For this new series of posts, Jenn will pull looks from past events and walk through her styling strategy, from hair to shoes.
In March 28, 2008, Austin welcomed a new, world-class performing arts center, the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts. A 10-year project, the Long Center opened to the public with an action-packed weekend of events, highlighted by a black-tie gala dinner and show. This was going to be a special night, and a special look was necessary.
THE DRESS: When styling myself for a big event, I always start with the obvious – the dress. I had been on the hunt and while in Dallas, I found this dress at the BCBG store in North Park Mall. It was from their Fall/Winter 2007 Runway Collection. I’m fairly adventurous when it comes to cocktail and formal wear in that I like to wear unexpected colors, prints, and shapes. This dress fit the bill.
The beaded top is a halter with a low-cut back that ties behind the neck, and the plunging neckline is held together by a feather-tipped chain woven through grommets along the neckline. The top connects to an elastic, dropped waist balloon skirt of nude chiffon (more pinkish looking in real life than the runway photo) and black silk. I loved this gown’s unusualness and the mixing of soft and hard textures. Since I’m not supermodel height (I’m 5’6″), I had the dress hemmed, which was a little tricky with a balloon skirt, so I wouldn’t be tripping on it all night long. (NOTE: Find a tailor in your town that you like and trust.)
MAKE-UP: With a dramatic gown, I knew I would need dramatic make-up to match. I searched through the Sephora website, and I found probably not this exact look but something very similar to it. I was going for high impact eyes paired with matte skin and a nude lip. Key make-up purchases were Vincent Longo Lip Vinyl in Divine and LORAC Blush in Rose. And as always, I practiced executing the make-up look the week before the event.
ACCESSORIES: I already owned a pair of strappy black patent BCBG shoes that were perfect for the dress. And with the feather-tipped chain along the neckline, no need for a necklace. I was going to wear my hair down, so my usual diamond studs would work fine. I did, however, desire a great bracelet. I was thinking a cuff, and this was easily the most difficult piece to find of the whole look. After searching high and low (store and price-wise), I landed on a gold cuff bracelet I found at Target for about $12. That bracelet still gets frequent wear. Lastly, I wore a favorite sapphire ballerina set ring borrowed from my mom.
HAIR: Typically, I’m a do-it-yourself-er when it comes to special event hair, but I had my hair stylist (more about Mark later) do my hair for the night. At the time, my hair was between jaw and chin length, so I was thinking big curls and wild. I attribute my affinity for big hair to my native Texas-ness. As Ann Richards said, “The bigger the hair, the closer to God.”
THE END RESULT: First of all, the new Long Center opening was spectacular, and it is an amazing performance venue for Austin. It was a big celebration that lives on as one of our city’s biggest and flashiest ever, with lots of memorable dresses from that night.
I was happy with how my look turned out, but reviewing the photos now, I would do a few things different. I would have built the black eyeshadow further up my eyelid and worn a longer lasting formula. As the night wore on, I don’t feel like my eyes kept the intensity I wanted. And I probably would have opted for slicked-back hair for a more chic look to match the make-up better. What I do like is the matte finish of my complexion and the rose-colored blush.
EPILOGUE: I pulled the BCBG Runway dress “from the archives” in December 2010 for the Dancing with the Stars Austin gala, and I think I had a better execution. The biggest differences were my hair pulled back in a sleek bun and long black crystal earrings. That night, I received a steady stream of compliments, so despite being atypical, the dress still worked!
Care to relive your personal glam moments? Share your styling secrets in the comments!
Images: BCBG Runway gown, Sephora gothic modern make-up look, Collage of event photos – author’s own, Photo by John Pesina from Dancing with the Stars Austin 2010