The maxi dress can be a difficult piece to style. One wrong move and you could end up looking like a wedding guest who got lost on her way to the reception. And ever since the “Australian Embassy Night”, I’ve been overly-cautious about turning up somewhere over-dressed, hence my wariness when it comes to the maxi dress.
The Australian Embassy Night happened many years ago. Fortunately, I was not the person involved, but I was there and I learned a powerful lesson that night…
When I lived in Dublin, the Australian ambassador would occasionally have informal get-togethers for Australians and long-suffering friends of Australians at his beautiful private residence in a well-heeled, seaside suburb of Dublin. Now, when I say informal, I mean informal. Australians are not ones to stand on ceremony and so a bash at the ambassadors place usually involved a smart-casual dress code at most.
On one such occasion I remember looking across the room as I laughed at an inappropriate joke made by a fellow Australian guest (do we make any other kind?) and seeing a woman dressed in a full-length semi-meringue-like ball gown. Clearly this woman thought that an evening at the ambassadors house was a much more formal affair. Maybe she had read a few too many classic Russian novels and was expecting a romantic, champagne and caviar type of affair. Either way, she got it spectacularly wrong. I felt for her, I really did.
But what I admired about this over-dressed party guest was that rather than leave immediately and call whichever plonker invited her without specifying the dress code to give them a piece of her mind, she stayed and basically looked like she was having the time of her life.
What I concluded from this is that no one looks stupid when they’re having fun. So if you ever find yourself overdressed at any event, throw yourself into the middle of it, feign confidence even if you don’t feel it, laugh it off and enjoy yourself.
There’s also another solution whereby you can avoid over-dressing altogether: trainers. I have this gorgeous black maxi dress which, if worn with heels and statement jewellery would look way too formal for most day to day activities. I might have had to relegate it to the good room. But whack on a pair of trainers, and I’m good to go most places: brunch, coffee with an Australian dignitary, what-have-you. A jeans jacket also tones the formality of the maxi-dress down a notch.
With all the maxi-confections floating down the catwalks over the last runway seasons (Balenciaga, Chloe, Zimmermann and the likes) we’ve seen some fabulous street styling with the maxi dress-trainers combo, making the whimsical and magical a lot more practical. So grab your Stans – you owe it to yourself to get involved.