What (Not?) to Wear to RT13?

So, I’m going to preface this blog of grainy photos by saying a couple of things.

First off, my authorial mom friend Jules Bennett made me do this after I spent yesterday morning complaining I didn’t have a fancy dress to wear to RT’s Reader Convention at the beginning of May and then, that night, my husband reminded me I had already bought a dress. Yes, I had completely forgotten I owned a dress. In fact, after digging back into my closet, I had apparently forgotten that I owned SEVERAL dresses. Andrea Laurence is also key in making me play dress up on a Saturday morning. This one’s for you, ladies!

Which leads me to my second point. For a woman who spends 80% of her time in blue jeans and the remaining 20% in pajamas, I owe a LOT of dresses. This is a sickness. I haven’t worn a fancy dress since, um, a hot date–and that was in 2012! It’s been a year!

Third, I had my husband (Bless the man) take these photos with my cell phone, which turned out not to be my best idea ever. So you’ll just have to take it with a grain of salt when I tell you that one dress is emerald green and one is aqua, okay?

Fourth–I had on the bare minimum of under-eye concealer, no spanx, and we won’t discuss when I’d last shaved my legs. All dresses would be worn with full body-armor supportive undergarments.

So, this is for Jules, who will tell me what to wear after she gets done snickering at me.

First up, a black cocktail dress that’s fairly conservative. If I was going to a funeral, I could pull this one off. It’s got a high-back collar and some nice seaming at the waist, plus a little flip in the back, but it’s pretty darn conservative. I’ve only worn it once, to the Chicago-North Spring Fling Banquet in 2012. I wore it with cowboy boots. Really.

Next, the only floor length dress I own (that’s not a wedding dress): This is a black velvet, sleeveless number with a small fan tail. I have only worn it twice–once to a black tie wedding 3 weeks after I met my husband and then on our first New Year’s Eve together, which we celebrated at the John Hancock Building, 96th floor. Which was…12 years ago. The caveat with this dress is that it does not zip. I might be able to have it altered to make that last half inch of zipper, but I also need to lose 10 pounds to make it really work.

Our next contender is the one my husband is STILL laughing at me for not remembering buying 2 months ago. I think of this as my Bond Girl dress because it’s slinky but covered. The picture shows it as blue, but it’s really more of a teal/aqua color. The seaming at the bust is, um, dramatic and it’s got a little faux peplum on it to help camouflage certain parts! Bonus! Plus–sleeves. I love sleeves. Sleeves make me so very, very happy. I have never worn this dress in public before.

Our next contender is another oldie but goodie. I wore this dress in 2003 to dinner on Coronado island in San Diego. The bust and sleeves are black mesh, with a barely-there black lace liner at the bust. The rest is black and slinky. It’s incredibly covered and incredibly revealing at the same time–and I barely got it zipped (I was a different weight, shall we say, when I wore it 10 yrs ago). It’s also got a seam that’s busting on me, so I’d have to have it fixed. And I may not be able to lean over in mixed company. It’s a VERY deep-cut bust line.

Then we come to a classic, Mad-Men-esque cocktail dress that I have recently actually worn in public! Yes! I wore this on a thank-God-the-Kid’s-at-my-folks’-house-for-the-night fancy date just last fall! It’s a black satin dress with faux jewels sewn on the neckline. It’s a tad loose on the top and a tad tight on the bottom, but it’s otherwise a pretty forgiving dress. Darts at the waist are helpful in accommodating my bod.

 Now we come to the dress that I wore to RWA in 2009. I’m so proud of this dress for a couple of reasons–my sister helped me pick it out and then, a year later, we saw a What Not To Wear episode where a similarly proportioned woman wore this dress as part of her big reveal. Lo! This dress is Stacy and Clinton Approved! YES! Also, I took second place at the Chicago-North Fire and Ice contest while wearing this dress, so ya! I haven’t worn it since 2010, though. I thought I would have to lose that elusive 10 pounds to get into it, but it had more give than I remembered, so it’s still wearable. Plus, it’s not black! Boom! Pop of color!

Now we’re to another one of my successes–my bridesmaid’s dress from my sister’s wedding 2 years ago. I fought hard for a dress style and color I felt looked good on me and could be re-worn without being obviously a bridesmaid dress (NO PINK). The shirring of the fabric is very concealing and the one shoulder is dramatic. I did have it shortened, so this is a extra-fancy cocktail dress, I think.

Finally, one of my lucky finds–the green dress with sleeves. SLEEVES! YAH! And it’s emerald green! It was on sale. I’ve worn it a couple of times, including to Spring Fling 2010. I was going to wear it when I was supposed to meet Val Kilmer last year, but darn him for canceling on me. So we’ve got wonderful sleeves that are full coverage without being tight, a drape neck and–yes–even pockets! I’ve never used them because they would make me lumpy–it is a sheath skirt–but they’re there.

So there you have it! I have other, more casual dresses that go better with my cowboy boots and hat, but this is my fancy selection. WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO RT!? Please, tell me. Seriously.


  1. Rebe says:

    Ok, I have 2 favorites. I like the floral What Not To Wear dress a LOT. I also like the first black dress – I love the neckline, but you're right that it's a bit conservative. I would suggest getting it hemmed so it hits at just above the knees so you can show off your legs.

  2. Rebe says:

    Ok, just realized the 1st does hit above the knees. Maybe it needs to be an inch or 2 shorter… Hmmm….I'll have to think about this.

  3. Nancy Holland says:

    I'd go with the flowers or the green one with the dolman sleeves (and pockets!). That way you'll either know you look great or be comfy — both are a plus.

  4. The Original Drama Mama says:

    Chiming in to say the floral dress wins – it's Stacy & Clinton approved. 'Nuff said 😉 Plus I think it's nice and spring-y – perfect for RT. If you don't like the fact it leaves your arms nekkid, get a cute little jacket or a pashmina in blue or purple. Make those colors pop!

    And I totally get the loose on top, tight on bottom issue – I am 2 completely different (not even close) sizes depending on if you are going waist up or waist down.

  5. Mary D. says:

    I like the black dress with the jewels best among the black dresses. Although, the first one is good too. I also like the floral Stacy & Clinton dress. I like the one-shoulder dress for a fancier dress occasion.

  6. Lynne Connolly says:

    You'll need the full length for the ball on the Thursday – find a nice wrap and bling it up.
    The cocktail dress is nice, too. And the floral one – that has to come.
    For the others, they need accessories. Shrugs, wraps, jackets, and jewelry! Don't forget the jewelry! Are you doing disco on the Wednesday night? Because I don't see any flares or boob tubes!

  7. Andrea Laurence AKA Smarty Pants says:

    So, what, exactly, have you been complaining about. This looks like a perfect RT wardrobe. You don't need the long one that doesn't zip, I don't think, but bring all the others.

    But, and I say this with love, if I see you wearing any of these with cowboy boots, I will march you back to your room. Jeans, yes. Cocktail dresses… no!

  8. Sarah M. Anderson says:

    I love you guys, but you're kind of all over the map. Yes, I'm planning on accessorizing, but everyone's all torn about the floor-length dress! I guess I'm going to have to buy more supportive undergarments if i'm going to pull all this fanciness off!

  9. Diana G. says:

    My pick is the floral dress that your Sis helped you pick out. Looks fantastic on you!!! I'm with you on the sleeveless comment;I'm the same way. I agree with Lynne's comment; a shrub, jacket or wrap would complete the look along with that winning smile of yours!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Am I supposed to comment on here or email? Eh, I will share my thoughts with the world.
    I will punch you in the face if you wear cowboys boots with any of these. For cocktail partays you need to be sleek, approachable and hip.
    I will refer to them by number.
    No. 3 is my favorite. It is the most current, and with a colored tight…awesome.
    No. 2 and 5 are a no.
    No 1 is nice.
    No. 7…well I was there. Its a classic go-to.
    Pack No 3, 4, 6 7 & 8. As far as accessories, this is in late Spring, so a nice gray or colored tight might jazz them up with a high heel. Our definitions of high heels are VASTLY different, so go with your version. If there is a ball (really?! a ball?!) my bridesmaid dress will be fine with jewels. I cannot imagine a bunch of grown women in prom gowns. It makes me sad…So rock the fancy cocktail dress.
    I hope this makes sense.

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