It’s almost Labor Day, time to think about holiday parties

by Erin on August 28, 2007

tuxedo dress

Since the fashion cycle has gotten so wonky, and since the advent of air-conditioning, and because of who-knows-how-many other reasons, quite a lot of dresses that no one in their right minds would wear in July are now sold then. Which means that by Labor Day, they are all on sale.

Take this one for instance, at Bloomingdale's, in a small range of sizes (although that range includes 24W!) going now for $69-79. It's all silk, and it's quite elegant. And yes, it also comes in black. (Click on the image to visit the catalog page.)

This is a perfect holiday-party dress for those of us who think bare arms and shoulders in December is a great way to catch a cold, and/or folks who hate managing a drippy shawl, or who just want to look a little more covered-up. It's so rare to find a holiday-party dress that's not bare and still looks witty and dashing and elegant — something that is the female equivalent of the tuxedo, in fact, which I suppose is why this one works!

I think I would wear this with huge cloisonne beads or very large cloisonne cuffs, and high heels — as high as I could manage. Maybe black patent heels with a very square heel and a round (or at least not very pointy) toe, so they would look like men's classic tuxedo pumps, and a black patent clutch. And red lipstick. Definitely red lipstick.

I would NOT wear it with a pin or brooch that featured any of the following: Christmas trees, Santa, candy canes, holly, blinking lights (especially not blinking lights that were intended to represent, say, a reindeer's NOSE), or the words "Ho Ho Ho." There's festive, and then there's festooned. There's a difference.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous August 28, 2007 at 10:10 am

It looks like a beautiful bathrobe, at least in red.


knitgirl August 28, 2007 at 10:17 am

I love it! Neither color works for me, but it looks comfortable and elegant.


Gaile August 28, 2007 at 10:27 am

Call me crazy, but I think it looks like a bathrobe. That was my first thought, and after trying to see it as a dress, I still think I’d look twice at someone showing up at a party wearing this.


Anonymous August 28, 2007 at 10:47 am

I usually manage to avoid the wrap dress/bathrobe comparison, but there is just something about the satin detailing that is dying for it. I couldn’t wear this out.


Lexy Girl August 28, 2007 at 10:56 am

Yeah… I have got to say that I looked at the picture before I read anything and thought “That is a quite sexy bathrobe” I am generally partial to wrap dresses… just not this one.Good point about holiday dresses by labor day though. Not that I need another party dress.


Erin August 28, 2007 at 10:59 am

Ha! I’m not a bathrobe-wearer so I totally didn’t see this as a robe!Of course, I think the bathrobiness of this dress is accentuated by the messy hair and minimal makeup of the model. Dressed up, I’m not sure if you’d see it as much …


Jess August 28, 2007 at 11:01 am

Sorry but that is WAY too much like a bathrobe for me to consider wearing it anywhere but the bedroom! :)Jess


kim p. August 28, 2007 at 11:09 am

Well, I’m not seeing “bathrobe”; I’m seeing Jean Harlow, boudoir-ish. I can see it with some sort of strappy, satiny, heeled, ’40s boudoir slippers.The price makes me nervous, however. Call me a victim of price-point psychology, but how nicely made can a $100 dress at Bloomingdale’s be? Anyone actually seen this in a store? I’m worried that the fabric is too thin, maybe kind of scratchy, not enough fabric to keep the wrapped parts under wraps, so to speak, etc.That said, I do love the style and I think it could work well for so many body types. And keep us all from freezing at those winter parties.


Susan W. August 28, 2007 at 11:12 am

Erin suggested: “Maybe black patent heels with a very square heel…” My friend David calls these kind of heels “safety stilettos.” LOLOr is that a well-known term and I am totally out of the loop??


harthad August 28, 2007 at 11:24 am

I fear I’m with the bathrobe group. When I saw the photo, I thought, wow, that’s one slinky robe…now, where are my high-heeled satin boudoir slippers with the marabou poufs?


Flashy_Shades August 28, 2007 at 11:30 am

i really like it, am i taking crazy pills? but i’d wear a wrap dress everyday of the week


Mimi August 28, 2007 at 11:54 am

I’m also firmly in the bathrobe group.


Moonwishes August 28, 2007 at 11:58 am

I thought it was a lovely dress and doesn’t look anything at all like my bathrobe (which is a Teddy Bear print, present from my MIL). I love this dress and I thought the model looked liked she enjoyed wearing it. Some models looks so sad/angry/bored/etc. you wonder what they are getting paid for.


dawn August 28, 2007 at 12:38 pm

I love the dress, but I can’t help wondering…you’d wear a Darth Vader dress but no Rudolph nose? LOl!


Josie August 28, 2007 at 12:46 pm

I wore a dress very much like this one, but in a black-and-white print, to a friend’s wedding a few weeks back. The v-neck didn’t continue on to the bow, which tied in the back on my dress, which made it less bathrobe-y.And I did wear it with round-toe patent heels and burgundy-red lipstick!


belphebe August 28, 2007 at 12:54 pm

I agree: this dress would not look good with candy cane, holly, or blinking lights pins or brooches.However, my jacket made out of snowflake foil on mesh was perfect for that kind of nonsense!I actually like short-sleeved/off the shoulder dresses and shawls or wraps for holiday parties. I get so warm when dancing that long sleeves would be too uncomfortable for me. However, if it was an elegant party where everyone stood around sipping cocktails, long sleeves would probably be more practical than a wrap.


patsijean August 28, 2007 at 1:00 pm

My thought is that this is a nice take on the classic wrap dress. I would slim down the sleeves, and make it up in a nice shot weave dupponi silk. The shawl collar and sleeve hem cut on the cross grain to show off the second color in the weave. Not red, nor black for me. Silk Baron has some beautiful choices for this dress.


Allison August 28, 2007 at 1:04 pm

It just looks like a dressing gown to me.


beth August 28, 2007 at 1:54 pm

I have a long, red bathrobe like this, fleece lined on the inside but satin-y on the outside that I got at Lane Bryant years ago. This is what makes fashion so much fun: you never know where it’s going to turn up!


Lisa @ The Hem Line August 28, 2007 at 4:49 pm

One more vote for the bathrobe look, but I like it. I think it is the sleeves that really throw it in the robe category.I have to disagree about Christmas pins . . . . I love the vintage tree pins and I have a huge fall pin with leaves and berries that I wear with sweaters.


Diane August 28, 2007 at 5:29 pm

C’mon, Erin, no blinky holiday pins on your cocktail dress? Have you lost your sense of humor? :)You’re right, of course. An adult party with cocktails and cigarettes requires elegant dress with slender stilettos.I didn’t immediately see it as a bathrobe but the kimono sleeves do give it that air. Somebody must like it because the only sizes left are 4,8, and 10.


lucitebox August 28, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Oh gee. I read the entry this morning and didn’t want to say exactly what I thought for fear anyone would think I was nutters. (And, I wondered if it would be rude to make such a comment, but…um…I guess there’s safety in numbers.)It looks just like a robe to me, too. The shawl collar and the satin finish on it and the wrap really seem to accentuate the dressing gown look.


Anonymous August 28, 2007 at 6:44 pm

Yep; definitely a bathrobe. I wish I looked that good in one, though… as it is, I would look like the punch bowl exploded…


john August 28, 2007 at 6:57 pm

le smoking


Anonymous August 28, 2007 at 8:19 pm

This calls for petite rhinestones. A tennis bracelet and lovely feminine light rhinestone necklace. That red to be “elegantized”! So lovely.


Tasha August 28, 2007 at 10:53 pm

Bathrobe. Sorry — I don’t care how much you try to “dress” it up, it’s still a robe. People will think you have forgotten to finish getting ready for the party!


Anne Beekman August 29, 2007 at 4:33 am

I saw the photo and thought “Oh, goodie, we are going to get some of Erin’s sarcastic wit about this ‘bathrobe’ dress.” Oh, how I could see myself wearing this dressing gown (hair and cosmetics done, no matter that it was midnight), opening the door for Cary Grant. In a B&W movie the implication that the wearer had just risen from their boudoir would be lovely. At a holiday cocktail party in the real word, I think I would look down at the wearers feet to check for fuzzy slippers.


Anonymous August 29, 2007 at 7:37 am

I made a dress very similar for a work Christmas party in 1981, and yes, I got a lot of smart-alec comments about bathrobes from my co-workers. It was perfect for an office party, though. Dressy yet modest, with not too much skin showing.


Anonymous August 29, 2007 at 8:31 am



Zoltar Panaflex August 29, 2007 at 8:54 am

I’m too busty to bother with wrap-front anything. I’ve been working on year on beading a silk cardigan to wear this holiday season! I never go the strappy/strapless route as a service to mankind, because I just have doughy shoulders.My kingdom for visible collarbones!I can, however, see that dress done up like a smoking jacket look in the black with silk pants, and velvet slippers.


Anonymous August 29, 2007 at 12:47 pm

Personally, I think it looks like a bathrobe. I wouldn’t wear it.


Hannah August 29, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Sigh.. I love your blog, but it looks like a flowered bathrobe I have.


Jo August 30, 2007 at 5:56 am

I do have a bathrobe just like this too. Beutiful Thai silk. I wouldn’t wear it anywhere else but the bedroom I guess. I think the sash and the little flare at the hem does make it more dressy though. Maybe with some heels, my hair up, the right jewellery, I could risk it.


Ms. L August 30, 2007 at 12:10 pm

I really like this dress; perhaps I am just into bathrobe style.It’s even more attractive now that it’s $42.


Trudy August 30, 2007 at 4:03 pm

Looks like a bathrobe to me too. But a dammed expensive one!


Dani in NC September 1, 2007 at 5:37 pm

There’s festive and then there’s festooned — I’ve got to use that when Christmas rolls around again.


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