A Dress Dilemma

Jessie: In NH where there is a foot of snow still on the ground. 

calligraphy-678690_1280Next month all the Wickeds, along with hundreds of mystery readers and writers will descend on Bethesda, MD for the Malice Domestic Conference. One of the highlights of the conference every year is the banquet where the Agatha Award winners are announced. This year, for the first time, one of my books has been nominated. The first thing I did when I received the call informing me that Whispers Beyond the Veil had been nominated was to jump up and down and to scream like a game show contestant. Once I had calmed down enough to remember to breathe, I realised I would need to think about what to wear.

Almost every time I attend a banquet I wear the same thing. I have a serviceable, unwrinklable black dress which I wear with a chiffon bolero jacket and whichever jewelry strikes my fancy. And red lipstick. I always wear red lipstick. But I found myself wondering if I ought to shop for something new in honor of the occasion. I decided I really should make an extra effort so I started looking around. Distressingly, nothing whatsoever has caught my fancy.

Everything is either too short, too long, too flouncy, too lacy or worst of all, sleeveless. Why are almost all cocktail dresses sleeveless? I have not noticed such an abundance of strikingly beautiful upper arms to warrant the near extinction of sleeves. Could sleeves make such a difference in profit margins? How much time and extra fabric do they really require?  I can only conclude there some sort of conspiracy between dressmakers and the diet industry.

It makes me wish, just for a moment to find myself back in the Victorian era, when Whispers Beyond the Veil is set. I would likely have had a dressmaker to assist me or even have had sufficient skills of my own to make a gown  myself. Then I remind myself how lucky I am to be alive in a time when I can wear something other than a floor length dress.  Which makes me ask myself if I am overthinking it all. Do I really need something new? Does anyone ever remember what anyone else wears? Especially if what one keeps wearing is a simple black dress?

So, dear readers, what do you advise? Stick with what I own already? Keep looking? And if you advise continuing to shop, do you have a suggestion for a store that sells dresses with sleeves?

51 Thoughts

  1. I know the problem, Jessie! I found a solution – it has sleeves, but they are lace-like (I say -like because the lace is geometrical, not swirly and fussy). So check out Nordstrom Rack. Just saying. Along the lines of longing for a long dress (or not), of course the men have it easy in a way – suit, shirt, tie. Should we go that route? Nah!

  2. Most people have a LBD for the reason that it can be worn again and again! Maybe a new jacket or shoes/purse to liven it up?

  3. Stick with what makes you feel comfortable so you can enjoy the conference and not be distracted by anxiety over what you’re wearing. You can buy a sleeveless dress, just get a shrug to cover your arms. I have many of them in an array of colors.
    Congratulations on your nomination!!

  4. You can’t go wrong with black, right? You can always dress it up in any number of ways. I bought a cap-sleeve black lace dress for RWA a year or two ago and it’s going to see a lot of wear. But I also tell myself, if people actually remember what you wore a year or two earlier, you need to redirect their attention, like to your books.

  5. I have a beaded jacket that I wear over everything…if the dress is perfect, try for a different jacket for a different look. I wear nothing but black, but change out the top and / or jewelry when I need a fresh look. Congratulations on the nominations and best wishes for the win! Marilyn (aka “cj”)

  6. I have the same proble, Jessie, minus the nomination, of course. I’ve been looking for a sparkly jacket to put over a black cowl neckline. Or, maybe a shrug would also work.

  7. Keep looking, but go with what makes you feel great in the end; it shows. Your LBD can always use a new partner in another jacket or an overblouse. Try lace or maybe something in an entirely different color…it doesn’t have to be red.
    I hate the sleeveless dresses! I agree. It is hard to find anything that is good for a woman with a few years on her! Sleeves to the elbow or three-quarter length would be perfect, right?
    Once I had a terrible time trying to coordinate a dress for a wedding once and all I could get was a dress I hated with a large over-jacket which wasn’t bad. It was hardly what I was looking for, though.

    1. Weddigns are the most difficult, aren’t they since there is coordination to be done! Fortunately, I needn’t match anything but my own taste on this occasion!

  8. Over the weekend I was looking on line for shirts and dresses with elbow length sleeves. I see them on news anchors but they probably have a bigger shopping budget than I do. You should have bought one of those $2000 beaded dresses that was on sale for $99.00 at the store we went to in Maine last summer! LOL! You will look gorgeous no matter what!

  9. Shopping and packing for Malice always stresses me out. That last weekend in April can be really warm or chilly or anything in between, so it’s hard to know much in advance what to bring.

  10. Yes, adding sleeves IS expensive, and it is not JUST the extra fabric but the persnicketiness of setting the sleeves. Have you considered using a colorful scarf as a belt with the LBD?

  11. I doubt most people remember what anyone else wears. And if they are that concerned about it, that is THEIR problem. You don’t need people like that around you. Why waste money for something you don’t need just to please other people. Be comfortable. Be yourself. Be happy and good luck, hon. Your book certainly deserves to win!

  12. I had a black wool dress – very ’80’s – with giant jewels all over the front. I loved that dress and wore it all the time because it made me happy and I felt pretty in it, and my confidence showed. I hope you find something that you love, either by accessorizing your LBD or finding that elusive dress with sleeves. Congrats on you nomination!

  13. Congratulations on your nomination. I agree with wear what is comfortable and you feel looks great on you. Maybe change up your LBD with new accessories or a shrug. Enjoy the event!

  14. As one of my favorite movie quotes says, “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize!” That’s my mantra for dressing for occasions – add a scarf, broach, decorative hairpin, and a nice jacket, and I’m dressed. Very helpful since I hate to shop, except at thrift and vintage shops. (Identify the movie and the character.)

  15. First of all, congratulations! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!
    Second, I am so with you on all those sleeveless dresses. When did that happen? When did everything get sleeveless? My usual go-to shops – after I wait for sales – for dresses are Dillards, Talbots, and Nordstrom (Nordstrom does free shipping and returns). But if you have a dress you are comfortable in, just jazz it up with some new jewelry then you can be comfortable and enjoy the whole experience.
    BTW, I bough my hubby the baking book you recommended and we’ve been enjoying it tremendously.
    Looking forward to seeing you at Malice!

  16. Another sleeveless dress hater here. Macy’s usually has a good selection of dresses. My go-to place though is ModCloth (online). I bought a 1940s style dress a couple of years ago that I love. Another online site is eShakti. I haven’t ordered from them, but they make everything to order–if you want sleeves, they’ll add sleeves. From what I’ve seen, they are reasonably priced.

  17. I’m afraid I’m not help whatsoever. Being a guy, I don’t keep up with men’s fashions, much less women’s fashions. Best of luck to you, and I can’t wait to see what you find.

  18. Go for comfort and confidence with the black. Buy a couple of very light jackets or sweaters. A signature hat or scarf would be great.

  19. Congratulations on the nomination!! And thanks for this post (and to the commenters)–so glad to know that other people stress over Malicewear. < Now I want to make a clothing line and name it that.

    Understand completely. Every March, I start to feel twitchy about what to pack. Spent a few hours this week looking for something new for the banquet–don't know what exactly–and am empty-handed still. Love the idea of investing in new accessories, though. Whatever you decide to wear, have fun celebrating!

  20. Wait! I did NOT mean I am glad that other people stress. I don’t want anyone to stress! 🙂

    I meant: if we are all stressing, at least we have each other. Or something like that.

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