In this (infrequent) series of posts, I’ll pull looks from past events and walk through my styling strategy, from hair to shoes.
Commonly looked at as the unofficial start of gala season in Austin, Ballet Austin’s Fête is one of the hottest events of the year. Historically a black tie, sit down dinner, in 2009 a committee was formed to put together a smaller-dollar ticketed cocktail after-party, cheekily dubbed fête*ish. That year, Fête and fête*ish were held in the then unfinished Austonian. And in fact, much of fête*ish took place on the ground floor of the high-rise, now better known as Second Bar + Kitchen (one of my faves!), Bar Congress, and Congress. The party played up it’s flirty namesake, complete with a burlesque singer, absinthe cockails and pole dancing. This was going to be fun.
THE DRESS: With a party called “fête*ish”, I had the perfect opportunity to wear a dress that was ultra girly and playful. What better choice than a Betsey Johnson cocktail dress? I decided on this little number to the left – strapless, hot pink satin with black sequin trim and a very full black tulle petticoat. I found it on ebay and bought if for around $150, if memory serves me right. I don’t usually buy clothes online, but I had tried on similar style Betsey Johnson dresses and was fairly confident in which size to buy. Luckily, it was a perfect fit.
HAIR & MAKE-UP: My co-worker at the time made hair pieces, and I asked her to make me one to coordinate with my dress. The result was a silk white orchid rimmed with fuchsia rhinestones and trimmed with thin black feathers.
For my updo, I pulled my hair back tightly and then teased the ponytail until it was big and fluffy. Then I sectioned off pieces of the ponytail to roll and pin to make what looked like a very full bun. To go with my slicked-back hair, I went with a black-rimmed, smoky eye and nude lips.
ACCESSORIES: I decided to pair my girly, cupcake dress with edgier shoes, so I selected a gladiator-style Calvin Klein black high-heeled sandal from my wardrobe.
The theme of my jewelry was super sparkly. My fête*ish look was not about subtlety. I purchased a dainty, white crystal necklace that I thought would complement the sweetheart neckline of my dress and an equally sparkly, chunky crystal bracelet. From my own collection, I wore a flashy diamond cocktail ring I inherited from my mom.
THE END RESULT: Despite uncooperative weather that resulted in soggy concrete, fête*ish successfully captured the sexy, coquettish vibe that it set out to achieve. And despite going stag, I had lots of good company. The only downside of the evening was that the boning in my dress started to poke through the lining, resulting in welts around my torso. Men have no idea how much we women suffer for fashion.
This year’s fête*ish is just around the corner on September 21, and you can find event information here. Put on your fancy duds and support one of our city’s best arts organizations.
EPILOGUE: Who would have thought that I’d have another perfect occasion to wear this very theme-driven dress. This summer, in celebration of my 36th birthday, I threw myself a Double Dragon Debut.* This Betsey Johnson dress screams sweet sixteen, so I pulled it from the archives for my tongue-in-cheek birthday party. This time I sported matching Adidas kicks (also from the archives) to keep it casual and sporty. I also added a skinny black belt and a tiara. Accessories matter, folks.
Images: Betsey Johnson hot pink dress, Calvin Klein black strappy sandals, all other photos – author’s own
*NOTE: What is a Double Dragon Debut? There is a Philippine tradition is to have a debut when you turn 18. I never had a debut, so since I was turning 2×18, and it’s the Year of the Dragon, and I’m a dragon…