In Defense of Understated Party Dressing
an essay by Simone Kitchens
I don’t like getting dressed up. Holiday party, wedding, formal fill-in-the-blank…these all produce anxiety—not a social anxiety, but style anxiety (arguably worse). The most obvious and quickest path to “fancy” often involves sequin, velvet or shine—which is about as un-“me” as it gets. This has left me occasionally feeling underdressed at events, as I compare my outfit to whatever I think other people’s standards are and then am left to deal with the unease that comes with that.
How do I deal? I think of Joan Didion, Joni Mitchell, Sade—basically any of my style icons. What’s sexy to me isn’t a skintight dress. It’s one that you can slip on and not have to think about for the rest of the night. Hair and makeup apply here too. I’ve always been a champion of a relaxed beauty moment, which works equally well with a sparkly dress or something more relaxed.
It took me some time to come to this realization, but anything too done is, at the end of the day, just not me. It also occurred to me at about the same time that understated doesn’t necessarily mean underdressed. So when I stick to my own style program, I’m going to be feeling and, well, looking my best, which beats out sequins any day.
Simone Kitchens, a writer living in Brooklyn, is an editor at Glamour. Here, she wears a Madewell Silk Magic Hour Dress.
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Photography by Angi Welsch.