Aside from attending an ex-lover’s wedding to a younger, prettier woman, I’m not sure there is a more stressful fashion occasion than the High School Reunion. Having recently attended mine, where in this digital age the guests had at least some sense of what their classmates looked like and were all about, I can tell you that this occasion was no exception to that rule. For me, there are enough people who know about this blog and that I have more than a passing interest in fashion, that the pressure was on. For others, it was fraught with the classic combination of wanting to look your best and remain comfortable.
A few of my classmates (some of whom I had not physically laid eyes on a quarter century) emailed me asking my advice. Fashion communicates to the world without words. Like it or not, its probably the first thing seen by the outside world when you walk into a room, even before eyes are met or hands are shaken. The Reunion Outfit must say the following, in short order: “I’m young, I’m happy, I’m not stuck in the past, I’m comfortable in my own skin, I’m successful, and I’m attractive.” Really, its a lot to ask of a dress. I counseled my freinds as best I could — steering them gently towards who they ARE as women (And dont even get me started on the boys. Whether they pulled an outfit from the laundry pile or grabbed a party shirt and straw fedora, they all looked great. No fair, I tell you!) .
We may think a reuinion is a time to pull out all the stops — like a bride who, after being known for her long curly hair, suddenly shows up unrecognizable walking down the aisle in a flat ironed up-do worthy of a starlet. Color me crazy but I think people should look MOST like themselves on special occasions. I’m not suggesting you wear yoga pants and a topknot on your head to a gala, but then again I wouldnt suggest you wear yoga pants and a topknot to the market either. (they’re pajamas, people! Or, you know, for YOGA!) So for the stylish New Yorker in financial services I suggested a classic black dress with a neckline that was more revealing than corporate. I suggested a simple sheath in a jewel tone for another friend, suggesting she avoid black with her particular coloring. She showed up in a stunning purlple jersey dress with the perfect neckline and side ruching — seriously, I want that dress. For the New England native and former Dead Head (& current Surfer Girl), I told her that it hardly mattered what she wore — her infectious smile and effervescent personality would be her accessories. She showed up in the absolute PERFECT-for-her black dress. It fit her well, and the straight across neckline was like a frame for her beautiful face.
There were plenty of women in J.A.C.T (Jeans and a Cute Top), which is the perfect solution to anyone not in the mood for a dress. Its chic, safe, and comfortable all at the same time. I loved how each one chose the perfect red or saturated blue top for their skin tone, and added fun jewelry to further add interest and draw eyes up towards their faces. Well done, ladies. I loved the woman in the simple cream top that in a crowd looked lovely and complimented her beautiful skin (seriously girl, could ya get at least ONE wrinkle at some point and make us all feel better?). As the night wore on and the crowd dispersed I noticed she was wearing KICKASS leather pants with the conservative top. The perfect mix of sexy and sweet. Which, if I had to describe her, would be my exact words.
My best friend of 30 years, who worked in fashion for several years after college and has an impeccable sense of style, wore a caramel colored cowl neck Calvin Klein dress that fit her body and her personality to a T. “I want to disappear”, she said of the neutral color. Um, not a chance, blue eyes. Nice try. What she did by wearing a color so close to her skin tone is what celebrities on the red carpet do by wearing nude colored dresses — you highlight your facial features in such a way that they “pop” even more than if you wore color. Oh, she knew what she was doing.
And what did I wear to this most fun and fabulous occasion? Oh, just some old thing. (Black lace plunging neckline BCBG halter dress with a maribou feather hem and Tory Burch Jeweled Cage stillettos and a 1930s vintage beaded clutch) What? It was my Reunion, for goodness sake!