Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Posted by Carole C in NOLA on 2/15/03 at 17:07 (109304)

I just got back from my favorite dress store, looking for a Mardi Gras dress. I looked at all of them and the fanciest, best looking dress for the event looked like the one that I have already. It's a totally simple, long black velvety looking dress with a buttonless jacketlike thing to wear over it that is black too, with lots of golden threads in it that makes it look very elegant.

I told the saleslady that I already had that dress, and asked her what she thought of wearing that dress to the ball, and if there were others that I might want to consider. She said that she happens to go to this same Mardi Gras ball every year. She said that that dress was absolutely perfect for the ball, the best selection they had and that she'd love to sell me another one but that really she recommended that I stick with that one.

I told her that I wanted to be sure to be appropriately dressed because it is a date and I don't want to embarrass Frank by wearing the wrong thing, and he's been to these many times and I have not. This is a pretty darn formal affair apparently. Believe it or not, she said they actually have people by the door to make sure that nobody is allowed in without proper formal attire, including floor length dresses for the ladies.

Then she said the dress should touch my ankle bones but that of course this one would. HA! She is a shorter or petite saleslady and I am frankly tall, and big, both. I'm just a hair short of 5'9', although I sometimes say I'm 5'8' because I am between the two, sort of.

So here's the bad news: the dress comes to within 1-4' above my ankle bones. The 1' would be hunched down and having just tugged it down and walking with my knees semi-bent. Standing tall and proud, with my tummy sucked in and otherwise paying no attention (my probable and preferred stance) it would be 3' above my ankle bones. Leaning backwards, not pulling my dress down, and sticking my stomach out too would make it 4' above the top of my ankle bones as an absolutely worst case scenario.

I'm really getting the jitters about this. I will be wearing my dress flats (which are plain black dress flats, but maybe I can get some of those clip-on bows for them or something to dress them up). What if they expect me to wear heels? Aargh. If the dress were floor length, it would cover the flats but in this case I think I'm toast. I was going to wear flesh colored knee-highs, but maybe I should wear black ones so that they can't determine where my ankles are as easily.

SHORT WOMEN HAVE IT SO EASY!!!! Dresses are never quite as long on taller, bigger women as they are on short petite women. Thank you for letting me complain. I do realize that short women have problems too, and have to hem things up, and realistically I know they don't really have it easy, but right now I'm upset with the fact that this dress is too short, or I'm too tall for it, and I don't know what to do.

I asked the saleslady what she recommended, since the dress is in the largest size they carry. It is even a slightly large size for me and my dress fits very nicely and loosely otherwise. She had me try on another dress which turned out to be even shorter on me in that same large size. Then she recommended that I go to a very upscale store in the most elegant part of town ('maybe they will have something on sale, but you'd better hurry because they are probably nearly out of dresses for the balls this late'). The ball is two weeks from Monday.

I am thinking of just wearing the dress that I have and wearing costume jewelry in hopes of looking elegant enough to make the hemline forgiveable, and trying the dazzling 'here I am at last, Princess Diana makes her entry, get your photos now' smile as I enter the convention center where the ball is, hoping for the best. Or, I could go to the fancy dress shop and be totally humiliated if/when they tell me that it would require a $400 custom dress and that there isn't enough time.

Maybe I could find some kind of black or gold 3' ruffle that I could tack on to the hemline. I guess I will go to a fabric store and look to see if they sell such things 'pre-ruffled', since even tacking it on will be challenging enough for me.

I am so excited about this ball, but this hemline thing was kind of a blow to my self confidence! It's been 35-40 years since I've been to a formal affair. Eek! I'm an oceanographer and more used to a hard hat than to formal attire. Actually this dress and the skirt that I wore to my brother's wedding are the only two skirts I have owned for a decade and I've worn each exactly once. This is like Cinderella, or Pygmalion, in progress. I really want so much to do it, though.

Carole C

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Bev N on 2/15/03 at 18:12 (109311)

Carole, I was going to tell you the same thing about finding a black ruffle to go around the bottom of the dress, and yes, do wear black hose too if you are wearing black shoes. There must be a seamstress who can tack that on for you. If you can't find a ruffle alreay made, they are really easy to make and tack on. Too bad my private plane is in the shop, I would love to tottle down there to help out, hahahaha. I'm sure there will be a friend who can help you do that. I know how nervous you must be. I hate formal parties and I have to go sometimes with my hubby and I am misserablee dressed up. Give me my jeans and sweater any day and I am happy. We all have faith in you, you will do just great! How are you wearing your hair? Oh, boy, now something else for you to think about! Bev

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Suzanne D on 2/15/03 at 18:17 (109313)

Carole, your post really rang a bell with me! I am 3 inches taller than you, and I KNOW about finding just the perfect dress/skirt/pants only to find the length is too short!

Even though most people would probably not notice the length of your gown, I know YOU will be thinking about it. And I don't want you to have anything to lessen your confidence or enjoyment of the event.

So, here is what I would do: go to a big fabric store and enlist the help of a salesperson (or two) - until you get someone who seems interested and knowledgeable about what your concern is. There ARE ready-made ruffles and trims that are easy to attach to hems. Perhaps they can guide you to just the right thing that won't look 'tacked-on' but will enhance the dress and make you feel better. I know the awkward feeling of sleeves too short, hemlines or pants feeling too short. It just makes you feel gawky even if you don't look it!

I really think you can find something that will work to add to the bottom. If the first store can't help you, try another. The gown sounds lovely!

How are you planning to wear your hair? (See, I'm really getting into this event with you!) :-)

Suzanne :-)

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Carole C in NOLA on 2/15/03 at 18:30 (109314)

Thanks for the support, Bev! I will try to find a ruffle if I can. I also just now found a website that says women don't have to have floor length dresses at a black tie event, only at a white tie event.

http://www.drdaveanddee.com/blacktie.html

I am ecstatic and I hope that the organizers of the ball are reading the same website! LOL

As to my hair, I think I had better either wear it up (which I hate) or maybe partly up with a comb or some other sort of fancy barrette or something just to look more fancy (and then curl the trailing ends with a curling iron). I haven't researched that part yet as I never do anything with my hair normally. LOL

Carole C

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Carole C in NOLA on 2/15/03 at 18:37 (109315)

That is very encouraging, Suzanne! There is a big fabric store and I will try to find someone to help.

The gown really is nice and it is actually becoming to me as well; I feel very comfortable in it, or did. LOL

I read a thing about how gowns at black tie events can be any length, and gowns at white tie events are the only ones that have to be full length:
http://www.drdaveanddee.com/blacktie.html

I don't know if the ball organizers agree, though. By the way, there's a link on there that says that black is now just fine for weddings, which as I recall confirms what you were saying: http://www.drdaveanddee.com/black.html

I couldn't remember where our thread was where we were talking about that.

I do not have a clue what to do with my hair. However, I'm absolutely sure I will have to do it myself, since I have no hairdresser, hairdressers usually find my hair impossible, and it's too late to get an appointment anyway. I am thinking of taking the top part of it and pulling it up and back with an elaborate comb or barrette of some kind, and then curling the dangling ends in the back with a curling iron. (?) But I really haven't thought through this until this very minute. I don't even know if I can find the right hair accessories to do this nicely.

Carole C

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Suzanne D on 2/15/03 at 19:55 (109325)

That was interesting to read, Carole. I would say you would be fine, but you might just be more comfortable with something added to the length. That was one of the amazing things about my 'find' for my daughter's wedding: it is long enough for me.

Remembering your photo on this site, I think your hair would look very pretty the way you described fixing it. I also think it would be pretty with a french braid down the back. Sometimes these are made fancier with a ribbon being intwined in the braids. I have french-braided my older daughter's hair on different occasions, but I could never do my own although some people manage to do that! Perhaps you might find a friend who could do that for you so you could see if you like it. Not that you asked for advice on how to wear your hair! :-) It just came to my mind. Also, you might try one of those little places in malls that carry hair adornments and jewelry. 'Afterthoughts' is the name of one in our area. The items aren't expensive but are pretty. You could probably find a comb or fancy clip at one of those.

Good luck and keep us posted!
Suzanne :-)

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Carole C in NOLA on 2/15/03 at 20:12 (109327)

Thanks, Suzanne... I'd love to have my hair French braided, but I don't really know anyone to do it. Good idea to look for one of theose places in the mall that carry hair things and jewelry! I might find some good costume jewelry there too, that would go with the hair thingie. Earrings and a glittery bracelet, maybe.

Tomorrow I will go to the big fabric store that I have in mind, and look for some ruffles to add to my dress. You are right, that I would feel more comfortable with it being longer, especially since I'm wearing flats. I'll take my dress along with me to the fabric store, in a bag, so that I can make sure the ruffle matches reasonably well. I will take your advice and try in other fabric stores if I don't find a ruffle at the first one. But if worse comes to worse, I will just wear the dress as is.

Carole C

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Suzanne D on 2/15/03 at 21:35 (109329)

Good luck tomorrow, Carole! If I lived near you, I'd be more than happy to French braid your hair. I always enjoyed fixing my daughter's that way. My younger daughter has naturally super-curly hair, so French braids didn't work for her. I'm sure you'll find some pretty hair accessories!

Suzanne :-)

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

wendyn on 2/16/03 at 10:12 (109368)

I was also going to suggest taking it to a seamstress to see if a ruffle or something could be added to the bottom. Seems like the simplest answer!

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Carole C in NOLA on 2/16/03 at 12:21 (109392)

You are all encouraging me so much! Thanks, Wendy, and everyone.

Around Mardi Gras time most seamstresses around here are pretty busy, but actually I think I can probably do it myself if the ruffle is pre-made. I don't have a sewing machine any more but I am patient and I used to sew at one time.

I might actually be able to make my own ruffle by hand, but a pre-made one might be a lot less work without a machine. I was going to go get the ruffle or ruffle fabric today (and hair ornaments too), but I need to rest now because I'm not quite over being sick and I over-did it during the past two days. Maybe I can get these things tomorrow.

The ball is two weeks from Monday. Wouldn't it be nice if I could lose 4-5 pounds by then? Normally that would be pretty fast for me, but I have been eating junk so I must be retaining at least SOME water.

Carole C

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

JudyS on 2/16/03 at 13:05 (109399)

Dear Nervous in New Orleans, how about tacking on a 4' wide piece of beautiful black lace?

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Carole C in NOLA on 2/16/03 at 13:14 (109400)

LOL! You sure have me pegged, Judy. I think I just got a little stressed out yesterday. Lace is a good idea. If I can find some, I will definitely consider it.

Carole C

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

JudyS on 2/16/03 at 13:33 (109401)

Carole - I can do french braids! 'Soon as Bev gets the jet up and running, I'll have her pick me up....

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Carole C in NOLA on 2/16/03 at 13:59 (109405)

Great! As long as you're firing up the Lear jet, you might as well pick up some black lace on your way too. I'm making hot gumbo. We'll have a great time. :)

Carole C

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Bev N on 2/16/03 at 17:11 (109415)

Sounds good Carole, what time is dinner ? Except --- I do not even know what gumbo is ! Bev

Re: Nervous about the dress - - oceanographer attempting Pygmalion?

Carole C in NOLA on 2/16/03 at 17:29 (109416)

Gumbo is wonderful, Bev! It's Louisiana's answer to hot chicken soup on a cold day. It is a thick, hot dish heavily seasoned with Cajun spices and about the consistency of a very thick soup with lots of things thrown in it. Gumbo is the mainstay of local cuisine, and it's said that to truly judge how good a local restaurant is, one has to merely try their gumbo.

Gumbo can have lots of Gulf shrimp and other seafood (like tonight's) or chicken and andouille, a local sausage, and okra and many things. There's a very excellent local gumbo that is frozen in microwaveable containers of a two portion size, so since there is only one of me (and since it is awfully good) I generally buy that rather than make it from scratch. You'd never know to taste it, though! Gumbo is served with white rice which you stir in at the last minute. mmmmm!

But too bad, I just finished my gumbo! Maybe another night. :)

Carole C

Re: problem solved! and you helped :)

Carole C in NOLA on 2/17/03 at 16:44 (109530)

What great and helpful comments everyone had! Those were great suggestions, to look in a fabric store either for ruffles or for wide black lace. And guess what I have right here in front of me. Three yards of beautiful 3' black lace, pre-gathered for ruffles! This is just perfect. I won't need all three yards, but I wanted to make sure I had enough.

While I was there, I also got a couple of yards of pretty gold braid stuff which maybe I could use in my hair somehow to dress it up. I really don't want to wear my hair up, so I will need to get a curling iron and a few gold hair accessories, bows, etc, and then try to see what if anything I can do with it down. If nothing works then maybe I could just do one non-French braid down the side and weave in some of the gold braid as I go.

Carole C

Re: problem solved! and you helped :)

Suzanne D on 2/17/03 at 18:28 (109551)

Oh, good, Carole! I'm happy you found the pre-gathered lace for your dress. That will make it even prettier than it was!

A hair braid down the side with the gold braid woven in would be elegant, I think. You'll have to experiment and see what you like.

My younger daughter has good results using those claw-type clips to pull her hair back. They are easier to use than regular barrettes, I believe. They make some of those fancy, so you could probably find a gold one.

Or try pulling your hair over in a side pony tail and roll it on hot rollers if you have them. (They'll hold longer than curls made from a curling iron.) Then you'd have a cascade of curls to the side. And you could put some gold hair accessory over the little band that yois holding your hair. If you do that, pull it over first, then roll it on as many rollers as you can use, putting a little gel on each piece before you roll it. Spray lightly with hairspray before you take the rollers out.

My goodness, I am sounding like some fashion consultant! Sorry! I really got into fixing all the girls' hair in my daughter's choir last spring when we went to Branson. It was fun, and I enjoyed seeing them happy with the results.

Thanks for keeping us posted!
Suzanne :-)

Re: problem solved! and you helped :)

Carole C in NOLA on 2/17/03 at 20:39 (109577)

Wow, what great ideas, Suzanne! You are inspiring me with your great hair style ideas, which I really like. :)

The girls in your daughter's choir were probably looked great after you fixed their hair! :)

Carole C