Ask Ruby Woo: Military Semi-Formal

10 Jan

Despite my frequent hiatuses (hiati?  haitsusess?) from blogging, I still find myself helping out friends with their fashion challenges.  Whether it’s helping pick bridesmaid dresses to bathing suits to honeymoon trousseau shopping (my favorite!), I love putting my skills to the test to help my friends look great.
I got this message from a good friend the other day.
Tier! I need your help! I have a semi formal coming up and I need something with straps! (I know it’s not in style but it’s the only thing that can hold the giant melons up)   (Tier’s note:  She’s being too hard on herself.  She’s got a very nice chest that most girls pay money for.)

Please send me your advice. I don’t really have a budget but below $200 is what I’m shooting for. It can be from TJ Maxx or it can be from J. Crew.

I’d really appreciate any guidance (stores, styles, etc). My challenge is: I work with a lot of older military folks so it has to be conservative yet, I want to look stunning. Maybe black but a silky/creative design? Or red color, but conservative cut?

If you feel like tossing out a few hints, please do!

Miss you lots!!!

One thing that helps when you’re shopping for a big event (or for anything really) is to set your parameters.  Or if someone’s not sure of what they want, ask them a few big questions.
What colors do they typically gravitate towards?  I know people think that because it’s a special event, they can pick out crazy bold colors.  Honestly, I lean away from that.  If you want to be comfortable, then go with tried and true classics.  The majority of my formal wear is all in colors I love–black, red, leopard (haha).  I know what colors look good on me, and I stick to them.
What’s their price range?  It helps when narrowing down your search.
What are their must haves?  In this case, she needs straps to support her chest, and something that’s sexy but still classic and tasteful.
Once you figure out the boundaries, you can start cutting through the billions of dresses with relative ease.  
My go to site for dresses is Asos.  I’ve found that they’re amazingly priced, on trend, well made, and they ship SUPER fast and SUPER free.  
$72.72 found here.  I love this because of the bright tomato color.  It’s slinky and has a deep V, but the short sleeves and length keeps it classy.  Plus, she could wear this again a million times.
I love a sexy back on a dress.  I think it’s a good way to show some skin without verging into skank territory.  The fact that the front of the dress is super conservative lets you be a little spicy when you turn around.  Plus, it’s only $54.54 here.
Another nice pick.  The potential dilemma of being too sexy with the tightness is toned down with the longer length.  Plus, I like the details with the scalloping along the neckline.  Only $50.90 here.
For semi-formals, I typically stay away from floor length dresses, but I had tried this dress on as a potential bridesmaid dress, and it was STUNNING.   $198 here.
Another longer option.  The fact that it’s made out of jersey (SO COMFORTABLE) keeps it not as dressy.  $178 here.
I’m obsessed with this dress.  It screams Bond girl, but it’s overtly sexy.  The way it’s draped would be super flattering.  $178 here.
I can normally find most things on either Asos or Nordstrom, but Lord & Taylor always has a great dress selection and they’re always having major sales.  Other good dress options are Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, TJ Maxx…but it’s more of a luck thing than consistency.
One last thing about shopping for friends–sometimes they say they want one thing, and you help them find sixtyhundred options, and they end up going with something totally opposite of what they said.  In my years of working retail, that happened all the time.  I would spend hours putting together options in a specific color or style that they had requested, and then they would call and say they found some lime green spandex number and I would be like SERIOUSLY?!  Just take it in stride and graciously, and when they see the error of their ways, they’ll remember you.
Fashion Questions?  Send them to me!  I love shopping vicariously through my friends!

One Response to “Ask Ruby Woo: Military Semi-Formal”

  1. Donna January 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Awesome tips! Very helpful. I really like the red jersey dress. It looks elegant, sexy, yet comfy!

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