17 October 2013

Style Dilemma: What to Wear to an Autumn Charity Gala

Bear with me as I recount the "squeeeeee!" that escaped my lips when I got the email from H: "We're going."

I'd been trying to convince him we need to go to our dear friend's inaugural gala. I've been itching for a gown-wearing occasion, and this was perfect:

1) cause we support
2) friend we support
3) dramatic venue worthy of a dramatic gown

Now then. We're in. (More on the event itself later, it's a pretty awesome thing.)

What to wear.

I last bought - and wore - a gown about a year after The Bean was born, to the Washington Choral Arts Society Holiday Concert and Gala. I'd found a slinky burnt silk halter number in a forgiving charcoal grey at the BCBG outlet in Atlantic City for beyond cheap (honestly one of those times when you buy it purely because it's such a bargain, knowing you'll use it at some point. I did.). It was perfect for sharing a table with the Kazak Ambassador.


Fast forward 5 or so years, and while the grey gown is still a favorite, I gave it up in my closet cleaning. Too big, and not really alterable. Hopefully, it's found a home somewhere.

We're the worst married people ever. No idea where the rest of our wedding pictures are, and so no good gown pics. This will have to do. Unless you want to click over to the "blacked out" picture I posted after the wedding, before bloggers liked to be known, and thought this internet thingy was a place you should remain anonymous.

The only other thing in my closet (ok, not quite, but as a completely formal gown) worthy of a casino-themed gala with a bunch of very successful, smart folks? My wedding gown. Also seriously. Unfortunately, it's a) never been cleaned (bad bride), and b) I need to get it altered (Note to self: bump those alterations to the top of the style to-do list. It's gala season, and you just never know.)

So I'm gown-less, and the event is a week away. I have literally no time to go shopping (we're away at a wedding this weekend), so I thought...

Let's try this Rent the Runway thing all the young people are talking about.

Step 1: Pinterest. I wanted to remind myself what has "called" to me from the floor-length, dramatic world.

Sparkly. Duh. (Patricia Bonaldi)

Structural simplicity + warrior-like metal (Stella McCartney)

Apparently clashing colors + massive bow (via)

Simple + train (Rochas)

Deceptive demure lace (Tom Ford)

There are waaaaaaay more than these over on my I Just Need a Gala Pinterest board. We'll hope I have occasion to call on the board again, soon, right?

Step 2: To the Rent the Runway site.

I signed up (I'm sure it's old news, but there's a helps-make-it-worth-it $25 off your first rental). Then I went straight to the Dresses link and applied filters for my size and for length (long). The list seemed overwhelming at first, so I returned to the Designers link and checked a few of my red carpet favorites and my hopefuls (Catherine Malandrino, Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein Collection). That helped get me started.

After browsing and browsing, I had a bunch of gowns "hearted." Then I asked H his opinion. Interestingly, he went for more voluminous tops (Dolman sleeve, draped neckline) and almost all black. His comment? He was a bit underwhelmed by the colored offerings.

He has high, fashion-forward expectations.

Next? The Beans. There's a certain truth in asking a 6 year old girl and almost 4 year old boy their opinion on fashion. If you have them available to you, I highly recommend you use them. They cut to the chase and know their client exceptionally well. In my case, Bean No.2 was the more critical eye, asking to see different choices, then saying "No" after looking at them more closely.

Then, I asked the internet. Yup. It's a useful tool, folks. Now, I happen to have a group of friends whose style cred I trust who are all on Twitter and Instagram, so it might not work for everyone, but I've found I get some good thoughts out there. So last night I tweeted a few and IGed some more (check me at DCCeline for both, if you're not already following).

Here's what's in the running.

All-over sequins + draped low-cut back (The Beans' pick, Badgley Mischka)

Illusion bodice + high-waisted skirt (Catherine Deane)

Plunging neckline + color (H's pick, Issa)

Structural black + white (Narciso Rodriguez)

Edgy oversized bow + unexpected (and hard-to-wear) color (my obsession, Viktor + Rolf)

Truth be told, there are about a bazillion more, and some that line up pretty well with my Pinterest inspirations (this Viktor + Rolf recalls the Stella McCartney, for example), but as I browsed, I realized that much of what called to me from the Great Electronic Bulletin Board shows up here.

Now it's just a matter of picking one.


My plan: I'm going to pick one to arrive Monday, and hope it works. If it doesn't, there's still time to use the almost legendary customer service and get another turned around in time for the event.

And then I just have to figure out the accessories.


Lastly, folks, for those of you in the DC area, and who might just have Thursday, October 24th free, here are the details for the inaugural gala for the White Hat Society. Cyber security leaders banding together for children? Hard to say no. If you're up for it, or just otherwise want more information, please get in touch via email (over on the Who's That Girl page)


Heidi // Frantic But Fabulous said...

That Badgley Mischka is TO DIE.

DC Celine said...

Isn't it, though, Heidi?!

Deb (Real Girl Runway) said...

Love the Badgley Mischka but I'm also drawn the the Catherine Deane. It's incredibly sophisticated and I love the white(ish) black combo. I'm sure you'll have a blast no matter what you choose.

Anonymous said...

1, so jealous you're going to a gala. when I first moved to DC that became one of my aspirations, still is!

Be sure to enter to win a $50 gift card on my blog's latest giveaway!

XO Sahra
Que Sera, Sahra