You Can Wear a Ball Gown Anytime You Damn Well Please

 Photo:  Kim Lucian

Photo: Kim Lucian

I like wearing sequins during the day.

My mother certainly raised me better. I know there are different clothes for different times and places. I know that a lady wears pearls during the day and diamonds in the evening. I know that I shouldn’t wear a watch at a social event.

And can I be honest? I hate those rules. I’ve worn a fully-sequined mermaid skirt to the office. When I lived in New York, I walked around the Lower East Side in a J. Crew beachy-wedding dress I found at a sample sale, intentionally letting the hem drag through the street so it would get dirty.

Which is why I decided that it was totally fine to wear a Monique Lhuillier ball gown on a Friday afternoon to run errands.

Let’s back up to how this particular dress came into my life.

 ML Monique Lhuillier, Rent the Runway

ML Monique Lhuillier, Rent the Runway

In February, I made an appointment at the Rent the Runway boutique in Neiman Marcus to try on pieces and consider their unlimited service. I didn’t have any fancy events coming up, so I was focused on day dresses and outerwear.

Before finding my way to the fitting room, a ball gown caught my eye. It was black with a simple v-neck top, and a massive—yuge!—calla lily printed on the skirt. I typically prefer edgier formal wear, but who cares about such distinctions when you’re playing dress-up? Surprisingly, I liked the gown. Fast forward a few weeks, and I found myself ordering it as part of my RTR Unlimited delivery.

Technically, I still didn’t have an occasion that necessitated a ball gown, but the funny thing about life is that any day is a special occasion if you dress for it. So on a Friday afternoon, before meeting up with a friend for lunch, I threw on my borrowed ball gown, Jimmy Choo glitter sneakers, a short-sleeve sweatshirt from Banana Republic, a 13-year-old Gap denim jacket, and a brooch from Piedmont Boutique that says “FUCK” in rhinestones—just to keep it classy. (Because I’m a mature adult, I also wore my Fri-YAY day of the week underwear from Target.)

 Photo:  Kim Lucian

Photo: Kim Lucian

My Lyft driver seemed unfazed by this outfit as he drove me to lunch, though it did take me a while to cram my skirt into the car. Similarly, the staff at La Boulangerie just rolled with it. A few people stopped me along 24th Street in Noe Valley to tell me that they liked my skirt. When I popped into my neighborhood bodega with my dog on our afternoon walk, the owner rewarded my pup with a treat. That was the extent of our interaction. My dog afforded me no special privileges for my outfit, even if I felt a little fancier carrying her poop in a bag while wearing a dramatic dress.

I usually grow frustrated when shopping for black tie events because formal dresses are so expensive, and it’s hard to justify the cost-per-wear. Now I see that I’ve been doing it all wrong. Because the beauty of living in San Francisco is that I can walk around wearing something that is completely bonkers, and no one will bat an eye. And if that means Formalwear Fridays from now on, so be it.