Friday, 12 November 2010

Spring Wedding Outfit

Choosing outfits to wear to weddings can be such a minefield.  The rules change for every country, across cultures, between climates and whether the tone of the wedding is formal or informal.  It can also be expensive!  After reading a post by Courtney on her blog Those Graces, where she showed how quickly the budget can be blown in accessorising an outfit for a wedding, I resolved not to fall into the same trap in the run up to my brother's wedding.  I mean a flight to Australia is budget unfriendly in itself!

Such lofty notions of self restraint are all the more difficult to live up to when you come from a family in which the women love to shop for clothes and for whom there is nothing like a family wedding to provide the perfect excuse to acquire a new outfit.  My mother was talking about and shopping for her outfit at least ten months in advance!  I even brought five jacket options with me for her and she ended up with a choice of two outfits for the day.  Prior to leaving England my sister sent me strict instructions via my father to keep the Saturday after I arrived free to go shopping with her for a new dress, upping the ante immediately from her previous convictions that she would be shopping her own wardrobe for the event.  All this before I have even touched down on Australian soil!

The tendency for the womenfolk of my family to launch into shopping overdrive at the mere whiff of a wedding invitation may also have something to do with the sheer number of weddings they have to attend and that they would rather die than be seen wearing the same outfit again to a different wedding in front of the same crowd!

The problem I sometimes find with shopping from my wardrobe is that I can end up with quite an eclectic mix of items thrown together which can either be startlingly original or haphazardly ill thought out.  The beauty of going out to buy a new outfit from scratch is that you can find a head to toe look which is the result of a focused effort, although perhaps at the risk of looking a bit too contrived.

So how did I fare on the wardrobe versus new purchases?  I'm proud to say I managed to wear a dress that I haven't worn before! This nude pink strapless ruched number from the Kate Moss for Topshop range has been languishing unworn in my wardrobe for a couple of years.  I've had the strappy gold Carvela sandals for about seven years and they have seen me through a good few summer weddings.  The gold embellished cuff, the earrings, the hair clips and fake snakeskin clutch are also all wardrobe finds.

However I did also buy a couple of things.  I decided a simple strapless dress needed a bit of bling and took advantage of a fifteen percent off voucher to buy this statement necklace from Banana Republic with gold, silver and glass beads.

Spring evenings in Australia can be quite cool and for an outdoor wedding and reception it's essential that you have something to cover up with.  I found myself in a bit of a pickle selecting a summer weight jacket from my wardrobe to go with this dress.  Then just before leaving for Oz this beaded and fringed devoré cape by Kite and Butterfly went on sale at My-Wardrobe.  I'd been eyeing it for a while, seduced by the twin peacocks on the back and couldn't resist when it got reduced by fifty percent.  It arrived the day before I left.  I threw it on over the dress as an experiment and found the tones of pink in the flowers picked out the dress colour so into the suitcase it went.

The acutely observant may also notice I am wearing what has been recently termed by the fashion cognoscenti as "American tan tights", albeit toe-less ones made for wearing with sandals.  These above all else, dear reader, propelled me into the giddy heights of the fashion forward, for tan tights have apparently been rescued from their previous status as a fashion faux pas and declared a new fashion trend for Autumn 2010.  And since I effectively travelled back in fashion time to attend a wedding in Spring 2010 my fashion forwardness was amplified even further!

But really, who is responsible for making these ludicrous announcements?  There are clearly people on Planet Fashion with perfect pins and a heated taxi on call.  Lucky them who can go bare legged, free from the worry of feeling cold when night falls or about the appearance of scars and varicose or spider veins, sneering at the rest of us who need a bit of nylon coverage in our chosen shades of faux pas tan when we don't feel like wearing opaque tights.  Then suddenly one with an internship at Grazia notices Carla Bruni-Sarkozy wears flesh tone hosiery probably for all those reasons that the rest of us were already aware and viola! A trend is born.

Now my first experience with tan tights was when I was about six and had to wear a pair playing the part of an onion in an end of year school show sing-a-long about a stew.  I recall they were in a vile shade that was much browner than I was and very effective, along with an onion shaped sandwich board worn over my shoulders, at making me look both onion-like and stewed.  Working the look of ingredient in vegetable goulash aside, I admit that the wrong tone can seriously detract from your look.

I have, over the years since this defining incident, managed to reconcile myself to the more practical virtues of flesh tone tights.  If they work with your skin colour they are great at hiding flaws on your legs if you want the bare legged look without the angst.  They also keep them warm enough on a cool Spring evening so you can wear a dress in a colour that suits bare legs rather than black tights.  Besides black is a no-no at some weddings and I'm trying to get away from wearing so much black these days!  The tricky bit though is to get tights that match my skin colour and it took three purchases of local Aussie hosiery brands until I found one I was happy with.  Even so my naked toes aren't quite the same colour as the rest of my legs!

There were also grooming costs.  Whilst Mum and lil' Sis booked to have their make-up professionally done I saved money by doing my own.  I did however pay for a manicure and pedicure as I can never sit still enough to do my own nails.  My total bill excluding flight was two hundred and twenty pounds Stirling prior to arrival and then another one hundred Australian dollars.  So much for good intentions!


  1. The jacket is gooorgeous. I think that new purchase was entirely justified.

  2. Oh.My.Goodness! You look totally adn utterly glorious. That's the kind of outfit I'd wear to a wedding, bohemian and ecclectic and not too matchy-matchy. That jacket is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, definately worth the investment.
    Your tights tale had me it stitches. There was an article in the Guardian Weekend about natural tight the other day. So difficult to get right but you've definately pulled it off.

  3. I totally feel you on the craziness of shopping for an wedding outfit! As much as you want to be frugal, it sometimes doesn't happen that way, especially if its close family! But you did an awesome job with that outfit! And I'm totally drooling over that necklace! It's FAB!!!


  4. LOL! I'm glad I could save you some hard earned money. Accessorizing is definitely not cheaper!

  5. The jacket...I think you have all the women drooling over it. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (sigh- suspiro largo e intenso...).
    The necklace... suspiro, and the beautiful dress.
    This is the best outfit ever. Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
    In Spain, as you well know, nobody wear the same outfit to another wedding.
    Gracias por tu comentario en Advaced Style, fue una sorpresa y un honor, la verdad...
    ¿Cuándo vuelves a la lluviosa Inglaterra???.
    Disfruta de cada día, de tu familia del sol y de la VIDA.
    Te abrazo muy fuerte.

  6. GAH!!! The wrap/jacket is EXQUISITE! And the necklace. Lord, have you got a stunning wardrobe. Gorge.

    ♥ V
    twitter: @gritandglamour

  7. I can't get over what perfect and pretty mix this is. Ruffles and romance plus deep richness...texture, sparkle, gleam, and a rainbow of color set off by warm neutrals...*happy sigh*

    The US has gone through a several years of anti-pantyhose sentiment among stylish persons. Bare legs, especially if wearing any shoe with an open toe or back. I'm surprised the trend has gone on for as long as it has, because few women have perfectly textured legs as you note, and many of us live in very cold places! I must have at least some sheer pantyhose for any event to which I'll be wearing a skirt. I just try to get them as skin-toned as possible so I don't look frumpy. And I have been known to *gasp* wear closed stockings with nice open-toed or open-heeled shoes.

    I do love the black, white, or colored opaque tights trend with open shoes, to make them (and short skirts) wearable for longer portions of the year. "American tan" tights, though...I don't know. Your tights look great -- more like sheer pantyhose -- but I think the effect on someone else could look too much like an older lady wearing heavy support pantyhose in "Suntan". I guess my rule of thumb is: pantyhose, sheer and flesh toned. Tights, opaque and a striking contrast to real legs so they're more like leggings.

    Now I'm wondering if "tights" is used in a slightly different way over the pond. Is it ever used to mean what we call nylons/pantyhose?

    What pressure to dress well and interestingly for weddings! I enjoyed the stories, though. I think I would treat myself to a fine new dress if, say, my sister got married, but it's really not that (happily) complicated and monitored a thing in my extended family or among my friends. Sometimes I wish it were...I wish to be invited to an occasion for which I really needed something new and special because my silk blouses, slacks, and skirts arent enough.

  8. The jacket is absolutely lovely. I was surprised to learn that you were wearing flesh-colored toe-less stockings. I had to go back and scrutinize the photo closely to be sure. I am one of those throwbacks who basically never quit wearing them. I think it is because I am old enough to recall the days of garter belts, etc. I knew the trend had moved to tights, but I often couldn't discern the true advantage of them to our "lady parts."

  9. That dress deserves to be worn, the detail on it is pretty impressive. Fabulous outfit!

  10. I adore this outfit. V, you definitely have style! (BTW, I have your site on my blogroll!)

  11. Wow pretty outfit!! I adore the peacock feathers down the sleeves they are so beautiful! You look great and will no doubt stand out at the wedding!

    Daisy Dayz Home
    Cross-Jones-Photography Home

  12. @Penny Dreadful - oh thank you! Any assuaging of my conscience is deeply appreciated!

    @Vintage Vixen - thanks! Ah yes I've come a long way from my stage debut as a root vegetable. I do like going the eclectic route of dressing especially in sunny warm climes. Funnily enough it was observing how English women happily mix it up getting dressed that taught me the virtue of avoiding the pitfalls of matchy matchy dressing. I think it's one of the things they do particularly well. I'm going to check out the Guardian tights story.

    @fiercebeautyandfashion - oh I love this necklace! I don't need more baubles and the wedding was totally my excuse to indulge.

    @Courtney - oh I can't imagine how bad the bill would have been if I had bought everything new. I almost bought a new clutch but kept you in mind and remained disciplined to use the one I had!

    @sacramento - I love how Andalucian women dress for weddings, so colourful and like they were hitting the red carpet themselves. It's almost like the rule is do everything you can to outdo the bride!!
    Ya estoy en inglaterra tia! Esta horrible el tiempo! Tormentosa, mucha lluvia y viento y un frio insupportable!
    besos divina xx

  13. @Grit and Glamour - thanks V! I'd love to get this dressed up every day - someone else get married and invite me please!

    @Cloud of Secrets - "tights" = nylon pantyhose over here. Oh I never even knew that they were considered a style no-no until they were announced as a trend and like you have relied on them for years for event dressing. No faster way to kill a party by whining about how cold you are in your fabulous little party dress. And I've done the same thing wearing ones with toes with open toed shoes too. Though I have been impressed with the toe-less ones that they have now for sandals. I love the opaque tights with open toed shoe look - it can look very cute and as you say extend the seasonal life of wardrobe items.

    @Terri - Well that makes me a throwback too as I've always worn them too. Actually I think the whole garter and stocking thing is far more romantic and sexy. I have a girlfriend who swears by them. I guess it is just a little more time consuming than pulling up a pair of pantyhose.

    @Pret a Porter P - I was so going to ebay it at one point but I'm glad it finally had an event to shine at!

    @Jo Frances - thank you! You're on my blogroll too!

    @Daisymay - thanks, I do love the peacocks! It's an interesting label, apparently a couple of rock stars branching out.

  14. The jacket is so beautiful and intricate I thought for sure you would say it was a vintage piece!

  15. Wow! Beautiful & unique! So boho.

  16. @Pearl Westwood - it does have a very vintage feel about it, very twenties or thirties, which is what I love about it. But no, brand spanking new! I call it cheat's vintage.

    @Boheme Noir - thanks! I am just a boho gal at heart.

  17. I have a thing for buying loads before a wedding, to me it's a great excuse, but I can see how tickets to Oz is expensive enough! Nevertheless, your cape is so beautiful. I have a twin-peacock scarf a little like that and I was smiling when I saw your cape. Your mother's outfit has such beautiful embellishments too. Style must run in the family :)

  18. Gee, this sounds stressful. You've done marvellously well - The outfit is beautiful and the jacket is such a special piece I bet you can wear it MANY more times. Plus, you've not totally overspent. Ready to party!

  19. This may be the yummiest outfit I've seen in a LONG while. The jacket is drool-worthy :)
    Thanks for your lovely comments, you all made my day :)

  20. @devilishlypleasurable - as much as it is tempting I have no excuse to buy a new party dress with numerous unworn ones in the closet. My mother loves dressing up, and so did my gran!

    @SabinePsynopsis - thanks, well stressful and fun at the same time. I fully intend to wear this jacket for years to come, might try it dressed down with jeans so I can wear it more often.

    @Retro Reva - my pleasure, and thanks for your visit!

  21. I absolutely love the mix of textures you've got going on here. It is very romantic and luxe! The neutral dress totally grounds everything. You look wonderful.

    Thanks for your comment on my Friend Friday post, by the way! I am going to email you....

  22. Awww, gorgeous jacket!

    My legs would be way too pale to pull off toe-less tights, but they look great on you.



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