A couple of years ago, my niece accompanied me to a fitting for an evening gown for a holiday event. It was a beautiful elegant black velvet gown that was guaranteed to make a statement.
Along with the astonishing design came an equally if not more stunning price tag.
My niece happened to notice this and said, “Wow! How often are you going to wear that?”
“Once,” I replied.
“You’re kidding, right?” she answered.
Sadly, this was not a joke. In fact, I could only wear this number once. That’s when I revealed to her the sad truth about evening gowns. As apparel, an evening gown constitutes one of the most expensive garments you’ll ever buy and yet thanks to the most basic rules of social etiquette they can only be worn once.
Oh sure, you could wear it again. Multiple times in fact if you can get away with it. Obviously, there’s no law against it. And if you’re lucky enough to attend a party where you don’t overlap with the guest list of a previous event you attended then you’ll walk away feeling like you’ve won the lottery.
On the other hand, if you happen to cross paths with a woman (and it’s always the women—men don’t really care) who you’ve seen at a previous event you can bet money that she’ll tell everyone you mutually know, “You’ll never believe it. She wore the exact same dress she wore to _________.”
It’s the Scarlett Letter of dressing. Of course there are other equally bad fashion faux pas. Mismatched socks, sweaters worn inside out, and donning any article of clothing that’s clearly at least two sizes too small are all heinous acts of inappropriate dressing, but the mother of all mistakes is still the recycled evening gown. That’s because people you know will likely eventually forget or forgive the bikini you probably shouldn’t have dared put on or shirt/skirt combo that once gave them a chuckle, but I promise they’ll never forget the evening gown you dared wear . . . gasp . . . again!
Besides the social shame attached to serial evening gown wear, there are other obvious problems associated with evening gowns.
Let’s revisit the price issue.
Ask Dave Ramsey the wisdom of spending your hard earned dollars on one of these frocks, and I’m
sure he’d give you an earful. Obviously, on the face of it, they’re a complete waste of money. Even if you bow to social pressure and wear them only once, likely you can never bring yourself to throw them away. Instead, they’ll just sit in the back of your closet along with your wedding dress which you also can’t (or definitely shouldn’t) wear again because you can’t stand the thought of throwing or giving away something that cost you so much money.
Fortunately, some enterprising souls have come up with creative ways to solve this dilemma and make a buck for themselves at the same time. There are now resale shops where you can sell your pre-worn dress so that some new lucky lady can have a gown that other women can later say they could swear they’ve seen on someone else before. There are also online sites where you can order a dress to rent. As you can see, there are definitely wise ways to deal with this conundrum.
Still, we all tend to purchase at least one of these dresses in our lifetime, so there has to be another answer.
We think we’ve found it.
During this holiday period, many of you will buy one of these beautiful dresses to wear to a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party.
After showing it off to other party patrons, don’t simply relegate if to the Siberia of your closet. Wear it. Yes, wear it. Do all those mom things you ordinarily do, only do them dressed in your best.
We think you and your family deserve to see you at your finest. If it’s good enough for strangers at some ball, it’s certainly good enough for those who love you the most.
Just to show that we believe this to be true, we’ve taken a few photos of ourselves in evening gowns taking care of family business. You can check them out on Instagram at Moms Next Move.