant.By way of NY at 6:29 PM on January 10, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks very much for all the suggestions so far, everyone. I'm a little concerned that American Apparel's stuff might be too clingy or short (I noticed this when I used to wear some of their stuff for roller derby, when I was a little younger and a little lighter). But I do appreciate all the ideas, truly!
posted by justonegirl at 7:27 PM on January 10, 2008

AA's sizing for either of the turtleneck dresses that slowfasthazel linked to is pretty wonky. I'm 5'6"-ish and a size 6-8 with a butt, and the dress was ill-fitting and inappropriately short on me. The turtleneck tent dress has a more foregiving fit and looks pretty good on anyone who's got enough of a chest to fill it out, but it too would be almost scandalously short on someone tall.

Also, Forever 21's sizes are junior, so they all run pretty small.
posted by thisjax at 8:36 PM on January 10, 2008

If you have one near you, I would definitely pop into an H&M store and have a look around. They will almost invariably have the style of dress that you’re after. Otherwise, here are some potential dresses that are variations on your theme:

  • Deep V Tshirt Dress ($90)

  • Jayelia Turtleneck Dress in Black ($89)

  • Black Stretch Knit Turtleneck “Sandy” Dress ($120)

  • James Perse Long Sleeve Twist Dress ($124)

  • ...and lastly, the most promising of them all: M.S.S.P. Ponte Sheath Dress & Turtleneck Sweater (on sale at $38.86)

  • Many of the above dresses I found through links on toutie, which also provides various “discount codes” to use when shopping at these stores. If you’re purchasing online, make sure you check that site or places like Naughty Codes (totally SFW, just a silly name) and Retail Me Not for discount codes. They definitely help when you end up having to pay for shipping.
    posted by numinous at 9:28 PM on January 10, 2008

    Have you looked at New York & Co? When I saw their latest dresses at the mall a couple of weeks ago, I immediately thought of that video.
    posted by zebra3 at 8:06 AM on January 11, 2008

    Response by poster: Thanks again everyone. I ended up hitting the mall yesterday and picked up a black knit skirt and black cashmere turtleneck (which can be turned under to look more like a mock turtleneck), and I'm going to just pick up a belt next time I'm out. I really appreciate all the suggestions!
    posted by justonegirl at 7:28 AM on January 12, 2008

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