Got a big event coming?
So do I. (My son’s bar mitzvah.)
It’s really gotten me thinking about not just what I want to wear but also the process of figuring it out.
So let’s talk about how you can get ready — without panic, overspending, and stress — so you look and feel fabulous on your big day, whether it’s a bar or bat mitzvah, gala event, award ceremony, speaking engagement, or even a wedding.
1. Break it down. When you think “Oh my gosh, I’ve got a giant event coming and nothing to wear, and I’ve got to get this, and this, and this ….” then, well, sure, it’s going to sound overwhelming and un-doable. So make a list. Make a few lists. Break down exactly what’s expected and when, and what you know about everything.
For instance, you know you need a suit for your debut media appearance. What kind of suit? Will it need to be a skirt? Will it need to be a solid?
What about an invitation to your bestie’s wedding — is it daytime or night? Do you know you will not be wearing black and really really want to wear, oh, I don’t know, plaid or daisies or … ? Write it all down, paying particular attention to the number of events and the associated dress code.
2. Come up with a timeline. Compare notes — your schedule and the retail calendar. When would be the right time to shop for your event? For instance, in early September it isn’t quite time to shop for a huge Christmas event, because holiday stuff isn’t in store. Got something going in mid October? Early September is when the stores are filled with great merchandise.
3. Make a list. What exactly do you need for each part of the event? For a weekend-long event, you may need two, three, or even more outfits. For each one, break out the different parts of the outfit (for instance, shoes, bag, jewelry, coat/wrap, clothing).
4. Take inventory. You might own something already you can and would like to wear. It would be a piece of clothing you love but have never worn because you don’t have anything to wear it with. This is a great time to round out that outfit. You may find other outfits or sources of inspiration in your closet, so make sure to take a look.
5. Explore your options. Go online and see what’s in store before heading out. Shop with an open mind. You may find a fabulous dress in teal that you wouldn’t have noticed if you’d been focused on finding a black one.
6. Give yourself time. The reality is that it takes time — two hours at the absolute minimum, and that’s if you are very lucky — to find a head-to-toe outfit that includes shoes, accessories, and the dress. Chances are it will take longer for you, and certainly you’ll need to allow more time if you are difficult to fit, choosy about what you like, or have more than one outfit you are shopping for.
7. Take breaks. See #6 above. Don’t exhaust yourself by doing too much at one time. When you’re tired or hungry, you’re more likely to make decisions that aren’t great (and you run the risk of getting cranky, besides).
8. Don’t give up. Once you find your dress, you’ve done a great job but you’re not done yet. Finish the outfit, and do it when you still have time for the process. (That means, don’t wait until the day or even the week before.) This is true even when you DON’T have a big event: Don’t just get the dress or suit or pants and top. Get the shoes, too. The belt, if you need one. The bag if you don’t have the right one. You get the idea, I hope: Complete the outfit. Then record all the elements, using pen and paper or this.
9. Do a dress rehearsal! Try stuff on, walk around, sit down, move your body, see how you feel and how you look in the mirror from all angles. And take a look here at even more ways to get prepared.
And of course, if you’d like an expert to hold your hand through this process, I’d love to help.
(Ketura Persellin is a stylist, image consultant, writer, and public speaker in Washington, DC, and surrounding suburbs. Please contact her to schedule a complimentary get-acquainted session.)