I'll be fluttering off to a wedding this weekend. It's a night-time affair that kicks off at 5pm - fairly early for a typical big fat Indian wedding, but the challenge is that I'll only have two hours, between a networking luncheon and our arrival at the reception, to glam up. Like any forward-thinking, ten-steps-ahead kinda girl, I need to have my outfit all planned out since there won't be much transformation time for wardrobe changes, fussing and frantic rummaging through potential ensembles and accessories.
There are several key things to consider when choosing an outfit, and if you logically work through these and use the process of elimination to narrow your options down to one, you just can't go wrong :-)
What's the occasion?
The most obvious; knowing exactly what type of event you're attending will mean you can 'dress for the occasion'. If it's a glamorous corporate function, then dress up and glam up but keep your look classy by choosing a dress that at least reaches down to your knees. Going to a kiddies party? You may have to unleash your inner child and let your hair down to hop, skip and jump with the guests of honour so don't wear anything too stiff, stifling, pale-hued or heavily embellished that risks being damaged or stained. Is there a theme? This may influence your choice of colour and style, so keep that in mind to avoid standing out in a 'she made no effort' sort of way.
What's the crowd like?
This one is a big deal, especially in traditional close-knit communities where reputation is everything! Under no circumstances do you want to come across as disrespectful to the host family and embarrassing to your own by wearing a revealing barely-there outfit or anything too skimpy. It's best to suss out the type of crowd you can expect and at least match up to their traditional and religious values. Shop pre-loved saris and other Bollywood-inspired eastern wear
If you're off to a work-related event, micro-minis and excessive cleavage can be considered distasteful and inappropriate by your bosses and colleagues. Leave a positive impression by keeping things elegant. Remember that you need to dress for success, and wearing less doesn't necessarily result in more steps up the corporate ladder. Shop pre-loved cocktail dresses ideal for corporate parties
What's the venue like?
Mmmm... Try to find out as much as you can about the venue. Is it outdoor or indoor? Will you have to contend with grassy, muddy terrain or will there be clean tiled or wooden floors? Are there lots of staircases to climb or can you simply ride escalators? Is it completely enclosed or will beach sand be shipped in for a themed party? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you be totally prepped for just about anything that the day (or night) can throw at you.
What's your weather app forecasting?
When it comes to predicting the mostly-unpredictable weather patterns, technology can totally fail, but as unreliable as these are, a 7- or 10-day forecast can offer some guidance to the general trend that week.
If there's any chance of rain and over-exposure to the wet weather, wearing a dress that mops up the floor ain't a great idea but again, your choice will be influenced by other factors; maybe the venue offers shelter from the rain and undercover parking with direct access so you avoid the elements altogether.
Will you be too hot or too cold? I'm finally at a wise, not-too-ripe age where I've learnt to always - and I mean always - keep an umbrella, a shawl and a lightweight jacket in my car because you just never know if you will experience all four seasons in a single day. An umbrella is a must-have item especially since you may need it for protection from the smoldering sun on a hot summer day or use it to avoid making a grand entrance completely drenched!
Will you be comfortable?
They say beauty is painful but this relates more to those stinging laser treatments, hair removal wax treatments, burning chemical peels and of course, that odd hair pin poking into your scalp. When it comes to dresses, you should be as comfy as a brilliant diamond in a pure gold setting. If you're not comfortable in whatever you're wearing, that discomfort will affect your mood and that will most certainly cost you in the fun stakes and see you lose your shine.
If it's a dance party or a wedding reception with celebratory dancing, then avoid a dress with a long train and go for something sleeveless or short-sleeved. Who wants to trip over their own dress or have other guests stepping all over your expensive gown? Rather opt for a knee-length or ankle-grazing cocktail dress which gives you hassle-free freedom of movement. If you're dressed too warm, after thirty minutes on the dance floor you'll be perspiring like a dehydrated donkey shuffling overweight tourists uphill at Santorini. Not fun. Shop pre-loved cocktail dresses ideal for corporate parties
Usually, us ladies have tonnes of clothes but 'nothing' to wear because the fact is that too much choice can actually lead to more confusion, but by simply giving careful consideration to the 'what', 'where' and 'who', you're already halfway there to choosing the perfect outfit for every occasion - every time!
Umayya Theba, 'The Mayyarani'