Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do you try to get the look for less? A meditation, done in lace.

It used to be that when I saw something I loved, but the price-tag did not love me back, I would try to content myself with a "close enough" substitute. A good example is a stunning Montmartre rose-print bustier. Even on sale, it was $120, and for a fresh-out-of-college kid, that was out of the question. I poked around on Ebay for a while, which at the time was my main source for clothing bargains, put up a "Want It Now" ad and weeded through dozens of offers of black leather horrors, before giving up and ordering a pink striped/floral-print bustier on sale at Victoria's Secret.

It was gapingly big (and even after an alteration, sits a little awkwardly on me) and has plastic boning instead of the steel that the Montmartre had. It definitely has not the killer silhouette of the Montmartre original. My friend Emily commented that it looked like wallpaper. (In the catalogue, it even said something like, "You will add to the decor to any room". Srsly.) I still like it, but really, it's nothing compared to the original.

Now, I think I have the opposite problem. I fall in love with something, and then nothing else compares. For example, I give you this beauty:

It is the Nanette Lepore "Around the World" dress, and it comes in this lovely, lovely navy (called ink), and ivory, and campari, which looks like deep pink/coral. This dress is calling me, with its bateau neckline, the trimly defined waist, the beautiful textures and colors playing in glorious harmony. The eye-catching top is so pear-friendly, too!

Alas, it is currently going for $348. I could try to tell myself that I have been looking for a deeply colored, elegant, not-black dress for evening weddings, and this would fit the bill. But I could not convince even me that it should be done to the tune of $348.

Should I try to do what I did for the Martinez Valero slingbacks (make do with Payless, which, by the way, I've never yet worn outside)? There's this decent-looking version on Modcloth:

I have the feeling that if I'd seen this dress a week ago, I'd be in lust. But, of course, since I saw the NL, it can't compare. (But even putting the unfair comparisons aside, given that this one is just a little over a quarter of the price, that lace overlay looks like it would pouff out over my hips in the most unflattering way possible. Cheap lace overlays are unfriendly beasts.) However, the reviews are glowing, so I imagine it's gorgeous on non-pears.

This Tahari, at a touch less than $300, is just slightly cheaper than the NL, though it has the incalculable advantage of being easier to wear to work.

Making our way down the pricing scale, here's a silvery one with interestingly diagonaled tiers. I've heard diagonals are very flattering, and the dark silver is is so pretty.

Inching down some more, we find French Connection. I like that it comes with a belt, and something about the trim on the hem just finishes the dress.

Going down still farther, we have this Maggy London sheath. I like the hem on the French Connection one better...somehow this one looks unfinished to me. Although, the stripes on the top are striking and unexpected.

This Marc New York by Andrew Marc is on sale. Personally, I think this one needs a belt.

This Calvin Klein one has a bit of a sleeve for those who like more coverage (though does lace coverage really count?) and is also on sale.

This Jessica Simpson is cheaper still (also on sale), and I think the faint pink in the mix could be very flattering to a lot of skin tones. The touches of gold in the lace are also very pretty. Besides, it's nice to wear a lighter color at evening affairs, when every other woman in the room is in basic black or maybe navy. Would totally have been tempted had they not been out of my size. It looks like only 6's and 8's are left.

This one has a "sexier lace", if that makes any sense...or that could be an illusion caused by that high hemline. (But for my own purposes, definitely not wedding-friendly. It probably wouldn't even be that short on my me, but I don't like wearing sexy dresses, or black, to weddings.)

And this Delia's skater dress is a completely different creature altogether, but I had to throw it in because it's so...well, SWEET. I'm a sucker for a pretty sweetheart neckline. If Delia's had sold this when I was a teenager and my parents had bought it for me...I would have probably not worn it and reached for jeans and a T-shirt instead. But now I envy the young girls who get to wear this. It also comes in black, though it loses half its charms.

And there's one even cheaper! This Yumi frock is ivory, so it's no use to me, though.

Ahh, well, I suppose the NL could have been much, much worse. This little frock is pretty, too, no?

You really don't want to click through. Trust me. When I did, I understood why the model looks so mad.

Anyway, that was an interesting, lacy journey. To sum up, do you try to get looks for less? Or refuse to compromise and hold out for the real thing? I'm increasingly the latter, but I think it's more sensible to be the former.

As for the NL...well, maybe the sample gods will be kind to me and I will find it at the next sample sale. Hope springs eternal!

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