Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Formal Wear Frustration

I need a formal dress/evening gown because I'm going to be handing out the awards at a black tie ceremony with around 2,000 people in attendance. And like those stunning, tall models at the Oscars/Tonys who distribute statuettes, I'll step back for the acceptance speeches and gracefully guide the winners and presenters offstage. But not like them, because I'm only 5'1" tall.

I feel like my quest has taken me to almost every store in Chicagoland and every fashion Web site. I have devoted far more hours to this cause than anticipated, with less than satisfactory results. In my closet hangs a boring navy gown, the only one that fit. Even extensive alterations couldn't have saved some that I tried on, according to an Evening Wear Specialist at Neiman Marcus. The saleswoman at Saks almost laughed out loud when she saw me in an size 4 ensemble that made me look like a little girl trying on her mom's clothes.

Thanks to Bloomingdales and Nordstrom for carrying petite formalwear. Bloomies wins on largest instore selection of small sizes. Conversely, Bloomies online has fewer petite offerings than Nordstrom's. But who wants to/is able to rack up credit card charges by ordering multiple dresses to see if one of them looks good, even with free shipping TO you (some sites have charges for returns)?

Thanks to Neiman Marcus for having by far the best selection, and surprisingly good sale prices. Thanks to barriepace.com (and, believe it or not, amazon.com!!) for carrying some petite formalwear, if not as many offerings on sale. Kudos to smartbargains.com and www.designersapparels.com for their wide selection of dresses, if not in petites.

But no thanks to evening wear designers and stores who have decided that petite women:
--only need a couple of styles to choose from while those of normal size get dozens
--are all in their 20's, and only want baby doll/really short cocktail dresses, or are ancient or have no fashion sense, so conservative or Mother of the Bride-y gowns are de rigeur
--would prefer boring Navy over the lovely Lipstick the dress came in for nomral sizes (though I did find one hot pink gown online)
--are flat chested, so strapless, halter, and spaghetti strap gowns don't have enough fabric on top to contain a real petite woman's feminine bounty
--do not like wearing sparkles/sequins/beading as much as their tall friends
--appreciate that dress sizes seem to have been downsized, so a 0 is what used to be a 2, and a 2 what was a 4.

I wish I had enough entrepreneurial spirit/wherewithal to create my own line of stylish petite clothing. Any takers?


Eileen said...

I can't see what you end up with!

Kelli Estes said...

Oh, Ruth, I feel your pain. I have the same struggles while shopping. Thank goodness this year I could settle for a dress I bought a couple years ago and call it good. Although, I don't have anything to wear to the Chicklit party yet. Oh my...back to the mall.