Monday, June 09, 2008

Heels and Purses and Dresses, Oh My!

having a little bit of a panic over, not one of my favorite topics, clothes.

No. 1

Romance Writers of America’s national conference is at the end of July. It kicks off with a massive book signing Wednesday night and ends with a Saturday night ceremony where the winners of the Golden Heart (unpublished) and RITA (published) awards are announced. In between those two events there are any number of publisher parties, dinners, lunches or breakfasts with agents and editors, workshops to attend or present. You name it, we authors pretty much have to be prepared for it.

No. 2

This kind of once a year mega-event is, I think, for us women writers, always cause for at least a little bit of anxiety. We work from home, so our daily attire more often than not consists of pajamas, sweats, jeans, fleece, and everything in between. In other words, we don’t get out much. And most of our wardrobes show it.

Being the particularly casual and cheap individual that I am, I probably have fewer dresses and dressy outfits than your average woman. Hence the panic.

No. 3

I’m not overly worried about Wednesday night through Saturday day. I’ve been to enough national conferences over the years that I think I have those outfits covered, or can get them covered with minimal fuss. It’s the awards ceremony Saturday night that has me in, okay, I’ll admit it, a tizzy.

Saturday night is a very dressy night and you’ll see everything from business suits and dresses to full-length formals to French twists. What I’ve always gotten a kick out of is that the attendees are 99.99% women. There are very few men to impress and, still, we look all made-up, manicured and coifed to the max.

No. 4

I’ve never been too worried about the awards ceremony in the past. I’ve always worn kind of a middle of the road short to three quarter length dressy type dress. But this year is the first time I’m a RITA finalist.

That means that if I win (and that’s a big if, cause there’s some very stiff competition in my two categories), I’ll have to get up on stage in front of more than 2,000 people to accept the award. I want to look good. Just in case. I figure, hey, this is as close as I’m ever going to get to prom, so I want a formal, full length pull out all the stops kind of dress.

No. 5

A few weeks ago I did some initial reconnaissance. I must have tried on thirty or more dresses and had a difficult time making up my mind, although some style constraints became very clear to me. I don’t like the way strapless or spaghetti strap dresses look on me. While I narrowed thing down, I’d still like input.

These are samples of some dresses I’d definitely take off the rack to try on. In fact, I have actually tried on some of these styles. Still, though, I’d like some input.

No. 6

Let's pretend price is of no concern. LOL Which one is your favorite dress? What colors do you like best? Should I go for sexy or classy? Make a statement or be safe?

You guys pick the dress and then all I have to do is lose ten pounds!!

No. 7

And in keeping with our anniversary celebration, one commenter will receive a copy of TREASURE, my double RITA nominated book, and one of these cute little Burt’s Bees Healthy Hands kits.



Keri Ford said...

Here's my impressions of this gowns (long post and a full length photo of you would have been handy!):
#1: Not a big fan of that fabric. By the looks of it, I don't think it will breath well, nor hid any sweat you might do. and lets admit it, we all sweat (or glow if you like). Not to mention wrinkles.

#2 This gown is pretty, but to me is says "Beach Wedding Dress". Also that cute little thingy at her hip, I think will draw attention to that part of your body. Don't forget about the chocolate gala after the ceremony!

#3 This dress is nice. I like the color, I think it will look great with your dark hair. If your short, it looks like it has a dropped waistline making you look taller. But it looks a LITTLE bridesmaid'ie

#4 LOVE the color. Watch out for that thingy on the hip. The front skirt cut is good for walking up/down stairs.

#5 I'm not sure you can sit comfortly in this gown. if you're flat chested, I would back away as it appears like it's going to make you look smaller.

#6 I aviod all things horizontal, in particular across my butt and hips. I don't need those looking any bigger.

#7 This is the style of dress that usually works for me. Makes the boobies look a little bigger and tones down the hips and butt. Though I can't tell if this is one of those kids that scoop under your bottom cheek curve (mermaid cut, I think it's called) or not. Can't see the back, not a fan of the pattern. It would be spot on for me if the entire dress was black and the black around the ankles was a sheer black material.

Dina said...

I would choose #6, I like the style and color. :)

I don't dress up much at all, so always in the same situation when I do have to dress up.

Betina Krahn said...

Okay, are we going for the max-flash-now-and-always or the cut-it-off-later-and-wear-it-again answer? heh,heh.

Last year when I won, I was wearing this filmy thing my sister talked me into and when I saw myself in pictures later, it looked like I was wearing a table cloth! I honestly was prepared to be a gracious loser, not a winner. But in my defense, after 20 years of watching other people take h om the Rita gold, it's understandable.

My advice-- go for the glitz and make it a dress you can have fun in and feel wonderful in! #5 is all about understated glamor so that's my pick. Accessorize with diamonds.


PJ said...

I envy you going to SF and being nominated in TWO categories! That's fabulous! I don't envy you having to choose a dress but I say go all out. It's a big night and I'd opt for glamour. Not knowing your height or body type here are my favorites.

2) To me, this dress says "I'm a sexy, confident woman." I can see Kim Cattrall (Samantha from Sex & the City) wearing this dress. It will look great with your dark hair and especially good if you have a tan.

5) It's all about elegance. I like the sophistication of this dress and the color looks very rich. I can see Charlize Theron wearing this dress to the Oscars or Helen Brenna wearing it to the RITAs!

Cheri2628 said...

I think you can be sexy AND classy. I like dress #2. White is nice, but this dress in black would be good, too. The hard part will be losing the weight! ;) Good luck with the dress and the nomination. I hope you will post a picture of yourself in the dress you choose!

Playground Monitor said...

I'm a fan of #5 too. It's so elegant and chic. You'd look very classy accepting the Rita in that dress. And I agree with Betina about accessorizing it with diamonds.

Me? I'll be wearing whichever dress from past years I can still fit into. I've been exercising 3 times a week for the past month and don't seem to be making progress. :-( Maybe I'll have a sudden breakthrough later this month. I still have a good bit of time before SF. All of the Playground is beginning to angst over clothes for SF (plus we're staying a few extra days to sightsee). Before mid-July we'll have had several shopping expeditions and a "try-on" session at someone's house.


Michele Hauf said...

I love the brown dress. I think a style like that would look awesome on you, Helen!

Helen Brenna said...

Keri - nice analysis - you mentioned some things I hadn't thought of. Avoid all things horizontal - LOL - but Dina likes it!

Betina, you looked gorgeous last year and were so poised in your acceptance speech. Made me teary-eyed. I'm so, so, so glad you won!

PJ - LOL - now that you mention it, I can totally see Kim Catrall in #2.

Cheri, sexy and classy - you're right, will be keeping that in mind. And excellent idea! I will post the dress I choose with me it it!! Fun!

Marilyn, this is my "try-on" session and I'm loving it!

Michele, I know a lot of people thing brown in boring, but I like it and look good in it. I've heard it's the "new black."

Okay, if I've got this right so far it's:
#2 - 1
#4 - 1
#5 - 3
#6 - 1
#7 - 1

Lori T said...

I like dress two and three. They are all very pretty, though.
You will have to let us know which one you finally decide on.

Good luck on losing the ten pounds...I need to loose much more than just ten pounds, but I don't seem to have any will power.

Christie Ridgway said...

I like the style of No. 3. The V-neck and skinny straps would look great on you, Helen. BTW, everyone, all would look great on Helen who is very slender and very pretty.

I like No. 2, because I like the short-long hemline. Very flattering to legs. I wore similar hemline when I presented a Rita (so exciting, because I =knew= I was getting on stage that time, rather than the 3 times I've been nominated but not won).

I like No. 6 because that color would be =smashing= on you! I can't wait to see what you're wearing in San Francisco.

flip said...

I like No. 3 and 4. However, I don't care for the colors. I like bright colors and gem colors.

Helen Brenna said...

Lori T, maybe I'll have to post progress on the 10 lbs too! NOT.

Christie, the short long thing is very flattering on the legs. I think it's flattering for shorter people, like me, too. And thank you for such nice complements. The 10 lbs are still coming off!!

Flip, I like bright colors too. I guess I didn't even think about it as I was pulling out the photos. Tried to get a selection. Seems like I always gravitate to black. I really wanted a red dress this year, but there's only 1 type of red that looks good on me, so to find the right color in the right style is near to impossible.

traveler said...

Dress #5 is classy, a gorgeous style and color and would be my choice. It is classic and special. Best of luck and enjoy this event.

petite said...

The Brown Dress is lovely. The style and color are unique. This dress is original and would fit so comfortably too. Since you are slender it would be a perfect choice.

Ellen said...

I think #4 should be the one. I would worry that #5 would be hard to sit comfortably in as would #6 and I think #7 is too busy.

ellie said...

Number 4 is delightful. Pretty and classic. Sophisticated and beautiful. Color is fabulous.

diane said...

Since I love dark, rich colors I love dress number 5. Also the style is amazing and would set off your hair and coloring beautifully.

anne said...

Number 2 is summery and interesting and the color is ideal for now. Easy to wear and walk in too.

CrystalGB said...

My favorite is #5. I love the cover and style. My second choice is #3. I love the color.

Cathy said...

#5 is my favorite, love the color and the cut, very classic.

Karen B said...

#2 - Classy, elegant, comfortable, stunning!!

Helen Brenna said...

Lookin' like it's a close match between 2, 4 and 5!

Betina Krahn said...

You can tell we're writers, right? All the comments about comfort! lol.

If this were another, more fashion-forward bunch, we'd be talking about suffering for beauty's sake or making the sacrifice for fashion!

Helen Brenna said...

Hey! Didn't I say I was going to lose 10 lbs, Betina?

ruth said...

My favorite is # 5 since the color is dramatic as is the elegant style. Just a stunning gown.

Cindy Gerard said...

Wow Helen. All the dresses are stunning. And I can see you looking FABO in any of them. I'm leaning toward 5 then 4 - or maybe 4 then 5?
Whatever - you go girl!!

The Book Girl said...

I like number 4 and 5. I never dress up and always daydream about going somewhere that needs these kinds of dresses! Have Fun!!

jenna said...

#4 is the ultimate. The color is gorgeous and the style is outstanding and elegant. Just beautiful.

lois greiman said...

I love 4 & 5, Helen. Both would look great on you. Sexy annnnnnd classy.

I'm so excited for you. See you in July.

Anna And Sean said...

I like the navy blue dress which I think is the #5. I am horrible at the girl/dress thing and I only own one dress which I have dubbed the funeral dress. Sad I know. If I was forced, probably at gunpoint, I would go for a really cool black sexy thing, sort of like the last dress but without the pattern. I have heard that patterns are hard to wear and photograph. Good luck on awards night!!!

Estella said...

I like #5. It is classy looking.

Virginia said...

I like dress #2. I love the way its maid. It could be a different color but love the design.

Jane said...

I like dress #3 the best. I like black and dark blue. Go for sexy and classy and make a statement.

Maggie said...

Looking at it from a color analysis standpoint (I used to do makeup and color analysis) the white ones are all wrong for your coloring unless you have a really dark tan. It's going to wash you out.

Likewise the yellow is going to give you a yellow hue which isn't complimentary to your coloring.

The aqua and dark blue are perfect colors for you. I can't tell from your photo on your website, but if your eyes are blue, those dresses will make your eyes sparkle even more. The burgundy dress is an okay color for you, but it has the almost-horizontal thing going with those ruffles.

The black and white dress just seems to casual in comparison to the others. It looks like something you'd wear to a fancy cocktail party but not a formal awards event.

So... in my humble opinion, I'd choose either #1 or #5 (with #5 being my first choice) based on how well they'll enhance your already stunning looks.

kimmyl said...

I like #5 and #7.

well it depends what your looking for:
classic or color
overall i would wear the black one for a classy look.
but it depends, if you want color i would wear the blue one.
they are both beautiful gowns.

black is classy

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, everyone for all your suggestions. I love this. Really helps solidify what I'm looking for.

Anna - lol - I have a funeral dress too!

You're so right, Maggie, about the colors. Darker colors are normally my first choice, and, no, I won't be very tan. Thanks for the stunning comment!

Kimmyl - I'm looking for sexy and classy, I think. I don't have a lot of years yet to look sexy, so I'm taking every opp I can!

Lily said...

All of them are gorgeous... but the number 5 is great! I love those long dress and the darker navy shade is so chic!

Nathalie said...

number 4... that colour is beautiful!

But I like the shape of number 5 more...

Nicole P said...

I personally like the style of #3 the best. However, I think that color has the potential to really wash a person out, persay, but I don't know what you look like. It may work for you.
My second choice would be #2.

amy*skf said...

I like #2--almost a Grecian look to it.
And #4--I'm getting a Spanish vibe from that one, plus I think the wine color would look fabulous on you.

#6--although it's beautiful, it looks too twisted--like maybe all night you'd be hiking this and pulling that...

So my picks are 2 and 4 and wine, cobalt blue, sage green, or yellow

amy*skf said...

Oh and Helen, classy is always sexy.

Jeanette J said...

I like #3 because if you have to get up in front of a lot of people you may want a dress that isn't so tight and you can walk easily in

flchen1 said...

I'm a fan of #5, too, Helen--I love the color and the skirt looks swishy (gotta love that ;)). I also like the slightly asymetrical (sp?) neckline, and the little sleeves.

Congrats no matter which dress you choose--I'm sure you'll look and feel fabulous!

Susan P. said...

I like #1 & #5. I like #5 the best because of the dark blue color. I would go with classy. Hope you win!

catslady said...

I too like #5. I love the color but also the way it gathers in the front.

I've been looking for a dress for my daughter's wedding and it sure isn't easy. I definitely know I was influenced by the color even though I could pick from all these stupid tiny swatches almost any color. I had a hard time visualizing dresses in different colors and once you order it - it's yours!!!!! My dress will be platinum (shiny grey lol) with silver shoes and purse.

Tarot By Arwen said...

#7 is the one that I like the best simply because it stands out in a crowd. It's really a classy look with an updated print/color (have I been watching waaaaaaaaaay too much "Project Runway"?)

acdaisy95 said...

I like #4 and #5. I think the colors look great on the dress because they are more solid colors and bolder.

Shauna Roberts said...

I vote for #2 solely because it's the only one you can't trip on the hem of while going up the stairs to the stage (which I've seen happen at the RWA award ceremonies).

I like the colors of #4 and #5 because they are bold and vibrant and you won't disappear on stage or in the crowd of well-wishers afterwards.

As for styles, I like #2 and #5 best. They're sophisticated and will make you look like a sophisticated adult no matter what your body shape or face. Some of the others could make you look like a teenager or a bridesmaid if you're short, very thin, or have childish features.

Helen Brenna said...

All good points, Shauna.

Time for me to go shopping for REAL!