Living in Sin: The Party Dress

by Rachel on December 3, 2011

Because it’s been quite a busy month, I didn’t have much time to think about what I’d wear to Eric’s office Christmas party this year. I figured I’d just wear the light green J. Crew dress I bought over the summer, as I do love Christmas pastels. But then…then sequins entered the picture.

Last week, on Black Friday, I asked Eric’s mom and aunt if they wanted to go out to lunch with us. I really just wanted to get out of the house and have a drink, so we went out to lunch and had margaritas. His mom and aunt are really fun and we had a great time chatting over lunch/drinks. After the meal, we decided to go to Target for more chocolate to make another batch of spiked hot chocolate, but on the way they suggested we go to their favorite boutique nearby, Aspen Boutique. Eric started to look a little pained, and not from the margaritas.

And then everything happened so fast.

We walked in to Aspen Boutique, a well-lit, cozy store filled with tons of clothes and accessories, and they told one of the salesgirls to just fill a room with things that would look good on me. Apparently we were going to play dress-up. They were really pumped and the salesgirl was looking at me with that gleam in her eye that someone gets before they totally take advantage of you; I realized this could end badly, and I was looking to Eric to save me, but he was giving me his, “You brought this upon yourself” face. Then he texted his uncle to come meet him at a bar nearby and minutes later, he left. I was at their mercy.

I browsed with them for a little while, and at first glance, nothing really jumped out at me as being my style. Everything was really nice, but I just couldn’t see myself wearing it. So I just offered feedback on everyone else’s picks. Then we headed to the fitting room so they could try on. But once we got there, the salesgirl with the gleam in her eye was waiting. She pointed me to a fitting room that was filled with no less than a dozen items: dresses, tops, and fur vests. I was rather surprised that she had found all this stuff for me, as I didn’t see any of it when I was shopping. Since I rarely buy clothes, I had no intention of buying anything, but I could still play dress up.

The first thing I tried on was a short, black, long-sleeved sequin dress. When I came out of the fitting room, quite a crowd of shoppers and employees was standing around chatting and they all went crazy over the dress. I had to admit, it was kind of fabulous, even with the brown riding boots I was wearing that day. It was just a party dress.

Everyone loved it and I loved it too, but really, I was just playing for fun, so I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I tried on two more dresses, including a trendy/oddly conservative black leather dress and an indigo-colored dress with gold beaded trim that was perfect for…pretty much every occasion. Then I started trying on the tops. It was the stuff movie montages are made of. Since I don’t buy a lot of clothes, I really don’t shop much or try on a lot of clothes, and as I went through all the tops, I totally had this moment of, “Oh…so this is why women like clothes shopping.”

But the boutique was pricey and if I was going to buy myself something new, it wouldn’t be something impractical like a sequin dress. Even if it did make me feel skinny, which, frankly, is the feature that most items I own that cost more than $50 have in common.

As I was trying on the last couple vests, the sales girl and Eric’s mom and aunt started going through my dressing room and discussing which dresses looked best on me. Before I knew what was happening, the sequin dress was whisked away. And before I could really protest (and believe me, I tried) they were dashing off to the register with the indigo dress too. By the time I got dressed, Eric’s mom was waiting for me at the counter and the beaming salesgirl was handing me a garment bag with two hangers coming out of the top.

I was speechless over the gifts. I mean, I was excited, but just…what just happened?!

Eric’s mom dismissed my gushing thanks with a wave of her hand, saying it was even more fun for them. Then we walked to the bar where Eric had been having a drink with his uncle and now his aunt. The men left to go watch football. (I thought to myself, What is it about shopping that is so repellent to them?! OK, I get that they don’t like watching it but they can’t even be excited forus?! They can’t even bear to listen to the recap?! Then I realized that’s exactly how I feel about football, so…ya know.)

So they fled and Eric’s aunt ordered us a bottle of champagne to celebrate…um, shopping! (I know, right?!)

So suddenly I had a Christmas party dress!

Eric’s outfit for the party took a bit more work, especially after word got around that the guests had been underdressed in the past few years and were expected to really go formal this year. I has been worried my dress would be too much and had planned to tone it down with flats and maybe even a blazer, but that was out. So Thursday night, Eric and I hit the mall for some fancy clothes and accessories.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like shopping with guys or “dressing them.” I don’t know what the rules are when it comes to men’s fashion; I just know what I like. I tend to like things that remind me of my dad (for myself and guys) and as I’m writing, I’m having a “getting it” moment on why everything I like is deemed “too gay,” “really hipster,” or “maybe if I was black” by the two straight men I’ve ever shopped with.

Despite all this, I managed to steer Eric in a direction he wouldn’t have gone without me. I kept explaining that it wasn’t enough to wear a suit and tie; the key for holiday parties is to look festive. You can’t wear the same old blue and yellow tie and suit, especially when your girlfriend is wearing sequins, unless, of course, you want your coworkers to start whispering that you hired an escort.

So I suggested a bow tie. I thought he could pull it off without looking like he was wearing a costume and without looking like a hipster (which, despite the beard and glasses, he is not; it’s OK that you thought that though — during our first conversation, I flat-out said, “So are you a hipster?” because I assumed the same thing). Banana Republic had both the shirt with the faint russet plaid and the red and black plaid bow tie. Despite some uncertainty on his part, he trusted the salesgirl and me when we insisted that it was festive and that he looked good and he went for it.

And then he got compliments from every coworker he talked to during the party on it. His boss’s wife didn’t even ask; she just went ahead and directly complimented me on it. I have her this look of, “Yes! I sure did pick it out! Because I totally know how men should dress and I dress Eric all the time!” when in reality, I could have just as easily steered him in a direction that had his boss’s wife thinking I was just his hag.

The party this year was held at a country club in Cypress and it was pretty fancy; I’m glad I did sequins and heels and smoky eye make-up to go with the dress. It was really fun too, despite someone’s idea that karaoke should be the entertainment. Aside from that painful 90 minutes, which left me pretty sure I was unwittingly on “The Office,” we had a ton of fun.

And then there was what can only be described as a Christmas miracle: Eric and I both decided to join in the dance party.

You may not know this, but I don’t dance. OK, I take that back; I don’t dance unless I’m so drunk that I have absolutely no business dancing. If I’m dancing, you, as my friend, have a responsibility to take me home. Eric, for whatever reason, doesn’t dance either. We really appreciate this quality in each other; there’s no pressure at weddings!

But last night…the music was pretty good…and there was no need to look sexy (the main reason I avoid dancing, because I look so unsexy)…and we hadn’t had too much to drink. Everyone who was left (not many people after the karaoke) was tearing it up and it looked so fun. And we felt so festive in our party clothes. If we didn’t dance now, I doubted we ever would, and one day we’d be old and people would just think we were super religious or something.

So after nearly 18 months of dating, we danced together. Then Eric said, “This is the first time we’ve ever danced together!” and I got super self-conscious and shy and immediately wanted stop. Overall, our first time dancing together was more slow-going and awkward and involved more alcohol and less eye contact than the first time we had sex. On the other hand, I’m more comfortable looking back at pictures of how we looked last night than I’d be looking back at pictures of that, so…it balances it out.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lara December 3, 2011 at 6:52 pm

The dress is FABULOUS. It is definitely unique and eye-catching, and you wear it so well! Oh, and I am the exact same way about dancing. If I’m dancing, we’re all in trouble.


2 Kali Ravel December 3, 2011 at 7:03 pm

My boyfriend and I dance. Last wedding, he picked me up, and spun me; we cleared the floor!



3 Kavi December 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

LOVE the dress! You guys look amazing!


4 Shannon December 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm

That dress is amazing! You have a killer figure girl!


5 Bria @ WestofPersia December 3, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Love your Modern Cinderella moment in the boutique. What a great story. You guys look fabulously festive.


6 Robyn (GirlonRaw) December 4, 2011 at 4:08 am

Darling, you look exquisite in that dress. I think I need to get myself a version to look half as good as you do.


7 Jess-The SemiAbnormal Gal December 4, 2011 at 8:51 am

Sounds like you have some pretty amazing “almost-in-laws!” Does Eric have a brother? haha.

PS. Love the bowtie-you did good!


8 Emily December 4, 2011 at 9:05 am

that’s so funny, I’m the SAME way about dancing and no one seems to get it. You’re feeling/looking so tremendously unsexy is dead on though! Y’all look great and I’m glad you had fun! Eric’s family sounds like a hoooot


9 Alexandra December 4, 2011 at 9:48 am

Absolutely LOVE the dress! My favorite part is that it’s short, but with long sleeves. Also, that was so nice of Eric’s mom and aunt to buy the 2 dresses for you! Unexpected gifts are the best. :)


10 Rachel December 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Thanks!! That was definitely my favorite part too!


11 Nicole @ Giraffelegs December 4, 2011 at 10:44 am

That is one hot dress, and Eric looks hot.
kudos girl.


12 Anne Weber-Falk December 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

Your writing is a kick. Thanks for making me smile.


13 Megan C. December 5, 2011 at 10:50 am

The dress is great!! I love the picture of you two is stunning!!


14 Gracie December 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

Can I just say how hot the two of you look? dress…bow tie…perfection.


15 MelissaNibbles December 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

That was very kind of them to hook you up with the dresses. Glad you had such a fun time at the party!


16 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie December 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Love your dress and love love love the bow tie! Such a great call!


17 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat December 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm

That is an awesome dress. And a sweet story. :)


18 Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel December 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Honestly, if anything is a Christmas party dress, it is THAT dress. Long sleeves & sparkles. Uhm, hello..Christmas party. Nice.


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