Fashion Advice – HELP!!!!!

Greetings and happy pre-holidays, friends and fam! I hope November has treated you well so far, and that visions of your favorite holiday feasts are dancing in your heads.

We haven’t planned our menu yet here in Washington, but we’ve ordered a heritage turkey again from our local CSA, since last year’s was so delicious. (My compliments to John!) The bird arrives today, which means playing refrigerator Tetris for the next week with whatever we find to go with it. As in past years, I suspect there’ll be a lot of vegetables (read: mushrooms) and maybe a little treat or two. We’ve been inspired by the Pro Club’s Thanksgiving items for folks that are still in the program during the holidays; their “holiday yam puff” is better than any sweet potato dish we’ve ever tried! We have a copy of the recipe thanks to our beloved dietitian, and will likely give it a test run; assuming it goes well, I’ll be sure to share it with all of you in the near future.

I’ll keep this post short because I happen to have an important question for all of my ladies – and any knowledgeable gentlemen with lady friends or family!

This year’s Google holiday party approaches, and since we had such a good time last year, we’re planning to attend despite the venue shifting back to one of our less favored locations. The theme this year isn’t particularly strong or focused, and while the customary green-and-red livery wouldn’t be amiss, it’s also not mandatory or “encouraged.” Even on years with more explicit themes, I’ve seen Googlers show up wearing everything from t-shirts and sandals to prom dresses and tuxedos, so guest comfort and/or preference is the order of the day.

I’m of a mind to prefer something other than red and green this year, as I did bright red last year, and I want to be inclusive of other guests that celebrate non-Christmas holidays. I do still want to aim for cocktail/dressy though. It’s fun to dress up once in awhile, even if I’m not looking forward to heels! I’m also thinking I might stick with classic black, though I’m not opposed to other options. The last time I had a pretty little black dress was years ago, at a much bigger size, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one that I truly adored the way most women do. I’d like to change that! It also improves the odds that I’ll wear it more than once.

My problem is this: I’ve never. Ever. Shopped for a “dressy” dress. In a non-plus-sized store. Even now that I’m smaller, I often vacillate between sizes because I’m not built like a dressmaker’s doll, and there are some typical areas where my body conflicts with the expected norm. Trying things on will be a MUST in order to find what works for me. I got lucky last year with a last-minute order from Amazon, but Amazon and I had a falling-out earlier this year over their handling of some computer parts I ordered. It wasn’t a great idea to guess at my sizing in the first place, regardless of result, and now I have a better, expanded reason to prefer not to try it again.

Many online stores have sizing charts, which is helpful for a great many people – but I have found that when I order to my measurements, the items will arrive too large for me about 95% of the time. This is a byproduct of the fact that I prefer knits and stretchy dresses with some give to them, and/or things that hug curves as opposed to disguising them. I’m still not ready for that Jessica Rabbit dress, but I’m getting closer and I’d like to enjoy it a little! If I do try anything that doesn’t have a local branch, I’ll need lots of time to order, try things on, and return the duds (ooh, double entendre!) so a healthy return policy and fast shipping will be a must.

I never knew that dress rental was an option until recently, and I’m very excited by the idea of using this for future events… but it’s so close to the holiday season that all the dresses I love are already reserved for the dates I would need them. I’ve fallen in love with a specific dress that I know I can’t get my hands on, but I can’t find one to purchase, even assuming it fit and I was willing to foot the full retail price for it. I guess it must’ve been last season’s trend? The link will give you an idea of what I’m hoping for, though.

In general: I’ll pony up cash for something that makes me look like a goddess, but I’d prefer not to invest multiple hundreds of dollars unless it’s truly spectacular, given that I’m still changing sizes pretty often and I can’t guarantee that whatever I buy will be used more than once.


I’m looking for a dressy cocktail and/or party dress in black, though anything but red and green are open to consideration. The more inclusive the size range is, the better. I’m willing to spend around $100-150, with more contingent only on things that I look born to wear. Stretchy or knit fabrics are going to work best, though I’m willing to give most anything a shot. It’s an indoor party, and I think it likely that I will attempt dancing in my dress, so warmth need not be a concern. Sexy is good, but this isn’t a nightclub and I’d prefer not to mistake it for one. Local options where I can go try things on are vastly superior to online-only stores, though I’ll take any suggestions you may have. It’s fine if you don’t have specific dress recommendations – even just a plug for your favorite store or a place you think might carry something nice is so very helpful.

For the record: I’ve looked at Macy’s, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, and ModCloth online so far, but the first three would be interesting to check out in person too. (The fourth doesn’t have that option!)

Here’s to hoping someone else is more clever than I in this regard. Otherwise, I’ll do the best I can with what I have, and keep my fingers crossed for more luck!


  1. Michelle Allen

    Go for “The Pencil Skirt” You can dress it up or down depending on the blouse you choose. You can also opt for heels or boots! I always have trouble finding dresses no matter where I go, it fits right here but not there etc.. I do like JCPenny they usually have a pretty large dress selection. If you have one of those, but I know they are becoming scarce. Dressbarn, Ross, Marshalls, and TjMaxx, are pretty good and decent priced! The best piece of Fashion advice I was ever given was to “Try on the funky stuff” the items you would not normally pick up and look at let alone try on. I started doing that and have found some really cute and flattering stuff. Good Luck and if I run across any great stores I will let you know! Happy Holidays!

  2. Carolyn

    Hi Amy- Well, I like Talbots. However, their dresses tend to be very ‘classic’ – maybe too ‘boring’ for what you are looking for. (I just looked online, and one example is the “Ponte Embroidered Sheath Dress”.) Online indicates there is a Talbots in Bellevue Square. Fyi: If you don’t find what you are looking for in the store, and if you order from their catalog while you are in the store, they give you free shipping. Also, on anything that doesn’t work, you can return it to the store (so no return shipping charge). One more detail- If there is an item in the store that you like but they don’t have your size, they will contact a store that has it and have it sent to you. ~ Best of luck and have fun shopping! I hope you easily find something that you love!

  3. DterminD

    Thanks so much, you two! Trying on things that make me laugh/cringe just for fun is one of my best secrets too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve surprised myself and walked away with a new favorite!

    I’m also quite fond of many “classic” silhouettes as a general rule – if I’m getting experimental, it’s more often with colors or patterns or detailing than the actual cut of the dress. Talbots carries lots of things I would happily buy and wear. 🙂

    We went shopping/trying on today, and I spent about 30 minutes in Nordstrom before turning up THREE dresses that fit me perfectly and looked like a million bucks! That never happens. The first was green so I opted to skip it. The second was a little less dressy than I wanted (but I actually got it anyway – it’ll be great on Thanksgiving and for other events!)

    The last one… was something I never would have imagined this girl wearing at ANY point in her natural life. I tried it on as an absolute joke. And now I’m really, REALLY excited to take holiday/party photos. I don’t want to spoil the shock for everyone, but I’ve never seen myself like this and I’m hoping it’ll be as amazing for everyone else too. And it’s a straight size 12 right off the rack. Of a fancy department store.

    These are strange times we live in, friends. Strange and wonderful times. I’m looking forward to being Cinderella for a night!

  4. Carolyn

    Ohh! I am smiling from ear to ear, and I’m a bit teary-eyed too, because I’m so happy for you to be feeling so excited! I am soo looking forward to seeing pictures! (in due time 🙂

  5. Sarah

    I’m so glad you found something you like!
    I was going to suggest Modcloth until I read that you’d already explored it. Most of my teacher dresses (of which I have… you know… just a few) come from there. Though I wish I could try things on, they have the most vibrant comment community I’ve seen on any clothing website, and I almost always get the right size after reading the reviews.
    Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving from Raleigh!

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