As February flies by and March draws closer, I’ve got one big thing on my mind: SXSW.
My company is hosting an official party and the execution of said party has become my job. Party planning is exciting and intimidating, but with just 19 days to go, I’m mostly left concerned with what I’m going to wear.
I mean…I have a good sense of my own style, but dressing for the Austin crowd was a whole new thing. I turned to the girls on our marketing team in Austin for advice and they said that even though it’s a laid-back happy hour at a bar and grill, they’d still be wearing skirts or dresses. OK — so that’s a start.
But what dress?
My first thought was, “This is when you buy an Anthropologie dress.” Now, for the record, despite every white woman’s deep love for Anthropologie, I’ve never even tried anything on there. I’ve been afraid to dip a toe in that pool because I know I could want to dive right in and never shop anywhere else. And, really, I’ve not yet had a compelling reason to. But since this is a big-girl job and I’m hosting a big-girl party, I thought it might be the place to go in this situation.
On the other hand, after an initial look around their website, I was feeling less than enthused. The problem with stores like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters is that they do the whole “granny chic” thing very well…but I don’t do it well. It’s not my style. It doesn’t go with my hair. And it’s usually just not…sexy enough. The dresses often feature mistaken-pregnancy-inducing empire waists instead of defined waists which is necessary for someone who actually has one (along with boobs and an ass) and they are always a bit too long for my short frame. I mean, it’s not like I want to wear some Hervé Léger mini-dress and a Snooki pouf to the party, but I do need something body-conscious.
Disappointed in the just-too-shabby chic, I gave up on Anthropologie and started looking through tons of other great sites and magazines, trying to find something to inspire me. I didn’t even know what I was looking for yet. Something casual but polished, something versatile, and something me.
Apparently that was not a good enough description because I was striking out across the board. So I ended up back on the Anthropologie website this week and, turns out, they had a bunch of new items. And suddenly, they had what I was looking for. I headed directly to the store on my lunch break on a mission to try on three items I’d found online.
The good news? Everything was great!
The bad news? Everything was great. I’m now struggling to make a decision and while I’m mostly sure, I wanted to get your thoughts. There are many pros and cons for each, and I’ve been considering it from every angle.
First up: the Twisted Stripe Dress.
When I saw this dress online, it made me reconsider Anthropologie. It’s just my style. It’s sexy but polished, youthful, modern, perfect for day-to-night, it has a waist and a short hemline…there are so many good things about it! When I came out of the dressing room, the three salesgirls loved it. And I did too, but the more I thought about it, the more there was to consider.
Pro: It’s the most versatile of the dresses I tried on. The light material feels very casual, so I know I could wear it with flat sandals just as easily as heels and add a jacket or a blazer for a different look. I could see myself wearing it a lot.
Con: It needs to be tailored, but I’m not sure how easily it can be. It looked good — and I think it looks a little better in the photo than it does in person, honestly — but for that price, it needs to look perfect. I have a really narrow back, so dresses are often to big and gap in the back and I have to have my mom alter them for me to make them lay flat against my back. But because of how this is cut in the back, I’m not sure it’s possible.
Con: The $298 price tag. That’s lot more than I wanted to spend. I’d do it if I were sure, but I’m just not sure. If I’m spending that much on a dress, I need to want to be buried in it. And I don’t know that it looks that expensive — it’s cute, but I feel like it could just as easily be from Banana Republic.
Pro: Despite not being perfect, it’s still great.
Next up: the Color Block Dress.
This honestly looked unspecial on the hanger, running the risk of being dowdy and frumpy, but when I came out of the dressing room, everyone was genuinely surprised by how much they liked it. As in, we all kind of agreed we actually liked it more than the striped dress. Of my friends I’ve shown it to so far, they have liked this dress the least, but I think it just looks better in person.
Pro: Despite its 1950s silhouette, there is something very modern about when it’s on. The colors (and I love that pop of blue!) and the fabric made it feel both casual and sophisticated, and the knee length and the belted waist made it look really fun. I felt like it was what Betty Draper would wear to Austin.
Con: It’s not super versatile. I could see myself wearing this on several occasions, but I can’t see myself wearing it with flat sandals. It would definitely require wedges, and therefore a more dressy situation. And it’s more of a dressy day dress than an evening dress, although, let’s be honest — how often do I need an evening dress?
Con: So far, my friends have liked this one the least, but I no one has
Pro: The price! At $158, it was the least expensive of everything I tried on and yet I feel like it comes across as more polished than the stripe dress.
And finally, the Americana Skirt.
This skirt was not easy to find! (Actually, nothing was easy to find in that store and I’m glad I knew what I was looking for because just going in and browsing would have been disastrous.) They eventually found one, which someone had returned, and it was miraculously in my size! (Which has decreased, by the way, making shopping just that tiny bit more fun!) When I came out of the dressing room, we all knew we had another really good one to consider. One of the salesgirls even said, “This seems like the perfect compromise between the first and the second.”
Pro: The best thing about this skirt is the details — check out it on the Anthropologie website and zoom in, because that really is what makes it so special.
Pro: Actually, I take that back. The best thing about this skirt is that the cut is so flattering and it made me look skinnier than the two dresses. And really, isn’t that what every woman wants in an outfit? It also happened to do something amazing for my backside. I feel like this is what Joan Holloway would wear to Austin.
Con: I’d have to find a shirt to wear with it. This isn’t a huge deal, but would require more time and effort, and would take up the total price from $188 to probably $240. The thing that concerns me most is finding the right shirt to wear with it. I tried some on at Anthro and, after thinking about it further, I’m just not 100 percent sure at this point what type of shirt (tee or thin sweater?), what color (white looked good, but cream looked better), or what neckline I’d want to wear with it. So while I love it, buying it would still leave me with some work to do.
Pro: The colors! Red, white, and blue? So America! So Texas!!
All right, so those are my options. I know everyone will want to vote for #1, despite the cons, but it’s mostly between #2 and #3 for me right now. And I’d like to hear your thoughts!
On a related note, I think I have enough of you imaginary friends in Austin that it seems like a good idea to plan for a meetup while I’m in town! It will most likely be in the early afternoon on Sunday, March 13, and once I get a better idea of how many people are interested in coming, then I can figure out the where. And maybe I can plan it so that I need to get the dress and the skirt for my two days in Austin? Maybe?!
OK probably not. Probably going to be going to Forever 21 for any further additions to my closet.
Anyway, if you’re interested in meeting up, e-mail me at rachel [at] rachelwilkerson [dot] com so I can keep you in the loop!