WIW: dinner with scientists

Tonight, we went to a dinner party hosted by my department's recent Nobel laureate (!!!). It was just a casual dinner to welcome the past year's new faculty hires. I wasn't quite sure what to wear, but put together two outfit options that seemed about right for the event.

My boyfriend helpfully took photos of both so I could ask friends for advice, and they unanimously chose #1. It's a Theory cotton shirtdress over my skinniest R13 jeans, with these fun heels I almost never get to wear.

So, I wore #1, and it was great. Comfortable, sharp, and the right tone for the crowd. It's funny to realize how anxious I still am about dressing for events, just leftover feelings from many years of always feeling awkward.

Outfit option #2 will be revisited later, but I can see why no friends voted for it. It's a Zara wool dress with great ruching and draping. Unfortunately, it hits my calves in exactly the wrong point. I made it worse by choosing the ankle boots, but I wanted boots to make it less dressy because I knew the dinner would be fairly casual. Friends pointed out that the proportions of the boots with the hem weren't great. I'm going to get it hemmed to knee length, I think - as in the photos from Zara:
Should I try to hit just at the top of my kneecap?

My guy looked sharp in a black fitted buttoned shirt, black jeans (with the perfect real black denim, not overdyed solid black, so they had some visual texture), and his Fluevog boots. Wish I had a photo!

Bonus photo: A week or so ago I posted about a jacket that I love. I decided it was too big and returned it, but here's a photo of it. It could have worked but at the price, I didn't want to risk it.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Deborah replied 4 years ago

    #1 was perfect and you look so fab.  I agree that it would be good to shorten #2.  I think I would have it hit just at the bottom on the knee cap?  Love the jacket in #3... but I understand why you returned it.

    If it helps, I often agonise over what to wear to special events:)  I worry I won't be appropriate and every time I am disappointed with how 'casual' people are lol

  • Lucy replied 4 years ago

    You look lovely! #1 is just perfect for the event, and will look great for other occasions too I think! #2 will look great shortened a bit, or perhaps with some opaque tights in the meantime. 
    Academic events are always hard to dress for! I just try to always wear something I am comfortable and confident in, because there will be such a wide range of looks, surely I will fit in with someone. Or if I don't, at least I will think I look ok! 

  • Dee replied 4 years ago

    Those shoes in #1 are amazing! The whole look is fab, but i can't get over the heels! It looks like a great choice for a department party.

    I think the dress in #2 could work at its current length with different shoes. But I'm also short and can understand the desire to hem.

  • jenanded replied 4 years ago

    Looks great... the right stylish but casual note! X

  • Bijou replied 4 years ago

    #1 looks perfect.  I like the Zara dress too, I think you could go with a nude heel to elongate your legs - but that would make the look more formal.  I find casual jackets (such as a denim or leather) a good option to dress down a shift dress and heels.

  • rachylou replied 4 years ago

    You look great. Just perfect. (We're not talking Saul Perlmutter are we?)

  • lyn67 replied 4 years ago

    That had to be a crowd of geniuses(you included!!)and a great party! Your "department's recent Nobel laureate"????. Wow!!! You really looked sharp in nr 1! Seeing the picties first, I  kept my fingers crossed for that one, till reading the verdict-which was sooo right:-). YLF and  would have really liked to see your guy, too:-)

  • O replied 4 years ago

    Gee, now that's SOME event to attend. Your outfit #1 sent me to orbit and I am so glad it worked for the occasion and for the fab you. 
    #2 is Ok, but just that in comparison to the first one.
    Good decision about the jacket. the more I'm here, the more I appreciate a strong will to say No to something that's not 100% for whatever reason.

  • froggiebecky replied 4 years ago

    I LOVE #1. 
    Do you have some brown booties to try with the dress? or something with lower contrast to your skin tone? That might help with the visual slicing that's happening. I do think a hem could work, too. Just an inch or two would probably get it. I'm on the short side, too, so I'm finding I need to hit up the petite section for mid-length skirts lately. Regular length skirts are reading as 'old frumpy teacher' to my eyes. 

  • MuseumGal replied 4 years ago

    Oh, 1 is fantastic!
    2 is a terrific dress, I almost hate to see you hem it - I bet it'd be fab with the same shoes from 1, or some other heels.

  • Susie replied 4 years ago

    Love #1 so much...those shoes!!!

    I am torn on the dress because I do like it long and if you need a LBD for dressier looks, it would be gorgeous with heels, very elegant. But shorter would probably be more wearable. I would like to see it at just below the knee.

  • jackiec replied 4 years ago

    Echoing Susie on everything.

    Those heels are stellar! Bet they'd look great paired with that dress....

  • avicennia replied 4 years ago

    I agree with Susie about trying the dress with other shoes before you hem it. It's lovely. What a great party!

  • shedev replied 4 years ago

    Love the outfit in 1. Especially the shoes. Try them with the dress in 2 before you hem. If you do hem, just below the knees would keep the dress more dressy, above would casualzie it a bit.

  • Runcarla replied 4 years ago

    #1 is worth repeating. I hope there are more special events in your future!

  • Elly replied 4 years ago

    1 is very you and very creative. You looked great!
    2 is also very striking-- the proportions with the boots are wrong-- that said, I think instead of changing the dress I would try it with different boots (and tights or dark hose) or with heels and a great leather jacket.

  • Aubergine replied 4 years ago

    Dinner at a Nobel laureate's?!? I wouldn't even know where to start with that one.

    You look stunning in #1! I love the dress in #2 and had been thinking it would look great with the other pair of shoes too.

  • bj1111 replied 4 years ago

    i must have those shoes.  srly...where did you get them, who makes them and do you mind if i buy them?

  • Neel replied 4 years ago

    Those shoes in 1 are seriously drool worthy! Love the outfit you chose! And it must gave been an honour to have dinner with a Noble Laureate :)

  • chouette22 replied 4 years ago

    Just echoing what everyone else is saying: #1 is just SO wonderfully perfect. Elegant and edgy at the same time. 

  • Vix replied 4 years ago

    Hi Greyscale --

    Wow, what a crowd! Did you all get to working on something that would win the next Nobel or take the night off for fun? ;)

    Love #1. It's all been said above so just ditto.

    Hear you on #2's length, and agree it would look *more* amazing hemmed ~ knee-length. 

    TBH, though, I just bought a sweater dress that's pretty much the same length and I'm leaving it as-is for now even though I know it'd be more flattering higher and non-leg-enstumpening is one of my top flattery priorities.

    Because the dress isn't going to be a LBD/super-versatile one and the vast majority of my dresses/skirts are knee-length +/- an inch or two above I just wanted VARIETY. However, vanity is still in play via strategies other members mentioned upthread, ha!

    Long-winded way of saying if you want this dress will be a workhorse, go shorter  -- but if it's just getting added to the mix, maybe explore other pairings prior to the chop. 

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Wow, you rose to the occasion beautifully in those fun and funky heels. Great outfit on you. 

    I love the dress (and boots) in #2 as well and might be tempted to experiment first with other wearing options before hemming, as the others said. 

    Shame about that jacket. Texture looked beautiful. But you are smart to pass if it does not fit. 

  • Greyscale replied 4 years ago

    Thanks for all the comments!

    Answers to a few questions:
    The heels are Belle Sigerson Morrison from a few years ago. 
    The boots are Allsaints (Keiko boots, sold out now) and they are amazing. I wasn't sure how often I'd wear them but they're wardrobe workhorses now. The leather is very very nice.

    I see what you all mean about keeping the dress longer. I wish it were maybe an inch shorter so it didn't hit at the widest part of my calves, but you've all convinced me not to go above the knee. I'll try it again with heels.

    Now that I look at the photo of the jacket, I almost wish I'd kept it... It doesn't really look too big. But it's very stiff fabric, so it felt bulky.

  • Greyscale replied 4 years ago

    bj1111, buy them! 

    Two options: 

    1. I bet you can find them on ebay. I just quickly searched and found a few pairs - haven't gone through all the results.
    Here's a 5 1/2
    and here's an 8 1/2
    Mine are a 7 and I usually wear a 6 1/2. I actually bought them first in 6 and they were too small so these are a replacement pair I found at a consignment store.

    2. They also made a very similar style this past year that is still available on a few stores! And on super sale! Though I like the older ones slightly better. (They've shifted to be more affordable, and the quality might be a little lower now on some shoes, but still very nice)

  • frannieb replied 4 years ago

    Late to the party 
    outfit 1 is stunning and I am so glad you are not going to shorten the dress on outfit two to above the knee. I actually like the length I think it is a dress that needs heels and more of a shootie then a bootie. If I put my finger on your boots and cover them up the dress is killer on you. Try it with heels before you shorten.

  • catgirl replied 4 years ago

    Love both looks, actually. The first is definitely the more "no-brainer" pic, but the second look grows on you. I don't see any harm in shortening the hem a bit if you'll wear it more!

    Wish we could see your guy as I love seeing how the other half dresses.

  • Greyscale replied 4 years ago

    FrannieB - such a clever idea to put my finger over the boots! You're right, it looks better that way - but then again, it also gives the illusion that I could be taller. Everything in my body except my lower legs (and arms) is long, but I'm only 5'4" in all. Long lower legs would be more proportional. If I cover the shoes entirely I can pretend I'm 5'7". ;)

  • cheryle (Dianthus) replied 4 years ago

    I agree with the crowd who love #1.  You nailed it and the  black outfit is a great backdrop for your gorgeous hair.

    I was just reading an article about length of skirts/dresses and the author suggested that the narrow point at the back of the knee is the most flattering on most women and that equates to a bit above mid-knee in front.  I think the dress would look sharp at the length it is if it was worn with the shoes from #1 or possibly with boots but it may be more versatile shortened a bit.  

  • Karie replied 4 years ago

    #1 is fabulous, and I love those shoes!

  • shevia replied 4 years ago

    I like both outfits - I do tend to like midi lengths but you could try pinning the dress and see if you like it better. Great shoes of course!

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