You Can Wear a Ball Gown Anytime You Damn Well Please
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.
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.)
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.